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USCTIMES

MARCH 2017 / VOL. 28, NO.2

CONVERSATIONS

Talking Bedside

Meet & Three

Out to Lunch

Nurses, doctors and pharmacists speak to the value of communication. page 4

Faculty and staff talk civil discourse, civil disobedience and freedom of speech. page 6

Students and professors get to know one another over the midday meal. page 14


USC TIMES / STAFF

FROM THE EDITOR USC Times is published 10 times a year for the faculty and staff of the University of South Carolina by the Office of Communications & Public Affairs, Wes Hickman, director. Managing Editor Craig Brandhorst Creative Director Bob Wertz Designer Brinnan Wimberly Contributors Chris Horn Page Ivey Megan Sexton Melinda Waldrop Photographers Adrienne Cooper Ambyr Goff Kim Truett Printer USC Printing Services Campus correspondents James Raby, Aiken Kerry Jarvis, Beaufort Jeanne Petrizzo, Greenville Shana Dry, Lancaster Jane Brewer, Salkehatchie Misty Hatfield, Sumter Annie Smith, Union Tammy Whaley, Upstate Jay Darby, Palmetto College Submissions Did you know you can submit ideas for future issues of USC Times? Share your story by emailing or calling Craig Brandhorst at craigb1@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-3681.

TALK ABOUT TALK Full disclosure — this month’s cover photo was staged. We needed an appropriate image to illustrate our theme, so we rounded up a dozen writers, editors, designers, photographers, media relations specialists and student interns from the Office of Communications and Public Affairs and treated them to a cup of coffee at the Community Table. Because we also happened to need campus developer Yancey Modesto and assistant director of landscaping and environmental services Tom Knowles for a separate photo in the same locale, we invited the two of them as well. The more the merrier, we figured, and rightly so. Those two are always good company (See “End Notes”). What wasn’t staged was the conversation, which erupted almost the instant we sat down and which continued long after the camera stopped clicking. And what did we actually talk about? Well, let’s see. Dendrology, lightning, carpentry, furniture design, 18th and 19th century ship construction, the U.S.S. Constitution, pirates, pirate shirts, hand modeling, Seinfeld, the cover art for Led Zeppelin’s “Presence” LP — good conversation is like that sometimes. Follow the digressions if you can. Mostly, though, we talked about trees and wood and the impressive, custom-built, 13-foot table around which we gathered, and which Modesto helped design, and which now graces our cover. In other words, we talked about whatever we wanted, but only after we talked business. And the business at hand this month? Conversation itself — whether that means inquisitive conversation between faculty and students (“Out to Lunch,” page 14), difficult conversations between health care workers and their patients (“Talking Bedside,” page 4) or helping the hearing impaired have smoother conversations by improving hearing aid technology (“Filling in the Blanks,” page 18). Finally, flip to our latest Meet & Three roundtable, which weighs in at an unprecedented but fully justified eight pages, and you can eavesdrop on a timely and important conversation. The topic? Civil discourse — on campus, online and in the halls of government (“Let's Be Civil,” page 6). Whether you agree or disagree with your colleagues’ opinions on current events, we think you’ll appreciate the tone of the discourse.

Join the conversation,

CRAIG BRANDHORST MANAGING EDITOR

The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, sexual orientation or veteran status.

TABLE CREDITS - Derek Gruner and Yancey Modesto, design; Dean Heyward and Jackson Maroney, USC Metal Shop; Russ Meekins, University Foundations; Specialty Woodworks Inc.; Helen Zeigler, associate vice president for business affairs; Randy Wise, Consolidated Services.


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TIMES THREE

24/7 SOCIAL USC Times is a great place to read about the Carolina community — but we only come out 10 times a year. To keep up with the conversation round the clock, follow the university on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Also, check out the university’s newest Twitter extension, @UofSCEvents, to stay ahead of the curve on campus events.

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InsideCarolina

SPRING FORWARD The spring issue of Carolinian magazine arrives in less than a month, with stories about USC’s most decorated undergraduate student, an alumnus turned Netflix superhero and riffs on creative writing from three celebrated authors.


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TALKING BEDSIDE Deb McQuilkin

Kathy Quarles Moore

Eric Williams

Clare Chiarolanza remembers her first days on hospital rounds as a 20-year-old nursing student, walking into a patient’s room, anxious that she wouldn’t know what to do or say. “When you're so young and you’re walking into a 70-year-old person’s room, you know they have so much more life experience than you. You feel inadequate. You feel like the stupidest person in the room,” says Chiarolanzo, now in her final semester in Carolina’s nursing program. That’s when she remembered the lessons of her nursing professor Deb McQuilkin, who stressed the importance of communication skills. “It brought out my confidence and helped me have a way to communicate,” Chiarolanza says. “You have to have confidence and a mutual respect. Once you remember that, communication flows so much better.” Communication is important in all professions, but perhaps nowhere more than in health care, where bedside manner with patients plays a critical role. “Patients may or may not know if they got the most excellent care, but they will remember how you made them feel,” McQuilkin says. “Those communication skills are critical for everyone. Nursing is built on caring. How else do you communicate that than through your communication skills?”

