“I’ll never forget...I had to go to campus to take an exam and I had no other option but to bring my daughter with me because I didn’t have childcare. I sat in the chair and asked if she could just sit by me while I took it. They told me I couldn’t.” 

Follow Up: Student Parent Advocacy Panel

This post was co-authored by Dr. Katia Levintova; Shannon Ribich, a 2021-22 Equity, and Inclusion Intern; and Kate Farley, one of CATL’s Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultants. 

Katia Levintova (Democracy and Justice Studies | 2021-22 EDI Consultant) facilitated a panel of student parents—Anthony Blake, Candace Hoch, and Carl Woitekaitis—on Nov. 11, 2021, from 12–1 via Zoom. Dr. Levintova led the discussion by reviewing the findings from her forthcoming publication with Dr. Kim Reilly (Democracy and Justice Studies) and summarized some of the survey data and challenges they collected about student parents at UWGB, which are consistent with the national statistics and trends.  

  • Survey of student parents and non-parents on our campus revealed that student parents take significantly longer to complete their degrees but have comparable or higher GPAs than their non-parent peers. 
  • Student parents prefer online and hybrid formats of instruction over other modalities.  
  • They are also more likely to use Veteran Lounge, MESA, and Career Services and less likely to use the Wellness Center, Learning Center, and, especially, Kress Event Center compared to their non-parent counterparts.  
  • Student parents lag behind non-parent students in accessing HIPs, especially teaching assistantships, undergraduate research opportunities, study abroad, and leadership of student organizations. 
  • Student parents are much less likely to attend co- and extra-curricular offerings on our campus, but the lack of access and ability to partake in these important educational offerings does not mean that they are not interested in having meaningful and challenging learning experiences.  
  • On a classroom level, student parents report facing additional challenges with group projects and certain classroom policies and types of assignments.  

In the panel, Dr. Levintova asked the students questions about whether their experiences as a student parent were typical or not; what things instructors have done that have helped them succeed; and what access barriers exist at UWGB for participating in high-impact practices and co-curricular activities. Here are some ways we can make our university and our courses more student parent friendly. 

Changes to Advocate for at an Institutional Level 

  • Create student parent groups that allow students to co-op for things like notetaking, childcare, or other resources. 
  • Provide options for childcare that are either financially subsidized or are available on campus, including drop-off options for student parents so that they can attend campus events and utilize campus services. 
  • Consider partnerships with NWTC or UWGB Early Childhood Development students/faculty to provide childcare. 
  • Create flexible paths through a program so that students can graduate more quickly. 
  • Have more family-oriented extra-curricular events on campus for student parents to bring their children to campus. 
  • Create opportunities for student parents to engage in internships, undergraduate research, or peer mentoring in the major. 
  • Offer more creative ways to accommodate student parents’ lack of time, including rethinking how we count hours for internships and offering more paid internships to compensate for lost income of working parents. 
  • Increase awareness or advertisement of services such as the Wellness Center and Learning Center, which are currently underutilized by student parents. 

Changes You Can Make in the Classroom 

  • Share your syllabi with students ahead of time. 
  • Create multiple options for students to participate in the class (synchronous and asynchronous). 
  • If the classes you teach are synchronous, consider using class time for group work. 
  • If the classes you teach are asynchronous, consider asking students about scheduling challenges they might have, and intentionally group students together who may have similar availability. 
  • For students unable to contribute to group assignments or in-class assignments, create alternative individual assignments and state it on the syllabus. 
  • Grade group work individually. 
  • Provide a statement about flexibility on your syllabi that explicitly lists caregiving as something you would like students to share with you so that you can accommodate them. 
  • Assume good intent and trust your students. 

This was the first event in the year-long programming designed to make our classrooms and our academic offerings more student parent friendly. Participants who attend these events or engage with these resources about creating more inclusive class environments are eligible to earn a badge through CATL. Keep an eye out in March for the next event in this programming series. 

Follow up: Building Information Literacy and Racial Literacy Together

Below is the recording of the Presentation and Discussion with Christin DePouw “Building Information Literacy and Racial Literacy Together” from Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. We’ve provided the video as a PlayPosit Bulb so that you can engage with questions from the workshop facilitator.

To view the bulb, type your first and last name, then click “Save.”

Here are the resources discussed during the workshop:

Follow up: Collecting and Working with Mid-semester Feedback

Below is the recording of the “Collecting and Working with Mid-semester Feedback Workshop” hosted on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. We’ve provided the video as a PlayPosit Bulb so that you can engage with questions from the workshop facilitator.

To view the bulb, type your first and last name, then click “Save.”

Here are the resources discussed during the workshop:

We’d love to hear from you!

