Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Disability Support Services Panel

Disability Support Services Panel

 Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 at 4:30pm-5:30pm in 110 Moon Library
(Class project of facilitators Amelia Hoffman and Lisa--thank you very much for sharing with campus!)

·      Mary Triano, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs (Student Support) at ESF

·       Paula Possenti-Perez, Director of Office of Disability Services at Syracuse University

·       Bethany Heaton-Crawford, Assistant Director & Counselor of Office of Disability Support Services at Syracuse University

·       Melissa Stevens & Morgan Harrington, from Elmcrest Special Education Center

Abstract:The panel will engage in discussion about trends in students coming to college, common barriers experienced by students, and about different types of disabilities. The goal is to continue to build awareness about the complexity and diversity that exists within the community and discuss case studies that highlight areas where faculty and staff can engage in eliminate barriers and act as advocates and empower  their students.  We welcome all!

Question posed by facilitators:   Why are IEP, 504 plans (primary and secondary school plans) important?  Documentation of a disability or pre-conditions.  College students are bright; they may have been able to accommodate on their own prior to the more rigorous higher ed curriculum.  Accommodations may change as workload and available technology change.  Terminology also changes with private and public institutions.  About access to the educational environment.  Work with student to create an “Access plan.” In terms of success and satisfaction, navigating the system can create a lot of stress, especially on top of the courseload.  Stigma of disability and fear of faculty response may lead students to choose not to disclose.  In an inclusive environment:  One is disabled by limited access.

In preschool classrooms, it takes a good month to lay groundwork, and several months to see results of accommodations.  

Disability is socially constructed to be not-normal.  In our culture, need to be brave to disclose.  Need to stick out and fail prior to receiving services.  Each transition has a barrier as well, may no longer qualify as move to next aged program.  Intentionality of language can change that.  Accumulated microaggressions reinforce the negative, and it’s internalized.  Accommodation is different and hard word, but it makes a difference.

Universal design—shift in pedagogy and multi-modal design can benefit all students, not just the ones who requires an accommodation.  Eg, closed captioning—everyone can read along, not just the hearing impaired.
Questions from audience:

Beyond the syllabus addition regarding accommodation, what can faculty do to increase their confidence in carrying out those conversations?  Statement asks students to identify elements that might be problematic.  Leave different means to engage students.  Language matters!  Go through syllabus to identify.  Admit—I am not an expert.  I rely on you to let me know what works, and we can figure it out together.  What if a faculty member suspects a disability but it has not been disclosed?  Ask, you seem engaged, but your test grades aren’t reflecting that. Talk to me about the gap. 

What are some common barriers experienced by students?  “I want to try it without”—we want to be respectful of that, but also talk them through because there is a reason(physical, neurological, chemical, whatever) why student is in their office.  Students are also not always aware of all the accommodations available to them; faculty, too.  Answer is:  let’s ask!  Accommodation often requires timeliness and faculty cooperation—like notetaking, alternate format.  Publishers won’t release information without proof of purchase.  Physical construct of classroom can be a barrier—how building or lab is designed. 

Working on an accessibility map so paths are clearer.  Solutions may be moving classrooms, or changing schedules.

Many students have said that they have difficulty disclosing invisible disabilities—what tools might make this easier?  Disability Center can role play that conversation; help them develop a script.  Communicate first electronically.  Each student has a counselor that can act as a liaison.  They would like to work more with faculty and help them understand that there is leadership there to support them so that it is not a “burden.” This is what we can do to help you support ALL students.  Counselor may email, copy student, staying “… will be coming to talk with you.”  How much they have to disclose is a big black hole—students can feel like they need to disclose whole history, or faculty may fear that they know need to be an export on that concern.  Many faculty don’t want that level of detail—they want to know what they can do to help.  How can they know when student is struggling or not?  What conditions will help student learn best?  Sometimes parents haven’t allowed their child to be involved with that conversation through high school because they want to shield child from the stigma, from the difficulty in obtaining their service, etc.  Mindset factor:  “I’m no good at this” but its cognitive distortion due to ineffective strategies.  Tutoring differs between high school and college; there is now expectation that they will have tried to read the chapter prior to session.

