10 Thing Friday

1. If you haven’t seen Black Panther yet, then what are you doing with your life?? It is so wonderful, funny, and important. The stand out character is the teen science genius, Shuri. She’s insanely smart, hilarious, and feisty. She steals every scene she is in. There are a million reasons to see it, but she is at least half of them. Shuri could change the world.

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Can we also get a movie with the Dora Milaje and the Valkyries saving us from ourselves? I would say the Amazons too, but they’re a different universe and that’s some kind of problem?

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2. I love gossip, and I really love a good hissy fit. While this is of course all alleged, the fact that Johnny Wier might feel upstaged by Adam Rippon makes me cackle. The best part of the entire article is this line: “Johnny should spend less time on his ‘Hunger Games’ hair and more time engaging the audience.”

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I would really like to see Adam Rippon playing a beautifully evil villain in a movie. He would make a great Maleficent!

3. Queen Elizabeth went to fashion week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Queen Elizabeth Anna Wintour London Fashion Week

4.  Bode Miller IS a TERRIBLE sports commentator. I have to mute him. He adds nothing!

5. “Inside the Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns.” I had NO CLUE that a 1986 federal law prevents us from having a searchable database of gun owners. So, for what records do exist for guns, it’s all paper and microfiche. No searching by gun owner or name. There is no official count for the number of guns in this country (not including those obtained illegally obviously). WHAT IN THE HELL. I really learned a lot from that article, but it has also given me a lot of anxiety.

Federal agent Charlie Houser is forced to fight gun crime with a meager tool: a bunch of boxes of paper.

6. “How to Raise a Sweet Son in an Era of Angry Men” and “The Boys Are Not All Right.”

7. Viola Davis is demanding to be paid the same as top white actresses. The fact that Viola Davis even has to make this statement is tragic. She’s an Oscar-winning actress who is one of most talented actors of our day. There is no excuse for this! Also, this needs to be embroidered on shirts for kids: “I’m worthy. When I came out of my mother’s womb, I came out worthy.”

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Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer recently shared her experiences with pay disparity too. Jessica Chastain had to back her up, and together they got PAID for their new project. Ladies supporting ladies!

8. Chloe Kim on the cover of Sports Illustrated!!

9. This is exactly why the “but the shooter could still use a pistol” argument is absurd: “What I Saw Treating the Victims From Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns.”

In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.

I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?

There was nothing left to repair, and utterly, devastatingly, nothing that could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.

10. On March 24 I will be participating in the March for Our Lives in Sacramento because our students deserve better. Teachers should be teaching, not stopping bullets with their bodies.

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Yeehaw

I am not done talking about guns! Yay! To start with some humor, the best part of the gun control debate are all of the people I know who are talking about what responsible gun owners they are. Having known them for my entire life, I heartily disagree with several of them (also, if we start denying guns to assholes, then they are out of a hobby). One in particular was passionately writing about how her entire family are responsible law-abiding citizens who don’t deserve to have their guns “taken away because of other idiots.” I swear to God, her son not only accidentally shot a hole in the floorboard of his truck, but he did so THROUGH HIS OWN FOOT. There’s your idiot. Image result for tina fey sarah palin gun gif

I’ve also been disappointed by the number of people who I like and respect who have blamed this on the “pussification of a generation” and “weakness.” I don’t know what planet they live on, but calling people weak or “pussies” is exactly they kind of behavior that keeps people from asking for all that mental health help that will solve everything. And, it contributes to the toxic masculinity that drives these shooters. Sarah Palin’s own son has this problem.

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On to the main point of today which is talking about Trumps’s comments about arming teachers in the classroom. To anyone who agrees with this, have you actually lost your minds? Teachers already work in a largely underappreciated and underpaid profession, so if they wanted to add a gun to that job, then they would have just signed up to be police officers. Arming teaching is honest to God one of the stupidest ideas coming out of this entire debate, but let’s talk it out.

