I went to Tora Con 2019 this past weekend. Tora Con ”is an annual two-day convention celebrating anime, cosplay, and nerd culture” which is hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology. Thanks to the student-run organizations like Geneseo Area Gaming Group and Geneseo’s Anime Club I got to nerd out with my friends. For example, I bought a bag full of dice, went to a panel on LGBTQ experiences and anime culture, ate at Plum Garden a hibachi restaurant, took pictures of a lot of amazing cosplayers, and got to spend time with my friends. In total it was an amazing experience.
What made the trip successful was how transparent my friends were about the convention. In particular, a friend was discussing pricing for the event. We had to figure out how much we were splitting for gas and food. Thanks to this transparency, I did not have to worry about concerns like transportation and instead I ate and spent time with my friends.
[A Video Highlighting Tora-Con 2019 and showcasing Tora-Con 2020]
However, that concept of transparency got me thinking about SUNY Geneseo. Alongside other institutional concerns, I feel that Geneseo needs improvement in transparency. The lack of it at SUNY Geneseo also contributes to this sense of loneliness that I feel.
In likeness with Noah Mazer’s dialogue on “Progress” weeks ago, there is importance in being explicit or honest. Through explicitness, the reader better understands that Du Bois is arguing against a school of thought created by Booker T. Washington. Du Bois uses chapter after chapter to build his argument and stay transparent with the reader on what this situation means for black America. This can also be seen in how he writes about other accounts of the black experience, particularly in his book Black Reconstruction in America. Du Bois uses countless examples from black Americans like Clara Barton or Elias Hill (672-675) to prove his point.
SUNY Geneseo has little transparency because of its lack of honesty and explicitness. Recently SUNY Geneseo and Geneseo Community College came in a report on March 8 from the Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government on their level of transparency amongst 10 other public colleges and universities in Western New York. Both of the colleges ranked last with SUNY Geneseo and GCC receiving 0 out of 100 in the report. Knowing this, there are examples like the closure of the Communicative Disorders and Sciences program around 2010. The letter indicates a lack of transparency and addresses similar concerns like “no public record to minutes”. This is only one incident, and this conversation could extend to more recent issues like the Sorbello case.
This major void in transparency creates a distrustful feeling between students and the administration. We can conclude that trust within a relationship, whether familial, platonic, professional, or romantic is important. Trust is, as Jeffry Simpson says, “essential to the development of healthy, secure, and satisfying relationships”, thus a lack of trust would cause inverse effects. What does this do psychologically to students and the relationship dynamics created with administration and faculty?
It is this lack of transparency that gives more fuel to my feeling of loneliness. How can I hope to fix any issue in Geneseo if I already feel like I can trust no one? Trusting would put me in a disadvantageous situation thus, why would I bother to trust anyone? This is the experience that aggravates many minoritized students and pushes them to go to support groups like the ones that exist from the Office of LGBTQ Programs and Services.
At the same time, I acknowledge that you cannot expect people to tell you the truth 100% of the time. It is unrealistic and impossible for any of us to do. We are prone to tell lies, whether big lies or small lies, to keep other safe or simply when we do not want to be bothered with a task. What I do expect is for transparency. That means having a level of intellectual humility that Geneseo very much needs.
At the end of Tora-Con, I met up with my friend Todd and we ate Dim Sum. While we ate and talked, Todd mentioned their own imperfections. It was heartening to hear that. They were not perfect and they were not trying to sell themselves to me. They were being vulnerable and at the same time self-aware. In response, I listened and smiled profusely.
It is this experience that connects to my convention: being acknowledged. When I saw my friends hearing me and laughing with me, I felt heard and wanted. Whereas at SUNY Geneseo, that does not always feel that way. To resolve the loneliness that exists, Geneseo must be in the process to listen to its criticism and be transparent about their problems. Through that can we come closer to resolving the institutional issues that plague Geneseo and furthermore me.