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Episode 4 Transcript

Michael Hayes 02/09/2021 43

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Learning 6ft Apart

Time: 58:44


students, people, chico state, professor, feel, assignment, faculty, talking, class, pandemic, bri, chico, semester, week, learning, writing, important, today, abe, first generation students


Joshuah Whittinghill, Teresa Hernandez, George Bell, Paul Bailey, Abe Renteria, Introduction Music, Rajvir K. Duhra, Bri Guerrero


Joshuah Whittinghill 00:00

Hello and thank you for listening. Unfortunately, due to some microphone issues we weren’t aware of until after recording portions of this episode are littered with static. But still audible is a little staticky in some parts. As we are recording this podcast in Chico, California, and are employed by the University we acknowledge and are mindful that CSU Chico stands on land that were originally occupied by the first people of this area. And we recognize the Mechoopda and their distinctive spiritual relationship with this land and the waters that are run through campus. We are humbled that our campus resides upon sacred lands that once sustain the Mechoopda people for centuries.


Introduction Music 01:14

Introduction Music


Joshuah Whittinghill 01:30

Episode Four. We have a very special lineup for today and topic for the day. That was our background music from former EOP students Ivan Paredes, aka Jahny Wallz. If you didn’t tune into Episode 3.5, we have him on as a special guest. Talking about his journey as a first-generation student through education, through life and through his career in the music industry. That is East Side Columbia in song so hopefully you can check him out online Jahny Wallz. J a h n y W a l l z or l l z. W a l l z that is. Thank you. So today, on our show, we’re going to be talking about various experiences through this remote learning and the staying at home and distance learning and kind of getting some insight from from some guests about what recommendations they can share. I know we’re only gonna have six or seven voices if our if our next guest gets to make it on time here today before we’re done. But we’ll represent a few different voices but good voices and meaningful voices about what are we learning from this experience? And what can we ask of other people to kind of make our journey meaningful and have the semester be nurturing. So before we jump right into that, I want to remind everyone, the mission of our podcast and why we started is to really create this archive of discussions with and about first generation student experiences in the classroom. For current students and alums, right, anyone who’s graduated, that was first generation as well. And we also hope to continue raising awareness and understanding, provide voice for students and alum, as well as then provide present resources for faculty, staff and fellow students who are working with and for first generation students. And as always, we’re gonna go ahead and start off with our quote, or today’s not so much a quote, but more of a definition that I felt kind of goes with the theme of today and just the journey we’re having, not just at Chico State, but you know, in higher education, but also as communities and in period where as a whole world right now, in this experience. And this is the philosophy of boon boon too, if you aren’t familiar with that, to kind of sum it up from Desmond Tutu kind of sums it up and talks about saying, You can’t be human all by yourself. And when you have this quality, boon boon too, you are known for your generosity, we think of our fellow ourselves far too frequently is just individuals separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. I thought that was a good one for today and to get us started and into what our discussions are going to be like. So with that being said, I’m Josh Whittinghill. And here there Teresa Hernandez. Hello.


Teresa Hernandez 04:45

Hello, everyone. Yes. Oh, hey. Nice to be with you guys. Again, um, I’m happy to be talking about this topic and to be able to when the time comes, introduce all our special guests to you all. But Thank you, Josh. And so like Josh mentioned before, if you didn’t tune into 3.5, the episode mini episode right before this, please do so to learn a little bit more about our intro song, which is now our official intro song. So we’re pretty excited about that. All right, so, our first guest I’m going to be introducing today. His name is Paul Bailey. He is a Mathematics educator whose specialties include English, English Language acquisition and equity and content-specific class settings. Paul is a first generation Chicanx college graduate as well. So thank you for being with us today, Paul.


Paul Bailey 05:37

Thank you for having me.


Joshuah Whittinghill 05:40

Great and, and next up, you know, part of our format is to always have a alum first generation alum and also current students. So today we have a panel of 1,2,3,4. I see four nice, great looking squares on my zoom picture. And first up in no particular order, I think it’s more of the order of when we receive their bios, so we put them in that order. First up, we have Rajvir K. Duhra, is currently a second-year student at Chico State majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. After graduation, she’s planning to pursue a career in law enforcement as a police officer then transitioning to a K9 officer position. Her family decided to migrate to the United States in 2008 from India Jalandhar region. This was in hopes of achieving the American Dream and the efforts to provide her and her brother a greater educational opportunity. In her free time. She enjoys going on long hikes, working out painting, writing in her journals, and spending quality time with her friends. Welcome, Raj.


Rajvir K. Duhra 06:47

Hi. Hi, everyone.


Joshuah Whittinghill 06:49

Glad you could make it.



Rajvir K. Duhra 06:51

I’m glad to be here.


Joshuah Whittinghill 06:52

All right.


Teresa Hernandez 06:55

All right. So then up next, I have the pleasure of introducing another one of our guests. We have Abe Renteria feel free to correct me on the pronunciation at any time. Um, Abe was born and raised in Salinas, California, which is also known as “The Salad Bowl of the World.” He’s lived in Chico for three years, and he’s also a transfer student from Butte College, and he’s currently studying Sociology and Public Administration. He has a passion for fashion literature and social justice.


Joshuah Whittinghill 07:24

Welcome, Abe.


Abe Renteria 07:25

Hi, everyone.