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First, teachers are already spending hundreds of dollars on basic school supplies, so who do you think is going to pay for the training and buying of an actual firearm? Hmmm?  If a teacher brings their personal firearm, are there rules around what they can have? Who is responsible for that gun when it is fired? What happens if a student steals it or it is damaged? What kind of firearm do they get? Do they get to pick? Is it a shotgun or Glock or AR-15? Who buys it? Is it school issued? Who maintains the safety and function of the firearm? Is the district going to pay for training? Will there be a shooting range on campus so that teachers can spend their free period (which many don’t even have anymore) practicing shooting instead of grading or providing support to students? Or do teachers have to pay to go to a gun range on their own?

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Storage. Where is the gun stored? Is it in the desk? Do teachers get new desks that students can’t easily break into (have you seen how janky most teacher’s desks are???)? Does the teacher carry it on his or her person? Are you going to have a gun safe? Who is paying for the gun safe? Who is maintaining the gun safe? Is the campus going to hire a master-at-arms? Who has access to the safe? How much time will it take to open when there is a shooter charging down the hall? Is the gun in there unloaded or is it loaded? How much time will it take to load? Who will ensure there are enough bullets? Are you ready to pay more taxes to fund this?

If the teacher has to leave the classroom with the gun to get to the school shooting range or off-campus to practice, then how do they get the gun safety from storage to the range? Who ensures the safety of the students and the teachers when the gun is out of storage? Is someone going to check that gun in and out each time? Who is going to make sure the gun is in the safe every day and that it hasn’t been stolen by a rogue teacher or student? Do substitute teachers get access to the safe and have to demonstrate gun proficiency before they can cover a class?

What if a teacher doesn’t want to have a gun in the classroom? Do they have a right to opt out? What if they have religious objections? What if parents don’t want their students in a classroom with a firearm? What if a teacher fires on a student who they *think* has a gun? Do teachers get immunity for shooting students who aren’t armed? Who is going to pay their legal fees and keep them out of prison? I have issues with police shootings that involve them *thinking* that a person might have a gun, and they are actually trained and prepared for that kind of situation. Are you okay with that being your kid who gets shot because someone thinks he has a gun? And how many stories do we see of kids who bring a gun or something that looks like a gun to school? Do they deserve to die for making a bad decision even though they didn’t fired it?

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What happens when a kid gets that gun or overpowers the teacher? I’ve seen fifth graders who are taller than me. Also, knowing the nature of most people who work in education, I can’t even fathom putting my teacher friends in a position where they even have to think about shooting and possibly killing a student. In my experience in education, the majority of people will go to the ends of the earth to help a student get the support and resources they need to be healthy and successful. Maybe I’m just a big ol’ pussy, but I cannot even fathom shooting at a student under any circumstances.

So, once teachers take that shot, what are chances that they are actually hitting the intended target and not your kid who is desperately running down the hall away from the shooter? The NYPD has “some of the most comprehensive and sophisticated firearms training of any police force in the country,” yet they still only hit their targets an estimated 30% of the time. Is this because they are just a shitty shot? No, it’s because firing “accurately in a stressful situation is extremely hard.”

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As I said before, I have a lot of other thoughts about police shootings, but I have no doubt that it is an extremely stressful situation. So, if police officers who are rigorously trained to use a firearm miss their targets 70% of the time, then what does that mean for a teacher? What happens to the teacher who accidentally shoots innocent bystanders? Also, millions of people in this country live with mental illness. Some of those people are educators. Are teachers who are good enough to teach your kids not good enough to have access to a firearm to protect them? Do people stop hiring teachers with mental health issues because they can no longer access a firearm? How are you going to work that out?

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What are you going to do when we lose thousands of outstanding educators because they refuse to work if they or their peers are armed? We already have a teacher shortage!!!!! The last thing we need are less teachers. It’s already hard enough to convince people to do that job and then to keep doing it.

