I’m an academic and I use Wikipedia

Ok, friends, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. It’s time to move on. Everybody does it. I’ve seen colleagues do much worse. We all secretly do it, but are sure our colleagues will judge us for it.

I am an academic and I read and contribute to Wikipedia.

No one has unfriended me. I don’t have to wear a scarlet W around campus. I have kept my honors. Heck, I even am a visiting scholar because I contribute to Wikipedia.

Why am I saying this?

Because tonight I read a study about a study completed at two public Spanish universities (Aibar, E., Lladós-Masllorens, J., Meseguer-Artola, A., Minguillón, J., & Lerga, M. (2014). Wikipedia at university: what faculty think and do about it. The Electronic Library. 33(4). 668-683. doi: 10.1108/EL-12-2-2013-0217) – both relatively new and one of them was online only. The faculty used Wikipedia but only for subjects that were not in their primary field. Academics in STEM fields were more comfortable using Wikipedia for their scholarship and teaching. “So-called soft-science academics” were more skeptical.

Oh, my fellow social scientists, own up to it. You use Wikipedia. If you don’t, you should. What does this say about your bias? Go on. Go reflect on your actions and if your actions of judging Wikipedia/cloaking your true feelings are 1. valid and 2. really working toward the Truth we seek on the daily.

Did you know your students could learn in a collaborative environment where you don’t have to force inorganic collaboration? Pedagogical application is receiving mixed reviews in the literature. Why? Because many of those respondents are simply theorizing on how teaching with Wikipedia would be based on their assumptions about what Wikipedia is.

Wikipedia is “a new and powerful channel for the public communication of science.” Isn’t that what we want? Someone to read our work and to further scholarship? What are you waiting for? Give contributing to Wikipedia a chance, and what do you know, you might even let your hair down and teach with it next semester!

I’ll even volunteer to get you started.

Stop “whiting-out” racism

Wednesday I was listening to a discussion about white privilege. When presenters would bring up situations where they hurt suomeonewit racist actions or remarks, they called the situations “mistakes.”

The conversation did not make me feel uncomfortable in the way it should have to provoke my development, but the continued use of the word “mistakes” and discussion of “whiteness” as it affects white people made me very uncomfortable. (Note: the whiteness of white people affects all people who are not white. That’s who best understands whiteness. We white people are products of our white privilege but do not get to “woe is me and my ignorant state of whiteness”). This proves we white people have to learn how to respond and properly classify situations when we allow our privilege to interfere with our civilized behavior.

When you are racist, you hurt someone. You perpetuate by example what you did, which is racism.

Let’s pause here. Note I said, “When you are racist…” This does not mean you have to have ill-intent or identify as a racist to be racist. You could be completely ignorant of the situation or how your actions are racist, but this does not give you a pass.

When you are called out on your racism, do not be defensive. Take a breath. This person is telling you how you were hurtful to them or someone else. They don’t want an apology, but a simple, “I am sorry for (racist behavior) and should be a better example” is a good start. It is a good start. You need to work with the individual(s) you hurt to repair that relationship.

If you are called out in a group setting, own up to your  behavior, ask the person if you could talk further after the session, and move on. Maybe you did not mean to be hurtful, but you need to know how to avoid being hurtful to people in the future.

These are not “mistakes” they are situations in which you hurt another human being by insulting their identity. Call them for what they are, stop calling them “mistakes,” and understand what to do when you are called out.



Education Coffee Chat

Yesterday I had a great chat with fellow educator, Sherita Love. I met Sherita at Venture Cafe a couple of weeks ago where she put together a panel of other talented educators. This panel spoke about the education inequalities and in the area and what they were doing to examine and affect the problem.

The panel only was able to chat shortly because the audience felt they needed a forum to speak. We need to have roundtables here in St. Louis to talk about education and the awesome programs working to impact education. Sherita is making sure more forums for conversations are open, but people interested in chatting about education need to attend. The best collaborations and ideas can come out of the most unexpected places.