Joshuah Whittinghill 07:26

Yeah, glad you can make it. Okay, and next up is George Bell. George is a third year Communications major with a minor in Multicultural Gender Studies. He is a student leader and inclusion coordinator in the Cross Cultural Leadership Center here at Chico State. He has a passion for working with youth and helping people find their own passions. Welcome, George.


George Bell 07:50

My pleasure being here. Thank you.


Joshuah Whittinghill 07:52

Yeah, it’s great. You can make it. All right. And we have one more student, right, Teresa Hernandez?


Teresa Hernandez 08:00

We do. Yes. So up next. We have Bri Guerrero. So Bree is from San Francisco. She received her Bachelor’s in Social Work and Women’s Studies at Chico State. She is currently an MSW graduate student. She loves hanging outdoors with her dog Pinto. She’s a plant lady and enjoys going to music festivals. She hopes to inspire others to affirm all individuals to be their authentic selves.


Joshuah Whittinghill 08:25

Oh, I have I have to feel for you Bri. Welcome. Welcome. You there?


Bri Guerrero 08:29

It’s definitely here.



Joshuah Whittinghill 08:32

But I have to I have to say I feel for you in this music festivals. That is one huge thing we’re missing out on be able to go to live music obviously. So it is unfortunately like our one of our main things of this discussion is music right on these on these podcasts quite frequently. And we were talking yesterday in our last episode, like I said with Ivan, but there’s a website if y’all haven’t seen it, you may want to check it out. It’s called Bands in Town. Free promotion for Bands in Town the free website if you haven’t seen it, they’re streaming live concerts daily and there’s at least 15 different themes you can look into. And there’s there’s artists that are you know, minor small town local artists to major record label artists who are on their daily been going on. So Bands in Town, if you want to get your your musical life fixed, there.


Teresa Hernandez 09:22

Awesome. Well, thank you all for being here with us today. We’ll get right into kind of the thick of the conversation that we want to have today. So start us off by kind of putting out a question um, and that’s going to be what has what are your feelings about this? This first few weeks of this semester especially being virtual, what has that been like any feelings, sentences or experiences around that? Um so for whoever wants to take it away first.


Rajvir K. Duhra 09:54

I’ll go. So, honestly, what the first few weeks it has been very different of course, and very challenging, especially with learning math online, and not being able to ask for help, you know, from a tutor face to face. Um, however, it is kind of come to my attention that this is something we do have to adjust to or regardless though, I’m just kind of trying to work my way through and making sure I’m not afraid to ask any questions from my professors or emailing other students for help if I need anything. So that’s what I’ll also recommend to everyone else. Um, you know, don’t be afraid to ask for help, because I’m sure my professors are also struggling with virtual learning and stuff like that and teaching.


Teresa Hernandez 10:39

That’s a good point. Thank you Raj, for that, and I know this, what that’s going to be I feel like a really prominent topic is going to be the difference between being able to learn in person and being physically in that atmosphere with your professor with your other students, versus just trying to get something similar to that experience on a screen. So it’s definitely gonna be something that I feel is a very prominent topic when it comes to this.


Paul Bailey 11:06

If I can add to that, also, I’m glad you brought that up, Raj, the one of the things that I’ve been thinking about with like my own students and trying to get across to them is, especially like, in my undergrad math classes, is just getting folks to take advantage of the tools like I’m trying to look at this as kind of a silver lining, like, when you have teachers or tutors face to face, sometimes it’s really easy to rely only on people as your like, resource for learning these things. But there’s so many great tools that exist out there, like on the internet, or things you can do with manipulatives. And so I’m trying to use that as an excuse to get students to recognize, like, hey, like, let’s look at some of these other tools that exist out there that maybe we haven’t used in the past. The challenge or two that I’m also aware of is that the culture of teaching is sort of slow to react to technology also. So it’s also trying to figure out how to navigate with your other professors like, what kinds of technology tools am I permitted to use, so that you can continue to explore those things, right, because sometimes they have their own feelings and opinions on what you should or shouldn’t use.


Joshuah Whittinghill 12:17

Yeah, and on top of that, I wanted to share before we get away from math, right is is important that just, I think this week, just opening or when you hear this, I can’t say this week, when you listen, it could be weeks and beyond. But this is early, this is mid mid September right now. And the Math Learning Lab now is available online. And we’ll have the zoom link in the show notes for you to look at. But it is open here, through Chico State to Math Learning Lab is open Monday through Thursdays from 10am to 7pm. And they have a variety of different courses that they support. So that’s a good resource right there of looking at using something old but in a new way. All right, one of the other students want to share just some initial thoughts before we get into some of the discussion about what people can be doing what you’d like to see being done.


George Bell 13:11

Well, um, yeah, well, with myself, um, within the first year, just navigating, like, we talked about this technology, like I was having trouble within one class, like downloading a PDF and you know, it’s different from having a Mac and having a PC. And then and I just feel like that’s the underlining thing, like, you can’t know exactly where everyone’s tech savvy is, like, I had a professor who she couldn’t, after the pandemic, it we probably it was just like, send her an email send your assignment through email, like, it’s just like she’d been, she wasn’t tech savvy enough. So that’s why I just feel like the year is very important within staff and students to be empathetic within each layer of our education, you know, navigating, being virtual, like, just being understanding and communicating. And making sure that even though you know, everything is virtual, you still have to make sure that everyone knows your communicate, how to communicate with you, I think that the professor that made it easy to communicate with them are the professor that I felt I can be most proficient in issue.