McQuillkin and others who teach the next generation of health care professionals agree that communication skills can be learned by all types of

students. The key is learning how to ask questions — and how to listen. The first step is asking good, openended questions that can’t be answered with a simple "yes" or "no," but elicit responses that enable health care providers to better understand a patient. “There are specific skills that you can practice and get better. And listening is 90 percent of it, hearing what they are saying, not on our agenda but on their agenda,” McQuilkin says. “Are you respectful? Are you culturally competent? Are you aware of a different culture and how their communication varies? And do you adapt your communication to what their needs are? All that’s embedded in the clinical experience, and is part of the development of the nurse.” Kathy Quarles Moore, a pharmacist who teaches community lab to first- and third-year pharmacy students, says that as pharmacies expand their services, communication skills become even more important. Along with dispensing prescriptions, flu shots and other immunizations, they also answer questions about diabetes care and other conditions. “You have to listen, and use the right line of questioning,” Quarles Moore says. “We preach it, we teach it and we practice it.”


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For medical students, much time is spent during the first year learning how to interview and understand patients. In the first semester of medical school, students talk about empathy and what they would want in a doctor, and discuss ethical situations, privacy and respect for cultures. In the second semester, students begin to learn about the medical interview, including how to ask questions that lead to answers, says Dr. Eric Williams, director of introduction to clinical medicine at the USC School of Medicine. Part of that process involves bringing in community members, who play roles of patients, while medical students interview them. As the year goes on, the interviews become more specialized and focused, leading to a point where students are taught how to break bad news to a patient. “There’s a proper way to do that,” Williams says. “We have them be direct so the patient isn’t left wondering. We won’t say, ‘We have bad news. It could be cancer, but it might not.’ If we know, we say, ‘We are sorry to report that blood work shows you have cancer.” They are taught to let a patient have time to process the information, even if that means there is silence in the room. Depending on the situation, med students will ask the patient if there is someone else in the family to include. They also are taught the importance of arranging a follow up to talk with the patient. The end of the first year of medical school also deals with motivational interviewing — talking with patients as a way to evoke some type of behavior change, such as quitting smoking or losing weight. “Patients know that’s not good for you. But we teach (the students) to ask questions to find out what are the factors that might get them to change their mind,” he says. “I tell the students you are one human being talking to another human being. Yes, you have education and you have a degree, but you need to relate as a person.” And those communication skills taught in the health sciences classrooms don’t work only in medical settings. “At first, students say, ‘Well this is common sense. Why do I need to learn this?’ But then toward the end they say, ‘Oh, this does make a difference,’” McQuilkin says. “I’ve had students come back to me several years out, even if they don’t stay in nursing, and say, ‘I still use those communication skills.’” T By Megan Sexton

COMMUNITY CONSULT The most difficult conversations a health care professional will ever have involve giving a patient a terminal prognosis. Some patients want to know how much time they have left — they have the “give it to me straight” mentality of movie heroes — but in the real world, what kind of information people want from their doctors and nurses varies, and sometimes those differences break along cultural lines. One of the most thorough studies of this type of communication was undertaken by College of Nursing professor Ronit Elk. Over a two-year period, Elk worked with older rural Southerners, black and white, in Beaufort County, S.C. First, Elk’s team conducted focus groups with people who had recently lost a relative or loved one. From those discussions came a list of themes about how they thought health care professionals performed and what could be done better. Then they met with community advisory groups — five African-Americans and five whites — who examined these themes from their own cultural perspectives and shared their community’s preferences for how certain situations should be handled by health care professionals. Key differences were noted especially with information about a terminal prognosis. “Doctors think, ‘I should tell my patient that they only have two weeks left to live so they can get their affairs in order and say goodbye and so on,’ ” Elk says. “Yet in the African-American community, the belief in hope is extremely strong and a very important concept. The miracle that can happen — that God can bring about — that is always a factor. Equally important is the strong belief that only God, and not a health care professional, knows when you will die.” Another difference is in enabling the patient make their own decisions. “But this practice is based very much on the white middle-class model in which patient empowerment, individual decision-making is highly valued. Yet, this does not fit with the African-American community’s model in which families make shared decisions, especially in such circumstances.” Many African-Americans said, ‘We take care of our loved ones at home. We’ve always done it for generations and we want to do it even if there is a sacrifice,’ ” Elk says. Armed with that information, physicians should not raise the possibility of putting their loved one in a nursing home or hospice. When the community-developed protocol was completed, this program was field-tested in Beaufort Memorial Hospital. The palliative care physician followed all the community’s recommendations. “Those patients who met with the palliative care physician who followed exactly the protocol that was decided on by the community — the one thing that stands out very clearly to me is how people felt respected and heard, which is huge, particularly in the African-American community, where for generations there has been so much history of being disrespected,” Elk says. Such community-based participatory research provides a way to partner respectfully with a given community. And as Elk explains, the method has been successful in many studies around the country in reducing racial disparities in health outcomes. “If you’re going to be doing a program that will affect a certain group, wouldn’t you want to consult that community?” Elk says. “That’s the heart of communication. You can’t just build trust in a minute if you’ve broken it so many different times.” BY PAGE IVEY


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MEET&THREE

LET'S BE CIVIL ERIN KITCHELL Director of Academic Integrity and Title IX Liaison, Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity

Civil discourse is essential for a democratic society, but these days civility itself seems under attack. From Capitol Hill to the classroom to the internet and social media, respectful dialogue is being drowned out by angry rhetoric. On Feb. 20, we invited three members of the Carolina community to share their thoughts on how we move forward — but first we bought lunch. BY CRAIG BRANDHORST Let’s start by defining our terms. What is civility? What constitutes incivility?

