Another Year Down

Middle of a Moment

If this is what my family has to be
Then I don’t need one watching over me
A family doesn’t make you sleep outside
A family doesn’t laugh and say you lie
Remember what a home is
Think of how your life should be
But you’re stuck in the middle of a moment
Can’t crawl out of where you are
Only steps away the world’s okay
But you can’t see that far
Stuck in the middle of a moment
That’s halfway to somewhere new
Can’t go back
You’re moving through
You’ll have to think in ways you never thought
You’ll have to make the best of what you’ve got
Find the answers hiding in between
See a door no one’s ever seen
Something’s there you feel it
Stop to look it’s all around
So you’re stuck in the middle of a moment
No clear path no shining star
Just a step away the world’s okay
So try to see that far
And there in the middle of a moment
You’re halfway to somewhere new
Can’t go back Keep moving through
‘Cause there is magic
Now you know
You made magic
Made it grow
And marvelous wonderful things can come true
In the middle of a moment
In the middle of a moment
In the middle of a moment
You’re on your way

~James and the Giant Peach-The Musical

Another year successfully in the books. As I was contemplating the post for today, I came across this song from James and the Giant Peach-The Musical.

Now, first…how AWESOME that it’s a musical?? Like seriously one of the best books ever, and now a musical. #Awesome.

Second, the lyrics just triggered exactly what I wanted to say.

It’s been a year of growth, discovery, life, love and learning. A couple years ago I was “stuck”. I knew what was behind me and what could be ahead. There was a light at teh end of the tunnel, but I couldn’t see it yet. Well, thanks to everyone for friends, family, students, colleagues, fellow bloggers, and many more, over the past few years, especially this last year, I’ve become unstuck and have been moving forward. I’m now seeing the light and it is magical! So for everyone who’s been in my life this year thank you! :)

I couldn’t be the man I am today without you! I hope today is just as magical and awesome as it is for me! And can’t wait for this next year of life!

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Inaugural Panda Mixed Tape 2015

So, amidst the cray cray of higher education, Student Affairs, SCOTUS decisions, volunteering for my fraternity, life happenings and blogging, life can get pretty intense. Sometimes you need to just take a walk or find a quiet place and listen to some good tunes.

So while we trudge through the summer, I created a playlist for you for those multiple moments in our Student Affairs’ lives. To help, I organized them A.T.B (According to Brian) and my moods when I listen to them, and yes,…it is a VERY eclectic collection :)

Enjoy!

For Inspiration and Encouragement:

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images\

If I Had Wings, Scott MacIntyre

You Have More Friends Than You Know, GLEE

Proud, Heather Small

Underdog, The Lost Trailers

For Energy and Picking Yourself Up:

Courtesy Google Images

Courtesy Google Images

The Anthem, Good Charlotte

The Beginning, RuPaul

Stronger, Kelly Clarkson

Strut, Cheetah Girls 2

Undefeated, Jason Derulo

We Are (Theme from “Ice Age: Continental Drift”)

Standing My Ground, Natalie Stovall

Somebody Loves You, Betty Who

For Quiet Moments and Reflection:

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

Drink a Beer, Luke Bryan

God’s Will, Martina McBride

Follow Love, FFH

Dare You to Move, Switchfoot

Don’t Forget Where You Belong, One Direction

For Lip-Syncing in Your Office:

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

Hold On, Wilson Phillips

Thank You For Being a Friend, Andrew Gold

Cruise, Florida Georgia Line

Wannabe, Spice Girls

Everything is AWESOME!!!, Tegan and Sara (From “The Lego Movie”)

For Dancing in Your Office:

Shake It Off, Taylor Swift

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Whitney Houston

XXXs and OOOx (An Americal Girl), Trisha Yearwood

Raise Your Glass, P!nk

You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home, Hannah Montana

9-5, Dolly Parton

Walk the Dinosaur, Queen Latifah (Fron “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs”)

Hope you try them out!

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Ponderings

There’s something rubbing me the wrong way with the tone of our field lately. I honestly can’t put my finger on it, but my gut has an unsettling feeling.

Perhaps it’s the exclusiveness of our conversations.

It could conceivably be an unbalance of our understanding our field as a whole.

Maybe it’s the way we treat each other on social media platforms.

It could possibly be the lack of patience as educators and colleagues.

Perchance it is our ability to dehumanize one another.

I could also very well just be having indigestion, but, honestly, that’s not likely.

Let’s have some real talk for a moment. Student Affairs is in the middle of an identity crisis and lately it’s been feeling like Star Wars; a battle between two forces. 