At our coffee chat, Sherita and I talked about some of the needs in the St. Louis area. We talked about assumptions, college readiness (& awareness), education diversity, parent advocacy, transition planning, volunteering, etc. We also talked about cool stuff happening around the St. Louis area to affect education. One such cool thing is the organization Sherita co-founded with another great educator: GLAMM. This is just one of the many cool projects and programs happening around the area. See how you can get involved!

There will be plenty of upcoming conversations about education happening in St. Louis. I’ll post about them here, but would love to see you there! Education is everyone’s right and everyone’s responsibility. Think about how you can make a change in someone’s education. It may be small to you, but huge to them.

My dissertation defense: Experiences of College Students with Disabilities

My dissertation is titled An Exploration of the Lived Experiences of College Students with Disabilities. Some of my friends and colleagues attended to hear the great research. Now you get to watch it and share it with your friends and colleagues! The SlideShare is below as well.

Have Courage and Be Kind

Hello! If you all are visiting my site from Craig and Katy’s project, the Art of Survival, thank you for taking an interest in ending sexual assault. If you have not already, do check out their project about sexual assault during the month of April. We all want the same thing: to bring awareness to sexual assault.

Did you know April is Sexual Assault Awareness month? I didn’t either until Craig reached out to me about sharing my story on the Art of Survival project. In conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness month, I have committed to 30 days of writing about sexual assault. I know this is going to be particularly emotional for me at times, but if I’m quiet, he wins, and the cycle continues with new victims like me.

Sorry for the hiatus April 3 and 4. I had to take a break from writing about sexual assault. I was beginning to have nightmares again and relive it during my waking hours. I honestly thought about scrapping the commitment. This, I hope, shows you how sexual assault can affect the person for their whole life, and, how we must always have courage.

One of my favorite quotes comes from a 2015 Cinderella remake, “Have courage and be kind.”

When dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault or working with a victim, remember to have courage and be kind. It’s not their fault. There are many stakeholders to deal with in situations like this, but only one enemy: sexual assault.

Remember who the real enemy is, have courage and be kind.

Who are you?

Currently I am listening to the audiobook of Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (she’s the writer behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, awesome TV, etc.).

Yesterday Shonda read a chapter and basically posed the question for readers to ask themselves “Who am I?”

This is the second time I have heard that phrase this week, in suggestion for the listener to ask themselves. The first time, I sat and thought, “Wow. I don’t know. I’m nobody.”

Today I am writing my methodology chapter for my research proposal for my dissertation. I read my “Personal Truths” section I wrote some months ago. I got teary eyed.

While I won’t bore you with the whole bit, here is a section of my “Personal Truths.”

This is who I am:

The researcher recognizes several personal truths as they pertain to this research study. The researcher has a great desire for all individuals to obtain at least a four-year degree from a higher education institution. The researcher feels the knowledge a student may draw from their time at a higher education institution is expansive and can be transformative. She recognizes how higher education affects many aspects of one’s life, including emotional, financial, intellectual through to their individual world view.

Education should be a right and not a privilege is also a personal truth of the researcher. While not everyone desires a higher education, higher education should be an available opportunity for those who desire it. The researcher firmly subscribes to the theories of Howard Gardner, which indicates intelligence may manifest in various forms and not only in the traditional sense. She feels strongly that individuals in society should not be discounted for their difference from the traditional. Society comprises individuals, yet society ostracizes anyone different from the herd.

This is my passion.

It makes me smile. It makes me giddy. It makes me cry. It makes me talk so inspiringly to other people about education that they themselves are motivated to do something.

A few weeks ago I wrote about why many of us will likely fail in our careers, and why we should all follow our passion. Do something you feel this passionate about, and we might just save the world.

The Grey

Monday night I was assisting in the intervention skills class. This course is aimed at preparing student affairs professionals to support students should they have certain concerns or needs. Our topics this semester range from depression to Autism to identity.

This week’s topic was sexual assault. This is never an easy subject for anyone. With 1 in 4 college women being sexually assaulted, we need to break the silence.