Until we are wiling to stop creepy, angry, narcissistic men from accessing firearms, then I’m still going with “No one becomes a mass shooter without a mass-shooting gun.” And, if you’re a Texan of a certain age, then you’re going to come back with “BUT LUBY’S.” Yes, George Hennard (who did NOT have mental illness, but hated women, was racist, and was known for his explosive temper) killed 23 people at a Luby’s in 1991 with a Glock 17 and a Ruger P89. Yes, those are both pistols and not assault rifles. You know what else he had though? High capacity magazines. But can you imagine how much more horrible it could have been if he had an AR-15 and hundreds of bullets that could be shot in minutes? The Texas Legislature was scheduled to vote the next day on an anti-crime bill that would have banned some weapons and magazines that were similar to the ones he used. GUESS WHAT? It did not pass.

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Suzanna Hupp, who was at the massacre and watched both of her parents be murdered by Hennard, lobbied that she would have been able to stop him had she had her gun on her. Then Governor Ann Richards was against concealed carry, but when George W. Bush took office in 1995, he signed concealed carry into law. Instead of limiting access to especially dangerous guns, Texas opened the gates.

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WTF Wednesday

Over the weekend I noticed several people posting responses to the Shaun White sexual harassment story along these lines:

When I pointed out that I thought sticking your hands down your pants and trying to make ANYONE smell them is in not funny at all, I got a response that he was just a kid and he deserved a break. He was in his mid-to-late-twenties when Lena Zawaideh states that he was gross and creepy to her. Young yes, but far from a kid. The person then went on to justify Shaun’s behavior by explaining that he also did all kinds of stupid and inappropriate things in his twenties. Great dude, so you’re a gross asshole too.

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I know that there are plenty of people in their twenties who make mistakes and that their brains are not fully formed until they are 25 or so, but that still does not absolve you for being gross or harassing people. The true icing on the WTF cake was after he excused Shaun’s actions by stating that “he was just a kid,” he then complained that Lena should have been an “adult” about the situation. So Shaun gets to be immature and gross, but Lena just needs to deal with it like a grown up.

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I don’t know if you witnessed the true treat over the weekend that was the New York Times opinion column, “Why Yoga Pants are Bad for Women.” The author posits that, “We aren’t wearing these workout clothes because they’re cooler or more comfortable. We’re wearing them because they’re sexy.” For one, if you’ve ever seen me exercising, then you already know there is no sexy to be found. Angry, sweating, tomato is what I bring. I wear tights not because I want to show off my booty (and even if I did, that is JUST FINE), but because I am more comfortable in them in exercise classes.

When I am wallering all over the floor in Orange Theory, I need to focus on not dying instead of worrying about my shorts riding up or showing off the color of my underwear to my fellow OTFers. No one exercising with me ever needs to see my underwear. On the treadmill, I enjoy wearing tights because they don’t move as I run. My thighs touch, my shorts move (even the good ones), and I don’t want to spend the entire time I’m running re-adjusting them.

I actually don’t give a flying f*ck if you can see my cellulite or rolls. It’s my body and I honestly don’t care if you don’t like it. You aren’t forced to look at me, like me, or touch me. And if I wanted to look cute or sexy at the gym, then that is also completely acceptable. Despite the authors claim that “Control-top exercise leggings that hold in your stomach won’t help.” IT DOES. You know what tights help control? UNCOMFORTABLE JIGGLING. I wear a sports bra for the same reason. I want things compressed because it is more comfortable for me. That is my decision to make. Even though no one seems to be able to figure out if “Honor Jones” is a real person or a nom de plume for a bunch of opinion editors, I can only assume the person who did write this has never had to deal with belly fat or touching thighs.

