Learning and Unlearning.

We all came here to learn. Whether it is your first year here or, like me, the 27th, we have all come, and stayed, because Denison presents an incredible environment in which to learn.

Right now, though, we may first need to un-learn, and then learn in new ways.

We’ve got a situation where some awful things were overheard outside a recent party—racist, homophobic, misogynistic slurs. Despite initiating an immediate investigation, we don’t actually know who said what to whom. It happened, but we have no known offender, and we have no individually identifiable “harmed party.”

But the incident indirectly hurt many and has prompted lots of conversations. Within those, there’s been anecdotal reporting of other ugly incidents—epithets tossed out a window on a Saturday night, shouted out a car speeding by, scrawled on a white board, posted on Yik Yak. In other words, the commonness of this experience has been shared.

Throughout our lives, most of us “learn” to walk on by. The situation is “too stupid” to warrant a response, or it targets somebody else, or it would be social suicide to confront it, or it would be vaguely impolite to turn on the speaker and say, “What did you just say?” I’ve probably thought each of those thoughts in some instance, so I can testify to having a gut reaction and actively choosing to ignore it.

I think we make that choice mostly out of fear, and then the fear becomes a habit. And the habit, widely learned, confers social power, and then permits that power’s continuing abuse. It hurts us and diminishes our community. Un-learning the habit is hard. It requires the presence of mind to observe what is happening, and the fortitude to turn around and “speak truth to power.” That’s really what makes bystander intervention so hard: It requires overcoming the larger social order as a lone individual.

That’s more than most people can do, so when, for example, people tell me that we should just tell some category of people to knock off the bad behavior, or when bystander intervention is offered as the panacea, those seem important but insufficient.

I’d rather we try to generate a “public agreement” about what we stand for as Denisonians, and also what we won’t abide, what will outrage us. The ancient Greeks taught us that in order for a civil society to function, its members must share a collective understanding of expectations and standards of behavior. That’s what enables individuals to speak up.

Right now, in all honesty, we are leaving the heavy lifting to others. The BSU and Outlook, and the presidents of the fraternities and sororities, have shown courage. They’ve risked backlash to assert a moral position. They really need the rest of us to do the same. Actually, we need the rest of us to do the same, and we have to do this together in order for our conviction to be actionable by individuals.

The question is, how will we find and speak with a collective voice? This strikes me as the most daunting, but also the most important, question we can pose for ourselves. If we want our community to be different than it has ever been, we’ll have to do things we have never done. When Dr. Weinberg talks about “using the campus as a design studio,” this is what he is talking about.

Can we be moved by the pain of this moment to design a remedy? Can we use all the great foundations of our leadership development programs, the work of Sustained Dialogue, the knowledge from classes across the curriculum, to think in new ways? Can we move from a campus that is diverse to one that embraces diversity as a core value and a treasured strength? If we can, we’ll not only make Denison better but we’ll be part of generating a process that we can take into the world beyond the hill to make it better as well.

I’ve never experienced a year like this one, where we’ve been talking from the start about how we want to be. We’ve been challenged by President Weinberg to neither ignore nor resist controversy, but to embrace it with civility and use it to learn. This is the moment he anticipated. We have so many great leaders on our campus. What ideas are others mulling over, and how can we come together in productive and forward-looking ways?


Instagrams of Faith At Denison

中文 (简体)
By Mark Orten, Director of Religious & Spiritual Life

I asked a diverse group of thoughtful students “How do you practice your faith at Denison?”

Speaking from different perspectives about matters of faith and the practice of it, they offered some really creative “snapshots” of their take on the practice of faith at Denison:

“At Denison, even when you are walking across the campus you just look up at the sky, and all of the beauty of this place… just noticing it; that’s practicing.”

“College is busy, and so people say, ‘I don’t have time for formal practices.’ But you always have time to do something that is part of your faith —even if small. Even if you’re not doing something, that is a choice.”

“Yeah, I get ten instagrams a week from some of my friends. They took time to stop and take a photo! There’s time.”