What are the percentages of ESF students receiving services?  How does that compare to other places?  Implications to things that are coming through the ranks?  Nationally, about 11%; SU 7%, ESF ~6% (self-reported).  All averages are going up, more students on autism spectrum (esp at STEM schools) because of early interventions.  Technology has come a long way.  Assistive technology isn’t utilized in k-12, which means new students have to learn to use while trying to learn everything else.  Read and Write can be used by all students, so everyone learning together.  At SU, will be getting a lot more veterans.  The more they become savvy about self and benefits of diversity…

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Women's Empowerment Brunch 2017

Panelists Drs. Lindi Quackenbush, Tehmekah MacPherson, Melissa Fierke, Marie-Odile Fortier and Kelley Donaghey addressed questions on this year's focal point:  Leadership.

Facilitator Alana Lindsey of the Baobab Society recognized that ESF is on Haudenosaunee Territory, and then launched into questions.

Panelists noted "official" leadership duties as chairs and directors, but also mentors and in development of large classes, serving as counterpoints on committees, and as examples. 

They shared times when their authority was not taken seriously.  One observes that this is more noticeable at STEM institutions than in more comprehensive institutions, with a larger number of departments and  more women faculty members.  Another mentioned a male student explaining to her the purpose of her own class.  Another that when they attempt to discuss such things with male coworkers that they imply that the issue is with her. 

One mentioned that this occurs in classrooms, and wondered if its simply a new setting.  Colleagues at other institutions assure her that no, there really is always a grandstander (usually male). 

Female and male faculty are perceived very differently; there are studies that show that evaluations of male instructors will be rated 17% better without any other differences.    Compounded by discrimation due to other immutable factors (young, being a person of color)--its hard to separate how much is because of female, country of origin, because grew up very rurally

MacPherson:  Don't dismiss feelings; use something you love to move to the other side.  [She] has artistic expression, voices [of authors, quotes]

Be willing to say, No, I can't do that.

Address assumptions head on:  but can be perceived as cold, bitch.  But if don't respond:  pushover.

Dress so that you are comfortable and feel good about yourself (if you feel most confident in makeup, go for it!) and don't worry about other's opinions.  (One notes that this is difficult--makeup takes a bit longer to get ready, easy care hairstyle or coloring requires more frequent appointments, and they do worry that others might perceive that this wasted time).

For People of Color, hair has been a political statement--it takes up physical space, and women are supposed to be as small and quiet as possible. 

Take up space in attire as well--do I feel like dealing with comments today?  If not, dress differently.  If yes, go all out.

Question :  importance of how women address other women, and how men address women.  While the questioner wondered about this in the context of "slut shaming" (never cool), panelists dove into the issue of infantilizing women by referring to them as "girls."  Consciously correct. Pronouns count!

Tips for Women of Color? 
Work out what it is that you want to be. need to be happy with the progress you are making.
Don't let anyone suppress your flame.  Know when its being tested, know when you need a break.  Identify a survival kit with quotes to see you through to being whole.  Find the MENTORING group for your field, or for women in your field. 
Challenge yourself

I get interrupted a lot--what strategies can I employ?  Be silent?  Watch them run into a wall? Sometimes you need to interject:  "Please let me finish" or "One more thing that I'd like to add before we move on"

Responses to anti-feminist comments, or you are "being too sensitive" or "taking it too seriously"?

(To be continued, in other forums!) 

Baobab Society, Undergraduate Student Association-Student Inclusion, and ESF Women's Caucus

Friday, March 24, 2017

All Gender Bathrooms--effort to designate some others as


At a meeting recently, it came to my attention that there are almost no All Gender bathrooms on campus,  that even single stall bathrooms are still designated as single gender and cannot be re-designated.  At this meeting it was pointed out that some of our community members who are transgender, not on the gender binary, gender non-comforming or transition were uncomfortable using a rest room and would wait all day to return home.  So why aren’t all the single-stall bathrooms designated as “all gender” you ask?  Apparently there is a law that requires that if one single gendered bathroom is re-designated then the opposite single gendered bathroom must be also.  As many of you know in some of our buildings at ESF we have a  dearth of bathrooms, and in many of the oder buildings the bathrooms were converted men’s rooms to women’s rooms.  And sometimes there aren’t equal numbers of mens and women’s rooms at all so that has made re-designating these rooms difficult to impossible.