KIRK RANDAZZO Professor and Director of Leadership Studies, Political Science

MINDY FENSKE Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literature

KIRK: Later today in my civil liberties course we’re talking about the First Amendment. Today’s topic is free speech during crisis and wartime, and one quote that I share with my students is from Oliver Wendell Holmes. He says free speech is important not to protect speech that we like but to protect speech we hate. That gets left out when we talk about civility. Often “civility” is sort of synonymous with “things we like,” and we shout over the stuff we don’t like. ERIN: When our office gives presentations to students, mostly through University 101, we work on trying to define civility because they’re not sure what it means in the context of this new environment. They might have understood what civility meant

in high school, with rules surrounding them, but here on campus, where they do have to be open to ideas that are dissimilar to their own, they struggle. MINDY: It also depends on what cultural framework you’re emerging from. “Civility” can be used as a political tactic to silence someone that doesn’t say what we want them to say. KIRK: That’s true. When Colin Kaepernick was taking a knee during the National Anthem, people said, “He’s got a right to say what he wants, but damn it, you need to stand for the National Anthem!” And this whole conversation has really taken on a new dimension with this idea of “fake news” and “alternative facts.” We have a responsibility to call out misinformation, but when does the interpretation of a fact become misinformation? That line has


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gotten really blurry just in the last couple of weeks. There have been plenty of protests and rallies. Right now, there’s a protest at the State House. There have been press conferences unlike anything we’ve seen. At the risk of raising everyone’s blood pressure, the $64,000 question — how did we get here?

MINDY: Selective attention is much more easily sated than it was before. If you voted for Donald Trump, and you want to believe the first month of his presidency has been smooth sailing, you can find outlets to tell you that. If you want to believe that he is a catastrophe, you can find the outlets to tell you that. So I think we’re at a tipping point. We had this beautiful, democratic internet, and now information is becoming so siloed that we’re losing the free flow of information. KIRK: Well, it’s no longer information. It’s propaganda. We’ve waged wars overseas using propaganda to change regimes, but

we’ve never seen it directed inwardly in such a highly visible display as we’re seeing right now. It’s propaganda versus news, and it’s really hard to tell the difference. ERIN: I think we’ve lost the ability to listen. That’s some of the disconnect. You focus on your polarizing view, and you don’t hear what the other side is saying.

KIRK: I agree. One thing I tell students is that the majority of people listen to respond. They’ve already blown off the other person’s argument because they’re trying to formulate how they can shoot down whatever comments are coming. What we should do is listen to understand, and that takes more time. It’s a deeper level of listening. If I’m listening to respond,


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“There’s a shift in the way that political public discourse is happening, civil and uncivil. Do I have an answer for what the response should be? I have some ideas, but I’m actually more interested in hearing what everyone else has to say.”

I’m not going to change my thinking. My listening becomes ammunition. ERIN: It’s about winning the argument. MINDY: And that’s a model of debate that has somewhat been upended in the rhetorical world in favor of a more dialogic model. I’m teaching argumentation this semester, and it’s an interesting semester to do it. It’s easy to find argumentative fallacies. I have students who represent the entire political spectrum, from the evangelical right to the far left, so we focus on rationality and reason. I tell them, “We’re going to talk about controversial issues the entire semester, but you already know how to be emotional.” What’s missing is the desire for fact-based, reasonbased, logic-based interactions. I treat the classroom as a logic laboratory. You can have passion, but you need to express your opinions based on evidence in a way that will produce better decisions. Is there a point at which outrage becomes acceptable, even necessary?

MINDY: There are absolutely places where people should yell. I don’t think that that performance of civil unrest is a bad thing. If that’s the only thing happening, though, we’ve lost our capacity for expressing ourselves effectively, but the Civil Rights movement would not have happened if people had not yelled. And a lot of the time, people being called “not civil” are people with brown bodies who are yelling.

KIRK: That’s true. But now there’s also a perception among a section of the white male population who complain that they’re the ones who get criticized when they yell. They complain that they’re getting called racist. MINDY: That makes no sense to me. KIRK: Agreed, but that’s what it’s come around to. In this last election, you had a group of white individuals incredibly frustrated with the status quo and they yelled. And then you had a group of incredibly racist individuals that yelled with them. And it was really difficult to separate the two groups. MINDY: I’ll buy that. OK, back to Colin Kaepernick. This was someone not yelling — and being criticized for being silent.

KIRK: It goes to Mindy’s point. Kaepernick’s protest happened at the same time as Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter was making very public displays, and people said, “You can’t cause that kind of unrest,” but at the same time, “You

can’t do a silent protest.” The not so subtle message was, “Unless you’re white, you just need to shut up and take it” — and that’s not a good message. MINDY: I don’t want to simplify Kaepernick’s style of protest. It wasn’t only that it was a black male body. There’s a long history of questioning whether sports figures have a right to express political opinions. The same thing goes on around celebrity culture, whether celebrities should have more, less or equal voice. So I don’t want to say it’s only a race question, but disciplining a black male body is the biggest part of it. Erin, you mentioned how when students arrive on campus they’re often unsure what civility means here. What have you witnessed beyond that, over the course of that first semester?

ERIN: Last fall was an interesting time to teach U101, figuring out how to work in the topics being discussed during the election, students being able to vote for the first time. I’d ask whether they were having conversations about politics, and by and large, my students were not. They


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really shied away from it. They said, “Well, it brings so much drama. I have a different opinion and my friends don’t want hear it, so I don’t talk about it.” They want to fit in, first and foremost. Couple that with what Kirk said, that our idea of civility can be used to suppress the free expression of others. This is selfsuppression. How do you combat that?