Courtesy of wallpapervortex.com

Lately, honest feelings, opinions and practices have been coming to light more publicly. While we continue to be positive, energetic and “peppy”, we are also mean-hearted, caddy, narrow-minded, and selfish. For all the theories and best practices we impart on our students, we are the worst kind of people to actually impart that knowledge and practice upon and it shows, on a daily basis.

I love the work of our field. I love watching the students develop. I love witnessing colleagues grow. I love the individuals I have met along the way. I love my group of friends and colleagues who support me in my personal life and work life (And honestly these people need freaking gold medals for putting up with me sometimes).

But it’s hard to watch and accept the factions being created, the gang like mentality that is being practice, and the inability to understand one another in order to grow. The hierarchy of degrees and positions is becoming a more significant and annoying obstacle and theory vs. theory to practice continues to wedge itself in all of this. Theorists are becoming the driving forces behind theories rather than the theories themselves and what you say garners more social capital than what you do. We’re becoming no better than Congress in Washington D.C.

Current events are showing us what is wrong with our field and each other. But rather than using these events to become stronger and more united, we are utilizing it to tear each other down. We are taking advantage of our weaknesses to justify factioning off even more so. Instead of dealing with the problems directly, we keep creating more and more subgroups and Facebook pages, Twitter handles, hashtags, GroupMes, etc.

Perhaps its seeing the true nature of our field and each other that I’m struggling with. Perhaps the illusion of “student affairs” has finally burst and rather than just seeing what Student Affairs does, I’m seeing what Student Affairs is. Maybe this is just a phase/growing pain that the field is going through. Or it could just be me, not accepting that factions are better than a whole or my lack of understanding of the people and the field or the ability to see the “big picture”. I’m not sure.

Like I said, all of this is just recent musings and ponderings. And as you know, I learn and process as I write so theres rarely ever a nice little bow after my musings. But I really needed to write this down to process and share with others in the hopes they might have some further insights to help me process.

Hit me up if you want to share further insights because I’d like to know what my gut feeling is actually reacting to and why.

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Posted in Higher Education/Student Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Higher Education as Jadzia Dax

Over the past few weeks there have been several conversations in the Twitterverse and other platforms about the worth and recognition of Student Affairs. I’ve also recently participated in a study where the relationship between academia and student affairs popped up as part of the conversation. So on my way home yesterday, while I was dashing between raindrops to make my Star Trek marathon in time, I came up with an interesting analogy that helped me put the relationship between “the faculty” and “the staff/Student Affairs” into a new-ish perspective for me.

Now, my first point of order for this analogy:

Where my Trekkies at?

Oh yes. I am a lover of all things Star Trek. I grew up on Next Generation and Deep Space Nine; with Wesley Crusher as my BFF, Worf my idol and Data my conscience. Once a year I have a Star Trek marathon. It drives my partner and friends nuts LOL.

Now, if you are a Trekkie who embraced Deep Space Nine (yes there are factions of Trekkies based on the multiple series) then you’ll be familiar with Jadzia Dax.

Courtesy of startrekdesktopwallpaper.com

Courtesy of startrekdesktopwallpaper.com

Jadzia Dax is a joined Trill. Jadzia is the name of the woman host, while Dax is the name of the symbiont that lives in her abdomen. Once joined, the host cannot live without the symbiont; and while the symbiont can exist without the host, its life is meaningless until joined with another host.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

As a Graduate Student I took an Organization and Administration of Higher Education course that focused on the structure and foundations of institutional structure. I remember one of the first lines out of the professor’s mouth was “Student Affairs is secondary in organizational development because it is not the Core of the the institution”. As an SAPro, I was appalled at this blasphemous statement. However as the course continued I began to see what he meant. The Core, or the very foundation of higher education, is academics. Without academics, there would be no higher education, therefore no need for Student Affairs.

We all know that as higher education in the United States began to grow, the positions such as Dean of Men and Dean of Women emerged and our field began to take root. During this process, a symbiotic relationship was created with the academic side and services side of higher education, like the host Jadzia and her symbiont Dax.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Coming full circle to the actual analogy, consider our academic programs and faculty as the symbionts. They are the core of the institution, but in order to thrive and make an impact on the world, it needs a host. Now consider that Student Affairs, Auxiliary Services, etc. is that host. We engulf the symbiont/academics and support it, giving it an environment to thrive in and make contributions to society and to pass on knowledge to the future generations.

For me I think that being in a symbiotic relationship doesn’t often net the accolades or recognition that a partnership or collaboration receives because of the inherent nature of the relationship. Most times, both sides take each other for granted while forgetting that without the other they would both fail. 