Let us know how you collect and work with mid-semester feedback. What strategies have you employed? What works? What do students like and what are some areas to avoid? Feel free to share sample prompts and success stories. Comment below or drop us a line at catl@uwbg.edu.

Follow-up to “What Will You Carry Forward?”

We will all carry literal and figurative things forward from the experience of teaching in the last year. Often, these two blend together. For example, perhaps an instructor re-worked an attendance policy to accommodate a student who had to return home to attend to a family member. The policy and the memory behind the policy will both linger. Or, perhaps an instructor created a series of virtual labs and now has videos, supporting data, and Canvas assignments which they can use to help students who are not able to attend a lab in-person. Last spring, the Center hosted a discussion and posted a blog article called “The Things We’ll Carry” which prompted a lot of reflection about the literal and figurative items that instructors will carry with them from teaching last year. At the end of the discussion, there was interest among instructors for a practical workshop in the fall where instructors could see how their colleagues had adapted the lessons of the pandemic to their preparations for the new school year.

With apologies to Tim O’Brien for the continued use of his metaphor, the Center responded by hosting another workshop called “What will you carry forward?”. This workshop featured four instructors who did a “show and tell” about how they incorporated lessons from the pandemic into their teaching. They then fielded questions from the audience.

Now, through the magic of video technology, we are extending that workshop to those who were not able to attend the live event.

Below you will find the “show and tell” portions and, importantly, you will be able to interact with the videos as well because they are streaming through a service called PlayPosit, which allows instructors to add interactive elements to videos.

Please interact with these videos on multiple levels. First, learn from what the presenters have to say. Second, use the interactions in PlayPosit to engage more deeply with the content and with other people who have watched the videos. Finally, if you would like to use PlayPosit in your own class, please contact CATL at dle@uwgb.edu to have it added to your courses.

First presentation

Breeyawn Lybbert, who teaches in Natural and Applied Sciences, discusses her four-point plan for increasing equity in her science classes.

Second presentation

Next, Praneet Tiwari, who teaches in the Cofrin School of Business, discusses multiple strategies for incorporating students who participate in-person, at home, and asynchronously.

Third presentation

Third, Nichole LaGrow, distance education coordinator in CATL and associate lecturer in English, discusses how she extends G.R.A.C.E. to herself and students (Guided autonomy, Resources, Authentic assessments, Community, Expectations).

Fourth presentation

Finally, Jillian Jacklin, who teaches in Democracy and Justice Studies, synthesizes the previous presentations and discusses how she balances all the tips within the realities of teaching a heavy course load.

Next Steps for Moving Beyond the Asterisk and Toward Better Support for Our First Nations Students

This semester CATL partnered with staff and faculty in the First Nations Studies (FNS) program to bring you a series of events and resources on how to better support our Native students. Often after these types of events, attendees feel moved and invigorated to help affect change, but are at a loss for where to begin. While we recognize that there is no easy checklist to follow for becoming a better ally, we have collected some suggestions made by First Nations students, staff, and faculty during these events in the hopes that it might give you a starting place.  

Please note that throughout this post we use the terms First NationsNative, and American Indian interchangeably to refer to those who identify with any of the 574 federally recognized Tribal Nations in the United States, as all three terms are used in scholarly writing on First Nations topics. 

Changes to Advocate for at an Institutional Level

Smudging, a regular and recurring part of many Native individuals’ religious practices, involves burning sacred plants to create smoke and is often conducted in living spaces to remove negative energy. To smudge in UWGB student housing, students must fill out a form and submit it to Residence Life at least one week in advance each time they smudge, as well as meet with a Residence Life staff member after submitting the form to discuss the location where the smudging will take place and receive fire extinguisher training. Some have likened our current smudging policy to requiring a week’s notice in advance every time one wishes to pray.

Our current policy also lack transparency both in the protocols students are expected to follow and in the religious protections students are provided. As a result, many First Nations students have reported feeling scared to smudge for fear of getting in trouble. In some cases, students have even had their dorms searched by campus police after smudging due to misinformed reports of smoke or odors. UW-Superior's smudging policy provides an example of a much more robust and accommodating policy at another UW institution that we could borrow from as we consider reforming our own policy.

Visual representation in the form of art, photography, and other displays around campus is important, however it is only helpful if done in a respectful and meaningful manner. Some of our First Nations students and alumni have asked that we evaluate our campus’s current depictions of First Nations peoples and ensure that their inclusion is positive and thoughtful. At minimum, artwork by Native artists or photography of Native peoples displayed on campus should include names, dates, tribes, etc., to provide context for the work. We should also strive to increase visual depictions of contemporary First Nations peoples on our campus, rather than just historical photos and references.