ERIN: Give them opportunities for practice. I love Mindy’s idea of the logic lab, saying, “We’re going to discuss things that might be challenging for you,” and then modeling productive debate. If they haven’t had the opportunity to do that in a safe environment, they’re going to look for other role models. They’ll think, “It works for so-and-so to just be angry and yell. I’ll do the same thing,” or, “I’ll spin my facts the same way.” MINDY: The safe environment is important. My students do a refutation speech — they choose an op-ed and then refute it with evidence. One student was refuting an oped in favor of the president’s immigration

order and got asked questions by people very much in support of it. One person asked a question suggesting that Muslims are terrorists. The student giving the presentation responded, “Well, I hear what you’re saying, but you can radicalize anything,” and then went through a list of acts committed in the name of X, Y and Z. The response was, “You know, you’re right. That makes sense. Christianity has also been used to justify acts of violence.” I don’t know that the questioner really changed their mind, but they had to budge a little bit because they weren’t confronted with a hyperbolic response.

In 2009, President Harris Pastides launched USC’s Civil Discourse Initiative, which continues to inform the President’s Leadership Dialogue, an annual event that brings prominent speakers to campus.

KIRK: I recognize what you’re saying, and I agree. My concern is if the only opportunities to have this kind of discourse are in a safe space, in a classroom, and then students see that’s not happening in Congress, it’s not happening on the street — people protest and then another group protests the protestors — we run the risk of students saying, “You know, what happens in college has no bearing in the real world.”

Sometimes civil discourse can be misconstrued as not debating, or not being loud, or not being fervent, or not protesting. Not at all. However, it requires listening, and being informed. Not shouting through your adversary’s comments but listening, and then debating. Civil discourse does tolerate and even encourage respectful protest and other forms of indicating displeasure. But it’s toward an effective conclusion, rather than toward bullying or threatening.

The civil exchange of ideas — especially opposing ones — is clearly important, but you made it a focus. Why? This country is built on effective debate, on making clear arguments for the way we should go, whether in policy or some other way. My commitment to civil discourse does not come out of some wistful thirst for the past, or for some society that no longer exists, but rather a desire to create more effective progress for our society. Have you encountered any misconceptions about what civil discourse means?

You see this as crucial on a college campus. We need to challenge our students. This is a four-year opportunity to be exposed to wildly different opinions and customs. Some people think we’re trying to convert people to someone else’s ideas. Not at all. But if someone’s going into the business world or into government, it’s a very good thing to have met people who are very different and have far different ideas. If you don’t do that in college, where else do you get that?

Q&A by Melinda Waldrop


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"It’s always better to have the face-to face conversation. The body language component plays such a large role. For example, you’re recording this conversation, and we’re giving each other cues, but if Mindy says something ironic, you might not read that irony on the page."

even go home to their families and engage in that kind of discourse. ERIN: When we talk to students about conflict, especially through the U101 lens, it’s important to help them understand that, one, we all handle conflict negatively, but, two, you can figure out how to handle it in a more positive manner. MINDY: I see where you’re going, Kirk. You’re absolutely right. KIRK: We already have that problem — the ivory tower. So how do we help students recognize that even if we’re in a controlled environment, we’re practicing skills they can take into the real world? I’m curious to hear your thoughts. MINDY: Take it to the street. A lot of my colleagues in performance studies across the country teach classes where students

organize events that bring people together for debate, or they construct politicallythemed performances that translate what they’ve learned in the classroom for the public — and they model the kind of discourse they want to see in the real world. KIRK: That’s a cool idea. MINDY: It’s one way. I don’t think it’s a panacea. I totally hear what you’re saying. Students experience one thing on campus and then go to work. Sometimes, they can’t

MINDY: The difficulty is translation. How does one take the lessons of conflict resolution that you’re talking about and translate them to a larger setting and a very different audience. It’s a challenge. There’s a difference between what we say face-to-face versus if there’s a screen between us. Even this conversation — I’m recording so we’re checking ourselves. But we don’t always check ourselves in other arenas. On Facebook, people throw Molotov cocktails.


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KIRK: We have to demand a particular type of discourse and not settle for discourse that moves outside of those norms, but we have to have a conversation about what those norms are. We’ve ignored that for the last 15-20 years as social media has developed at lightning pace. As a result, we have no norms. Social media is almost a state of nature now. MINDY: I feel like an idiot even having to say it, but we have to separate fact from opinion. I don’t have to respect an opinion if it’s based on falsehood. I respect opinions based in fact. I will have conversations with people on the other side about economic policy, about trade — I will have those conversations all day, every day, if they are based on economic theory that has some kind of location in history and in practice. KIRK: Right. As long as you start from a place of objective evidence, fine. I don’t have to share your views, but as long as they’re grounded in evidence, we can talk. After the election, a friend of mine joked that the period after the election will be known as the Great Facebook Purge of 2016. There was an urge to unfriend, to escape into a bubble. Social media had become toxic.

