PSAs, Firearms, School Safety, and Social Change

When I teach first year students lessons on Ethos, Pathos, & Logos I follow up with a section on PSAs. After learning the material students create their own PSA using two of the three rhetorical strategies to make an audience aware (and use persuasion) of a social issue.


Whenever I show the Evan PSA  to students that have never seen it before they are shocked. I was on that lesson today and showed the PSA. This year most students saw the ad already. This current teenage generation is aware of the issue and based on the experiences in Parkland, they are reporting. So, even though the cultural awareness is changing, the laws also need to change to keep up with needs. We need to make school (and public in general) shootings in the USA a thing of the past. The students from Parkland that are speaking up  have access to more information in a minute than Baby Boomers had in a week when they were young. This young generation is made up of critical thinkers. They are questioning claims and “calling BS”.



While talking to teaching colleagues today, I mentioned that some conservatives believe that one of the answers to the issue is that we (faculty) just need to carry guns.  We laughed because we are not the type of people you want to have firearms at work.  I own firearms and understand that there is a time and place for them.  Schools are not one of them (Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Virginia Tech, etc).  Churches are not one of them (Charleston, Southerland Springs). Entertainment Events are not one of them (Las Vegas, Orlando, Aurora). I am not a policy maker, but find that I have a responsibility to help students become critical thinkers. This is difficult to do without imposing my own personal and political lenses.  To quote feminist theorists…”The personal is political”. Social change has a bottom up trajectory.  What that change will look like, I don’t know. I do know that it needs to happen soon.  Safety is the second of the five stages in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If our children and teens do not have their basic needs of safety and security met, what happens then?  I can see a change in myself from September 2001, however I already had certain needs met and developed skills to cope since I was in my mid twenties.




As I wrote on Twitter earlier this week, my 8 year old son’s School Psychologist emailed me.  She stated that “he kept mentioning worries relating to ‘lock downs’ and ‘intruders’ in the school. He seemed very bothered by this. I talked to him about the different safety protocols that we have in place at school and shared that we have many staff members/community members who work together to make sure that he is safe in school”. After Sandy Hook, our elementary school in CT completely revamped their entrance, security, and policies.  However, like all schools they are still vulnerable. There are windows at ground level and no security guards.

Back to recent events…We didn’t even have the news on for long that morning because it was upsetting and sometimes inappropriate.  I want my children to be aware of current events and news, but now I even have to sensor our local morning news in fear that my children are becoming worried and anxious. We already worry about John’s health on a daily basis. All I can ask myself is… What’s next?



Thoughts on the Fall 2017 Semester…aka “Another semester of resilience”

When I was in my second year of my Masters in Counseling at Fordham University in NY, my world was turned upside down on September 11, 2001. My Group Psychology class met for the second time two days later. Week after week, we came to class. We did the work. In fact, we worked harder than ever. The class was delivered in the traditional way and the unknown really bothered us, yet we thrived. I also took a traditional course on Tuesdays. I don’t even remember the topic, but I do remember my groups class. I did not find out until the last day of the semester that our Professor, Dr. Stephen Jambor was amazed at our resilience. He commended us for persisting, dealing with fears, and overcoming adversities.

I’ve been thinking about that time in my life because once again, I have students dealing with major catastrophes. A few years ago, Hurricane Sandy impacted many students. Last semester, immigration issues were prevalent. This semester, students with homes and families in Puerto Rico had to deal with uncertainty, trauma, and continued survival. The anxiety I was witness to was heartbreaking.

This brings me to this past Monday. I had a student who flew to PR to bring supplies to her family, had a full course load, and two jobs. On top of this, she has been suffering with medical issues since Hurricane Maria. Although she is struggling, she is still resilient. Another student didn’t hear from her family for weeks. She still showed up. These students show me how persistent people can be. Going to college is more important than their immediate needs. All of my students impacted are first generation college students. They have goals bigger than a Hurricane.

I wish them the best and will always remember their resilience.