“Why is it that “prioritizing” is something we understand as an educated community—we talk about it all of the time—but then when it comes to something important like this we don’t do it?”

“Finding a buddy for accountability is helpful.”

“You can’t let others keep you from doing what is important to you.”

“Sometimes it’s just certain rituals: like sitting with friends over coffee every day in Slayter and people-watching. There’s comfort in that. It’s just not the same when certain ones aren’t there. So it’s nice when you just know certain things are going to happen, and you can count on it.’

“Reflection is a way to practice. It helps with self-improvement and self-cultivation. We can learn what we are lacking through journaling, prayer, meditation–some form of reflection– especially where we are not surrounded only by people only of our own faith, as we were back home.”

“Keeping a booklist of inspirational reading is good practice. And strengthening personal practices such as yoga and meditation or prayer.”

“Sometimes just hugging, listening, smiling and simply saying, ‘So how was your day?’ like I saw two really tired college students do at the end of a day. It was really cute. That’s faith right there.”

So there you have it… from thoughtful students who’ve said it best. In summary, according to these snapshots, we need to notice what’s important to us, and find a way to prioritize it, and then make room for it in our schedules. We do best when we get help from others to support us. It’s good to reflect on it regularly, with intentionality. And, of course, be sure to check in with each other now and then!


Mark R. Orten,宗教中心主任















Denison Dates

By Catherine Champagne, Coordinator of Alcohol, Drug and Health Education

There are many benefits of living in a small, residential community like Denison. One of the things I appreciate about being on the hill are the many opportunities for close bonds and friendships to develop. When walking across campus, this friendship is visible in the number of students who greet each other with enthusiasm, the groups of friends grabbing a bite in Slayter, and in the subtle acts of kindness observed between students and staff alike. These social ties speak to the character of the Denison community, and also play an important role in shaping students’ overall health and well-being.

As someone who is personally and professionally dedicated to promoting wellness in all forms, I think it’s important to highlight these examples of positive social/relational well-being. What better time of year than on Valentine’s Day? In fact, CSMART (Community Sexual Misconduct Awareness and Response Team) will soon be hosting a panel of faculty/staff to speak about healthy relationships: what do they look like, and what does it take to sustain them? Students, staff, and faculty are welcome to attend the program on February 20, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Higley Hall Auditorium.

Of course, celebrating healthy relationships on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In the spirit of keeping things simple (and cheap!), I did some thinking about ideas for fun, inexpensive dates to be enjoyed with friends or significant others. I asked a few other Denisonians to contribute to this list, and I’m excited to present their recommendations below:

Denison Date Ideas (in no particular order!)

* Warm up at River Road Coffee Shop (Catherine Champagne, Alcohol, Drug, & Health Education). There is nothing more soothing than sharing in conversation over a warm cup of coffee or tea. With fun flavors, homey atmosphere, and plenty of tables for two, River Road is a great location.

* Take a walk at Sugarloaf Park (Molly Thurlow-Collen, Health Services) Only a block away from the corner of Stone Hall is the entrance to Sugarloaf Park. This secluded, delightfully simple trail to the top of this hill provides a shared experience for you and yours. There are even picnic tables at the top to sit and rest while sharing a picnic meal. (Address: 411 West Broadway)

* Attend a Denison Athletic game (Dave Woodyard, Faculty, Religion) One of the joys of an authentic community is the gift of mutual support. Denison athletes desire it, and we have an opportunity to express it at their games – and bring a partner!

* Have a Movie/Pizza Night: (Julie Tucker, Assessment & Research) Walk down the hill to the Granville library and choose a movie from their pretty extensive DVD collection–something funny or action-packed or even a sappy romantic comedy! On your way home, stop by Elms and pick up a pizza to enjoy with your movie!

* Northstar Cafe in Easton: (Steven Profitt, Religious & Spiritual Life) With its lively atmosphere, delicious food, and friendly staff, Northstar is a stellar date locale. It’s also tucked right in the heart of Easton. Feel free after your meal to venture next door to Barnes and Noble, visit the shops and stores in the district, and explore the mall. I personally recommend the key lime truffles in the mall’s candy shop!