MINDY: Facebook operationalized the transactional nature of conversation in a way that’s really not how communication operates in other contexts. You send a comment, or a link to something, and then somebody responds, but they may not get to it immediately, or for five minutes, or a week. There’s none of that live present-ness. KIRK: It’s not dialogue. It’s a string of monologues. MINDY: Exactly. I think its structured within the nature of commenting. Same

John Dozier isn’t afraid of controversy. As chief diversity officer, he wants lively, civil discourse to be part of campus culture. Universities are unique places for civil discourse because of their diverse people and ideas. But it doesn’t always turn out that way.

thing with Twitter — 140 characters. That structure produces a certain kind of communication. ERIN: And that’s one reason I think we’re seeing millennials and GenZers move away from those platforms. Facebook causes drama, whereas on Instagram it’s just a picture of my food today, or “Here’s my dog” — and it’s happy. As soon as Instagram becomes more politicized, something will replace that. MINDY: And policy complexity isn’t entertaining. Dissecting and diagramming multiple variables that interact to affect society — that’s detailed, complex work. You can shine all the spotlights and footlights on that stage that you want, and it’s still going to be boring to watch.

We can all agree to have civil discourse around concerns that affect our communities, and we can have it around political issues. The more difficult civil discourse relates to identity. We don’t talk frequently enough about race, gender, sexuality or religion, but the conversations are needed. If we’re not talking about it, we don’t have a foundation for growing, understanding and valuing the differences we all bring. Those can be difficult topics in a classroom. Through our associate deans for diversity and inclusion, we’re considering how to help faculty feel more comfortable about bringing up these issues in the classroom so that conversations about social identity aren’t just conversations that happen in certain courses or programs of study. But that can’t take the form of training. It has to be more organic, having conversations and promoting a campus culture of civil and critical dialogue — a culture of engagement. But it’s more complicated than ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ Many of us struggle with understanding the nuance of the First Amendment. Some of us maintain an expectation that we stamp out hate speech, and I don’t disagree. But you can’t stamp out everything that you disagree with. You can’t think critically without an antithesis. It’s like yoga. You don’t get stronger by always sitting or standing in a comfortable position.

And yet when the Arab Spring happened, there were headlines declaring, “This is social media’s moment,” “Social media has arrived.” It’s good for rounding people up.

MINDY: The Women’s March on Washington could never have happened the way it did without it.

Q&A by Chris Horn


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So, great organizing tool, bad discourse arena?

MINDY: Limited discourse arena. KIRK: You mentioned the Arab Spring. Social media was used to organize mass protests against Hosni Mubarak. Fine, they got rid of him. But what happened next? Some people really wanted a better society for Egypt. Others were just angry at Mubarek and wanted him out. And then you had people who just love to sow discord. That’s three broad categories, all united in a single purpose. But the next step was more complicated, and nobody agreed on what to do. You can’t have the Arab Spring-type response for these other types of questions. You have to get together face-to-face. Let’s bring it back to the personal then. Microaggressions, small attacks we might not consider uncivil or might not consider at all — that’s another kind of incivility, isn’t it?

MINDY: As we all know, privilege is invisible. That’s one of the biggest challenges when you teach from a cultural studies perspective — to recognize your own privilege. And even that isn’t quite enough because just being able to do that is a privilege. So it’s an extreme challenge to

“Social media messages are so brief, so interruptive, it’s difficult to discuss complicated issues like politics, like religion — like civility. You can’t handle a complex issue in 140 characters. And the fact that more of our communication is being moved onto these platforms is a really bad sign. It’s going to make it hard to tackle issues at the level of depth necessary to come to a collective solution."


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get people to recognize microaggression as a legitimate problem.

Is it partly just age? Not knowing as much about the world yet?

ERIN: Every time I talk to students about civility I talk about empathy as well. You’re never going to truly understand another person’s experience, but you can work toward understanding. You’re going to be better off recognizing your own privilege.

MINDY: Depends on your privilege. My LGBT students are very aware of what’s happening that can affect their lives. My African-American students, same thing. They’re not avoiding social media because it makes them uncomfortable. When you come from a certain lack of privilege, you don’t get to avoid.

We work at a university, we’re familiar with term, but step outside the bubble and people might not know the term, or you could be accused of being too politically correct.

MINDY: Or the person who says that microaggression is being used against them gets labeled as too sensitive. KIRK: Right. The “snowflake.” ERIN: Or, “Just get over it” — but you can’t get over a constant attack. And it quickly becomes bullying. That’s part of this discussion, too. When it becomes bullying, how do we intervene?

ERIN: Our students struggle with this. Fortunately, there are resident mentors that can help, but it’s still — when you haven’t experienced something like bullying, or even if you have, it’s difficult to come out on the other side with all parties happy. All parties are not going to be happy. Everybody just wants it to be OK, but it’s not always going to be OK. MINDY: That’s interesting. What I’m hearing from you is that a lot of the student population is seeking to avoid negative feelings, and part of doing that is to avoid platforms where they have to engage in political discourse. I’m wondering how to negotiate that.

None of us has a complete prescription for these problems, but I wonder where we can make some strides.

KIRK: We’ve already seen evidence that people’s voices are heard and leaders at all levels have to respond. For too long we’d gotten away from that. It’s not going to be easy, but if we continue on this path, I’m hopeful that we’ll get back to a notion of collective governance. Maybe that’s being a little idealistic — that’s a distinct possibility — but I think we’re at the beginning of that path.

