Grace’s Tips: Treat Yo Self at UT

Your college experience doesn’t just have to revolve around lectures, mindless memorization, and endless group meetings at the PCL. Don’t let burnout get to you – it’s important to take time off to rethink, regroup, and most importantly: Treat Yo’Self.

Treat Yo Self

With a campus as expansive as UT’s, there are a lot of perks that most students don’t even know about, let alone utilize. There are still so many places to explore and opportunities to take advantage of. Without further ado, here’s the insider edition of cool things UT offers that you should treat yo’self to:

  • Brand New Gym at Bellmont (located in the stadium)  If you’re tired of having to wait for equipment at the Gregory Gym, you should check out the brand new gym that has opened at Bellmont (located at the Stadium). All the equipment is new, and the area is complete with mirrors, weights, and cardio machines.
  • Sauna & Steam Room  At UT, you don’t have to pay extra to enjoy the nicer things in life. There are dry saunas located in the locker rooms at the Gregory and Bellmont gyms. The steam rooms can be found in the Faculty/Staff locker room. Students are allowed to use the steam room but cannot use the faculty locker room for storage. They’re great for muscle relaxation and stress relief.
  • Mindfulness Meditation & the Mind and Body Lab  If you’ve been feeling a bit down lately and want some time to rest and meditate, there are guided meditation classes located on the 5th floor of the SSB every Tuesday from 12:15 – 12:50pm. If classes aren’t your thing, the Mind and Body Lab offers self-guided meditation as well. This is free and open to all UT students. (There are also massage chairs in the waiting rooms!)
  • Innovation Station – Free 3D printing  The Cockrell School of Engineering has offered free 3D printing to all UT students. The Innovation Station located at the ETC allows students the opportunity to build objects for different purposes through the web-based portal.
  • Telescope Star Parties  Racking your brain for a date night activity? The Astronomy Department hosts three weekly viewing nights for the public. On Wednesdays, the star parties are held on the top roof of RLM. Every Friday and Saturday, there is a viewing party at the Painter Hall Telescope from 7-9pm. If you’d like to operate the Painter telescope on your own, you can! Review the instructions, get authorized, and book a time!
  • Vintage Study Space  If you’re tired of the PCL, Union, or FAC, there are still some really fantastic study spaces on campus. Check out the Architecture Library, the Life Science Library, and even the Littlefield Dormitory for just some of the quaint places to do your homework.
  • Free Condoms at SSB  At SSB 1.106, you’re allowed to grab up to three free condoms per day from the box located at the Health Promotion Resource Center.
  • UT MicroFarm  If you love to garden but have no space to do it, UT MicroFarm is a solely student run organization that offers UT’s first student-run, on campus farm. Beets, butternut squash, collard greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc. are in season right now, and those who volunteer can also take some fresh produce home.
  • Harry Ransom Center/ Blanton  Another perk of being a student at UT is that admission is free to both the Harry Ransom Center and the Blanton Museum of Art. The Harry Ransom Center is an archive/library/museum that specializes in the collection of literary and cultural artifacts. The current exhibition is Frank Reaugh’s Landscapes of Texas and the American West. Blanton’s current exhibitions include Moderno, Natalie Frank’s The Brothers Grimm, Donald Moffet, etc.

Spotlight: Reproductive Justice and Race

Reproductive Justice and Race, SOC 321K/AAS 330/WGS 340, 44535/35125/46120

Reprod JusticeIf you’ve been paying attention to the news, you know that Planned Parenthood was recently under fire from anti-abortion groups for receiving legal reimbursements from medical researchers for donated fetal tissue. The ensuing discussion about the controversial ethics of using fetal tissue for research and its profitability raises a host of issues regarding reproductive justice. Dr. Sharmila Rudrappa, a Sociology professor and Director of the Center for Asian-American Studies, will be teaching a new course “Reproductive Justice and Race” to examine this and other topics. “Reproductive justice, as opposed to rights, encompasses a broader view with the inclusion of ethics,” according to Dr. Rudrappa. The course will focus on how various social movements, focusing on racial and class inequalities, define reproductive justice.

