End of Year #SAReflection

I could be getting a head start on some financial stuff for work, but I came in early this morning to blog.

The school year is almost over, and as we come into the final stretch of classes, events, programs, and even academic journeys here at Michigan State, I take pause this morning to reflect for a moment.

Reflecting upon my experiences this year, I find many times, we’re a field of contradictions.

As Student Affairs professionals, we are problem solvers who cannot solve our own issues. We are intuitive advisers and habitual helpers who forget that help and advising is a 2-way street. We are both invasive and evasive colleagues and friends. For many of us it’s almost impossible not to step in when action needs to be taken but only minimal action in order to “be legitimate”. We despise the politics that we all seem to love to play. We are territorial over our collaborations. We’re intolerantly tolerant. We’re bullied bullies. We are imperfect people in a field that for some reason demands perfection.

Over the last few months on multiple platforms and forums, I’ve seen good intentions tossed aside for political gain. I’ve seen those asking for help turned down. I’ve seen those challenging others be considered agitators. I’ve witnessed the annihilation of colleagues who have had opposite views than mainstream field. We have become so entrenched in being right and inclusive that we’ve forgotten how to listen and understand. (How have we gotten to this point? I have no clue, but that’s no doubt a future post.)

We advise our students to listen and learn. We ask them to keep an open mind. We build spaces for discussions and learning regardless if we agree or not of the opinions being shared. We challenge and support them. We take the journey with them.

We don’t seem to do the same with each other.

Now, I don’t have the answer to any of this. And I am just at fault of many of these as everyone else is. All I can do is work towards doing and being better. To listen more and not react so quickly. To understand my experiences are not the same as another’s and therefore should not judge them. That my education and childhood gave me different contexts than another person. That I might have to lead some by the hand through things. That I am not “you” and therefore have no right to dictate what you believe or don’t believe. We don’t have to believe the same thing to be good Student Affairs professionals. (I mean I am NOT a fan of the “theory is everything” mind frame but you all still like me…I think).

Our students are not all the same, we shouldn’t be the same either.

I will make mistakes but hopefully will be able to survive the claws of Student Affairs which seem to be becoming unforgiving more often than not.

Student Affairs is my family. In one way or another it has always been and always will be a part of me and my journey whether as student or professional. So I might as well face the good the bad and the ugly and see what I can offer to help out the field. And for me, reflection is the first step.

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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