2016, largely by Bernie Sanders. There was a tremendous amount of positive energy toward politics. The discourse coming out of that particular community was well informed about climate change, about college debt — then they became incredibly disenfranchised by what they saw as the old-school Democratic leadership silencing voices at the margin. My hope is that that gap can be bridged. But in terms of civil discourse? I don’t know. Something that I would call civil, somebody else would call uncivil. Do we consider Stephen Colbert’s monologues uncivil? Do we consider Bill Maher uncivil? Some do. I think it’s when we conflate civility with agreement that we have a problem. ERIN: Hopefully we will go back to some of the founding ideas of the university, our founding motto, that learning humanizes character and does not permit it to be cruel. If we use that as the foundation of our education, and our students use that as a foundation for their lives after USC, that’s a start. T

ERIN: I really appreciate what you’re saying. Reading about today’s protest, the main message was, “We want our representatives to listen to the people,” so I think you’re right. KIRK: We’ll see. Fundamentally, the direction of our country stops and starts with Congress. Who’s in the White House matters less. There’s a reason that Article One of the Constitution talks about Congress, not the executive. But these folks have got to sit up and listen. If they don’t — if they skip the town halls — the people that put them in office need to vote them out. Maybe people are starting to wake up to that. MINDY: I put a lot of hope in the firstgeneration voters. They were fired up in

The above conversation was abridged for space. Look for a longer version online at UofSCToday soon.


14  USCTIMES / MARCH 2017

OUT TO LUNCH STUDENTS AND PROFESSORS TALK ALL THE TIME, BUT HOW OFTEN DOES IT HAPPEN OUTSIDE OF OFFICE HOURS, OUTSIDE OF CLASS? AND WHEN THEY DO TALK, WHAT DO THEY TALK ABOUT? DO THEY STICK TO THE SYLLABUS OR SEE WHERE THE CONVERSATION TAKES THEM? BY CRAIG BRANDHORST

O

ut to Lunch, a longstanding program run by the Student Success Center in partnership with Carolina Dining Services, was started as a way to improve interaction outside the classroom by encouraging students to invite their instructors to a meal and then talk about — well, that’s up to them. “There are so many different conversations they could have,” says Liz Carmon, coordinator of marketing and communications at the Student Success Center and director of the program. “They can talk about research, they can talk about extracurricular activities, they could ask about the professor’s own college experience.” And the experience pays off. “Students have reported being more comfortable approaching their professors after they’ve done this,” Carmon says. “They use the program again sometimes, or it becomes something they routinely do — not necessarily through our program, but they become more comfortable saying to a professor, ‘Hey, can we grab a coffee?’” Last fall, the program was used by more than 250 students, though Carmon says it’s natural for the numbers to drop off in the spring. “In the fall semester, it’s more heavily used because a lot of University 101 classes require students to do this or they offer extra credit,” she explains. Whatever the circumstances, whichever semester, participating students fill out a consultation worksheet at the Student Success

Center in Thomas Cooper Library and then sit down with a Success Center consultant for a casual 10-15 minute conversation. “That’s basically a way for us to know that they are taking it seriously, and for the student to start thinking about why they are doing this and what they hope to accomplish,” Carmon explains. While conversation comes easy for many students, others find asking their instructor out to lunch intimidating. For those students, going through with the lunch and knowing what to say once they get there can range from awkward to anxiety-inducing — and that’s particularly true for students who participate as part of a U101 course assignment. “Sometimes if it’s for a class assignment they say, ‘I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do,’” Carmon says. “So we talk about what their questions might look like, how to ask open-ended questions instead of just ‘yes’/’no’ type questions. We have them write down different talking points.” Once everything has been squared away, students receive a prepaid Carolina Card to pay for their instructor’s lunch (students foot the bill for their own meal). The Student Success Center then emails the instructor a heads-up and information about the program. “This is also just about having conversations,” says Carmon. “Students need to be able to have these one-on-one conversations when they go on job interviews, or when they’re networking. We’re just trying to get their feet wet.”


VOL. 28, NO.2  15

CONVERSATION ABOUT CONVERSATION MIA CHERRY | COORDINATOR OF SUCCESS CONNECT As coordinator of Success Connect at USC’s Student Success Center, Mia Cherry is one of several staff members who provide consultations for students participating in the Outto-Lunch program. The consultations, Cherry says, ease students’ concerns and make the process smoother for both parties.

Can you take us through the consultation process?

What benefits have you seen?

We use a worksheet that helps us facilitate questions with each student and that students are able to walk away with to remember what we talked about. It takes about 10-15 minutes. Either a grad student or a professional staff member meets with each student. They just get to know the student and ask them, "Why have you selected this particular faculty member? What are some things you’re going to talk to them about? What is the goal of meeting with this faculty member?" If they are planning to email the faculty member, we help them craft a draft of an email, making sure that it’s professional, respectful and includes all the necessary details. Students are able to be a lot more intentional with the process.

I could probably go on and on. A lot of students do not know what they want to major in. They don’t really know what they want to do past graduation. They have a few interests, but they don’t know what that means yet. For a lot of them, doing Out to Lunch is a chance to explore certain fields. They’ll do this program to meet with a professor who they feel really connected to in class, and then they can go and pick that professor’s brain about how they got into the field, what the different career opportunities are in this field, what is it actually like past just their perception of being an anthropology major or something like that. They’re able to get that one-on-one time. The overall goal is just to help students not be so intimidated by faculty and by professors, to have them not have this perception that they are authority figures but rather just people that are helping them with their education.