Professor Rudrappa did not start off as a sociologist. She began graduate school as an ecologist interested in elephant migration patterns in south India. This, however, led to her seeing social injustices that were hidden in plain sight; the Soligas, a tribal group of persons were being systematically dispossessed of their land, and criminalized for using what had been their ancestral property. She had an epiphany regarding her studies and her ethical obligation to the world leading to a shift to sociology.

Adoption familyHer research has dealt mainly with guest worker programs in the U.S. that brought in high wage, high-tech, mostly software workers. Her current research, however, is about reproductive technologies and social inequalities. Dr. Rudrappa believes that, “the best way to study social inequality is through examining access to health care, particularly reproductive care.” According to her, reproduction is not just the process of becoming pregnant and giving birth – it encompasses the right to give birth to a child with disabilities, the right to prenatal care, neonatal care, and support with child care, that address both biological and social needs of families and communities. Reproductive justice activists and scholars “envision the complete physical and mental well-being of women and children, which can potentially be achieved when they have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction,” she says. However, this ideal is not always achieved where knowledge, resources, and education are lacking.

Developing and developed nations are not immune to problems of social inequality when in comes to reproductive justice. The case studies of reproductive justice that Professor Rudrappa will discuss in class are both fraught with contradictions: Filipino nannies working in the United States in order to support their own children back in the Philippines; the effects of injectable sex hormones; sterilization of women; transnational surrogacy, and finally, sex-selective abortions. Students will find that there are no easy answers when it comes to reproductive choice.

Forced Sterilization poster“We will not fetishize choice,” says Dr. Rudrappa. She hopes that students will come out of the course with an open mind regarding women’s and children’s health, and a fuller, more complicated understanding of what reproductive justice means. From new reproductive technologies, to access to birth control, to stratified reproduction, to sex selective abortions, this course will focus on difficult topics with unique insight offered by Dr. Rudrappa’s own research.

Interesting Factoid: Saying that Dr. Rudrappa loves dogs might be an understatement –She absolutely adores them. She currently has three lovely mutts she and her family have adopted from the pound.

Spotlight: Queer Studies in Low Culture

AMS 370, 29890, Queer Studies in Low Culture

AMS 370 picWhen Caitlyn Jenner revealed herself to the world and posed on the cover of Vanity Fair, the public’s reaction was immediate. Everyone had an opinion. Some celebrated her transition with respect and joy, and others were skeptical and dismissed it as another media ploy. But there are more important questions to be asked: How is Caitlyn Jenner trying to affect real social change through her public visibility and attention as a celebrity? Is I am Cait, her reality-tv documentary series, considered “trashy” or “low culture?” How has it changed people’s attitudes towards the LGBTQ community? If these questions intrigue you, Dr. Lauren Gutterman, of UT’s American Studies department, will be teaching  “Queer Studies in Low Culture” which will explore these historical and contemporary topics.

Dr. Gutterman originally entered college as a theatre major at Northwestern University– however, she soon became interested in women’s and gender studies, which superseded her love for theater. After spending a year in Americorps, she moved to New York City working in sexual health education for public schools. While earning her PhD at NYU, she discovered her passion for popular culture and lesbian pulp novels. She is currently working on a book about wives who were sexually attracted to other women from the middle of the twentieth century to the present.

The main objective of “Queer Studies in Low Culture” is to examine “low culture” – paperback books, TV talk shows, reality television – and their ability to challenge traditional gender and sexual norms. To what extent do these “trashy” productions affect change in relation to popular culture? Are they successful? Dr. Gutterman spoke to me about the iconic documentary on drag and ballroom culture, Paris is Burning, which is one of the films to be studied in class. Ballroom culture of the 1980s is associated with transgender women, drag queens, women of color, low income groups, and it is a perfect foray into how race, class, gender, and sexuality impacts cultural forms that we seem or deem as “low.”

Dr. Gutterman wants students to leave the course with a broader perspective on how social change happens – understanding that not just law and politics influence change, but aspects of popular culture that may not be seen as respectable. Students will be able to question the hierarchy that is drawn between all kinds cultural material, from movies, books, tabloid magazines, films, to social media and analyze the role of gender and sexuality in creating these hierarchies. For the final project, students will be given the opportunity to use the analytical tools gained during the course to explore their very own “guilty pleasures” through an academic lens.

Cross-listed with WGS 335, 46050. May be applied toward the Writing and Independent Inquiry flag requirements.