This is probably one of the most important blogs I will write as president of NCCCSPA. It is also one of the hardest.
In just a few months, COVID-19 forever altered our way of life and left us reeling in uncertainty. Just as we were starting to return to our “new normal,” the killing of a black man at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department thrust institutionalized racism into our focus in ways that has not happened in our lifetimes. As I process all of this, I am going to let the voice of a colleague speak, as he has found words. His summation below touched me, and I hope it is meaningful to you too.
“As a historian, I am constantly looking to the past for context. I guess it’s an occupational hazard. As I reflect on the events of the past week or so, and even longer, I have to consider how change has been painstakingly slow to happen. In seeing the video and image of the police officer’s knee on the neck of George Floyd, I could not help but think of the words of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in the Dred Scott decision that African Americans were “so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” How were Mr. Floyd’s rights respected? We can make the excuse that the Dred Scott decision was over 150 years ago, but what has changed?
As for the protests since Mr. Floyd’s murder, we need to look no farther back in the past that Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” The letter was prompted by the statement of eight well-meaning clergymen in Alabama, where the ministers, priests, and rabbi urged King to stop his protests in Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 1963. They urged him to be patient and find a better time to protest. King said (and I’m doing him an injustice by paraphrasing--read the two letters, starting with the Alabama clergymen) that there is never a “good” time for action. One can always find an excuse as to why “now” is not a good time. Further, he wrote, “This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’” Basically, if those seeking change are forced to “wait” for a more opportune time, they can be delayed indefinitely. Change never comes. Should people be asked to continue to wait? Is there a “better” time to seek change? If so, when, specifically, is that time? Sure, we can say that was nearly 60 years ago, but what has changed?
A few months ago, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered by two vigilantes, reminiscent of lynch mobs in what we thought was a bygone era. The haunting song “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday seems very apropos at this time. Perhaps the only thing about that song that could be changed is that this is not just a southern problem. This is a national problem. It is not a new problem. Racial injustice has been a fact of life in the United States since long before the official founding. Some things may be better now, but things are far from where they need to be.”
Thank you Wes Bishop for allowing me to repost this.
There is never a “good” time for change, but it appears that, perhaps, people are listening now. As we reach out to our students we need to remember that change can be painful and slow, but it must be made for the greater good. We are the change agents and we must do our part. Now is the time.
Even if you did not read this post, listen to the song “Strange Fruit.” It will leave you shaken. It took me two tries to get through it, as it was so powerful.
Happy Gingras, NCCCSPA President
As we wrap-up yet another school year, what comes to my mind are these words from the Grateful Dead, “What a long strange trip it has been.” What started as a normal year turned into something I could have never imagined. I know that each and every one of you have done everything you can to ensure the success of your students while working in the virtual world. For that, I give you an resounding, “Thank you for all you are doing!”
It is easy to feel alone in this new environment – so much is unknown and so much is new. Tasks that took only a few minutes to complete face-to-face now require multiple emails. It can be frustrating, but we will get through this. And we will be stronger and more resilient because of this experience. Please know that the NCCCSPA Executive Board members are here to support you. In addition, our members have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Please take advantage of the support and knowledge by utilizing our Facebook page for questions and comments. Now is the time to pull together and I cannot imagine a better support group to have!
I will miss you this fall in Asheville, but look forward to better times next year when we can meet again. Postponing the conference was a hard decision for the board to make, but the safety of our members comes first. So, until we meet again, please stay safe.
Director, Teaching and Learning
Pitt Community College
As much as we will miss you all, our executive board has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 NCCCSPA Annual Conference.
This decision comes after much thought and discussion. We feel that a number of factors make holding the NCCCSPA2020 conference impractical. COVID-19 concerns, budget shortfalls, student needs, instructional transitions, and institutional priorities are among the many reasons behind our decision. As always, our members (and your families), students, and schools are our priorities, and we hope that you understand and know that we will miss you all this November.