How important are these pre-lunch consultations? A lot of students I’ve met with – you can tell throughout the conversation that they have not thought through these questions before. A lot of them walk away and feel a little bit more jazzed about going to lunch with a professor. Some of them come in and they’re just kind of nervous about even doing it, so having this plan worked out makes them feel a lot better about it. They feel like they’re going to actually gain something from the experience. Are students intimidated by the thought of spending time one-on-one with a professor? Some of them. They’re worried about something as simple as how to start the conversation. A lot of times — this is so funny to me — they’ll say, "I feel like I’m asking my professor out on a date." We tell them professors are flattered that you want to pick their brains and spend time outside of class learning about their lives or their passions or just finding out more about a particular course. You have to talk the students down a little bit and make them recognize that this is a totally normal thing and a lot of students do it.

Sylessia Scott, sophomore, and Mia Cherry

Q&A by Melinda Waldrop


16  USCTIMES / MARCH 2017

AN INTERESTING CONNECTION

BY MEGAN SEXTON

Adina Lasser, a sophomore international studies major and French minor from Greenville, and Lara Lomicka Anderson, professor of French and faculty principal at Preston Residential College

ADINA: Part of it was because Dr. Lomicka offered it as an extra

credit for her class (French 209). Since French is my minor, I thought talking with a professor about how she got into studying the language would be good. And I thought that she could talk to me about opportunities on campus. LARA: There’s only so much time you have in the classroom and

most of it is focused on content, that’s what we’re supposed to do as professors. My classes are generally smaller, but even with that said you don’t get the opportunity to know the students very well within the class time. It’s nice to have interaction, some one-on-one conversation with them over a meal. You can take off your professor persona and actually get to know them better. And they can find out some things about you; your interests, your family and some of the areas you work in in terms of scholarship. And you get to find out more about the student, why they are in their major, why they are taking your class. ADINA: It was fantastic. We went to Pandini’s in the Russell

House and we talked about all kinds of stuff. I was telling her I was interested in studying abroad and working for the government. After the lunch, she came to me with (information about) a fellowship, and

now I’m applying for it. I’ll be applying for the Boren Scholarship for the summer after my junior year. LARA: I discovered something about Adina. I started this year as the

faculty principal at Preston. Her father just started working in the same position at Clemson. We made that connection at the lunch. Preston was the only residential college in South Carolina until this year (when Clemson started a program). Adina put us in touch by email a few days later. I’m going to be able to go visit him in April. So the lunch led to something I never expected — an interesting connection with her father. ADINA: Getting to know your professor can be interesting — they

are really nice people. It also can be beneficial because maybe you will make a connection with somebody who will be really important in the future. They will know you and remember your name. LARA: It’s so valuable to have that one-on-one connection. For some

of the kids, especially in larger classes, a professor being able to put a face with a name so important. I tell my students, you don’t have to ask me (to lunch), ask one of your other professors. It’s a really great initiative. It’s an opportunity waiting for them to take advantage.


VOL. 28, NO.2  17

NO BUSINESS AT LUNCH

BY CHRIS HORN

Francisco Blanco-Silva, instructor of mathematics, and Lyndsey Reynolds, sophomore psychology major, Supplemental Instruction peer leader

LYNDSEY: I was an SI leader for Prof. Blanco-Silva’s calculus

FRANCISCO: Math can be so hard to convey, and it’s a subject

course, and I had to figure out what he expects of students, what his teaching style is. During lunch I learned more about his research; he does some interesting work with artificial intelligence, which is interesting to me because of my psychology major and interest in cognition. So he’s doing some really cool stuff with math, and knowing that helps me to become a good intermediary as an SI leader. I can pass along to students in SI sessions those things about him that they might not know. That can help develop a good rapport with students and make them more comfortable with him.

that’s often so hated, so from day one I talk about using math in my own life. It’s a motivational technique that conveys the usefulness of the subject but also demonstrates that I have a life outside of the classroom. There’s something in that talk that tells them, ‘This guy is not 100 percent about business. Maybe I can talk to him outside of class.’

FRANCISCO: I think the barrier is broken the minute they ask

to take me to lunch. You can feel it — the first few minutes are uncomfortable, and then they start asking about you and talking about what they want to do with their lives. We rarely talk about math at these lunches. Office hours are when they talk business, but there’s no business at lunch. LYNDSEY: If you pair up with someone, it’s not so intimidating. I went with a classmate to lunch with a biology professor, and it was less scary. You don’t have to try to be on their level; you’re not expected to be brilliant and impress the professor. Just prepare for it in advance, think of some questions so you have something to talk about. That way you can avoid any awkward silence.

When you’re teaching a large class, the perception you have of the students is very general. But then you sit with them individually at lunch, and they start telling you about what they want to do with their lives. With one student, the moment we sat down together it was clear what he wanted to do when he finished his degree. He had this idea of becoming a middle man, gathering food from U.S. farms and exporting it to Japan. It was clear he had spent a great deal of time thinking it through. Pretty much every time you talk with a student one-on-one you get these surprising stories about their dreams and goals. LYNDSEY: So many parents say they never talked to their

professors. I think it’s a generational thing. Students here seem to be taking it to heart, the idea of getting to know their professors better. Don’t believe what you hear — that professors don’t have time for lunch. They’ll make time for it if you ask them. T


18  USCTIMES / MARCH 2017

BREAKTHROUGH BREAKOUT

FILLING IN THE BLANKS Arnold School lab fine tunes hearing aid tech

By Craig Brandhorst

Listen up, there will be a test — if Dan Fogerty has his say, a whole

words drop out of earshot or get muted by competing noise. “Instead of

battery of them.