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The author also suggest sweatpants. I can barely wear sweatpants when it is 50 degrees in our house and I am sitting completely still on the couch. I would DIE in sweatpants while exercising. They just trap the heat and are not moisture-wicking at all!!! If you want to wear the sweatpants, then WEAR SWEATPANTS. No one is stopping you! I see people running in them frequently. They’re very easy to find! Do your thing in your sweatpants, but leave the rest of us alone who want to do a different thing.

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Finally, in true form, I set up a meeting this week and only invited myself. I didn’t need to invite myself since I set it up, but I did. And I didn’t bother to invite anyone else to it. I sat in the conference room for 15 minutes waiting before I figured it out. Other than being frustrated because I still needed a meeting with those people, it was the best 15 minutes of my week.

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The Gray Area

I went back and forth on this. Deleting and rewriting. I’m still not happy with this, but here we go. Since last week’s tragic school shooting, I have once again been surprised by how many people are blaming the school, the students, and the teachers for this event. I want to talk a bit today about what I have seen in education regarding our efforts to prevent this kind of tragedy and to intervene when students, staff, or faculty demonstrate concerning or harmful behaviors or actions (to themselves or others). This is kind of all over the place and mostly focused on higher education, but I understand that a lot people outside of education don’t really know what is going on here and what we are doing.

Nikolas Cruz existed in a gray area that we struggle with daily.  A student who exhibits troubling behavior, but hasn’t done anything that has compelled someone to press charges. He was also a kid during most of these behaviors, and I think a lot of us (including those of us in higher ed) want to give young people every chance and resource to be successful and turn it around. It has been reported that he engaged in cutting, racial slurs, depression, drawing hate symbols, ADHD, he was creepy on social media, and shared plans to buy a gun. None of these things are illegal. None of these things would have gotten him on a list that a background check would have pinged. The Department of Child and Families found him to be a low risk.

With that said, I also believe it is important to emphatically state that when it comes to mental health you cannot force someone to seek treatment, get counseling, or take medication (unless they are committed). And, even then, you might be able to force them to swallow pills in the hospital, but you cannot make someone care about treatment or fully engage in it. States have their own laws surrounding involuntary psychiatric holds – committing someone against their will to a psychiatric facility.

In California, you can be committed for up to 72 hours for evaluation if you are a danger to yourself, a danger to others, or gravely disabled through what is commonly called a “5150.” We don’t have a week go by without at least one student in our residence halls being committed through a 5150. The huge majority of the time, it is due to a student expressing suicidal ideation, someone finding evidence of another student planning to take their own life, or a student actually attempting to do so. We have a wonderful police department on campus that responds quickly to these situations to get students medical help and to provide support. If another student reports it or suspects a student is a danger to themselves, then we act on it just the same. That action may be through a 5150 depending on the urgency and severity of the situation, or it may be through other resources we have to help students. And we can get them psychologically tested, but if they won’t accept or participate in treatment or counseling, then we cannot force them and we cannot kick them out of school refusing.

We have a harder time supporting students who show a tendency or desire to cause harm to others. Just because someone does something actually scary enough to have them committed or arrested, doesn’t meant that anything punitive can be done about it. Sure, we can always dismiss students from school for not following our student code of conduct, but kicking an already angry student out of school is a truly scary prospect.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School expelled the shooter, but that didn’t stop him from coming back to kill. Virginia Tech knew that Seung-Hui Cho was “intimidating” and had a “mean streak,” but he never actually never made any overt threats. His professors were scared of him, he claimed that he was getting counseling, but he never did. Virginia Tech was in an impossible situation because it is unfortunately very difficult to kick someone out of school because they’re being scary or an asshole. The majority of the time, no one is surprised when they learn the identity of the shooter.

At my university, we have a Behavioral Intervention Team that works with students who are displaying concerning or dangerous behaviors. This enables us to centralize the information about a student who is struggling, to coordinate resources, and to give people a consistent place to report their concerns. Our hope is that we are able to intervene before the student actually carries through with hurting themselves or others. But, again, outside of involuntary commitment, we can’t force anyone to get treatment or take their medication. We give them the resources and the access, but they have to participate.