In the Jahn and Baker complex due to the youth of the building or the recent renovations there is a plethora of bathrooms.   These restrooms are not single-stall bathrooms but there are men’s and women’s rooms on each floor.  Sierra Jech, Heidi Webb and myself have written the attached petition to request that the multi-stall first floor women’s and men’s rooms on the first floor of Jahn be re-designated as All Gender bathrooms.  These bathrooms are extremely accessible and within 30 steps of a set of single gender bathrooms in Baker Laboratory and about 150 feet from single gender bathrooms in Gateway - all on the same level, no elevators or steps required.  There will no doubt need to be some remodeling but we feel that we need to make the request to get the conversation started.  I know that not everyone is comforatble with a multi–stall All Gender bathroom but for some, this will be a huge relief and for visitors a sign of our inclusivity.  Further, there is precedent at other SUNY schools.  Personally, I hope that on a campus where many students in field classes are told that the rest room is the nearest bush, this initiative will find wide support.

Sierra, myself and others will be tabling next week in Gateway and if you’d like to sign the proposal we would appreciate your assistance, we will be there hopefully Wednesday and Thursday.  Additionally, you are welcome to come to my office and sign.  Or you can send me an email indicating your support, or print the PDF, sign the document, scan it and email it back or even electronically sign it and return.  I don’t know how many signatures it will take or what the next steps will be, but all the support we can get will help as we move this forward.

Thank you,


Kelley J. Donaghy, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Immediate Past Executive Chair of Academic Governance

SUNY Senator

Director of the Environmental Scholars Program

315 Jahn Laboratory

1 Forestry Drive

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Syracuse, NY 13210

Office:  315-470-6826

Cell:  302-545-5593

Fax:  315-470-6856


Whereas a new bill is being considered within the New York State Legislature “that would make all single--‐ occupancy restrooms in public places gender neutral”;1 and

Whereas gender--‐specific bathrooms present problems for parents with differently gendered children and disabled people with differently gendered attendants; and

Whereas there are currently few facilities on the SUNY--‐ESF campus where individuals not on the gender binary, transgender, gender non--‐conforming, or transitioning individuals are comfortable “Peeing in Peace”;2 and

Whereas the Jahn Laboratory has a wealth of bathrooms having been constructed after 1993 and having both men's and women’s rooms on at least four floors; and

Whereas the first floor of Jahn Laboratory is connected by the sky bridge to Baker Laboratory and therefore additional men’s and women’s rooms are within approximately 30 steps of and located on the same floors as the first floor Jahn Laboratory bathrooms; and

Whereas the first floor of Jahn Laboratory is centrally located, wheelchair accessible from the Campus Drive entrance, open on weekends when the computer clusters are open, and is a high traffic area;

Therefore be it resolved that the chemistry department and other concerned SUNY--‐ESF community members request that the SUNY--‐ESF Administration re--‐designate the multi--‐stall men's and women’s bathrooms on the first floor of Jahn laboratory as All Gender bathrooms. We would also request that the urinals in the men’s bathroom be enclosed or at a minimum a sign indicating “unenclosed urinals may be in use” be prominently displayed.

We believe that having a multi--‐stall bathroom re--‐designated sends a strong message to our community that all people are welcome within the chemistry department and would be a strong step toward an inclusive and accessible campus.

1 NY  Bill  Proposed  statewide  requirement  for  gender  neutral  bathrooms,  Geoff  Herbert

 2  Peeing  in  Peace,  Transgender  Law  Center,

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Recent menstrual product initiative from USA

....The Undergraduate Student Association is excited to announce the beginning of one of our newest initiatives: complimentary menstrual products for all students! As you may have noticed, bathrooms in Bray, Gateway, and Moon now have small white bins with tampons and pads for students to use as necessary.  Being that our mission is to represent and provide for the needs of all students, we chose to provide these products in both men's and women's restrooms. We understand that not all students require menstrual products and ask that the bins be reserved for those who do.