Joshuah Whittinghill 14:36

Good point, it seems as if communication has become one of the key features for everything. And even in talking with students in when I’m teaching class. Many of them are saying, I feel so confused. And then the the unfortunate, like the opposite side of the coin for communication, is they’re saying I feel confused because I’m getting so many emails. So the communication is happening. But now it’s a matter of trying to sift through those and be able to, to respond. And we’re learning quite frequently, right? Obviously, that, unfortunately, something that might normally take 30-45 minute conversation is now sometimes six, seven days of replying back and forth through emails and waiting for someone, and then you have, you don’t get back to your email right away, because you’re still doing other emails or whatever. And so it’s this this unfortunate this idea of patience, right, has been thrown into there. So that seems to be one of the key features of being empathetic is patience. In this process, and, and we’re learning when people are saying they’re applying for jobs, or people are saying this is what we’re looking for in our employees or in our students is to be a great communicator, both written and orally, right, and that we’re learning how to hopefully increase our ability to be well and be a good communicators written in the written way. And that can be a very different fence or barrier, right between the generations of how we communicate in written form.


Teresa Hernandez 16:09



Joshuah Whittinghill 16:11

Interesting. Because, you know, I was talking to students the other day about their sense of this idea of language, and they didn’t see the bigger picture that as college students, in a certain in certain Demographics As far as age, because college students range from your 18 to 60s and 70s, for different areas. But the average age is around, you know, below 23 years old, is the average age of our college students. And there’s a whole language that the generation coming into college in the last four or five years has, when you text people, and when you email, those still are features in there. And some of us who are older, if if we haven’t been using it or been around it, or you know, enough that the language is like what are they saying sometimes when they send an email, I’m like, oh, that doesn’t even really make sense. And I thought I understood text messages or, or abbreviated you know written language. So that’s one thing for students I think, is to be balancing and learning how to communicate with faculty in a way that makes it effective and efficient for you to get responses and the information you’re looking for.


Teresa Hernandez 17:20

And there’s so many different facets like layers to that as well, I think I appreciate that you brought up empathy, George, because that is I feel like going to be one of the most needed, if not like the number one most needed thing between the communication students and faculty and staff. And then just like any type of communication that goes from whatever level, um, especially when it comes to, you know, like, if you do have access to the computer, if you do have access to the Internet, and you can email it, like there’s one struggle of being able to understand like, how to utilize those, those means of technology, like sending emails, how to save things as a PDF, how to upload, like, and all that. And then the whole other facet is, you know, that’s under the assumption that students have easy access to the internet, that they’re able to get that out their house, that they have a laptop that they can work from at all hours of the day. And they’re not borrowing their friends or they’re not, you know, using one Laptop between the three family members and siblings who are also going to school and like maybe are in Middle School or Elementary. So there’s so many different layers added on to that. And then also like the household aspect of it, of it and being able to, you know, concentrate and being on these zoom classes. I was talking to Johnny, we’re talking to Johnny yesterday. And I was mentioning to him how sometimes like I said, I don’t I don’t get in service internet, so it doesn’t service where my where I’m at with my parents, because they’re just so far out there like past few college like in the middle of nowhere. And so I have to come into Chico to actually work to get internet. And so we’re talking about and apart from that, like, and it’s culturally for me as a Mexican, you know, my parents just come in and my mom will come in or call me during work and be like, Hey, can you run to the store pick this up for me, and I’m just like, not really I’m working. Or she’ll be like, but you’re just at the house. So it’s kind of like that also that cultural aspect and understanding of like, you know, my one sees me on my computer, like just typing away, she probably just thinks I’m like, I don’t know, I have no idea what she thinks I’m doing. But no work isn’t one of them. So just those expectations to like, go outside and do this or go that but have a meeting or like Josh has witnessed a number of times where she’ll just come and drop it to say, hey, she like ring the doorbell we’re recording. I’m just like, oh, dang it one second. So there’s so many different things that that you know, kind of just like, hit you on all sides when especially when it comes to virtual learning and not having that safe space to learn.


Joshuah Whittinghill 19:38

Yeah, those are good points. Thanks for sharing those. It’s good to remind us of these things.


Bri Guerrero 19:42

I echo that a lot. Um, I think that was a big part of me deciding to come back to Chico to actually like start the semester. Um, you know, my family was like, well, why are you going to go back to a place where you can’t even leave? Like, I mean, we’re all in quarantine still. So, like that choice that I had to make between staying home and feeling comfortable and safe and like secure stability on all that I had to give it up for the sanity of like, succeeding in my school in my work. Um, you know, like this morning, I was literally telling my family how much I just missed, like yelling at each other, um, but or just hearing each other’s like voices and stuff. And when I’m here, I just kind of wake up and like, I’m by myself and like, I don’t know, it’s that it really, it’s like a short end of the stick. But in a way, it’s not because it’s also helping me with like school and whatnot. I feel that a lot.


Joshuah Whittinghill 20:37

Thanks. Thanks for sharing Bri. And so maybe we can talk a little bit now about from the student perspective, what are some things that faculty can be doing. We’ve alluded to a few different topics, but what are some things specifically, that you feel faculty can do to help ensure a meaningful and productive and a nurturing semester? And in light of the email that we’ve received late last week, right from the Chancellor’s office about the spring semester. Looking very similar to the fall semester. What are some things from students, you think that faculty can do to help support this experience? Abe can we hear from you?


