As a student development professional working in the exciting area of residential life we have an incredible opportunity to see students learn on a daily basis. In our roles we have an opportunity to engage students through asking them to ask them questions about their actions, what influences their actions and how they evaluate the effectiveness of their decisions. Just how often do we ask them about how they have been inclusive lately? Maybe your answer is a lot, you might have the role of the token social justice educator on your campus and so this is always a hot topic of conversation, maybe it isn’t.
No matter what, as student development professionals we have to be challenged on a daily basis to serve students from every walk of life. And in my opinion, it is our role to not only evaluate how well we are doing that on a daily basis but how we pass this on to our students. So here is my suggestion for the week, something to try. This is an idea that has been bubbling in my head for sometime now so I am relieving to get it out there on the information superhighway. So here it is:
Random Acts of Justice: You have all heard of random acts of kindness, a day spent doing nice things for people to make them smile. I would anticipate that Random Acts of Justice would seep even deeper into the groundwater and influence how we act on a daily basis. So here’s how it works, the funny part is that it isn’t really random, it’s actually an intentional decision to take an action that creates a more just and inclusive community. Designate a day to educate students on what they can do to create a more inclusive community that celebrates difference and inspires dialogue and positive social change. For instance you might encourage students to take action to correct their use of the word “Gay” or “Retarded” as a negative expression. They could start or join a committee that holds student organizations or the residential life office responsible for incorporating inclusive practices. Or you can even have them take this into the community by volunteering to tutor and mentor underpriveleged children as a method of helping to break up the cycle of poverty. You probably have lots of ways in which you encourage students to take an active role in creating a more just society. What do you, what can you do? How can you incorporate this idea into your campus community formally or informally?
Let’s chat about it!
Thanks for engaging in the Social Justice Experience!
-Heather Nicole Saladino, College of Saint Benedict
I've noticed recently that men have an advantage in female-dominated fields that women do not have in male-dominated fields.
My field is primarily women. I don’t know why that is. Student affairs professionals and student staff are just mostly women. And not because we hire more women, but because more women apply. Why is this? Is it that caregiver cliche coming into play? Perhaps.
But I noticed recently that my male colleagues have a distinct advantage when applying for jobs. Because there are so many women already in the field employers are more likely to hire a man who is less qualified just to have some diversity.
Now I am by no means trying to discount the abilities and qualifications of my male coworkers because they are smart, devoted and passionate people.
But women do not have that advantage in male-dominated fields. Rather, women have to fight even harder to be valued in male-dominated fields.
So it does hurt that we’re unknowingly looked down, even here, even in a field we RUN.
Shannon, thank you for inviting us to attend and present at the CCSL last month. We really appreciate all the crazy-headache-inducing-last minute logistic planning it took to make sure our delegation made it there and back in one piece. Throughout our time with you, you have always been incredibly supportive, and inspire and instill positivity in those around you. Thank you for being an amazing example of what leaders are made of.
Teri, thank you for being the best staff chaperone ever! As we all know, #YOCO, and you definitely made the experience a memorable one. You were incredibly supportive throughout - doing everything from making sure we were all fed to constantly pushing us to make the most of the experience (pepper on eggs). Your seemingly innate ability to bring out the best in us and encourage us to push our boundaries is an impact that will last long beyond the weekend in Kelowna.
Grateful Grads would not have been formed had we not met on the amazing trip to Kelowna and put two half ideas together.
Today I was part of a group facilitation team in my Educational Psychology class. Throughout the we week, our class has focused on the issue of students’ social and moral development. My weekly research led me to further investigate the issue of bullying. I shared this video with my Ed Psych class. Alye is brave. As educators WE MUST step up and do more to insure a safe and healthy environment for all students.
I have been working with a Student Development company based in Sydney that has changed the focus from just better marks. Working with High School Students all across Australia their focus is on skills that students they will take with them for life. I will let you read what it’s all about!
I am on the student conduct board (peer judicial board) at my institution. To day we had a special/emergency hearing to address a brawl that had occurred on campus. A weapon was involved. We spent over seven hours hearing testimony, and deliberating on responsibility and sanctions. There was a lot of evidence, which I can’t go into for privacy, which led the board to believe that the fight was anticipated and prepared for, at least in part, by both sides. It all really came down to the message we wanted to send and the precedent we wanted to set.
There was one person who had a weapon, a blunt object, on them that was drawn but “not used” during the fight. This was the big issue. We came to the conclusion that this weapon was brought to the fight with the intent to at least threaten other individuals. We, as a board, found it necessary for the safety of the other students on campus that the student with the weapon be EXPELLED form campus.
This was really the toughest thing I have ever been part of in my experience in student development. Not making the decision, we all were pretty sure that this was the right thing to do, but the act of actually terminating this individual’s education with our institution really tore me up on a deep level.
And then there was the delivery of the decision. We don’t normally deliver the decision to the respondent in person, we normally send notice through the campus mail. However, because of the nature of the sanction we dispensed today we delivered the decision in person. I was determined to maintain eye contact, or at least keep looking at the student, during the reading of the decision, maybe to torture myself. I was really surprised that most of the board would not look at the student.
I want to note that I did have a clarifying moment that helps just a little bit. When I called the student in to hear the decision they were walking behind me and I was uncomfortable, not because i was nervous about telling them they were expelled, but because I didn’t feel safe with this individual behind me.
I am not ashamed to say I did cry when I got back to my room, and I still feel like I have a good cry in me over the situation, but i do stand by the decision. Nobody should ever have to feel endangered by the presence of another individual on a college campus. Today we removed a possible threat from campus, but more importantly we told the campus that we would not stand for violence or intimidation here. I really do feel so incredibly privileged to be part of such an influential organization even though it can be very tough. I feel like I am truly part of a driving force for improvement and growth on campus.