If you have any questions about this, or if you notice that a bin is empty, please let us know at or We also welcome feedback about placement/access so that we are able to expand the program.

Thanks for your cooperation and support of your colleagues and friends!

Ben Taylor

USA President

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dams as a model for shared decision making and management.

How do we communicate for social-ecological resilience? Communication research to connect science with coastal and freshwater management and policy.

As part of the requirements for FOR797 Perspectives on Career and Gender, students share responsibility for reporting on presentations in ESF's Women in Scientific and Environmental Speaker Series.  The following was prepared by Mariela Cavo, MS student, Forest and Natural Resources and Management, SUNY ESF.

Dr. Bridie McGreavy, Assistant Professor of Environmental Communication in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of Maine, studies communication within sustainability science teams in coastal and freshwater management contexts. She is currently the lead investigator on the New England Sustainability Consortium’s Future of Dams Project. This project, funded by NSF-EPSCoR, links science with decision making about systems of dams.

              On January 26, 2017, Dr. McGreavy launched this semesters Adaptive Peaks and Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions (WiSE Professions) Speaker series with the preliminary results of her research Save Beaches and Shellfish.  Her presentation focused on answering the questions, “How do we communicate for social-ecological resilience?” and, “How do we  link science with decision making related to coastal and freshwater management and policy?”

              Attention was first put on describing the most challenging ecological, economic and social-cultural threats identified by the project: the coast of New England has been warming at a higher rate than other similar areas.   They have noticed significant changes in precipitation, t various kinds of pollution in the area, and a green crab invasion because of the increase in temperature. It was also noted that the decline of resources like clams, as well as the price fluctuation and the market power in the shellfish market, have been making stakeholder’s income prediction quite challenging, leading to economic uncertainty. Regarding the social and cultural aspects, the clam industry was identified as the second most important industry in the area of Maine.  The fisheries industry faces pressing social and cultural issues, including biases, restricted access to new technology, and the decline of local knowledge, cultural traditions, and food sources.  In addition, the physically demanding work puts workers at risk of pain and injury, which can lead to opiate and alcohol addiction. 

              The research in question has found that a well-designed “co-management strategy” could improve the shellfish industry. To date, this industry has been co-managed with shared decision making among the fishery industry, municipalities, state agencies, civic groups and private businesses. Co-management is most effective when well designed with opportunities to implement knowledge gained from research.  Topic areas include water quality, natural resources management and barriers to participation. 

Dr. McGreavy also depicted the methods they use to communicate social ecological resilience: incentivizing the participation of the different stakeholders, using an adaptive and iterative engagement through interviews to share information regarding the progress and to get feedback, and being responsive to information and partnership needs. Regarding the linking of science with decision-making for resilience, the project has a decision support team that has been mainly focused on watershed cluster analysis.  
Learning from failure, partnership redundancy and diversity, getting muddy with stakeholders create a shared, dynamic experience that help mold the deliberate, conceptual framework.   To conclude, the professor recommended conducting yearly needs assessments with the towns, improving and leveraging fishermen’s forums, exploring organizational restructuring to expand shellfish science and monitoring, building municipal partnership and infrastructure and increasing the sharing of the information and collaboration across sectors.  

Dr. McGreavy received her B.A. in Political Science from Bates College, her M.S. in Environmental Studies/Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England, and her Ph.D. in communication with a concentration in sustainability science from the University of Maine. Her research has been published in journals such as Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, Ecology and Society, and the International Journal of Sustainable Development.

This presentation was sponsored by the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, with the assistance of the ESF Women’s Caucus. For more information about SUNY ESF’s Adaptive Peaks Seminar Series, please visit  For the WiSE Professions series, please visit:  



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What to say? A toolbox for confronting oppresive language

What do you do when your jaw sort of drops, and you don’t know what to say? Professor of Inclusive Education, Syracuse  University, Mara Sapon-Shevin, shared her thoughts on and strategies for responding to oppressive comments--and gave us a chance to practice using those technique
Each of us has multiple identities, with a race (or more than one), class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity (ethnicicities), language(s), religion(s), abilities/disabilities, etc.  We need to get SMARTER about differences, about oppression, and about what it means to be an ally.

