Welcome back to the 255! This week we wanted to share with you some of the cool and exciting activities in our own classrooms. That’s right! Another awesome segment of #InClassToday is coming your way!! In this post, we are featuring the integration of student clubs into academic spaces. Specifically MMC’s own Social Sciences’ Assembly (SSA) took initiative to visit Professor O’Connor’s Foundations of Social and Political Inquiry course. One of SSA’s goals is to combine student-led discussions and organizations into the classroom. This is a reflection of SSA’s mission to increase students’ voices and involvement in our social science departments. We also reached out to SSA’s co-presidents, Dorian Provencher (’22) & Tshiamo Ramela (’22), to get the inside scoop on their guest appearance in the classroom.
The Social Sciences’ Assembly is an older Marymount student organization that was recently revived in Fall 2019. As part of the SSA constitution, their mission is central in “be(ing) an extension of the Division of Social Sciences and be(ing) an avenue for students to explore issues and topics within the field. The club seeks to provide a safe space for students to discuss any relevant material to the division outside of a class setting.” Since the college’s transition to online learning, SSA has partnered closely with the Politics and Human Rights and International Studies departments to ensure that students’ voices are seriously taken into consideration. As a result, SSA facilitated and organized many PHR/IS events that took place throughout the Fall 2020 semester. SSA also partnered with the social sciences departments to orchestrate events for the Spring 2021 semester and coordinate guest speakers for the Sojourner Truth Suffrage Academy. Check out the interview with Tshiamo and Dorian below to hear more about their insights into the organization and their hopes for the outcome of this in-class collaboration.
- What made you want to revive/lead the Social Sciences’ Assembly?
The social science department at Marymount is one of the smaller communities at the college, however it is arguably the most impactful. Through the UN program, the Bedford Hill program, and others it was important to give the department a uniform platform through SSA. This is just one of the reasons SSA was important to revive.Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
My motivation to revive this student organization came out of a need to bridge the collaboration processes between faculty and students at MMC. I believe that these connections are crucial. After all we are here to learn and I feel like being a part of the collaborative process to design our curriculum and events is crucial to students’ passion and academic success. Being the Co-President of SSA has really given me a position to advocate for the interests and needs of my fellow peers and I have greatly enjoyed my role.Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
- What is your motivation in working closely with the PHR/IS departments?
I was motivated to work closely with the PHR/IS faculty because I think its crucial that students voices are heard in educational institutions. In creating the events for both this and last semester, Tshiamo and I consistently advocated for programs and events that our fellow students showed interest in. For example, Alex Vitale presented in a PHR/IS event last November about abolitionist politics and defunding the police. Based off of conversations with our peers, Tshiamo and I took the idea of Vitale coming to MMC to the faculty of our departments. Luckily, one of our professors had a connection and was able to get Vitale to come speak to us. Another important aspect of the continued dialogue between SSA and the social science faculty is our ability to communicate the needs and expectation of our students to the professors. It allows us to clearly articulate our expectations and desires for the department, events, and curriculum. Then, we work closely with the faculty to ensure that our wishes become realities.Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
One of my motivations in working with the social sciences department is to represent the needs and desires of our students. Social science students are one of the smaller group of students at Marymount, but we also deserve representation and advocacy with our department and the entire college.Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
- Why did you choose to integrate SSA activities into Professor O’Connor’s PHR 101 course?
I think it’s important that we pioneer conversations about what is knowledge and break down the misleading norm that it can only be produced in a traditional classroom setting. For example, I feel like the times I have learned the most are in dialogues with my fellow students. Sure it’s always informative to read about theories and ideas from a book. But to apply these concepts in fruitful conversations with my peers is much more preferred, in my opinion. Another reason Tshiamo and I chose to integrate SSA into the classroom was based of the impeccably timed schedule this semester. Tshiamo and I are in a class together entitled Research Methods in the Social Sciences that takes place during the same time period as Professor O’Connor’s PHR 101. We thought this opportunity would be a great way to integrate an advanced level course with Juniors and Seniors with an introductory course with Freshmen and Sophomores. Not only does this provide a space to have conversations with a diverse range of ages and social science experience, but it also offers a way for Upperclassmen to give their insights or advice to students who are just starting the program.Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
I think the contents of the PHR 101 closes, closely relate to many of the goals that SSA is trying to achieve. The collaboration is intended to connect the theoretical to the practical.Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
- What challenges has your organization faced in the new virtual spaces?
One of our challenges is definitely participation. Encouraging students to attend our events over Zoom can be a struggle, as many students may face Zoom-fatigue. That something we’re looking to improve over the semester.Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
Participation has definitely been a struggle in the virtual spaces. When we were in person it was so much easier to just grab your friends before events started, but as we all know, it’s not that easy over Zoom. I believe we as students are often super tired of Zoom and as a result it is much harder to participate in extracurricular activities. SSA’s exec board addressed this issue by actively trying to make events more participatory. I hope we see greater student turn out through the course of the semester.Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
- What has been one of your favorite activities so far?
My favorite events have been the talks and representation of Native people. And would also say, the collaboration between the professors. We’ve definitely gotten to know each other more intimately.Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
One of my favorite events was the “How to Defend Democracy” program we hosted along side Professor Mueller of the IS department and Professor Annabel Hogg of the PHR department. It was amazing to enter a space full of students and faculty alike that prioritized prevented the spread of authoritarianism in the United States. We discussed ways in which we as comrades could actively participated in preventing a dictatorship both in virtual and physical spaces. I think I enjoyed this event because it was so relevant to both domestic affairs in the United States as well as larger pressing international issues.Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
We would like to thank Tshiamo and Dorian for sharing their insights and experiences in SSA. We highly encourage all of our readers to go check out their Instagram @socscimmc. We look forward to hearing about other events that SSA plans on posting in the future. Be sure to keep an eye out on our page too for upcoming events in the Suffrage Academy. As always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and get involved in the awesome student organizations in our community!