Abe Renteria 21:28

Sure, um, I think starting off, what I think a one way to help would be, I mean to be specifically to professors, I think when they write their syllabus, to ensure that equity lens are being sort of, you know, used when it comes to like deadlines, or accessibility issues, especially textbook issues. Like if that’s one way that that would help a lot, if they can make it free. If it’s PDF, or they can provide a format of it, I think that would really help. But I think that’s where my head goes to just ensuring that it’s written with an equity lens. And I think one really on on a broader level would help to as if they would include all disciplines academic disciplines would incorporate social justice, I count how does social justice tie into science fields, you know, when we talk about the environment, we take environmental classes, there’s not a lot of like land acknowledgments or information or knowledge about how do societies live within and within these ecosystems. So trying to apply social justice in our disciplines to show the intersections would be really helpful as well on a broader level.


Joshuah Whittinghill 22:56

Thank you. Yeah.




George Bell 22:57

I definitely agree. And just with talking to other students also and just from my own experience with like, we talked about the communication barrier, it’s very important to over explain each faculty member like when we have an assignment we like them to over explain the assignment. So every little fine detail what you want, how to reference. If you want references under your essays, then how to reference. How to use Owl Purdue, visual videos. I have professors who instead of just typing everything, just create one video how to explain it. Um outside of this class just to one video just to explain this assignment. I had a professor did that well, also um I know professor we meet two times a week but one um one of the five sessions is dedicated just to drop in asking questions like most our stuff is done in like Sunday evening. So we have like, we meet on Tuesday and Thursday drop in, um, session where like, you just drop in ask questions about the assignment that is due. So that was pretty that’s pretty good. Other than that, just yeah, just really explaining the detail of the assignments.


Joshuah Whittinghill 24:27

It definitely seems like repetitive is is going to be key and has started to be for I know for me in the class I’m teaching this semester and talking to other faculty are finding that we’re in the middle of a fourth week and and to be productive and help make sure all students are moving forward at different paces and different speeds, but also ending up in the same similar spot hopefully by the end of the week each week. And that does mean sometimes explaining how to even get into an assignment on Blackboard, how to even upload the assignment into Blackboard. And showing that to people more than once more than twice, one or three times, you know, just to make sure because especially for a number of faculty working with first year students, right, they have never seen Blackboard, they haven’t had these things. And so even on top of that can make it a big difference if we would not even not even considering some of the things that Abe mentioned about the equity of how this is being rolled out. And this the access that a number of us have already mentioned today, on people’s ability, where someone in the middle of class all of a sudden, will send me a text and say, hey, my power just went out. I’m on my phone. So I don’t know if I’ll make it back in today. Or, in our recording of our last episode, where Ivan was his power went out in the middle of the recording. So he disappeared and had to turn his Wi-Fi off just to be able to join us. So. So all these things are extremely important.


Teresa Hernandez 26:02

Yeah, especially the visuals for me particularly super helpful as a as a student, too, but especially as a first generation student, because when I first went into college, my first year, I was so shy, and I actually felt like embarrassed to ask questions like that I felt embarrassed to ask like, what font do I use? So how does this have to be written? Does everything have to be times new roman? Like is it you know, single spaced, double spaced, like I hated asking those questions, because I felt like, compared to the, like, you know, some of the English courses or some of the education my peers had on high school or some sometimes your senior courses or senior in English classes go through that, like, I didn’t experience that. So I didn’t know like what the rule of thumb or what the general standard of writing an essay look like. And so you know, and I wasn’t comfortable enough to be in that space and not having like, you know, my family having gone through that being college or also just kind of like navigating on my own. And so the terms of visuals are like, here’s an, i would love it when they would post examples like, here’s an example essay. And like list out, this is a font they’re using this is like the margin size. So I was like what I have to like even look into the margins again, even though that was the thing I thought everything was just standard. So I love I like that aspect a lot.


Rajvir K. Duhra 27:12

Um, real quick to George’s point, I really like the point that he brought up about professors like being more flexible, because I can understand that myself. Um, so sometimes I get afraid to I did say I’m not free to ask questions. But sometimes I do feel like I’m asking too many questions. So I feel like it would be very helpful to other students as well, if um the professors are willing to read the assignment before submitting it. Because I did encounter an experience just like a few weeks ago, like two weeks ago, where I asked a professor to look over my assignment and the professor did state that they were not looking at the assignment only for like purposes of that you should get the grades that you deserve, and they’re not going to be able to look it up, or like, read your assignment just for that. And it kind of upset me made me kind of nervous that I was just trying to get some feedback. So I feel like it’d be very helpful if professors were more open to reading and looking over the assignment before you do submit it. Um, also, I feel like a professor’s to provide more flexibility with schoolwork and like lay off the assumptions that it has to be done done this specific way. It has to be due this day, I feel like they should give at least like you know, points for let’s say late work. Because I know some professors do not do that right now. Especially they’re like, if even if you turn it in tomorrow after deadline, there’s no credit that can be received. So especially with everything going on, I know there’s fires, and a lot of people are evacuating. So I feel like there’s that should be understandable excuse.


