Consider this a blanket trigger warning for sociology in general, and this class more specifically.
If a particular class material (e.g., a subject or aspect of it, a reading, a piece of visual or auditory content, a discussion on a particular topic) is triggering for you, you should disengage with it (i.e., stop reading or watching, leave class) and follow up with me (i.e., send an email, make an office hours appointment, reach out to a counselor or dean).
Respect is the watchword in this classroom.
Please arrive to class on time and prepared.
Please use preferred names and pronouns.
We engage in discussion in A Cone of Silence, and we Respect the Code of the Cone of Silence.
All cell phones should be on do not disturb (not on vibrate) in the classroom.
If you use a tablet or laptop to take notes during class, make sure you use the tablet or laptop to take notes during class, not to do other things that might distract you or other students, or might be disrespectful to other students or your professor.
Zero tolerance for cruelty or bigotry.
Hold space for one another.
Sociology is the study of the world and the ways in which societies are structured to privilege some groups and oppress others. We are not discussing cheerful sh*t with no stakes. We are discussing real sh*t that affects you, whether you know it yet or not, and definitely affects people in this classroom in ways with which they are already way too familiar (and/or vice versa). That means we are dealing with both the emotional (i.e., the personal, the anecdotal, the experiential) and the empirical (i.e., the peer-reviewed research, the classical and cutting-edge quantitative and qualitative analysis of social phenomena) when we talk about sociology in class.
We need to try, as best we can, to focus on the empirical, while we also try, as best we can, to still respect the emotional, both in ourselves and in each other. Use your empathy to recognize that the academic is often political and the political is often personal, and always refrain from policing your classmates’ emotions.
Be compassionate with yourselves. Do not demand of yourself that you be perfect in all ways all the time. Give yourself time to grow and change, and feed yourself what you need to do that growing and changing.
It is okay to make mistakes. Success does not happen without failure.
Sometimes we make mistakes, and if and when we do, we will promptly apologize and make it right.
Discomfort is key for learning. Lean into the discomfort. Name the discomfort if it helps, and ask questions to help work your way out of it.
No one should be afraid to participate in any discussion for fear of not having anything to add. We are all parts of the systems of stratification we study, regardless of what system of oppression or privilege we are talking about. All our experiences are affected, so everyone has a voice in these conversations, and everyone should try their besto use that in class discussions.
Remember that discomfort is different than pain. One is associated with privilege and the other with subordination. Valuing comfort over learning values the experiences of the privileged, and therefore the privileged, over the experiences of the subordinated, and therefore the subordinated.
If unsure of what to say or insecure about what to contribute, you can still try to participate by supporting your classmates. Snaps are a great way to show you support, agree with, or vibe with what a classmate is saying without having to pipe up on your own. You can also use your own voice to amplify the voices of others by thanking other students for their ideas, perspectives, and stories.
You are never required to represent anyone but yourself. You are never required to represent any group of which you may or may not be a part. You are never required to share experiences relevant to what we discuss in class.
Please remember that everyone is on their own journey with regard to understanding, navigating, and coming to terms with these very difficult subject areas. You are never required bring anyone else further along on their journey. Focus on your own learning and growth.
Though being steadfast in your convictions is an excellent quality, it is often best, in this class as it is in life, to say “I don’t know,” “I don’t understand,” or to engage in active listening.
Do not listen only to prepare your own response or argument. Do not stare down at your phone, tablet, or laptop. Do not raise your hand while someone else is speaking.
As you speak, acknowledge one another’s points, and make sure your comments are relevant to one another. Focus on the flow of the conversation as opposed to worrying about adding the smartest thing or the most powerful anecdote.
Please come talk to me (i.e., after class, over email, during office hours) if/when you have a problem. Do not let anything fester.