Foto Friday: My OLs!

Ok, so its been a few weeks since I last posted. I promise I had a good excuse! I blame New Student Orientation and Welcome Back Prep. :)

But now that my first Orientation that I supervised is completely done and put away, and I have a few seconds to breath, I thought I’d get back up to speed. But because I blame Orientation, its then duly appropriate that today’s photo is of my orientation team:

Courtesy of Naiomi

Courtesy of Naiomi Tajonera

This group was an amazing group of Orientation Leaders. I have to say I think some of the absolute best I’ve ever worked with in my many years in higher education. I learned so much from them; about students, our college community, and about me as a professional. This summer has been an amazing experience.

It also reminds me of the complete joy it is to work in higher education. I had the privilege to watch these students over the past four and a half months grow into their own. They grew as leaders, as individuals, as team members and as human beings. Even though we had our rough patches of training and program bumps, (and with a training program that our institution has never seen before, we had TONS of bumps) watching them grow and learn a few things myself was well worth the headaches.

So cheers to the 2014 Marygrove College Orientation Team!

Courtesy of Naiomi Tajonera

Courtesy of Naiomi Tajonera

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

 

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A Call To Action

While the tear gas is flying and arrests are being made, conversations are being held across our campuses about the Michael Brown Shooting and Ferguson Protests.

We are asking the tough questions such as; “Is this the latest example of how prevalent racism is in our society still?”, “If Michael Brown had been white, would this have happened?”, “Should the officer be cited for murder?”, “How do we talk to our students honestly about racism?”, “How do we provide services to our students who come from homes and neighborhoods where this type of issues is normal?”, “How do we address privilege?”, etc.

We are having deep conversations with colleagues and with our students. We, as higher education, are demanding action and education on white privilege, racism and equity. We are focusing on the importance of dialogue and programming with our students and each other.

However, amidst all the questions we are asking and conversations we’re facilitating, my gut was telling me we’re missing a component. So, I took a step back and looked at the larger picture and realized we are definitely missing a key component. And I’m just as guilty of it too, however, since the Ferguson incident and for me, recent situations on my own campus, I was able to identify it pretty quickly.  I’m coming to realize that it is no longer sufficient enough to simply have dialogue and action on our campuses alone or solely within the “Higher Education Bubble”. To really move our society forward, to press issues such as racism, privilege, freedom of speech, etc.  and to see the action and education which we are effervescently demanding for, that we need to get into the communities surrounding our campuses with our students, staff and faculty, and do it ourselves.

Most of us will admit that our campuses are basically silos within the community we reside in. We can talk, protest and have our dialogues within our campus communities but the real impact that we can make is through integrating our campus conversation with the communities surrounding us be it a community of similar mind frame or different. By bringing them into the dialogues, programs and conversations maybe we’ll see the action and education that we are so viciously clamoring for. Joining together, taking a stance as well as educating each other on the issues (yes, both sides have things to teach each other) may finally produce the results that society needs. As higher education institutions, we have the privilege, opportunity and responsibility to be change agents by interacting and living with our surrounding communities.

If we don’t do that, then we’re not really fulfilling the complete mission of higher education; to make the world a better place through academia and action.

So the real question is how do we get out into the community and get our hands dirty? How do we help move our society forward rather than just silo-ing our conversations to ourselves and our campuses and hoping that one of our students or graduates steps forward and ignites the change that is desperately needed. I know my mind is racing and am excited to see what it comes up with. :)

Just a few thoughts and musings to share as we continue our dialogues surrounding the issues coming out of the Michael Brown Shooting and Ferguson Protests.

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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The Great Debate

I read an article this morning on Social Media that I found on the SACollective. It was talking about Student Affairs Professionals and the issue of whether or not to follow and/or friend students.

ARTICLE: http://studentaffairscollective.org/social-media-what-student-affairs-professionals-are-missing-by-not-connecting/

Now, I’ve been having this debate for years with myself and colleagues, so I’m quite familiar with both sides’ pros and cons. Some of the pros that are often brought up include: meeting students where they are at, exampling appropriate social media practices, and using the platforms as team building/leadership training modules. Some of the cons brought up include: graying the line between personal and professional, getting into awkward situations with students, and blurring the boundaries of the student and staff relationship.

But the key thing to understand and remember is that the decision is a personal decision for the professional. NEITHER is right or wrong and BOTH have validity in practicing as a Student Affairs Professional.

