From: Out in STEM
Date: February 22
Subject: oSTEM: Study Hours + Poll

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Queers Read This!

Find this week's poll at the end of the newsletter. [reply here]

    Last week, Ellie’s FOMO jumped(!) after she found out Kevin + Nhuja were off holding E-Board meetings with Sasha replacing her (Sasha, of course, is oSTEM’s second favorite staff member, our student org advisor, Cat, is first). Worried about the possibility of impeachment, Ellie decided to strike back and asked the QIA (Queer Intelligence Agency) to investigate Sasha’s whereabouts on January 6, 2021. More updates to come. /f

[Note: The lore above is entirely fabricated, your oSTEM E-board is just being silly goofy, and Sasha is a good girl who only has part-time beef with her chew toys. However, Cat is our fav staff member!]

    If you follow our Instagram, you’d know parts of the lore were based on true events! Below is a picture of Ellie + Kevin at 123 Sesame St. in The Strong Museum of Play. Personally (as Kevin), I really hope this does not mean a Nhuja + Ellie expedition in the near future that’d exclude me! That being said, make sure you take a look at our Instagram to see a day in the life of Nhuja (our favorite Business Manager)! 

Last Week

    Our friends from the Rochester Victory Alliance shared fun gifts with us during their visit, last week, and went over so many fields involved in both the local URMC and international scales. Thank you to everyone who came and networked with them, we hope they continue to be a great resource and point of contact. They have, again, shared their contact information and offered themselves as direct contacts, if you’d still like to reach out to them, ask us for their info. 
    After their presentation + Q&A, our bestie from the Creative Arts Club, Megan, helped us make fun buttons with the CAC’s button-making-inator (we forgot to ask what the machine is called, and now it is embarrassingly late to ask). If you were not able to attend last week or would like to continue the fun, join us at their workshop this week! More details are further below.
    Apologies for last week’s logistic hiccups, there was quite a bit we wanted to cover and wanted to avoid future time conflicts, E-Boarding is hard! We did appreciate your flexibility and compliments on the things lined up :)

Coming Up

- oSTEM Study Hours:
    In collaboration with the BIC, we will be holding oSTEM Study Hours weekly, every Monday from 1-3 pm at The Paul J. Burgett Intercultural Center (Douglass 305). Join us there to cosplay as studious scholars, munch on some BIC-provided snacks, and expand our beloved oSTEM ambiance. 
    As mentioned in last week’s meeting, these Study Hours also serve as an extra oSTEM window for plans like workshops, drop-in guest speakers, etc. We will update you on any of these changes via email, Slack, and Instagram ahead of time!
- Spring Break Poll: Link
    Spring break is right around the corner and our next GMM is scheduled for the Friday just before it begins. 
    Please fill out this < 1-minute poll just asking if you will be on campus/planning on attending it if we go through with it, with our new Study Hours, we were considering an O4U workshop/specific on-campus research talk as a replacement if that would be preferable. 
- CCC Website: Website Link
    As always, our website contains our R&O database, previous newsletters, and more pages that are continuing to be developed. If you spot any issues, our Feedback Form is always open!
oSTEM-Recommended Campus Resources/Organizations
- UR Creative Arts Club
  The Creative Arts Club (CAC) is another great student organization on campus that regularly hosts fun activities for students at all levels of interest, they provide a well-equipped studio and meet weekly. Last week, they stopped by and gave us a glimpse of their capabilities through our pronoun/custom magazine button-making. Catch us at this week’s CAC workshop continuing to make cute buttons, they meet every Friday from 4:30-6:30 pm at Rettner’s Fabrication Studio (first floor)! 

