Student Safety and Well-Being: Shifting the Narratives
Hosted by the School of Education Graduate Student Association
During a panel presentation at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education’s recent “Summit on Student Safety and Well Being”, a police officer referred to the school-to-prison pipeline as “fake news,” and an invited speaker touted her research on bullying and, the absurd descriptor, “homophobic teasing.” This week, the Federal Commission on School Safety recommended rolling back Obama-era policies focused on combating racial discrimination in school punishment practices. In June of 2018, UNC was found to be in violation of Title IX just as Secretary of Education DeVos limited Title IX protections for victims and expanded appeals rights to the accused. Many states have enacted so-called “bathroom bills” that deny basic dignity to transgender people. In October, one such student in Virginia was literally left out in the open during an active-shooter drill, while teachers and administrators debated if they could take shelter in one of the locker rooms.. This semester, UNC administrators proposed re-erecting a monument to white supremacy after students and community members tore it down. As we write, students are consistently threatened by gun violence, Muslim students are harassed and beaten, Latinxs are screamed at for speaking Spanish, asylum seekers from Central American countries are criminalized and are dying of dehydration in border patrol “ice boxes”, Indigenous peoples continue to have their lands stolen and rights restricted, and Black women and girls are suspended, expelled, and arrested for wearing natural hair. Thus, when we discuss student safety and well-being, questions arise:
- Whose well-being?
- Safety for whom? Safety from what?
- What do those words mean in a school and community where the safety of a monument to white supremacy is prioritized over the safety and well-being of Black and Brown students?
- Who are the experts on the safety and well-being of Black and Brown students? Of other marginalized communities?
- What does it mean to be safe as a student?
- What does it mean to be safe as a researcher with a marginalized identity or someone who works in environments that are hostile to one of their identities?
- How do we create safe learning environments? How do we promote well-being?
- Is safety defined differently in other countries? in learning environments outside of schools? in different communities?
- What are the alternatives to militarized notions of safety?
- Do notions of safety compete with those of well-being? Are these goals incommensurable?
- Are safety and well-being narratives facilitating the best structures? Are there better theories of change than promoting safety and well-being?
Education research, policy, and practice across levels of schooling (K-12 and higher education) and educational contexts are paramount in a society where villainizing rhetoric and the white supremacist heteropatriarchy threatens the survival, emotional and mental health, and basic dignity of the most marginalized people in the United States. Rarely are these communities recognized for their strengths and ability to flourish in spite of these threats. Rather, these communities are most often described with damaged-centered narratives, which led Indigenous scholar Eve Tuck to consider “the long-term repercussions of thinking of ourselves as broken” (Tuck, 2009, p. 409). As a system that has been conceptualized to not only reproduce structures of white supremacy and its concomitant resource-hoarding but also remove systemic barriers and normative ideas of whiteness, Education is ripe for research and practice that promotes the flourishing of the marginalized and oppressed and the reconstruction of systems that enable this shift. With this opportunity comes the responsibility to closely examine and challenge the narratives that facilitate these structures and systems (Patel, 2016). As such, the 2019 annual Southeastern Association of Educational Studies (SEAES) conference, which will occur Friday, March 1 – Saturday, March 2, 2019, welcomes proposals that contribute to the knowledge of educational practice, policy, and research that fit with the theme of 2019’s conference: “Student Safety and Well-Being: Shifting the Narratives”.
The conference proposal form opens Friday, December 21, 2018, and proposals will be accepted through Friday, February 1, 2019. Proposals can be submitted for oral, performative, panel, or poster presentations. We encourage and welcome the use of diverse presentation styles (e.g., spoken word, traditional oral presentation, display and description of art). Ideal proposals might employ one of the following: a) critical framework or lens to address an issue in any learning context, b) a systemic or policy-based lens for addressing the roots of educational issues, c) an asset-based or justice-oriented approach to practice with individuals or groups.
We encourage proposals from a variety of disciplines, as well as a variety of education levels (PhD, Masters, graduate student, undergraduate student, high school students), and community members and practitioners.
The following information must be submitted using the electronic submission form:
- Presenter name(s)
- Preferred session format
- Poster presentation (Presenters will display a poster of work in a room with other presenters)
- Oral/Performative presentation (Presenters will share work – papers or otherwise – on a panel of contributors with similar themes)
- Entire panel session (Presenter will assemble and facilitate discussion among several contributors)
- Title of session/presentation
- A brief abstract (150-word limit)
- Proposal (600-word limit)
- Correspondence information (email, phone)
Proposals will be reviewed holistically with special attention to:
- Description of issue or topic
- Conceptual framework or lens that challenges/shifts dominant narratives.
- Implications for practice, policy, and research related to the theme
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the conference or your proposal submission, please email seaes.unc [at] gmail [dot] com.