I retweeted the article and pretty soon I got a couple responses about it. They were pretty much split down the middle, half agreed while the other half did not. But as I was tweeting a colleague, on the pros and cons and how it has become a divisive issue in Student Affairs, I came to see the true reason why it’s become such a divisive issue. It’s not the fact that one #SAPro is open to friending a student while another is not or the potential for stepping over a professional line (because in Student Affairs, it’s our job to walk the line in most of our cases); it’s that one or both individuals or sides don’t understand why each has made that decision and therefore do not respect the other for making the personal/professional decision that they did.

This was such a profound observation I had to take a moment to reflect on it. It’s VERY true. In the midst of claiming professional practices/boundaries and proper social media usage we’ve forgotten to respect the decision of each other on how we handle our individual platforms and identities. We “lose respect” for those who friend students, or we state that people who don’t connect are “out of touch” with students. However, in the myriad of multiple practices of social media, why don’t we take the perspective that when you put all of us together, say in an office or department with these various degrees of connecting with our students, we are actually COLLECTIVELY providing services and support via multiple means and platforms and therefore providing an even more personal and individual experience for our students?

Now this can be a very broad and generalized perspective, but it seems to sum up my observations of late on the divide that’s being created. We seem to be coming to a tipping point in our social media philosophies and practices, an Either/Or type of situation. We will either begin to be more open and understanding of each other’s personal choices in how we each respectively handle social media with our students or we will continue down a road where eventually we will be a “House Divided” and it will begin to effect the support and services we provide to our students.

There is no perfect way to connect with students, and there is no right or wrong way on how we handle our social media. There can be right or wrong actions we do on the platforms however, and perhaps that is where we should have some conversation, but not necessarily whether or not we should connect with our students.

Just some food for thought, and to keep this post short, I’ll continue my thoughts on  a later post next week :)

In the mean time to my SA friend or students interested in the field,  join the conversation!:

Courtesy of SACollective

Courtesy of SACollective

Shout out to @AdamZLeftin and @jakegoldblum1 for the great conversation and article!

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Foto Friday: My 2nd Hobby

So, I found this gem of a profile pic a few days ago when I was cleaning out my photo files. It was taken at Cedar Point a year or so ago when I went with my BFF Courtney and her husband to celebrate her birthday. I saw this statue and bench and had to get my photo with it.

Now, if you don’t know already I REALLY like pandas :) But I also have another little friend I love…SNOOPY!

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Some fun facts about my love for this guy and his pals Charlie Brown, Lucy and the rest:

1) I have collected over $4500 in Peanuts trinkets since Jr. High when my love for Snoopy began

2) My collection has amassed to over 5 bins of items, all stored at my parents’ home

3) I have 3 bags of stuffed Snoopys in storage

4) I always have my photo taken with Snoopy whenever I ever run into him :)

5) I used to wear only Snoopy shirts for a few months back in college

6) I have collected most of the Snoopy comic books and comic strips since he was first created

So, there you have it, my other hobby, after my love of pandas :)

Until next time!

Peace, Love, Pandas, and SNOOPY!

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Real Talk: My Outiversary

It was 5 years ago this past Saturday, August 1, when I openly identified as gay. I marked this date as my Outiversary because it was when I told my parents and switched my Facebook status. (of course it was partially based on my social media…do you expect anything less from me? lol).

As you know, from my previous posts, I was disclosing my identity with close friends while I gathered the courage to tell my parents;

http://bdproffer.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/a-journey-part-1/

http://bdproffer.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/a-journey-part-2/

http://bdproffer.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/a-journey-part-3/

http://bdproffer.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/a-journey-part-4/

But finally it just had to happen. As much time as I wanted to have to prepare, I unfortunately quickly learned you can never be prepared.

One of my parents was able to hear me out reasonably well, and acknowledged they still loved me though they didn’t understand nor agree with my identity. The other parent did not go so well. I still remember clear as day the first and last thing they said to me for a good while was: “that’s not God’s will, you’re going to go to Hell”.

I knew that I would hear that comment or something along that line and I prepared as best as I could, but in all honesty, you are never prepared for it. Even though I had a lot of support from friends, who have become my family, it only took that one comment to send me down a path that I’ve worked on overcoming for the past 5 years.

From alcohol to sex to depression to poor choices everywhere, I was a hot mess for a few years.  Thank goodness for my friends, and now Michael, who have been there to anchor me. A few times it seemed too dark to continue, and if it weren’t for them, I’d probably be in rehab if not worse.

My relationship with my parents is pleasant and platonic now. Its no deeper than general topical conversations, such as politics, weather, etc. unless we talk about our faith, which I still identify as Catholic. Michael is my “good friend” for the most part, and I never really share much of what’s going on with us other than general life information such as interviews, apartment moving etc.  But I still hope and am working towards the idea that one day they will come around completely.