Our First Nations students cite the Center as one of the most important support systems during their time at UWGB, as it is one of the best ways for them to connect with staff and faculty that are also of a Native background. For non-native students, staff, and faculty, the Center is also a great educational resource, and yet, many are still unaware of its existence. If the university hired a full-time staff to manage the Center’s resources and educational materials, we could expand and refine our collection to make it an even better resource for research and education.

Recently the photos of alumni that hung in Mary Ann Cofrin Hall were replaced with photos of new individuals. Among those original photos were two particularly important Native figures from our community—William Gollnick, who served as Oneida Chief of Staff from 2006–2011, and the late Maria Hinton, an Oneida Tribal Elder. Many in the FNS program have expressed that they wish for these photos to be tracked down and either hung in a new location or turned over to the Education Center for First Nations Studies so they can display them.

The inclusion of Native faculty and staff at a predominantly white institution (PWI) helps break down longstanding stereotypes about Native peoples, especially when their presence is seen and felt in a variety of professional areas. As highlighted in the introduction of Beyond the Asterisk, Native faculty and staff are also key to Native student success, especially at PWIs. It is important to our students that they can see themselves reflected in the faculty and staff they interact with on a daily basis. As a non-native ally, continue to support the First Nations faculty and staff around you and encourage our institution to continue hiring Native individuals in a variety of positions and departments.

Changes You Can Implement Personally 

In 2018, First Nations faculty at UWGB created our university’s own land acknowledgment statement. Including the land acknowledgment in your teaching or other practices is a way to help First Nations students feel seen and acknowledged. If you’d like to learn more about the land acknowledgment, we encourage you to watch this roundtable panel on the topic from the 2021 Instructional Development Institute and then read this blog post for follow up resources and suggestions.

The university’s Education Center for First Nations Studies and the Intertribal Student Council promote many campus-wide or public events that create spaces for non-native students, staff, and faculty to learn about Indigenous cultures and form relationships with their Native colleagues and peers.

While students should feel welcome to share their own experiences or knowledge of First Nations topics, they should never feel pressured to do so just because of how they identify. Be careful not to single out a Native student or treat them as a “spokesperson” for people of their background or other Indigenous backgrounds; to do so is a form of tokenism.

Our Education Center for First Nations Studies, which has its own curated collection of resources, is a great place to look for educational materials for yourself or for your classroom. The Center also sponsors Elder Hours in which any member of the campus community can drop in during certain hours (either in-person at the Center or virtually via Zoom, depending on COVID guidelines) and meet with a local tribal elder. Stay tuned to see if Elder Hours will continue over Zoom or return to in-person for Fall 2021.

Wisconsin First Nations, created in collaboration between the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s American Indian Studies Program, PBS Wisconsin, and the UW-Madison's School of Education, is a site full of educational resources on Wisconsin American Indian studies. The Disproportionality Technical Assistance Network has also compiled a fantastic collection of articles, publications, media, and more on First Nations histories, cultures, stories, and educational practices. You can also consult our university’s First Nations Studies Library Guide for a collection of educational resources accessibility through the Cofrin Library.

Encourage the First Nations students that you teach, mentor, or work with to apply for internships, participate in undergraduate research, get involved with student organizations, and engage in other opportunities that will help develop their personal and professional skills. If you teach and your course has group projects, lab groups, or small group discussions, consider rotating the leaders/facilitators so students that might not typically volunteer to lead still get an opportunity as well.

Are there opportunities for you to include the work of First Nations authors, scientists, musicians, or artists in your content area? One example offered by a former student was to include the work of Native poets in an English course. Additionally, are there faculty in your field at a local tribal college that you could collaborate with or invite into your classroom as a speaker? Look for ways to meaningfully and intentionally include their voices and presence in your own work. The staff of the Education Center for First Nations Studies would be happy to assist you in finding those materials or making those connections.

First Nations students often report feeling invisible or othered. Like any students, Native students want to be seen as people. To the same extent that you would with any other student, make an effort to get to know your First Nations students on a personal level—learn their names, greet them in the halls, ask them how their day is going, etc. Though small, these simple actions help build trust—and eventually relationships—over time.
As a student, it takes a lot of courage to speak up and share your point of view. When Native students do so, it is our job to listen. Doing so shows that we value them and their perspectives, and makes them feel more welcomed, heard, and understood.

Thank You

There is still much work to be done, but by working together on these initiatives we can make strides towards a more supportive and inclusive environment for our First Nations students. We welcome you to take these next steps with us as we make UW–Green Bay a better place for all to learn, grow, and succeed.

This post, the Beyond the Asterisk reading group, and the First Nations Students’ Perspectives of UW–Green Bay film showing and panel are a part of a larger series created in collaboration with the staff and faculty of the First Nations Studies program. View the series, titled Building Our Shared Stories Through First Nations Student Engagement, and a complete list of events here.