* Visit Dawes Arboretum (Cathy Dollard, Faculty, History) A true hidden gem; a great place for a walk! The Japanese Garden / Pond is especially lovely. Located on the east side of Newark.

* Go ice skating (Sara Lee, Faculty, Athletics, Physical Education) In Newark, the Lou and Gib Reese Ice Arena in has open public skating sessions and skate rental. Afterwards, get some hot chocolate at the coffee shop! http://www.newarkicearena.com/public-skate

* A little bit of friendly competition (Brian Collingwood, Career Exploration & Development). Whether it means challenging a date to a game on the racquetball court at The Mitchell Center, or taking on another sport in a nearby location, friendly competition can break the ice, lead to a lot of laughs, and prove to be a fun time!

I hope this list will inspire you to grab a friend and try something new this Valentine’s Day. Here’s to the many great relationships at Denison!


Advice to First Year Parents

by Kathleen Powell, Director of Career Exploration & Development

By now your sons and daughters are back at college to finish out their first year. During the break you may have heard about their classes, their professors, their clubs and organizations and their dreams for the summer or life after college! For some students, they have no idea what’s out there or what they could pursue after graduation. Others are very firm in their path, some focusing on what they believe they know or have seen; perhaps the pre-law or pre-health tracks. However, if you would ask your son or daughter to detail why they are interested in a particular career field or even more pointedly, why it would be a good fit for them, they might be hard pressed to verbalize an answer.

How do we lift our college students up with career development in mind? What are the steps these students might take to find meaningful work and career success? As the Director of Career Exploration and Development, and a parent, I’ve provided a few resources to assist you in working with your own college student.

Now is a great time for career exploration and focus. Denison offers students, free of charge, an interactive career development software tool called Focus to help them determine their values, interests, and skills.

We also encourage first year students to use the spring semester to investigate internships. We believe internships are a great way to test out a career, gain skills and add value to an organization. One of the many things I value about Denison is the opportunity for first year students to apply for internships through DIP, the Denison Internship Program.

With a good deal of reflection, self-assessment and career exploration, students determine possible career paths that are good matches for their interests and skills.

The next time you speak with your college student, I encourage you to ask them about their summer plans and what resources they are using. If they don’t mention Career Exploration and Development, make a point to send them in our direction. Your support of their career goals resonates more than you might think. Many students look to their parents for career guidance and together, success is sure to follow.

Be Patient! Try and think back to your first year of college or your first time of trying out something new. Understand that college students may change their minds several times in the process about what they might major in, do between summers or after graduation. It’s always good form to give your input while understanding they must figure out their journey themselves to learn. According to the ACT, 16% of college freshmen believe they will change their major. Actually, 65-86% of freshmen actually do change their major and nationally, half of all freshmen with a declared major will change their major at least once before they graduate.

How do you start the conversation around careers, summers, skills and life after college? I’ve shared a few starters with you. It is my hope that if you ask these questions, the conversation will take off. The good news for you, there are no right or wrong answers. A listening ear is all that is required.

• What clubs or organizations have you thought about joining or have joined? What about that organization interests you? What do you think you’ll get out of that involvement? What do you think you’ll add to that club or organization?
If we can get our college student to think beyond just joining an organization, but to think in terms of skills gained, skills provided, imagine how easy it will be for them to articulate their skills and value to an employer or graduate/professional school. The idea here is to have students think intentionally. It’s not about the number of clubs or organizations they join, but about depth and breadth. Less is more and developing leadership and communication skills will go a long way!

• What classes are you doing well in?
Most students do well in classes they like and that provide a manageable challenge. At the end of the day, employers and graduate schools are looking for students who are strong academically. In general, a 3.0 overall G.P.A. will move a student to the “in” consideration. Now, if your son or daughter did not hit this mark after one semester, it is not time to panic. I share this as a point of reference. Still, it’s never too early for students to think about academics.