taking a static view of speech, we’re looking more at dynamic changes

An assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders at the

and trying to find a compromise, where we’re boosting the signals that

Arnold School of Public Health and director of USC’s Speech Perception

people can’t detect but also preserving temporal changes that are very

Laboratory, Fogerty leads a research team trying to fine tune hearing aid

important for understanding speech,” he says.

software by applying a little extra brain power. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other

Fogerty, whose research is funded in part by a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, is creating a battery of tests to assess

Communication Disorders, one in three Americans over the age of 65

how cognitive abilities affect an individual’s processing of speech in

has some degree of hearing loss. But while the traditional hearing aid

dynamic listening environments. Among other tasks, clients in his lab

is effective for amplifying sound, and can be important for treating the

listen to a portion of speech in which some words are audible but others

main limitations in speech understanding associated with hearing loss,

are not. They are then asked to fill in the blanks. “Once we have a profile

it’s less than a perfect technology — partly because amplification causes

of how listeners perform, then they’ll run through the experimental tasks

distortion, partly because competing sounds can muddy the mix.

that focus on how they actually use different acoustic cues in different

But cognitive abilities also play a role in what we do and don’t hear, and how we respond. “It’s not just the ear,” Fogerty says. “The mind is processing things. Understanding the cognitive requirements, and knowing the cognitive capabilities of a given individual is crucial, too.” And one of the biggest factors? The timing of auditory signals. In fact,

situations,” he says. “From there, we’ll look at standard amplification strategies and see how the performance varies.” And standard amplification strategies — i.e. existing hearing aid technology — are critical to keeping future interventions affordable. “One of the benefits of the direction I’m pursuing is that it relies on

Fogerty explains, temporal signals from our ears affect not just how

using existing technology,” Fogerty says. “The challenge is to be able to

much we hear but how well we understand language — even when the

improve these devices, but for them to still be affordable, too.”

T


VOL. 28, NO.2  19

SYSTEM EQUATION

USC SUMTER

BY PAGE IVEY

PICARIELLO AND THE MILLERS Political scientist holds class outside of class

Political science professor Damien Picariello (right) is working on his own time to help two students who needed an upperlevel political science course to further their studies. Joshua Miller (left) is a freshman who plans to transfer to the Columbia campus in the fall, and Aaron Miller (center) is a staff sergeant in the Air Force.

A class with two students doesn’t count toward Damien Picariello’s class quota, but the USC Sumter assistant professor of political science loves teaching “the Millers” about ancient texts that form the basis for much of today’s philosophical and political theory. Picariello created the class when Joshua Miller and Aaron Miller (no relation) approached him about a high-level political science class to help them meet their degree goals. “They get a class they need,” Picariello says. “I get to think and read about stuff I need to do anyway — and I get to do it with two students who are smart and interested.” The three men meet two or three hours each week and discuss texts from Plato, including Plato’s “Republic.” “These are very difficult and complicated texts, and we’re all doing it because we want to,” Picariello says. “It’s really turned out to be quite a fun thing.” For Aaron Miller, a 27-year-old staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force who has been taking classes at USC Sumter for three years, the class is key to earning his bachelor’s degree in political science — without commuting to Columbia. “I've always been interested in politics and was disappointed when I discovered that I had exhausted all the political science courses regularly offered at USC Sumter,” Aaron Miller says. Freshman Joshua Miller is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy and plans to go to law school. “This two-man class offers more in-depth analysis of the material,” he says. “I feel like I’m getting more out of it.” For Picariello, the class helps him gain new perspective on the ancient texts, which he uses for his scholarly work on the principles in modern media, particularly popular Western genre films from the mid-20th century. “I am currently looking at ‘High Noon’ and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence,’ how these old ideas show up in these movies and what they have to say about our current political situation,” Picariello says. Picariello also has helped his two students find outlets for their political interests, serving as an adviser for an oncampus political group started by Joshua and helping Aaron find organizations that can further his study of the American political system. “Not only is he someone that I can tell genuinely cares about his students' learning and advancement, but his talents in teaching ensure that in-depth learning and growth takes place,” Aaron Miller says. “If I hold an opinion on a certain subject, he is one of the best people I know to play devil's advocate, challenging my thoughts and opinions, teaching me to become better at defending my thoughts and ideas.” T


ENDNOTES

Remember the tree? Sit at the table. The one designed by campus developer Yancey Modesto and university architect Derek Gruner. The sleek, 13-foot dining table at the Community Table. The table

built with wood from a 155-year-old live oak that once dominated the northeast corner of USC’s Horseshoe. When the majestic oak came down in 2013 — a lightning strike had split the trunk, and cables securing the crown only held for so long — assistant director of landscaping and environmental services Tom Knowles was heartbroken. “It was a hard pill to swallow,” says Knowles, who joined Modesto at the table in February. “At least we were able to do something so that the legacy of that tree can live on.”

“This wasn’t just any project. Planning development is really different from a tangible project like this. Derek and I love furniture. We’re both woodworkers, and our parents are woodworkers. His dad is a master carpenter and built his own house. My parents have a furniture shop and build furniture. So, designing this table was absolutely a dream.” Yancey Modesto, campus developer

Yancey Modesto (left) and Tom Knowles; not pictured, Derek Gruner.

USC Times March 2017  
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