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!

Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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