• What are your summer plans? Have you thought about a summer job or internship?
If they have thought about either a summer job or internship, make sure to ask them to think about putting together a resume. Career Exploration and Development has many resources to assist them in completing a resume and help in finding a summer opportunity or internship. The more your son or daughter uses Career Exploration and Development, the more likely they are to find a rewarding opportunity, not only during their time in college, but after. In fact, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, students who used the career center four or more times a semester were more likely to have job offers than those who used it once a semester.

• What careers have you thought about? Do you know where you could go to find out more information?
Don’t be surprised if your son or daughter hasn’t thought about a career or has no idea where to go. People get to their careers by different routes. For first year students, we encourage them to use free resources available through Career Exploration and Development. And, we strongly encourage students to leverage the networking opportunities such as Big Red Roadtrips, First Look Denison and DenisonEverywhere. Your son or daughter receives communication from our office two times per week. We’d be happy to send it to you too! It’s a wonderful way to find out about programs and events taking place within Career Exploration and Development.
Whether this is your first child in college or your third, starting early is key. Four years goes by quickly and having your son or daughter on the right path will only enhance their educational experience. Take it from someone who changed her major a lot, there is light at the end of the tunnel!


Career Conversations: Making the most of them during breaks!

By Kathleen Powell, Director of Career Exploration & Development, and Zach Pavol, Assistant Director of Career Exploration & Development

In the next few weeks, thousands of students will be returning home for their winter break. Students see this as a much needed break from academics. What they might encounter when returning home is a new conversation with their parents and relatives. The age old questions of what are you going to do when you graduate? What are you going to do with your major? What can you do with a liberal arts degree? As parents of college students, we often think about “How can I help my student get an internship or a “good job” when they graduate.” Before you begin talking to your student about these issues during the break, I offer a few ideas for your consideration and conversation.
The break is a wonderful time for students to rest and to reconnect with family and friends. It is also a critical time for conversation around career exploration and development. Each January, students come back to campus and tell us how reinvigorated they are about their careers because of conversations, connections and open dialogue with their parents. Some students come back having secured internships or jobs during that time, while others simply have found some much needed clarity in their quest to discover what they want to do next. It is highly recommend that students, and parents, consider conversations around the following:

1. Explore Career Options
Before ordering at a restaurant, you would likely want to review the menu. Right? Likewise, before heading out to a restaurant, there is discussion around what genre of food is in order. Career exploration is similar in the sense that it is smart to explore many possible careers before making a decision on which to begin pursuing. Leverage websites like What Can I Do With This Major, Occupational Outlook Handbook, and Spotlight on Careers can help your son or daughter gain a foundational understanding of several popular career paths. Have conversations related to career aspirations. Put the same thought and intensity into your career conversations and as you would with any other day-to-day topic.

2. Network
Networking doesn’t need to be a scary. It is simply talking to people, something we do all the time. There are many opportunities during the break for networking to take place. For example, when Uncle Bill or Aunt Betty sits next to your son or daughter at the dinner table and ask about experiences at school and what they want to do after graduation; that is networking. Have your student take full advantage of those conversations and ask family members what they do, how they got into a particular field, what they think about their companies, what they see as growing career paths, and so forth…that is networking! Have your student start with family and expand to others you know, friends of the family, high school friends’ parents. One of the many strengths of Denison is our alumni. They are a great network of professionals who are usually willing to offer career advice and for some, allow students the opportunity to spend a day shadowing them (aka an externship). Denison students can begin tapping into the alumni network using the mentor directory in DenisonEverywhere.com or by searching through the “Find Alumni” feature in LinkedIn.com.
3. Research Employers
Encourage your son or daughter to do their homework. Before applying to any career opportunity, whether summer job, internship or full-time position, it is important to be well informed about the organization and industry. The process can begin with basic online research. In addition to reviewing the companies’ specific websites, we recommend following a company’s official page on LinkedIn and/or liking them on Facebook. Students can also leverage sites like The Muse to get an overview of a company’s culture. Encourage your students to be mindful of the many opportunities available to them.