Paul Bailey 28:55

She said so many good things in that. Um, first I want to talk about I just love that you mentioned the flexibility piece too, because like the thing that I tried to tell my colleagues and so hopefully any colleagues that are listening to this also is that this is more than a pandemic, like the pandemic is not the only obstacle our students are trying to overcome right now. Like we have these massive social issues, we have these huge fires, like disruptions to learning and living like all these things. And so the thing that I tried to tell folks in the summer and that became explicitly clear at the beginning of the semester is that all of the plans that instructors put together to try and figure out how they’re going to run this class online. Those are all out the window. The second we encounter students because we all have these individual things. I’m glad that you mentioned that piece about like assignments and assessment because my background I do a lot of contract work also in assessment programs. And when I’m trying to find out where, you know, my equity work, meets assessment, the fact of the matter is that you when we assess students, we’re supposed to be assessing what they know. And so when we create these artificial barriers that restrict their ability to earn scores, instead of actually assessing what they learned, then those instructors aren’t getting the clear picture of what student learning looks like. And so I think that’s an important part that, I’m glad you said that but to just like, try and add some more weight to that, I think that’s critical that professors understand by like, we’re supposed to be understanding student knowledge, like assessing student knowledge, not creating artificial barriers to success.


Rajvir K. Duhra 30:35

Um just to add to that, I do want to add to that little Um, so there’s also a point where we are given a bunch of assignments or readings through Pearson, I know a lot of instructors are using Pearson in my Math Lab and stuff like that. But um, or McGraw-Hill especially. And we’re given assignments based on the reading, but there’s just so much little time, it’s like, we’re given two chapters a week to read, and some of us do have work. So there should be a wider extension on when the assignment needs to be done. Because we’re only given a week to do a discussion post, reply to a discussion board, do the assignment, do two chapters of reading, and it can become overwhelming. And I feel like there also needs to be a little bit more awareness of mental health during these times. Because personally, first two weeks, I did break down because of everything that was going on. And because of the amount of work that was assign. But due to the I did end up dropping a course, so I’m enrolled in 16 units now. But yeah, it was, it was not good.


George Bell 31:39

Yeah, just to speak to that I’m like, I have a professor who like cuz we spoke, we talked about, like, how to keep the class on kind of like the same schedule, but still be empathetic and give people enough time to finish. So she’ll like, um, we have like a due date, and then we have an extension two days, so you could finish it within the two week stretch. But you know, if you want to stay um, you know, just stay consistent, if you can stay consistent and just knock it out. You will of course, take just finished assignments and do it every week. But yeah, that’s just another method that I’ve seen.


Bri Guerrero 32:20

Like how we touched on our mental health a little bit, I think it’s I don’t know, what keeps me engaged to coming to classes, like the classes that you look forward to kind of thing. Those are the professors that are doing like check-ins in the beginning. I’ve tried like, with my own programming, leadership and position, I’ve been trying to do like mindfulness checks at the beginning of our meetings. And just like checking in where’s like even a peak in, peak and valley? So like, what is the highlight of your week? What’s the low of your week? Where where are you coming in from mentally into the zoom chat, because I feel like we just kind of shut off what is really going on in our own personal lives when we’re in our zoom sessions. And I think having the ability to allow students to check in where they’re at. It also allows us to have that like social connection that we would have had, if we were early to class, like, you know, just hanging out with our peers in the room. And I think I enjoy going to those classes more. It’s not just like, oh, here we go. Another lecture, I got to sit through for two hours. Um, so I think having, like, I don’t know, I’ve, the more creative a professor has been engaging us is keeping me wanting to go to that class.


Joshuah Whittinghill 33:37

I like all the suggestions and these discussions that we’re having. And I think we have to make sure we don’t forget that faculty and staff are also adjusting and having their situations, you know, where they’re with family, or, or they’re, or they’re not with family, and that’s also a burden for them, because they’re isolated, they don’t get to see something so, so that we as, as students, right, and as colleagues that we have, make sure we have the empathy. Also, for faculty in that sense as well. In our patience, we talked about patience being a key part of this too. But there are also these, you know, expectations that come along with being in higher education. And some of those expectations are being able to adjust and be flexible. And this is this is like the, you know, extreme in being flexible for for everyone and adjusting. And it is unfortunate that the situation is at handle. We’re also it’s unfortunate. We’re hearing of different stories, like Raj example, and others that we’re hearing, you know, behind the scenes from students and other colleagues about hey, you know, some, some faculty are saying to students, well, nothing’s really changed. This is going to be the same as it would have been in the class before. And so these are the deadlines, and this is when it’s due. And it’s unfortunate we’re hearing some of these stories. You know, they’re, they’re, they’re less, which is nice, because we are hearing a lot of great stories about faculty and staff being flexible and open and, and going to the, the extra steps that they can, right, as as people themselves to be able to try and accommodate and support. What’s happening. So is there from from the students? It’d be great. And from Paul to on this part, and Teresa. So everybody, but what are some things that students can be doing during this time to help make this semester meaningful? Right? Because Because we know the information, right? The the unfortunate and downside of what what was happening with some students caused the residence halls to be closed, and then for in person classes to be shut down. So what are some things that students can be doing because it could be things that are helping with mental health for fellow students, it could be to help make the classes more engaging and productive. But what are some things you can think of as students that your fellow students could be doing?


Rajvir K. Duhra 36:19

Um, based off my observations through zoom, I feel like students should definitely engage a lot more in the discussions, rather than because I’ve seen I’ve noticed many times. I’ve heard this many times from my friends also that live in Chico right now. Like, the professor would ask a question, and no one would respond. And it kind of makes me feel bad for the professor. And they just wind a response and no one really answers. And then there’s no discussion, therefore, you can’t really learn or you can’t really, you know, engage with the class at all, because no one wants to talk


Teresa Hernandez 36:52

I have to agree with you on that Raj. Engagement piece too. So when we would do when we did summer bridge with our EOP first time freshmen, it was we would do breakout rooms, and it was so hard to get them to talk to you and one another. Like you don’t have to talk to me if you don’t want to, but at least talked to like, you know, your fellow person freshmen too, like you’re all in EOP together. And you know it’s different like rituals that have been in person Summer Bridge, where you could build those connections, because you’re with those people all the time versus online. So but I think one thing to keep it short, would just be kind of try to challenge yourself as students to engage in your courses, and kind of have that as a daily goal of productivity within your classes, if anything. And just to make the most out of it while you’re there. Because unfortunately, this is a situation we’re going to be in for the academic year. So see how you can make it work for you. Instead of you know, no one, I don’t know how many the majority of us don’t like it, but you know, making the best of the situation that we know we’re going to be in for a while.


