On Thursday, November 29, I found myself in ENG 319: Composition Methods at CMU, reviewing a set of responses my students had just written as feedback for what I’ll call momentarily and generically a text–a common occurrence that semester, thanks to the bolstered clinical experiences recently approved for English majors at CMU earning teaching credentials 7-12. In truth, however, the so-called text was decidedly not just any text; it was an urgent message and call to action from President Robert O. Davies that was distributed to the entire university community the morning after a hate crime had taken place on campus. (Read the message from President Davies embedded below or click here to open the message in a new tab.)
Assessing my students’ work, I was immediately inspired to share their feedback with President Davies and then invite him to our final exam session to discuss his message; however, I first asked my students for their approval. As it turned out, reactions were mixed:
“That would be amazing!”
“Do you think he would really visit our class?
“Probably not. He’s way too busy to spend time with a bunch of undergraduates.”
“OMG. How cool would that be if he actually visited?
“Let’s do it!”
With my students’ approval and mindful of university protocol, I didn’t write directly to President Davies. Instead, I sent an invitation to his executive assistant the following morning, waited barely three hours, and received an answer: He said yes!