Course Policies

How to be successful in this course, tl;dr version:

  1.  Do the reading, whether it is watching a video, touring a building, or reading a book.
  2. Have thoughts about it.
  3. Show up.
  4. Talk about it. Ask a lot of questions – of me, your colleagues, yourself, & google.
  5. Make stuff. Write some words. Write little bits of words all the time. Make pictures, make videos, take risks.

Longer Version

Be present in the course; give your work and your colleagues your attention. Turn your phone to silent. If necessary to maintain your attention, turn it completely off, put Facebook on Leechblock, etc. Beyond that, we’ll be doing assignments in class and online; time of completion will naturally vary. If you finish before your classmates, be considerate.

Safe Space Policy
This class (You. Me. This community of scholars.) will always strive to be safe space for learning and development; that is, a space where we can develop and refine the knowledge and skills necessary for culturally competent practice. Learning requires stretching beyond comfort zones, and yet feeling safe is a prerequisite for a good learning environment. As we all bring diverse experiences to learning, conversation, and internet practices, here are some general guidelines to help create the environment we want.

Maintaining a safe space operates on at least two levels:

Be respectful of your colleagues. There is zero tolerance for slurs or derogatory language. Here is a link to UT’s Code of Conduct page which may be helpful, but in general don’t discriminate based on race, gender presentation, marital status, religion, disability, age, or sexual orientation.

Additionally, as we will be online quite a bit, please be considerate of your fellow student’s ability to see and hear whatever is occurring on your computer screen, and keep in mind their boundaries might be quite different than yours. Err on the side of caution. Finally, if you find an reading or assignment triggering in any way, or suspect that you will be triggered, please contact me as soon as possible. I am happy to speak with you about the content of the material in advance and/or provide you with an alternative assignment. If you are troubled by or feel unsafe in any class discussion, please speak with me as soon as possible so that we can work to resolve the immediate problem and prevent future issues.

Learning procedures
It is never okay to laugh at, belittle, or harass a colleague because of their opinion or point of view. Always think about how your comments will support our learning as a group. But safe doesn’t mean operating in an environment where beliefs and ideas go unchallenged. Challenging colleagues to explain their arguments in a thoughtful manner is key to creating an engaging learning community.

  • Make a commitment to understand unfamiliar positions from the context or point of view of your peers.
  • Speak for yourself rather than for a group (use your “I” statements).
  • Be present – really listening to your colleagues will dramatically improve your in-class experience and prevent most understandings.
  • Take risks in speaking honestly; this will help the learning of the group.

Trigger Warnings

This course uses trigger warnings as a matter of standard practice.

Triggers are words or phrases that can cause extreme reactions. These reactions may range from anger or embarrassment to full panic attacks. Giving trigger warnings is required in many online communities, and is becoming more common in public spaces. Common triggers include but are not limited to: addiction (of any kind), self-harm (of any kind), child harm, sexual assault, and racism.

Behind the link below are some comments that might be triggering. As you can see, these are comments that might occur in casual conversation (as they are examples from on campus), and yet can still be harmful to others. Phrases and subjects you might be more familiar with as upsetting are descriptions of alcoholic behavior in a novel, victim blaming in a news story, or of course active threats of any kind. When addressing these kinds of topics in writing, put warnings near the top of your page or in the subject line. When addressing these kinds of topics in conversation, you can warn by saying “warning for racism” or something similar before you go on. This may seem odd at first, but becomes normalized very quickly.

As in any humanities class we will be discussing texts that contain material about the hard questions faced by any culture; this is what makes them worth discussing. In general, triggers are the result of personal experiences. It is easy to be kind, and reactions to personal experiences are nothing to be ashamed of. Please read the syllabus in advance of coming to class. If you contact me in advance with any particular issues, I will try to be accommodating. It is impossible to plan or warn for every exigency, but as a group, we can be sensitive about potentially sensitive discussions.


Audio/Visual Policy
No audio or visual recording is allowed without express written permission from myself and any other people involved. I tend not to give this permission unless needed for accessibility. This policy exists for two reasons: 1. a classroom is a private space, not a public one. 2. Knowing they are being recorded tends to have a chilling effect on conversation, and it is therefore a violation of the classroom’s safe space policy.

Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at (512) 471-6259 voice phone) or 866-329-3986 (video phone). If you need accommodation or think that you might, it is better to contact me and SSD sooner rather than later, it will make your life much easier. More information is available online at

Religious Holy Days
By UT-Austin Policy, you must notify me of a pending absence at least 14 days in advance prior to the date of observance of a religious holy day that will interfere with attending the course. If you must miss a class day due to observance, any assignments must be completed within a reasonable time (determined by the instructor).

Attendance is required. In accordance with the policies of the Department of Rhetoric and Writing, if you miss five or more classes, you will fail the course. Be on time – tardiness is a distraction. If you are late, it will be counted as a half-absence. If you are 20 minutes or more late, you will be counted as absent. If you miss classes you must get notes and assignments from a classmate. More importantly, be present. This almost never happens, but we can tell when you’re texting or gchatting your buddy instead of working on our projects. Please remember this is a discussion-based course, so if you are inattentive it is disruptive and discouraging.

Snacks and Drinks
Snacks and drinks are permitted in the classroom as long as they are kept on the interior tables rather than by the classroom computers. Secure lids for beverages are strongly encouraged.

Scholastic Honesty
Turning in work that is not your own, or any other form of scholastic dishonesty, will result in a major course penalty, possibly failure of the course. This standard applies to all drafts and assignments, and a report of the incident will be submitted to the Office of the Dean of Students and filed in your permanent UT record. Under certain circumstances, the Dean of Students will initiate proceedings to expel you from the University. So, take care to read and understand the Statement on Scholastic Responsibility, which can be found online at If you have any doubts about your use of sources, ask your instructor for help before handing in the assignment.

Email Accounts
Email is an official means of communication at UT-Austin, and your instructor will use this medium to
communicate class information. You are therefore required to obtain a UT email account and to check it
daily. All students may claim an email address at no cost by going to

Emergency Information
Occupants of buildings on The University of Texas at Austin campus are required to evacuate buildings when a fire alarm is activated. Alarm activation or announcement requires exiting and assembling outside. Familiarize yourself with all exit doors of each classroom and building you may occupy. Remember that the nearest exit door may not be the one you used when entering the building. Students requiring assistance in evacuation shall inform their instructor in writing during the first week of class.