George Bell 38:11

Y’all me, Josh,


Joshuah Whittinghill 38:14

Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you. You know I was gonna say that was for Bri, Abe, and George, you all get to work in programming positions, and have it have a different experience. So what are some things you think and see that students can be doing?

George Bell 38:31

Well, um definitely, it’s a lot of stuff still going on. I think that’s the biggest misconception that like Chico’s not doing anything, you have to engage in some of these Instagram pages. Within the different entities in the school, like I know, our Instagram at CCLC is Chico CCLC. And like, we have a whole bunch of going on, we have dinner with the story coming up next week. We have a study hall every Monday and Wednesday, from eight to nine that you could get involved in like, but just to allude to the question, I think it’s very important for students to find things outside of just formal information school, to you know, do virtually within your school and still try to keep school spirit like, I’m gonna be starting a poem entry and we have a different thing CCLC writing, writing an art thing that you can get involved in. So I’ll just say students try to find some of these Instagram pages and see what’s going on and what’s what people are doing. Because when you drop into a place where until a zoom, where it’s informal, it’s way different experience. You can really talk about those underlying mental health thing that we’re going through and actually have those conversations that you might can’t have in a classroom setting.


Joshuah Whittinghill 39:57

Great. Bri or Abe, you have anything you are thinking of?


Abe Renteria 40:01

But George said, I think the GSEC is still coordinating events. We are doing our legacy events that happen every semester. But we’re also coming up with other small ones that are not necessarily the legacy ones. But yeah, follow us on social media. Instagram, Twitter, we have a tick tock now. Facebook, but we’re mostly active on Instagram. So yeah, I think participation in general on campus and in your classrooms is a big one for students to you know, try to make this a better experience.


Joshuah Whittinghill 40:43

And how can how can people follow you on Instagram what they look for?


Abe Renteria 40:48

Chico State GSEC.


Joshuah Whittinghill 40:50

Chico State?


Bri Guerrero 40:52

Yeah. And then there’s the underscore at the end of it.


Joshuah Whittinghill 40:53

Yeah. At the end, okay. So chicostategsec_


Joshuah Whittinghill 40:56

GSEC. Yeah.


Joshuah Whittinghill 41:01

Okay, perfect. Cool. We’re putting these into our show notes. So people will be able to see them.

Bri Guerrero 41:05

Awesome. Follow us. But I would agree, just saying connected via Instagram is probably like a lot of our programming has gone on there, I’ve noticed a lot of other like summer Oh, was on zoom. And I’m trying or like the rest of the team too, is trying to figure out how we can make the platform like here, like on your phone, like, because this is what everyone has is like, you know, you pull up your laptop sometimes, and it’s completely dead. And so you don’t have the time. So like staying on to speed of what students are doing. I would say for us to make the semester meaningful as a student, like seek help, whether it’s in the smallest or biggest ways, it took me five years to get help from the Wellness Center. And it took a pandemic for that to happen. Um I think I don’t know what that means. But like, you know, it’s real. And, you know, the folks that are in the Wellness Center, their job is to listen to you. And so you can just blabber on about everything that you want to talk about. And that person understands you because they’re also in a space of higher education. And I think as a first gen, we often feel like our experiences are silenced. Because we just have to go with what’s what the system is doing, you know, like this, I don’t know how to explain like, it’s like a ball, like, we’re just turning in this ball. And there’s no room to actually, like, ever say how we feel. And a lot of the times in like these programs, you find other first gen students. And you’re like, Okay, so this isn’t, this is happening, but it’s not right, or, you know, this is happening. And I validate you in that way. And so it’s been really interesting. also getting to know the intersections of what it is to be a first gen. You know, everyone comes in a different and unique version of a first gen. Some people would even be like a, how would I say it like, some folks are more privileged over others, if we’re just talking about all first gens. And so having like the ability to understand that, you know, for students, even first year students like getting involved, you know, like we said earlier, keeping that school spirit alive.


Joshuah Whittinghill 43:20

All good points. Paul?


Paul Bailey 43:23

I just wanted to validate that, um, because I think that’s a really important thing to say. And I think we have to name it and admit it and talk about it. And this is a lot of the work I do behind the scenes outside of the classroom is that this system was not built for us. And so specifically, in this case, we’re talking about first gen students, I think there’s a lot of groups that I belong to, or that you all might belong to, that can say the same thing about that identity group. And, and that’s where these inequities, these structural inequities that we talked about stem from. And so the system academia is not built for first gen students. And so all those things, you feel those obstacles, even if it’s hard to see them or name them, like they’re there, those exist, and they’re real. And so you know that and we haven’t addressed them yet. We’re working on it. And but that’s the battle like from the faculty side, from admin, from staff, from students, like all angles that we need to be able to acknowledge, and then start to dismantle and reform this in such a way that we can actually support all our students