“Color blind” as not noticing differences is an odd construct.  If someone said  “I can’t tell a tree, from shrub, from a…I’m nature blind” we’d feel sorry for them.  Not noticing things that are important to the other party—why isn’t that also the case?
When we (the group) discussed our identities with others here today, we realized that those at different parts of spectrum can feel similar isolation--but also learn more about other points of view that are not relatable from positions of privilege.  We can empathize when identities are difficult to balance, or are both a source of pride and frustration, when identities we see as “+”,are not viewed that way universally.  Some categories are fixed, but others were not, and some more fluid -- disability/ability for instance .  Disability studies may refer to the “TAB” (temporarily able-bodied), as age or injury will catch up with most of us.  If we keep those in mind, what would be designed differently?
How do we respond to differences?  The general tendency is exclusion, mockery, scorn, marginalization.  But, what if, rather than “that’s weird”…the response is "I wonder what life is like for that kid?  Why do you wear that?  I’ve never seen that food before.  How do you celebrate that holiday?" 
What about noticing how people are mis/treated because of their differences?  Racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, religious oppression.  Are there areas where you are good at noticing, but holes in others?  (Hard to know what you don’t notice… a prior workshop:  how many have experienced sexism?  No hands raised.  Not even someone yelling on the street “Hey, nice t!1s?” Well, yes, but that’s normal.)  We can notice, or we can turn away. 

“What would you do?  Muslims in America”  

Two actors:  customer in hajib, racist bakery owner refusing to serve her.  Do real customers intervene?  6 praise owner; 13 side with customer and opt not to place orders; a few stand ground and argue, requesting to speak with manager.  Both sides convinced their reaction is patriotic.  But 22 people said or did nothing—which is most frightening to the real Muslim college student whose experiences inspired the experiment, and watched with the camera crew.
Allyship is a process, and everyone has more to learn.  Allyship involves a lot of listening.  Sometimes, people say “doing ally work” or “acting in solidarity with” to reference the fact that “ally” is not an identity, certainly not one bestowed upon oneself

Allies—acting powerfully in the moment.  Addressing structural inequities and oppression for the long haul.
Think about times you either interrupted Oppressive Behavior, or did not.  Sometimes it’s a decision not to respond.  Sometimes it’s because didn’t realize what had happened.   What made it possible to respond?  had a strategy, had a story, had information, a relationship with the offender, power (could be easier to call out my students than dean), boiling point (emotion), body language, an identity that isn’t mine, argument won’t matter (but now my kids are at the table).  What made it difficult? a relationship with the offender, no power, shock/disbelief, ideology, emotion, safety (fear), moral relativity (is it an issue?), an identity that isn’t mine, argument won’t matter, didn’t know what to say, would oppressed want intervention…. will I say it correctly?
Need relationships to ask—What would be supportive in this environment?   Examples:  If a colleague’s idea's are dismissed at staff meetings—ask privately if the next time, would it would be beneficial if you responded “Wait, that’s a great idea!  I want to hear more”? 
Dr. Sapon-Shevin then distributed (drumroll, please!) the STRATEGIES FOR CHALLENGING OPPRESSION that she developed with Robin Smith.  These are intended for interpersonal relationships (that you'd like to preserve), not street harassment.  "The point is to have a BIG TOOLBOX ---- different things will work in different settings, contexts, etc." 
Before any of the responses can be used, you need to "notice what’s going on with you so can think of a strategy ---get centered –get grounded – be calm so that you can think more clearly.  Begin with three slow, deep breaths.  Notice what you’re feeling in your body as well as your thoughts."  You can ask for clarification, which can let someone rephrase appropriately---and also gains you a few moments to get your thoughts in order to calmly give accurate information, make a connection, ask more questions, counter with personal experiences, and if none of these work:  "Stop. I won't listen to this."