Claudia Charles, Director of Counseling and Wellness at Fontbonne University, spoke to the class about sexual assault and supporting students who may have experienced such an event. She spoke about counseling students who were assaulters and how being present with the student is helpful in keeping biases in check. She also went over general information, including statistics, sexual assault facts, and emotions victims may be experiencing.

There is so much grey in the experience of sexual assault. No, not every victim will say rape even though it was rape. No, not every victim will fight their assaulter. No, not every victim will want to speak out. No, not every victim will come to the acceptance of their sexual assault.

This brings the conversation back to the thought that we need to support those who do come forward about sexual assault. We need to encourage them to seek counseling and hopefully they will report the crime to the police. We need to strongly encourage victims to seek medical attention for their assault.  This is integral in ensuring they are physically ok and collecting any possible evidence should the victim wish to prosecute in the future.

One question I had, as I have never had the experience of accompanying anyone to the emergency room for sexual assault, is what does this experience look like for a person?

Would in the case of people on their parents’ insurance plan result in an explanation of benefits (EOB) mailed home? This could be an issue in instances where the person does not wish to have parents notified. Victims can process the emergency room visit without using insurance, and the visit might be able to be covered by a victim’s grant.

I marvel at how some find the courage to relive their assault in order to seek medical attention, counseling, or to prosecute the assaulter. They are strong and I am proud of those people. Be proud of those people too. Show your support by speaking up about sexual assault. You could be the push someone needs to break the silence.

Read on:

Crime Victim Compensation information

Video about emergency room experience

ER Care for Sexual Assault Victims


Let’s Talk about Sexual Assault

Lady Gaga reacts to sexual assault on college campuses. It’s an epidemic that we’re ignoring. It’s savage. Diminishing. Accepted. Haunting. Common. Isolating.

One in 5 female and 1 in sixteen male college students will be sexually assaulted this year. Think about this: smaller colleges have class sizes of about 15 students. So that means in each classroom you walk past on campus, at least 3 students in that room will be sexually assaulted this year.

Eight out of 10 people know their assaulter. I did.

Sexual assault is something that will stay with you always. Over a decade later, I can still close my eyes and remember every detail.

Sixty-three percent of sexual assault crimes are not reported to the police.

No one asks to be sexually assaulted. Ever.

Help someone you know break the silence. Make sure you listen.

For more information and resources:

RAINN Rape, Abuse & Insest National Network

Sept 21 Washington Post article, “What a massive sexual assault survey found at 27 top U.S. universities”

What Senator McCaskill and others are doing with the Campus Accountability and Safety Act

ACPA Experience

Whew! I’m home now from the 2014 ACPA Convention in Indianapolis and I’m exhausted. The past 4 days were packed with learning, making new connections, and catching up with old friends. What a great time we all had collaborating and sharing our progress and research on topics. I was fortunate enough to share my dissertation research with the ACPA community. I was overwhelmed by the attendance in my session and very appreciative of those choosing to spend time in my session. Overall we had a positive conversation about making students with disabilities feel more welcome on our campuses.

Inside Higher Ed ran an article on the session, and while I don’t agree with the hook they used:


it is good to get the information out and more people in on the conversation.

In the session I asked fellow student affairs folks to consider some action items to tackle when they got to their home campus. I am invigorated by what the people plan to do!

Also, at the closing session today, I received some very poignant words from Brené Brown:

If you are not in the arena and also getting your ass kicked, I am not open to your feedback.

If someone else is in the game with you, listen and appreciate what they have to say, good and bad. If they’re not contributing to the knowledge at large, challenge them to step up to contribute, but ultimately appreciate the risk you took in sharing knowledge and dismiss their feedback.

I encourage you all to get out there, research, tackle those complex situations and always keep Brené’s wise words in minds.

View my presentation from the ACPA Convention below or download ACPA 2014 Presentation Jackie Koerner in pdf.

The Big Day

I’m terribly excited about my presentation in about an hour. I am not nervous at all – only very excited to share this information I have found with others in hopes they will be able to change the outcome for students with disabilities on their respective campuses. I cannot wait for the whole dissertation to be finished so I can share it with the whole world! Well, the part of the world willing to read it.