We are making arrangements for our NCCCSPA2021 Conference, and expect to have things solidified very soon to officially announce the conference to occur November 3-5, 2021 at the Crowne Plaza Resort in Asheville, NC. Please tentatively mark it on your calendar, and watch for updates as we have more information to share.
Within the next few days, our website will be updated and applications for conference presentations and scholarships for NCCCSPA2021 will be opened. If you submitted a proposal or scholarship application for this year's conference, you will be contacted directly with further information.
We thank you for your continued support of the North Carolina Community College Sociology and Psychology Association, and we hope that you and your families are safe, well, and coping in this difficult time.
The NCCCSPA Executive Board
As many of us work toward transitioning our courses to online delivery in the wake of the Covid-19 situation, it is more important than ever to know that we are here for each other.
If you need guidance, assistance, resources, or anything else to aid your move to online delivery, please do not hesitate to reach out. We will be happy to help or connect you with people who can.
To make this easier, we have created a group through our Facebook page called NCCCSPA Instructional Support. Please join to ask questions, share your knowledge, and get support as we work to create the best possible learning environments for our students.
Here is the link to the Facebook Group: NCCCSPA Instructional Support
Take care of yourselves, and know that we are here for you!
NCCCSPA Executive Board
Welcome to the end of the Fall 2019 semester! Since it is the end of the semester and course evaluation time, I wanted to share some of my favorites from the Tell Us Your Most Ridiculous Feedback From Student Evaluation responses we received at NCCCSPA2019.
“The room is so cold. I don’t understand why she wants to freeze us.” As if we had any control over the temps in our classrooms. This student should wait until the weather warms up and the temps shoot up into triple digits in the room.
“She makes us read.” Well, now. That is cruel and unusual punishment for a college level class.
“This class is a waste of time…we never cover anything” from the student who was perpetually absent. This is right up there with “Did I miss anything when I was out?” When a student asks me that, I always want to tell them that we sat in silence mourning their absence, but I guess that would come to no good.
”This instructor should be told that there is no R in idea.” I can’t even comment on this one.
And the final one that I will share is this one… “I want to make babies with you.”
So, as you finish up the semester, just remember that absurdity abounds on all of our campuses and take a minute to laugh at it.
I hope all of you enjoy your break and come back refreshed in the spring!
Happy Gingras, NCCCSPA President
At NCCCSPA2019, we celebrated 20 years of collaboration and creating connections of all kinds. We learned a lot, and had a great time enjoying a scavenger hunt and playing games too!
One of the most fun activities asked attendees to share their thoughts on several prompts. In this new series of posts, we'll explore each list and share them with you. Without further ado, let's dig into the first item on the list:
Tell us your favorite NCCCSPA memory:
It is getting close to our 20th year conference in Kill Devil Hills! We have a lot of fun and exciting things planned for this milestone year. From great presentations to amazing giveaways, this is going to be one NOT to miss!
Do not forget to register for the conference and reserve your room early. All of the registration information can be found on our website in the 2019 Conference Portal.
Hope to see you soon!
Happy Gingras, NCCCSPA President
Please help us to congratulate this year's Johnny Underwood Legacy Scholarship Winner, Kristen Leverentz!
Kristen is a psychology instructor at Coastal Carolina Community College, and is a returning visitor to our NCCCSPA Annual Conference. We are thrilled to award her this scholarship, which includes registration and accommodations for the 2019 NCCCSPA Annual Conference in Kill Devil Hills, NC.
This year, the NCCCSPA is celebrating our 20th anniversary. The organization was born from a curriculum improvement project in 1999 that gathered psychology and sociology instructors from across the North Carolina community college system to share ideas and create connections. Now, twenty years later, we continue our mission with a conference titled "Creating Connections" that will celebrate the past, present, and future of the NCCCSPA.
Please make your plans to join us in Kill Devil Hills for our event, which will be held November 6-8, 2019. Our conference registration is live, and the Ramada Plaza Nags Head is ready to take your reservations! Visit our Annual Conference page to learn more and reserve your space for this exciting conference! You can find us at www.ncccspa.org.
Congratulations, Kristen, and we hope you will all join us for this year's conference!