She also notes that "No one EVER does this perfectly—the important thing is to keep practicing, and keep trying!"  We look forward to more sessions to roleplay and to bring Dr. Sapon-Shevin back to work with even more of our colleagues! 

This workshop was a collaboration of the ESF Women's Caucus, Committee on Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, and the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Empowering each other, and the girls coming behind us

I'd like to share two collaborations this semester, with two different groups of women, working toward the goal of supporting women along the STEM pipeline, but at different stages in their lives and careers.

Mid-semester, students Rhea Joseph, President of the Baobab Society, and Fatema Zubair and
Samantha McVey, Undergraduate Student Association's Co-Directors of Student Affairs and Diversity, approached us about collaborating on "a social mixer/brunch to promote women empowerment specifically in STEM related fields"-- something Rhea and Fatema had in in the backs of their minds for a while, but with graduation rapidly approaching, would need to do soon to participate themselves!! We brainstormed format and discussion points, they periodically reported back that they'd secured panelists, drafted questions and would like feedback on them, ordered food, were selling tickets, had sold out! And then April 10 was there--Baobab Society finalized the decorations, welcomed in a gender inclusive audience of 80 or so students, staff, faculty, who listened to these poised young women expertly facilitate the panel discussion, focusing on challenges in and out of the workplace, what helped, and what should the community really look at to truly assess the climate for women, so that students, faculty and staff succeed in an environment that promotes a sense of value, support and belonging, rather than persisting in spite of that environment.

Take home messages:

It's time to think about a different way of doing things, but some challenges remain.

You may not feel "like a full-fledged member" of a department, especially if you have different credentials than the others in your unit. But you can open doors (even a crack) for others to come through to be full members of the community and value the different opinions at the table.

The "family prices" can still seem as negative for women. You need supportive partners at home! At work, find people (or a group of people, like the Women's Caucus, or a virtual group, like the esfwomen listserv) to answer questions, bounce ideas, just be there and listen.

Club issue--feel like the only one. If you don't want to be part of an existing group, make your own! Even if its just a club of one.

Particular challenges that our panel faced: two started the tenure clock over when hired here (despite college's history of offering tenured title to others who had attained elsewhere), because (for one) that process for a woman of color at another institution was "just not up to the same standard." That made her more determined--"they won't be skeptical at the end!" She continued to feel marginalized--but cannot pin it on ethnicity, but on simply thinking differently. How do you get past that? Empower and talk to one another! Being intentional about working with women and supporting one another. Culturally, wait to speak until asked. Big challenge to learn to interrupt. Listen to those who say "You're strong."  Bossy vs same behavior in men that is lauded. STEM fields considered very linear, but integration is much more valued now.

Sexually harassed by advisors? Currently there is more awareness of this, but women are still more at risk during travel.

How should we assess the climate for women? Its hard to measure a sense of our curricula represent a plurality of ways of being? Thinking? How much do we integrate justice, ethics in science? How do we value all the different things folks bring? Do we listen? Do faculty learn? Retention and advancement in field! Are we persisting in spite of problems or succeeding within a strong support network? Keep moving forward!

Parallel to this event, Caucus staff met with individuals from Outreach, C-STEP, Diversity and Inclusion, SU's STEP program, and Girls Inc of YWCA to plan the 2016 Girls Summit, held at ESF and SU on May 7--a keynote by Dawn Benjamin, 8 workshops featuring a different STEM career (each girl attended 4), plus a college readiness panel of current college students facilitated by Mel Mennon, then of On Point for College. A record (I believe) 93! middle and high-school girls participated--putting "hard" (as in "concrete", not an assessment of difficulty) science and math into action, some with a social (aka "soft") science twist, to help them consider new fields for themselves, but also to see purpose in science and math, to stay interested in those subjects--as that interest is correlated with higher self esteem, and more options.

If the speed at which tickets were sold out to the first event is indicative of either a climate of support, or readiness to provide that, and a culture of inclusion, we are well on our way to be ready to support the Girls Summit participants, as students, and as community leaders, when those that choose to come here do so. Let's keep moving forward!