4. Apply
Employers are increasingly looking to secure interns and full-time hires early because there is tough competition for top talent. Many positions already posted on DULink, LACN and other sites like Internships.com and CareerShift have approaching deadlines. In addition, many graduate schools have deadlines during the next few months. Effectively customizing application materials takes a significant investment in time. Using the break from course work allows students time to focus on developing quality applications. Talk with your son or daughter about their prospects. Discuss the types of positions or programs they are considering.

5. Reflect and Dream
Take full advantage of this time when your student doesn’t have to worry about project deadlines, studying for tests or attending group meetings to reflect on all they’ve accomplished. Think about and discuss what is next in your students’ career preparation. Finding the career path requires a very strong understanding of SELF; this takes significant time and reflection. Have conversations around the knowledge and skills they’ve gained. What are they finding to be their biggest strengths? What experiences have they found most interesting? How have their experiences helped to shape and affirm their values? How can they find a career/industry/organization that aligns with their strengths, interests and values? Allow time to dream about what an ideal life and what career path would make that dream a reality.

By knowing your student’s interests, values, strengths and dreams, you will have a better understanding of their career path, career plan and how your conversations and insights have shaped their world of work. Encourage your student to articulate what they are looking for in a summer experience, what they want to do after graduation. The response, “I don’t know or I’ll take anything” leaves one without a path to help. It’s hard to find “I don’t know” or “I’ll take anything” on job boards or when networking, but just a few specific ideas can open up a realm of possibilities. In Career Exploration and Development at Denison University, one of our goals is to educate and equip students with the tools to be resourceful, motivated and well-informed architects in their career decisions.


The Perils of Finals

By Crystal Lapidus-Mann, Staff Counselor, and Catherine Champagne, Coordinator of Alcohol, Drug, and Health Education

As final exams loom ever-closer, our thoughts go to our students. Over the next week, we know that students will spend many hours focused on studying, writing, and working tirelessly on final projects. Although these practices are necessary for academic success, the accomplishment of these tasks sometimes happens at the expense of students’ personal health and wellness (“all-nighters,” anyone?).

As staff members of Denison’s Whisler Center for Student Wellness, we have witnessed first-hand the effects of stress on our students. Staff counselors in particular have the honor of being welcomed into our students’ private lives, and are privy to the healthy, and (sometimes) unhealthy ways, in which our students cope with the challenges of college life. As students approach, and then plunge, into final exam week, we know Whisler will see many students encountering physical and emotional distress.

So, what can you do? There’s no magic solution, but you don’t have to brace yourself for inevitable, uncontrollable stress. Simple self-care practices for maintaining personal wellness will help enormously. When you take care of your whole self, you can put your best self forward and have a better chance of accomplishing the things you want to. Love it, like it, or battle it, the body we have is the one and only vehicle we get to move us through life. It is difficult to function when you aren’t getting enough sleep, are feeling anxious, or haven’t eaten well that day. Although it can feel counter-productive to take time from studying to restore one’s self during this busy time of year, even brief moments of self-care can greatly enhance performance.

This finals week, we encourage students to embrace the adage, “Be well, to do well.” Consider these tips as you prepare for finals:

1. Nourish your body and your brain
What you eat matters. Eat a protein-rich breakfast and space small meals throughout the day to sustain energy and stay nourished. While studying, keep healthy snacks nearby, like granola bars, yogurt, fruit, or unsalted popcorn. Finally, hydration is critical, but don’t rely on coffees or caffeine sodas, as too many can make you dehydrated and feel jittery. Water is your best option to stay hydrated.

2. Get some zzzz’s
Although it is tempting to sacrifice sleep when you have a lot to do, this can negatively impact your performance. Quality sleep is necessary for a well-functioning brain– something you definitely need during finals week! Research suggests that sleep improves memory and sharpens attention, improving overall academic performance. Our best advice is to stick to a regular sleep schedule if possible.If a late night becomes unavoidable, try taking a short 20-30 minute nap the next day to boost alertness (longer naps can end up making you feel groggy).