So rather than staff expecting accolades from the faculty or faculty exerting themselves on a higher plane than staff, perhaps it would be more beneficial to know and appreciate that while both parts of the higher education house have their own merits, abilities, key roles, limitations, etc. neither could exist and be productive without the other, just like Jadzia and Dax.

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

and

Live Long and Prosper!

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A Letter to the Governor

Dear Governor Snyder;

First thank you for stepping up and serving the State of Michigan. As Governor, you are the individual we look at to lead our state towards not only prosperity and success but also being an equitable, socially just and compassionate state.

That being said, it is disheartening to see that you are not fulfilling your role as the leader of our state by allowing discriminatory legislation being passed to support federal and state funded businesses and organizations.

Those individuals who are entrepreneurs and business owners, be it for-profit or non-profit, public or private should be commended. They put themselves on the line to offer services at the whim of society. However, it holds a certain expectation of responsibility and accountability not only as best business practices and personal values, but to the society they serve.

While private and non-secular businesses who discriminate have the ability to deny services on grounds such as values, religion, faith, etc, it is their personal decision to deny those services. While I personally feel it is sad and unfortunate, it is their right. I do not want to force them to offer services if they do not wish to.

However, if these businesses receive state and federal funds they should not be protected for their discriminatory practices. It is a conscious decision to accept state and federal funds to start or sustain a business. As with everything there are expectations and standards to meet in order to receive funds. Having non-discriminating practices should be one of the unwavering requirements that should not be compromised.

I say this in the aftermath of your signing the Michigan House bills 4188, 4189 and 4190 in regards to protecting religious objections in the adoption process. According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, in 2012, 3,586 children were waiting to be adopted. Why are we putting more barriers between loving parents and these children?

By signing those bills into law, you are only building additional barriers between individuals wishing to adopt and children who only want loving forever homes as well as allowing discrimination to occur by state funded organizations. Additionally you are proving that the government is not looking out for the people it represents, but rather the personal agendas of the elite few.

I find it discouraging to see the Michigan government so focused on supporting practices that encourage discrimination. At what point in time did state legislators decide that they should support discrimination rather than fight it?

Sadly the most recent decisions of our legislators, and yourself, have not surprised me. The simple fact that the Michigan Legislation will not add LGBTQIA identities or expressions to the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act is enough to example the mis-prioritizing and discriminatory agendas of state leaders and recent events are simply perpetuating their decisions further.

As Governor, I’d like to think that you would lead for the betterment of your citizens. Not the betterment of only your financiers. I’d like to think that you would set an agenda that would benefit all the citizens that you lead. Not set one that would only benefit you or your friends and colleagues of the 1%.

Why won’t you fight for the rights of your citizens with the ferocity that you have dealt with the state budget? When will you begin being the Governor of a people and not a machine?

As Governor, you have a responsibility to the people. You can not skirt the issue of discrimination in your government and state any longer. You cannot turn a blind eye to the growing majority of your citizens to are fighting and supporting for the rights of this population.

Please do not forget, amongst the daily grind, the oath you swore to when you entered office:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of this state, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of Governor according to the best of my ability.” (Constitution of Michigan of 1963)

The entire purpose for the establishment of our nation was for Life, Liberty and Happiness. For freedom from tyranny, and “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  (Constitutions of the United State of America) And as governor, how is creating and supporting legislation and practices that are discriminatory establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, promoting the general welfare and securing liberty?

I ask you, as a fellow Michigander, that you finally truly start fighting with me for equality.

Brian David Proffer, Lansing, Michigan

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

**Snaps to my friend John for his help with some editing and terminology for this post. :)

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Heroes

I saw something on Facebook the other day that got me thinking. It ran a range of emotions through me; everything from sorrow to confused.

Unknown Source

Unknown Source

As you can see the image above, the individual on the left is Caitlyn Jenner and on the right is Lance Corporal William Kyle Carpenter and the implications of what is an appropriate hero.

Upon seeing this floating out there in social media world, I found myself pondering about what is a hero?

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a hero as “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities; a person who is greatly admired”.

If I had to define hero, it would be someone I find strong, honest, courageous, and someone who has traits and qualities that I strive for in my life and on my journey.

I know that I’ve had my number of heroes throughout my life, but upon reflection, its interesting, how they have changed as I’ve walked my path in life.