Joshuah Whittinghill 44:27

It’s excellent point. I like the that you brought that up, because there is a lot of discussion around first generation students. And I’ve been working with first generation students specifically as my main group of contact in higher education for 20 years now. And there’s been a major shift over those years around this idea of deficit thinking, right and deficit language. And for a number of years, that was sort of the accepted way to approach some of the things of how we looked at groups and how we approach situations and programming and even in the classroom. And then for a number of years, maybe between 5 to 10 years now, there’s been more discussion around, let’s look at how we frame it in positive language and asset, right language, and asset frameworks and all these things. And then this idea of though we have to be able to do some work to address them, like Paul mentioned, to make sure we’re identifying them. Because if we don’t, then people aren’t familiar with working with first generation students, all the intersectionality that comes with that for students, then how can they? How can we expect anybody to do anything to help if they’re not familiar with it? So it’s about naming it, sharing it, making sure people are aware these things are happening? And then how do we move forward in the asset approach? And that’s very different for many different people. Because, like Paul mentioned, not everybody comes from the same experience. And so the asset approach may have six or seven or eight different variables, even for one person to try and help to open up that opportunity in the possibility and make sure that they’re seeing what is there for them and actually then accessing, what is there and utilizing that? Yes, it is definitely a large, large situation. And I know, in this time, I’ve heard from more students than I normally do about their mental health, about wanting to get some sort of discussion, some sort of help some sort of support. And the isolation really is building on that for a lot of people, it seems because a lot of times walking around campus, you would be talking to people organically and just see people and have discussions and doing also on a lunch break all of a sudden feels like Oh, oh, I just ran into two or three different people. And we all talked about this issue. And now I feel a little bit better, because I have some understanding that I’m not the only person experiencing this.


George Bell 46:57

Yeah. I feel like it’s really important now to keep those resources intact, because I feel like with everything being online, we tend to assume assume everybody just do their own thing, finish your work and get the job done. I think it’s very important for now first to expect just imagine truly being a first generation freshmen at this moment in time, I could, I can’t imagine I thought that’d probably be the most overwhelming thing ever, because you already battle with leaving home. And or not leaving home or even trying to tip school without, especially for first generation without certain resources. And then you come to school. And now though, it’s harder to find these resources. You can’t just walk into a center or you don’t have jobs, just walking through the halls, Hey, what’s up and you got Oh, coming EOP. Like it’s not any of that. So it’s really important for us, like this find, find the students and find them and talk to them and stay, let’s create some or people or just deal together and find the resourse, especially for first generation freshmen, some stuff that nature,


Rajvir K. Duhra 48:05

Um adding to that I know it’s also really difficult for first generation freshmen, or anyone actually coming to Chico the freshman is the use of Blackboard. Because when I first came to Chico, I was really confused, but I had to seek help for that. And I feel like some of the resources are not available to students that are incoming freshmen right now, or just our freshmen. Because some of them obviously, they’re first generation so they don’t have siblings, you know, that have used Blackboard before. Um also going back to the mental health part. Yeah, I definitely agree. Because we’re not allowed to, or we’re not able to have the opportunity to socialize with our peers. Because at least for me, most of my friends from Chico are from SoCal, and from Live Oaks, so that’s, um, Northern California. It’s definitely difficult, you know, just being surrounded at home by your family. I mean, I love my family, don’t get me wrong, but like, you know, I can’t really socialize with my friends. It’s not really the same thing. But um, one of the things I found that are helping me out is like working out. I usually begin my morning by like getting a workout in and I feel like I’m so much more productive throughout the day, like, I would wake up at five in the morning workout, and I feel a lot happier, energized. And then I would just drink coffee and then go on with my day.


Joshuah Whittinghill 49:27

That’s a great point to actually reiterate. I think we’ve had at least to other people on previous episodes, as their recommendation is exercise.


Rajvir K. Duhra 49:36

Um, just to add on to that, I feel like also like just writing down whatever’s on your mind. Like I mentioned in my introduction, I’m writing journals is something I enjoy. Like before going to bed just writing throughout like how my day went. It helps a lot mentally, it just, you just feel like there’s a tension released off of you. Or even painting. I really enjoy painting because calmful and like relaxing, and it’s a great way to, you know, take your mind off everything because I know school we have a lot of work can be stressful, but sometimes you do need a break. Just ignore that for a while and do your own thing and things that we love. And I feel like during this time, we have kind of forgotten to really focus on things that we love, but instead, just focus on school because there’s so many emails, assignments and other things to do in regards to school.


Joshuah Whittinghill 50:27

And as we’re getting close to the end of our time, Abe, George, Bri and Paul, do you all have, you’ve given a lot of recommendations, which has been great in many ways to be helpful for different people. But you have a final recommendation that you would like to share with people that they might want to look into or consider to help through these times?


Paul Bailey 50:50

I would say and I probably would have said this even like pre pandemic, time is like thinking about my experience as a first gen student is I had not developed the social capital that other folks had coming into this system. And what that does relate even though what social capital was at that time. And so what I’ve learned now being on the other side of this as an instructor is that the students that ask are the ones that are going to get help exceptions whatever, like, or ask answers about the rules, right? And when we’re afraid to ask those questions, and we don’t. And so there’s a lot of students that especially when we run into these obstacles, like we got evacuated for a fire or like we can’t get to where internet usually is because it’s too smoky outside or whatever, like all these obstacles that come up. If you don’t ask your instructor for help, you might not get it. But I can promise you that the other folks that have this experience and advocating for themselves, they’re asking it, a lot of them are getting that support. So like take advantage of that, like the worst that they’re gonna say is no. And then you’re in the same boat you were before, right? So always ask for the favors ask for the help ask for the extra time or whatever it may be.