3. Take a break.
Yes – a break! While some students can stay focused for several hours at a time, most cannot. Trying to plow through a 6-hour study session without interruption can actually be counter-productive. As you study, find natural opportunities to pause and restore yourself. Get up and stretch, take a 10 minute walk, call a friend or family member. You’ll come back to your work re-energized.

4. Remember to breathe!
When you’re feeling stressed, you can feel it throughout your body. Your heart pounds, blood pressure increases, and your breathing becomes fast and shallow. To curb these “in the moment” feelings of stress, take a few minutes to focus on breathing deeply. A short breathing exercise can be simple and effective. Try this: (1) Find a comfortable seat and sit up straight, (2) Put one hand on your belly, and your other hand on your chest, (3) Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of three. The hand on your belly should move as you breathe in deeply, while the hand on your chest should not move. (4) Slowly exhale, making a whooshing sound with your mouth. Repeat this exercise until you feel yourself relax.

Self-care prevents mental, emotional and physical burn-out. We hope you find these tips helpful, and are able to try a few this finals week. Remember, Health and Counseling Services at The Whisler Center for Student Wellness are here if you need support during this next week and throughout the year. We wish you the best of luck as the semester comes to a close!


The Leadership Fellows: Educating their Peers While Gaining Skills for their Own Success


By Julie Tucker, Coordinator of Assessment & Research

Students’ co-curricular involvement at Denison is more than a way to fill their days or meet new people.  While we certainly hope that students’ co-curricular involvement allows them to make friends and enjoy their time on the hill, we intend that these experiences provide students the opportunity to gain and strengthen skill sets that prepare them for their careers and experiences beyond Denison.  One such experience is the position of a Leadership Fellow.  Leadership Fellows are peer educators who assist in the planning of leadership programs (e.g. LeaderShape, DU Lead) and create new leadership-related workshops for campus organizations.

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Open Letter to Men

Open Letter to Men By Erik Farley, Associate Dean & Director of Multicultural Student Affairs

As a man on this campus, I am issuing a call to all Denison men: we must contribute to conversations about relationship violence. I call upon men from all socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities to consciously rid our community of this social ill. And I call upon our members to brainstorm practical ways in which we, as men, could end men’s violence against members of our campus and our communities beyond the Hill.

We know that many cultural traditions and images in the media suggest that a “real” man hides his emotions, views sexual experience as a status symbol, and solves problems with aggression. While these traditional ideas of masculinity are not always negative, it is important that we accept other ideas of masculinity as well. Structured dialogues that inspire the courage to question contemporary notions of masculinity, while simultaneously providing the opportunity to see through others’ perspectives, would help us immeasurably.

Prevention starts early. We need to develop innovative ways to teach young men that we have better ways to express negative emotions than exerting physical dominance over others. Denison should be a leader in such initiatives. Increasingly, college campuses are calling upon men to take an active role in prevention measures.

As an alumnus of the Denison and a member of the general faculty, I asks others to join me in rallying men to the call, and to work diligently to heal our fair college on the hill. Men of substance understand that social justice work in the areas of race, class, gender, ageism, and sexual orientation is critical to ending violence. For that reason, we must approach these issues from a number of perspectives, with the intention of changing the ways relationships are cultivated in our community.

A number of viable strategies have been successful in communities like ours. These include:

• Creating role-model opportunities for young men in our community. Work collaboratively with sports teams, school districts and student organizations. (Resources like the Alford Center for Service Learning and the Campus Leadership and Involvement Center can help us get started.)
• Learning how to articulate accurately our emotions. (Counseling Services and one-on-one meetings with professionals from the Division of Student Development, with faculty advisors and mentors provide ready opportunities.)
• Identifying and working with existing prevention programs. (SHARE Advocates and the Center for Women and Gender Action welcome our involvement.)
• Providing safe venues to discuss what it means to be a man. (Sustained Dialogue Campus Network (and other student organizations), the Center for Cross-Cultural Engagement, and Residential Education all offer related opportunities for discourse and programming.)