Its been drilled into me from childhood that family is not blood; since my brother and I are adopted, this was our family mantra. But it’s not just legal custody either. Its the people you go through life with. Some you share blood with, others you don’t. They are there to take care of you, listen to the same drudge over and over, and are patient. They literally pick you up off the floor or feed you. They are truthful and supportive and give you a kick in the ass when you need it…and even when you don’t. As one of my favorite memes says:

Courtesy of Facebook

Courtesy of Facebook

Everyone has their stories and their journeys with coming out. Some are stories about supportive friends and or family, others are about alienation. Still others don’t get told; too often we loose that precious soul because it’s too much for them to bare alone. This is my story , and thankfully I am here and able to share it. Its thanks to each person who has been there for me in the past few years that I can share it and that you didn’t let me go. I hope that it helps you to understand me and one man’s journey to accepting himself.

To celebrate my Outiversary, I posted the following on my social media platforms:

5 Years ago today, I came out as gay…it’s been an interesting 5 years.

I received so many congratulations, supportive and loving messages, from friends family and brothers, and I was reminded what the true definition of family was.

So, I want to say thank you to each and every one of you who has supported, helped, survived and endured with me the past 5 years. From my Flint peeps, to the Kappas, to the BFFs and my cohorts. And I want you to know that I try to pay your love and support forward every day.

It can only take the smallest thing to send someone on a journey be it good or bad. Every person has that superpower…the power of influence. Sometimes intentional, other times not, sometimes positive other times negative. But I hope in sharing my story you are encouraged to use your superpower to influence and support for the better and can be like my circle and support network who got me through to the past 5 years to others you encounter.

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

 

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The “Student” Component of #SAPro Social Media

For the past few weeks I’ve been watching my TweetDeck closely. I wanted to see what was being put out there in my Tweet-O-Sphere and why. There was no formal survey or assessment other than my personal observations.

In my observations, my TweetDeck is a normal hodgepodge of information from promoting blogs (guilty!) to articles to general wonderments about student affairs and life. Some Food Network Celebrities and musical artists I follow are always entertaining. But one thing I notice is that in some of my professional hashtags we seem to be losing the “student” aspects of our professional lives.

Now maybe I write this on the tail end of my previous blog post about being genuine and honest, because it’s on my mind, however, as I read some of my hashtags I follow, I can’t help but feel that we are so busy trying to put out a new thought, idea or play devil’s advocate on a topics for our field and professional image that we never share information about the core of our field…our students. We don’t share with each other our own encounters with the students.

It’s human nature (and #SAPro habit) to focus on the problem and to fix it; to provide information, ideas, best practices and theories to get the solution. However, we never hear the end result. Our Twitter feeds are riddled with information on how to address conflict management, crisis situations, professional practices, enhancing our competencies etc. But we never get to hear about what is going on with our actual interactions with them.  We never hear about the day to day lives of each others students and how we are interacting with them.

Now, yes there are privacy laws and professional standards in respect and confidentiality, however that doesn’t mean we should forget that our core is the student; and not sharing our experiences with the students, to me, is a fatal flaw. We should be hearing BOTH the failures and successes of our students and our parts in those situations in order to help each other with our own contingent of students. We all have the same “types” of students, financially strapped, family concerns, identity exploration, academic problems, etc. and hearing how each other interacts, works and advises them is invaluable. Hearing what worked and what didn’t work can help guide each other in our programs, trainings and general interactions with our students and ultimately providing the holistic, supported and experiential experience that we are all striving to provide.

We talk and share our students’ stories and our experiences with them once or twice a year at our annual regional conferences, but what about the other 345 days a year?

Food for thought.

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Foto Friday: One Year after Traverse City

This week’s photos are a small collection from my time in Traverse City last year with many of my fellow cohorts for our Law, Ethics and Policy Course. It was a ton of fun and we learned a lot not only about the course topic but each other as well.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy o Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

 

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

I’m so proud that all of us are now graduated or soon-to-be graduated and are moving into the next phase of our professional journey. Some of have begun their first full time positions while others are moving onto their third or fourth position, but have advanced in the higher ed hierarchy. Still others are continuing on to doctoral programs or staying in their current positions but enhancing their students’ experience with the knowledge and perspective that the program has provided them. Either way, I’m proud to be able to say I got to know these awesome peeps last summer and am so proud of everyone for all their successes from the past year! Miss you all and can’t wait until we all can meet up (ACPA15?? NASPA15??) and catch up!

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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