Abe Renteria 52:00

Yeah, I would say tell me to follow up on that. Yeah. email your professor, I think what’s helped me out a lot is building like networks. So getting involved on campus, like at Butte College, I was involved in student government that led me to like, meet faculty and staff that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. So like I have someone I met someone, the financial aid department, I built a connection. And thankfully, like I was able to solve some issues regarding financial aid, because it’s another barrier that first gen students really experienced with. So if I think just networking in general has really helped me survive, whether it’s in academia or outside of the world, just trying to build those connections, because you know, those people know more people know more resources. So don’t be shy. Yeah, put yourself out there.


Bri Guerrero 52:52

While we are all talking about community, that’s what I wanted to say. I think building community, like I’m thinking right now, you know, my graduation was canceled in this past spring, and my graduation might be canceled next spring. So like, as a first gen this like urgency to fulfill like a prophecy or legacy kind of thing. I don’t know if anyone else feels that. And it feels like you’re just like a being in this race of I got to get to this next step, I got to cross off this next box as a first gen. And you know, having a pandemic basically cancel that. I think I’ve found the positive in that in the experience as a student right now, like finding community, I’m at the GSEC right now working with people I’ve never worked with in my life. And now I have these strong connections with people via zoom. But they’re, you know, they’re the community that I’m working with right now. And they’re the community that I’m going to remember when I look back at this pandemic, and think about, how did I get through it or like, who was there, you know, who was around. So I think I definitely echo that on building community, even if it’s through zoom. I mean, it is what it is, who knows how long this will be, but like, just us right here, like, I’m gonna remember I participated in this and like, who knows if I would have ever participated in this if it wasn’t for a pandemic. So maybe just, you know, finding the positives and what it what it is that we have available to us, on top of building the community.


Joshuah Whittinghill 54:24

I love that too. Because Teresa, I started this venture about a month before spring break. And I started the podcast idea over two years ago and have adjusted it and presented it and been working on trying to get things going and organizing it. Finally, the pandemic pushed us into that where Teresa and I said, hey, let’s just meet once a week and start talking about how we can do this and get a schedule and get a survey and send all this information. All of a sudden, we’re overwhelmed that we’re still trying to organize our schedule, and we have people asking us if they can record next summer already, because they’re so busy, but they want to record something and they want to get the voice out. So we have, we have a calendar basically almost set up, it’s going to go all the way through May, with enough people already who who have wanted to be who want to be part of the this and it wouldn’t have happened and I and I am so thankful for because I wouldn’t have been able to meet a lot of people. Like, like Bri mentioned in this kind of setting. Yes. We don’t really get to know each other on the in depth part. But we now have another connection of like, Oh, you remember? Oh, yeah. Abe and Bri, they work over at the GSEC. And that makes me think out loud right now, we’ve said GSEC about 10 times at least on the episode. But Can one of you tell us what that means?


Abe Renteria 55:35

We are the Gender and Sexuality Equity Coalition on campus, formerly known as the Women’s Center.


Joshuah Whittinghill 55:43

Perfect, thank you. Because that’s one of the the things in higher education, I noticed is all the acronyms right? Of course, we hear them over and over and over. So it’s really important to make sure people know what that is. Because they might have been like, Oh, I’m gonna follow the GSEC. I don’t know what that is. I’m gonna check it out. So now we know what your what your official full name is, and a little better, that gives people an idea of what you do for the GSEC. And then also George, he mentioned the CCLC. But I don’t remember if he actually if we actually set it out what that stands for.


George Bell 56:14

Well, the CCLC stands for the Cross Cultural Leadership Center. It’s the center directed on inclusion and leadership. How can students be inclusive and learn how to be leaders.


Joshuah Whittinghill 56:27

Perfect. Thank you. Thank you. That’s very important. And then EOP was thrown out there. Teresa you happen to know what that stands for,


Teresa Hernandez 56:35

Actually, I think I need to look at, just kidding. Yes. So EOP is Education Opportunity Program. So we are a CSU wide program that supports first generation students from low-income or socially marginalized communities.


Joshuah Whittinghill 56:55

Thank you. Alright, well, as we wrap up, it seems like some of our bigger messages from this episode are communication is extremely important. No matter what type of person you are on campus, what your identities are, what role you have your faculty, staff, students, visitor to campus even right community member, we some of you briefly touched on the work you’re doing in the community as well, not just on campus, right. So communication. Empathy, is a big one that seems to come out from our discussion today, communication, patience. And these may not be anything new to people. But it’s a it’s important, as we talked about the other another one that stands out is repeat, repetition, repeating things. So even if you’ve heard these things, 10, 20, 30 times or more, over the past seven or eight months, it’s still always important that we understand they are at the core of what we’re all experiencing, and what it seems at the seven of us here have as important ideas to help support us and support our friends and our colleagues right through these experiences. So thank you all for being here. It’s been a great honor to have you here and to meet you all, and have you part of this voice that we will be sharing out with the world and advertising and if you’re listening thank you very much for for tuning in again or dialing up our podcast, and we look forward to future episodes to share with you and this is Josh signing off and Teresa Hernandez


Teresa Hernandez 58:35



Joshuah Whittinghill 58:37

This was first generation one of many, episode four.

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