Denison has this wealth of resources. We need to use them! I challenge each fraternity chapter, athletic team and student organization to not only host courageous conversations about relationship violence and its effects on our campus community, but also devise action plans to creatively respond to this phenomenon with the assistance of their advisors; I serve as an advisor to such an organization, and I welcome these conversations.

M.C. Isler, my maternal grandfather, used to talk with me for hours about the responsibly of men. One quote has always stuck with me, “Erik, I can show you better than I can tell you.” It’s a start for us to be able to explain why relationship violence is wrong, but real change will happen when we show the campus how it’s done.


On Being First-Gen…Sort Of

中文 (简体)

By Laurel Kennedy, Vice President for Student Development

There has been lots of attention lately to the unique challenges of being a first-generation college student. One article concluded by calling on colleges and universities to ensure that their faculty and staff include members who were first-generation college students in their day.

Whether I was technically a first-gen college student depends on the definition we’re using. Some institutions identify a student as “first-generation” if neither of their parents attended college, ever. Some look at whether a parent graduated from college. One institution has many different categories—one parent versus two, attended versus graduated, etc.

Parental experience with higher education is considered important because it correlates with academic retention and success. There are lots of reasons: students whose parents also went to college usually have higher incomes, and thus can better afford both the upfront and the hidden costs of college. They attend colleges that suit their interests and needs because their parents could help them choose a school that fits their interests and aptitudes. They experience greater academic success because education was more often hardwired into their home life and because their parents have been through the academic rigors of college and can offer more help—with papers but also with critical decisions, like what to major in.

My story is a little bit complex. My mother graduated from college and provided the early socialization and acculturation about college-going. Still, we weren’t raised expecting to go. My brother, the oldest and the only son, did: he graduated from a state college in Mankato, Minnesota, 75 miles from home. My two sisters, next in line, did not. One went from high school into a secretarial college to become a court reporter, and the other followed her there after a brief stint at a college in Wisconsin.

Those educational paths were largely constructed by my mother, who also engineered a scholarship for me to a private school starting in the 7th grade. My father supported all of this in principle, but was detached from it. So when my mother died in the middle of my 10th grade year… well, let’s just say that my dad was dealing with a lot more than unfamiliarity with colleges and universities. When the time came, I was on my own with applications and financial aid forms. He beseeched me to attend the nearby community college so that I could live at home. When tuition reciprocity enabled me to go to the University of Wisconsin, he was sure that I was all but lost to him. First-gen students sometimes talk about the guilt of “abandoning” their parent. I know about that: I loved my dad.

So, true: I was socialized for college by my mother and by my high school experience, a huge boon when classes began. But she was gone, and socialization doesn’t pay the tuition bill or offer encouragement about a daunting assignment. Most of what I remember about college is panic: juggling jobs to pay my bills, terrified that I might flunk out, often in a state of free-fall, knowing that I was on my own. My father had no conception of what it cost to go to school or of the day-to-day academic challenges that are managed by a college student.

But things were also different then. When I started college in 1976, I attended alongside many first-generation students, as the ranks of higher education broadened in terms of gender, race, and class. And while I shared many of the financial, academic and emotional challenges of first-generation peers, my mother’s influence (the weekly trips to the library, car trips to historical sites, the consistency of encouragement) provided intellectual benefits that I could already recognize, my anxieties notwithstanding.

But my experience unquestionably gives me some affinity with the first-generation students with whom I work now. One of my strongest college memories is from winter break of my sophomore year: I was alone on a gray, snowy day, sitting on the floor with all of my financial aid papers, my tuition bill, my bank statements, and my paycheck stubs fanned out around me. No matter how I rearranged the papers, the numbers on them wouldn’t add up to the amount due for tuition. It was one of those crucible moments, when a person’s values crystallize into resolve. I decided in that moment that if I could figure out a way to pay that tuition bill, the opportunity would not be wasted: I’d work hard, and later I’d get a job, and I’d make it all worthwhile in the end.