In The News

• UR Greenbaum Center & Newman Center Pushback:
    The University’s decision to build the Greenbaum Center for Jewish Life and the Catholic Newman Center has been the center of discussion among the student body recently. A public demonstration by students has been announced, arguing that the construction of these structures dedicated to two specific religious groups on campus alienates students of other faiths and uses University resources that could be better used for other issues they listed. The University has specified the Centers are funded by donations and cites the rapidly growing Jewish and Catholic student population as reasons for this use of campus land. The student demonstration is scheduled for tomorrow, February 23, at 4:30 pm on Eastman Quad.
• Troubling Queer Parentage Ruling: Link
    A recent Oklahoma court ruling involving a separated same-gender couple’s custody rights of their 3-year-old child has put queer parentage rights at risk through the reinforcing of outdated heteronormative laws continuing to exclude and discredit same-gender parents. Kris Williams and Rebekah Wilson, the couple in question, have been legally married since June 2019. In October 2021, Wilson left her wife for their son’s sperm donor and took their son with her. Williams, of course, petitioned the courts for custody but, OK law favoring hetero parents (despite the Obergefell and Pavan rulings establishing protections to queer relationships, including retroactively), the judge denied it saying she could’ve had a legal case if she legally adopted their son as well. 
    While the case could be raised to higher courts, queer parentage security is put yet again into legal question. Williams and Wilson were legally married prior to their son’s birth and both women were listed on his birth certificate, Williams’ petition should have been an easy ruling. Instead, she’s been estranged from her wife and son, taken out of her son’s birth certificate, and made a spectacle as attacks on queer livelihood begin taking root.

Bio/Necropolitics: Control of Livelihood

    French philosopher, political activist, and literary critic, Paul Michel Foucault developed several theories revolving around the dynamics of power. Foucault popularized the concept of biopolitics which looks at the relationship between life & politics, how a regulatory system administrates life. Biopolitics is complicated by its flexible definition in several political theory fields, for our application of the previous three works highlighted, we’ll look at how it describes the power a central governing body has on populations (not necessarily individuals) and their assessment of each population’s value and purpose for the whole. 
    Cameroonian historian and political theorist, Joseph-Achille Mbembe (or Achille Mbembe) expanded on Foucault’s framework and developed the concept of necropolitics. While biopolitics looks at the control and maintenance of life, necropolitics looks at the control and maintenance of death, when a population has exhausted its value, has no utility, or is seen as dangerous and needing to be muted. 
    I find political theory is better learned through its application, so let’s use the other works we highlighted from this month with these theories. 
    Audrey Lorde’s The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House analyzes the biopolitics of freedom. She highlights the structure of power’s intentional arrangement so anyone trying to dismantle it either influence no real change or actually upholds the structure. The push for ‘inclusivity’ often results in neoliberal-esque blame on the individual for not assimilating properly, not working hard enough, and not capitulating to the biopolitical path assigned to us. 
    Cathy Cohen’s Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens especially focuses on biopolitics established by our own community and proves Lorde’s concept of subversion of progress to actually uphold power, not redistribute it. Cohen calls out queer activism that has a prioritized life (ie. White, gay, rich), in other words, she is critiquing the biopolitics activists have mimicked from the establishment that won’t allow their livelihood by pointing towards other parts of them that are. The US has historically privileged cis het white men, so white gay men realizing this assimilated the movement to give these lives that politics favored more weight. However, in doing so they set up their own biopolitics cutting out any sexual/gender/racial others. This trend of selfish activism by othering a subset of the population exemplifies Lorde’s concept, showing that yea gay people got rights but by easily excluding its populations like trans and BIPOC people, they’ve caused no real change. We’re seeing the consequences of this shallow change as gay rights are joining trans rights on the legal chopping block. 
    Okay, I don’t want to do Cheryl Clarke’s work dirty by trying to keep this highlight from being a whole thesis so we will save her work for next week! Actually, we’ll make it some homework!!
How does bio/necropolitics apply with respect to Cheryl Clarke’s work? [reply here]

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Genesee 308, 500 Joseph C. Wilson Blvd, Rochester, NY 14627, United States
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