I can’t even count the number of students that my office has sent to that team because their correspondence or interaction with us was troubling. We also have a Critical Response Team that meets each week so that we can talk about issues we are seeing on campus and to plan for situations that may negatively impact student well-being. We have numerous resources including crisis managers who directly help students facing a wide variety of challenges, but we can’t force a student to meet with them. And if you’re narcissistic, fame seeking, or feeling aggrieved with your school, then you are probably not going to think you need treatment or counseling from the people you already despise.

We can do everything we can to identify students and to get them to the resources we have, but if they choose not to take advantage, then we get stuck in a truly difficult situation. What I mentioned above are the resources we have for current students. Outside of calling the police, we do not have a legal way to deal with or intervene with people who are not part of our campus community. And if the person is not committing a crime, then the police can’t do anything either.

There is an older man who is a convicted felon who has emailed, called, and written me over 500 times in the past year. His communications are aggressive, angry, and unsettling. He wants to get into graduate school, yet lacks the minimum GPA to apply. Not only is that not my fault, but I also can’t decide who is accepted to school. I have told him this 500 times, yet he persists. He also shows up campus and in our building frequently. We are a public institution, and he has every right to be here. He scares me a lot. I’ve informed our police department, but he hasn’t actually done anything illegal, so other than them being aware, we just have to deal with him. This doesn’t even count as harassment by the way.

Every day I worry that he is going to show up with a gun. Do you know who he will see first when he walks into our office? Our student assistants. We have an armed security guard, but what are the chances that he harms a student before that security guard can be there? He is one of many former students or random people from the community who haunt our campus and scare people. Some of them have waited out in parking lots to confront professors and some have burst into offices to yell at employees. There is a constant undercurrent of fear here (and everywhere I have worked) because it is too easy to shoot up a school because you feel somehow wronged.

To try and prepare for this, we are installing better locks on doors, reviewing systems that recognize the sound of gun shots so that the police can be notified more quickly (although with what money we are going to buy this with I sure don’t know), upgrading our campus alert system, increasing our security officers, and doing more planning. We are investing in mental health resources, student crisis managers, peer health educators, and information aimed at encouraging people to report concerning behavior. These things all require money. And we can do all of this perfectly, yet someone can still walk in here with an AR-15 and kill a lot of people.

I continue to see people give a blanket “mental health” reason for why mass shootings happen. Do I think that you’re having your best mental health day when you go into a school and shoot your classmates with an AR-15? Of course not. But when you say this is a mental health issue, what do you mean? What is the answer? Nikolas Cruz was never charged with anything despite all of the times that police were called to his home, so there is nothing to be found in a background check. Our systems are not designed to catch disturbing behavior or early warning signs. His mother believed he was taking his medication and getting the treatment he needed. And yes, someone called the FBI tip line, but that is a small office of people who handle over 2,000 tips a month and it was missed. He fell through the cracks, but I truly don’t know exactly what system was supposed to catch him. You can’t commit or arrest someone for being creepy or weird. And if no one ever presses charges, then the police can’t do much either. Our University has far more resources than most high schools and middle schools, and we still struggle to meet the needs of our student body.

All of this is to say, it would have been super swell if it had been harder for him to get a hold of weapon that could wreak that amount of devastation. Or maybe if those types of firearms and magazines weren’t available for purchase at all, but God forbid you give up your hobby.

Magnificent Men of Monday

I watched Black Panther this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I never thought in my life I would be enjoying movies based on comics as much as I have lately, but Black Panther was incredible on all fronts. Chadwick Boseman is T’Challa and he is so very handsome in it.

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Black Panther also features the endlessly charming Michael B. Jordan. It’s a win all around!
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I read on Tweet where a woman said hat she wanted to be haunted by the “ghost of MBJ’s abs”.” SIGN ME UP FOR THAT.