I was extremely fortunate that my roommate’s parents did what my father couldn’t: they gave me the money I needed (and were kind enough to call it a loan). And in the end—well, clearly I’ve managed to essentially stay in college forever. But after 25 years of working in higher education, it’s easy to forget how grueling it can be. And my “maybe-I-am, maybe-I’m-not” status allows me to feel deep admiration for first-generation students who have even more at stake than I did and are so determined to persevere.

劳瑞尔•肯尼迪 学生发展中心副主席











What positive change looks like.

中文 (简体)

By Laurel Kennedy, Vice President for Student Development

Alcohol abuse is a public health issue that impacts all communities. Denison has worked aggressively to address the problem on our campus, and much of what we are doing is succeeding and could provide a roadmap for other colleges, high schools, and communities.

Our work started from three assumptions. First, Denison has excellent students who can be engaged as problem solvers and community builders. Second, as a leading liberal arts college, we should be on the vanguard of addressing big issues. And third, there are good models that can be adapted to our context.

We adopted the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) “3-in-1” framework, which addresses prevention, education, and enforcement by implementing interventions that target three groups: individuals (including high-risk drinkers), the student population as a whole, and the surrounding community. And last fall, we formed a Task Force to look closely at our student body and campus culture.

Denison has become a very diverse place, especially in the last decade. Our students bring an array of interests, passions, values, beliefs, and life experiences to campus. A growing percentage of our students do not drink, and the vast majority who do are responsible drinkers. With active participation from students, the Task Force implemented an event registration policy. Students must undergo formal training to serve alcohol, provide snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, and manage access to the party. The policy improved relations with Security and empowered hosts to deny underage students access to alcohol.

We engaged the parents of incoming students in an alcohol education initiative, and a survey indicates their broad appreciation for our candor and for providing effective resources.

We also re-examined a policy enacted in Spring 2010 that substituted educational requirements for disciplinary sanctions when students alerted campus authorities to an alcohol-related medical emergency. The policy had one goal: to increase the likelihood that students would seek help when needed. The vast majority of students were cared for at the campus health center. In the unusual circumstances when students’ medical needs exceeded our health center’s resources, they were taken to the hospital.

In the policy’s first year, calls for help more than doubled, but we also found other positive impacts. We learned that education changes behavior: All but a handful of students receiving emergency care learned a life lesson and did not reappear on our radar screen. This change in behavior increased the safety of the campus for all.

One negative outcome was that the increase in calls burdened public resources. This has now been relieved through an arrangement with a commercial EMS provider.

So far, our approach is working. While citations for minor violations remain steady, the number being treated for alcohol-related medical concerns has dropped 25 percent. And virtually all are once again being treated by campus medical staff rather than transported to the hospital.

Following the NIAAA model, our prevention efforts also require us to look beyond campus, Just as we examined how a 2010 campus policy had impacted the local community, we also took stock of how recent changes in the community had impacted the alcohol environment on campus. We were surprised to realize how much the availability of alcohol in town has changed.. There are now fully 13 Granville establishments that sell or serve alcohol, and it is more prominently displayed than ever. In a single location, our students can select from no less than 114 different varieties of vodka.

In other words, student alcohol use has become a big part of our local economy. This means that the associated problems cannot be solved by the college alone. Denison is forming a campus-community alcohol coalition with Village officials, residents, merchants, bar and restaurant owners. We hope to find common ground on alcohol availability, high standards for safe serving, and alternate ways to engage students in the economy.

Denison prides itself on addressing vexing public issues while also preparing our students to be leaders. We are proud of the work done by Denisonians over the last year, and we hope to achieve a similar record of innovation and collaboration with community partners. If it is true that “it takes a village,” we feel fortunate to live in this one, where we share commitments to individual health and community wellbeing.




我们的工作起始于三个假设条件。第一, 丹尼森的学生都能成为很好的问题解决者和社区建设者。第二,作为一所文理学院,我们应该是解决重大问题的先锋。而第三点,有适应我们环境的良好案例我们可以学习和采用。