As a three-time CPLCer, I’ve already written a few reflective pieces, so I decided to try something different for this final project. I started assigning unessays in some of my classes at the beginning of the pandemic, and I wanted to see what it would be like to create my own. Also, after more than two years of teaching, working, and living through a pandemic, I am exhausted. I just needed to try something different.
For my unessay project, I wanted to engage with some of the ideas generated by the CPLC, so I turned to Season 3’s “Starting with Values” document and “The Values that Guide Us” document created by CoLab Student Affiliates Rhiannon Black and Natalie Smith.
Inspired by some recent, raw conversations I’d had with students regarding issues of racism, sexism, safety and sexual assault here at PSU, I wanted to create something that could encourage more such conversations—conversations about the values we identified in the CPLC, and conversations with and between students, faculty, staff, and administrators. I also hope to facilitate movement from discussion to action: How can we work together to ensure our community lives up to these values?
Because I’m a nerd who actually kind of likes workbooks, I decided on a workbook as my format of choice. I’m really tired of Google docs, and I wanted to work on something more tactile, so I decided to make something more in the style of a 90’s feminist ‘zine.
This workbook was designed to help people affiliated with PSU reflect on the values identified by the CPLC (Accessibility, Community, Empathy, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect). More importantly, it’s designed to encourage conversation, especially between different groups at PSU. I could see it being used in classes, but I think it would better serve cross-constituent groups in CPLC-like retreats, where the ideas generated could move and develop between students, faculty, staff, and administrators. In fact, I could see this as a series of conversations—maybe one conversation for each of the six identified values: Accessibility, Community, Empathy, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect. But I’m getting ahead of myself! I deliberately made the workbook with minimal instruction so that it might be adapted to a variety of settings.
In the end, I’m really glad I decided to try an “unessay” for this project, and I’m pretty happy with the result. It was nice to think about my unessay assignment from a different perspective—I think that will help me refine the assignment for future classes. Although putting the workbook together took WAAAAY longer than I expected, it was actually really fun to be engaged with the designing, printing, cutting, and pasting for a whole weekend—it was a great way to wind down from the end-of-semester stress and panic. I was short a few sheets of white paper (that’s why the definitions/perspectives are on yellow paper, and why the section headings are handwritten on scraps), which reminded me of being an undergrad and the enormous stress something like that would have caused me (I didn’t have much “extra” money for stuff like paper, etc.). And, most importantly, I had the chance to really dig into the CPLC values and think about what they mean to me, and what they mean to others. Rereading the wise words of my colleagues and our students was a joy and a privilege.
I’m grateful for my three seasons with the CPLC, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to reflect on that work with this project. Enormous thanks to Cathie, Robin, Martha, Hannah, and everyone else involved in making this experience possible.