When I was younger, Mr. Aloysius Snuffleupagus (Snuffy) and Big Bird were my heroes. As I moved through elementary and Jr. High my parents became prominent heroes. During my high school days Snoopy & Charlie Brown, O-Town and Princess Diana accompanied me down my path. As I reached college I shifted over to individuals who were more societally pivotal such as Pope John Paul, II and my relatives who joined the military services. After college, and as I was emerging into several new identities, individuals such as Harvey Milk and RuPaul were heroes to me.

Now as a soon to be 30+-something, I find heroism to be not only in Caitlyn Jenner and Lance Corporal Carpenter. My list of heroes includes family and friends who stand by me to advocate for my rights. It has friends who stepped in to save me from my alcohol problems. It covers friends who are vocal and push the boundaries to move society forward. It includes loved ones who do their best everyday to make the world a better place. It includes some of my fraternity brothers who dare to break the stereotypes. It has my friends who are striving everyday to raise their children the best they can. And of course it still includes my parents. :)

As I’ve written this post this morning, I’ve come to realize that “Hero” is an interesting title. Perhaps instead of hero, we use terms like friend, mentor, brother, colleague, etc. Cause for me everyone in my life is a hero. I look to each of them for friendship, mentorship, companionship, strength, courage and walking with me on my journey to becoming a better person.

Ultimately instead of comparing and contrasting and why or why not individuals are considered heroes, perhaps we should just strive to accept that we each  have a different list of people we admire, that constantly changes throughout our lifetimes. And rather than spending time demoralizing and degrading those others may admire, perhaps we all should work on being the best person we can be, because who knows, maybe you’re someone’s friends, brother, mother, sister, colleague or even hero.

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Posted in LGBT, Life | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Decoration Day

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Before we knew it as Memorial Day, today at one point in time was referred to as Decoration Day.

I never knew this little tidbit of historical knowledge until I was perusing Google today. But after reading that, it seemed fitting. Especially after I reflected down my life journey to Memorial Weekend 1997. To a moment in time of which I think of every Memorial Day.

That year I had the great fortune to go on a trip to Washington D.C. with my social studies class for that weekend. Now that weekend had been a whirlwind of sightseeing, great food, and tons of fun with lots of friends. But the memory I am referring to is having the honor of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. I had earned the honor by entering an essay contest. I remember my essay topic clearly: saying thank you to those who fell who helped to keep South Korea a free nation so that my parents could adopt me.

When Monday came along we headed out and started our day sightseeing. After lunch we headed to the National Cemetery. Once we arrived myself and three other student essay winners went straight to the Tomb to get our instructions on the protocols of laying the wreath.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

The scene at the Tomb, while crowded with American citizens paying their respects, was quiet with a sincere reverence that even I knew at that age was a meaningful gesture. The only sound was of the steps of the soldiers guarding the Tomb and the light drizzle falling on the glistening marble monument. We were taken to an area where we were given instructions by both the security officers and military personnel who were at the site. They explained how we were going to lay the wreath from our Jr. High at the Tomb. An hour later we were lined up and ready to begin.

It was only a five minute process, but I remember each step. The light drizzle continued falling on the wet marble, wrapping us all in a blanket of somber sincerity and gratitude. Our classmates lined the way watching us and waiting for the ceremony to begin. The mat where the guards walked glistened black and their steps were crisp and sharp to the ear. With a few commands of the guards, we began our descent down the steps towards the Tomb, while the soldiers held their posts, guarding the tomb, at each end of the mat. As we began our walk I remember whispering a brief thank you to the men and women we were about to honor. We reached the wreath that stood at the bottom of the stairs and at the instruction of the military guard, who was accompanying us, I and a fellow student laid our hands on the wreath and were led by the guard who carried the wreath and stand across the shining black mat to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. Once we placed the wreath, we returned to the other side of the mat and observed a moment of silence.I remember walking across the mat with my hands resting on the wreath following the soldier who would eventually place the wreath at the tomb.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

During that moment, something in me clicked and I really understood what the Tomb represented and what Memorial Day was for. And what it meant to those left behind. I  whispered one last thank you before we turned and walked back to our school group.

This is how I remember Memorial Day. Its how I remember what we actually honor today. Its not only the lives lost but those who were left behind. The families, friends and loved ones of those who have died and their sacrifice they have given as well. Its not only to honor those who have died on the battle field but also those who died after they came home and continued to live until time, God or whatever you may believe took them from those plane. Its a day to say thank you to those who have served and passed.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

So take a moment and say a prayer for a love one who has passed who served or thank you to a family whose soldier has passed for their service.

Until next time,

Peace, Love, Panda!

In memory of: Agnes “Dolly” Proffer, A3 US Air Force, 1937-2011

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