13 December 2012

100th Post!

Apparently This is my 100th Post
Seems like a pretty good reason to celebrate. I think the best way to handle such an occasion would be to look back at my first post, and then look at what are currently my five most viewed posts.

My First Post

In the Beginning
Yes, I really did entitle it "In the Beginning." Fantastic, I know. It is filled with great stories of spilling chemicals on myself, revealing :-DD! (The "Ultra Happy Face of DOOM"), botany battleship, and coordinating the Big Gay Callout (I chose a crazy day to start a blog!). After recanting these things, I go into the purpose of the blog, and something that I'm going to revisit:
All of the above comes together to finally form this - the blog I have been saying I would start. You see, I was a little worn out, and after a shower I finally felt the urge to start. I knew that my blog would be named, "The Walls Line the Void," because I feel that is what I do. The world is chaotic, but out of the chaos we have found order (pseudo-order? culturated order?). We have built up our lives, our societies, our cultures, and our ideas. We have essentially lined the great void with walls (and don't take this in a negative sense. We humans have plenty of room to add on in the void!). This house that we have built in the void has plenty of work to be done, and we humans will have to get hopping, but that is why we are all on this ride (that we call life?).
Yes, my blog is "The Walls Line the Void." It comes from me mishearing lyrics (which actually noted walls being lined with bullet holes, which is much less artistic in my mind). The point of my blog, as the above discusses, is to address the walls that we have built in this crazy life. There is no over-arching purpose in life, we get to define our own purpose. We get to make our own order out of chaos. Of course for me much of that has dealt with social justice (and there is some science and other assorted politics, though my writings under-represent the science aspect of my life). I think my top five most viewed posts fit nicely into this schema, as they deal with helping to fix up the walls that we have built in this void.

Fifth Most Viewed Post
Race-Based Vandalism at Purdue
There were multiple incidents of race-based vandalism while I was at Purdue. This one deals with a racial slur being written on the photo of a prestigious alumnus. The quote that I feel like pulling out of this post is the following:
What I want to see come out of this event of vandalism is something substantial. With the painted tree incident, CORE came to fruition. CORE has meant a lot of a number of minority student groups (I at least can speak from my own experience with LGBTQ issues). These bias events are far too common. The vast majority of them are just ignored, or not reported. What I really would like to see is this event being used to push out the new online bias reporting.
 I then proceed to discuss how Purdue NEEDS to advertise its online bias reporting system. As some may wonder, now that I have moved on the graduate school at the University of Minnesota, the University of Minnesota does have an online bias reporting form. Yet again, this is not well advertised. I only know it exists because I knew where to look for it and even had to go through a few links after a Google search. Clearly Purdue isn't the only one that has done an inadequate job of advertising bias reporting procedures.

Fourth Most Viewed Post
The Problem of God Symposium - LGBTQ Issues Session
Actually, of my two "Problem of God Symposium" posts, this is not the one I would like to have be most viewed. My The Problem of God Symposium - Religious Pluralism post was better (since I took detailed notes on that session and did not on this one), but the issues people read my blog for are clearly more LGBTQ issues than anything else, and so the LGBTQ Issues post has more views.

This post comes from me attending an event put on by a conglomeration of Christian groups on campus. It was an incredibly bias event, and if you want to find out more you can read the post. I will give you a quote though that I think typifies my reaction to the event, which was to state that there are places that are safe at Purdue even if this space didn't feel that way:
I want to remind people that there are safe places. The Atheist community is often welcoming of LGBTQ individuals. There are a number of churches (as well as synagogues, mosques, temples, et cetera) that are open and accepting of LGBTQ identities. At Purdue I feel safe in telling people that if they need help they can go to the Society of Nontheists, the Chapel of the Good Shepard (Episcopalians), the Wesleyan Foundation (Methodists), the Unitarian Universalists, and the Pagan Academic Network. These places are open if they need to talk through their sexuality and their religion (or lack thereof). The Queer Student Union (housed in Stewart G20) is also open to talk through problems. Many of the people in CAPS are open to talking. I also encourage people to report incidents of bias and discrimination. At Purdue gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are all protected. In West Lafayette the same three are also protected. In all of Tippecanoe County sexual orientation is protected. People should not have to live in an environment where the fact that they are LGBTQ is held against them. Let's not let the misinformation from events like this go unchecked, and let's not tolerate heterosexism (or any form of prejudice for that matter).
Third Most Viewed Post
Response to Anti-LGBTQ Exponent Opinion
As you can imagine, anti-Queer letters occasionally made it into the campus newspaper. I actually respond to this line by line. Then, a bit later, Laura Blackburn (also a president emeritus of the Queer Student Union) and myself  wrote a post entitled Boilermaker Values. I think Boilermaker Values was one of the best pieces I have ever been a part of writing. Yet that isn't the post that made it into my most five viewed (my first post on an issue/event tends to do better than my second, I'm assuming due to reactionary responses). As I typically do, the thing I like to highlight about Purdue is its land grant history. I love that it was a land grant (I also love that the University of Minnesota is a land grant). I strongly believe in public, accessible education, which is why land grant universities were founded. Thus I am pulling the following quote from this post:
What are our Boilermaker values though? Is equality not a Boilermaker value? Is academic freedom not a Boilermaker value? Is inclusion not a Boilermaker value? Is fairness not a Boilermaker value? I could go on and on and on. When I think of Boilermaker values, I would like to think we strive to be a university where people can think, invent, create, and discover regardless of who they are or where they come from. I think of Purdue's land-grant history - something that is important to me. Purdue is meant to be for the common person. It is meant to make education accessible to the general public. Purdue is meant to be a diverse, inclusive environment where people can come and study, learn, discover, and grow. I think we need to fully embrace our land grant history, and our land grant values, and those mean being an inclusive campus that is open to everybody willing to learn and discover.
Second Most Viewed Post
Anti-Religion, Christian-Endorsed Board
Essentially, what happened here was a Christian group on campus put up a board to find out why people have problems with religion. It was an interesting idea, and I hope they were able to use it to help improve themselves. Quote I am pulling from the post:
Anyway, apparently they want to learn more about the qualms people have with their religion. They expected the hypocrisy, oppressive, and hate messages. I think this is a very noble idea, as trying to improve one's community is important.
Most Viewed Post
Purdue Board of Trustees Expands Nondiscrimination Policy
The most viewed post of my blog so far is the press release I wrote on Purdue expanding its nondiscrimination policy. I have written several posts on this matter, and I think it is quite appropriate that this is the most viewed post that I have written for my blog. Watching the Board of Trustees approve the additions of gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information to the nondiscrimination policy of the university is the proudest moment that I have had. Purdue took a huge step forward, and I think it really got the ball rolling to get Purdue to where it is now and where it is going (I have heard great things, and can't wait to check in on it when I finally visit Indiana again!). This post is a short press release, so I'm not going to take a quote from it.

Reflection
It has been a great first 100 posts. Quite a lot has happened since I started the blog, and I don't even know if I feel like the same person as who wrote the first post. I started the blog my second semester at Purdue, and I am still continuing it. My posts are pretty erratic, sometimes I have several at once and sometimes I go months between them. LGBTQ issues are well represented in what I write about, but not exclusively. I do write about research after all (for example the two minute talk I gave as part of my grad program's lightening talks!), and have talked about off-the-wall topics as well (like a recipe).

Thank you for reading what you have, and hopefully I will have some interesting things to discuss in the future.

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