Breathing & Moving Forward In Love

Last night, I experienced my first aggressive internet troll because I used the hashtags #daywithoutimmigrants and #solidarity in a post from my professional twitter account regarding students who might miss class today completing an alternative assignment.  I want to be clear that I am happy to extend an alternative assignment to any student who misses class for any reason today (and generally this is my policy although this is additional work for me, and I am not under any obligation to do so).  I also want to be clear that my post was not intended (although it was interpreted) to be biased towards or against any student of any background or to give preferential treatment to students.  I can see how it might seem politically biased, however, it was meant to offer an opportunity for students to gain access to the learning that they would miss from class today if they were absent.  Again, I have extended this opportunity to all my students.  Under the policy of my university, I am within my faculty rights to excuse an absence and offer an alternative assignment, although I am not obligated to do so beyond the cases of illness, bereavement, religion, jury duty or university sanctioned events.

Let me explain that giving an alternative assignment to students who miss class is actually not a privilege. It’s much simpler and a much richer learning experience to be in class, with the support of colleagues and the ability to clarify with the professor. That is why we have university attendance policies. However, sometimes life happens and you are ill or you have an interview or you stand up for your personal beliefs (whatever they are) and you miss class.  In that case, I try always to honor my students as individuals and support their professionalism with an alternative assignment related to the topic of the course for that week. These are hard situations and I don’t want students to miss out on their education because I am an educator.

So that’s that.

But really, it’s not.

Two weeks ago, I wrote this post because I believe it is dangerous to live in a world of false dichotomies where advocating for issues that I believe are basic human justice then position me as against other things without my express articulation that I am against those things.  Just as those who believe things that are different from me have the right to free speech, so do I, but we have a human responsibility to one another to be respectful when we have concerns rather than berating, escalating and gas lighting people because we don’t agree with them.

And, I want to take this a step further by choosing love, which is what I’ve always tried to choose.  I don’t want people to suffer for their beliefs, whether they are like-minded to me or different.  I would like to draw together in our common humanity to discuss those beliefs where possible and move forward towards common goals which I believe that most of us have.  Perhaps this woman’s goal was to ensure equal treatment for people with all beliefs.  I can see that and respect that.  I embrace that too.  But, threatening my funding, my position and calling for a university/federal investigation of my posts which are outside of the academic day?  Could we not have had a civil conversation if this was her core concern? I’m actually a really good listener.

Anyways, I’m going to keep standing in love, justice and truth, and I’ve got to prep for class.  I posted last night that I would not be scared into silence, and I won’t.  But, I also need solidarity. Whatever your truth is, I invite you to stand in it and speak with love for justice.  And, if you see me and know me today or tomorrow, I could probably use a hug.  I’m human too, but stronger in love through this all.

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