Part of my role on campus is to be a member of our university “Students of Concern” committee. Going into this role I was unsure of the dynamics at play. Would there be aggression, frustration, story-telling? Is the majority of discussion going to revolve around the sharing of information on students who recently got themselves into trouble, and how to effectively mitigate that future behavior?
Although discussion surrounding the mitigation of bad behavior does occur, I was extremely gratified to see that this committee is one that works from the guise of student support. Every conversation we have revolves around what we can do to support our students. After being in this role for quite some time, I have seen the evolution of a committee that’s strength lies in it’s humility. This is not a committee where title and/or politics come into play. There is a level of comfort where anyone can throw out ideas. We can debate possible next steps. We look at all parties involved and try to help them all. Sure some will end up with university consequences. Some with legal consequences. But we look beyond that. No one is written off. We do what what we can to help them through it all.
Frustration comes not from the lack of institutional support for the students, but from some of the student’s lack of interest in receiving such support. Although rare, it is emotionally maddening to offer up a ready made path for success and it not be taken advantage of. We build bridges for hurdles and distribute life vests for support, but we can’t force the issue. We suggest, we nudge, we sometimes push, and occasionally drag, but at the end of the day the student has to be the one to take the first step.
The “What The Hell”
Obviously I cannot share intimate details about situations that we have or will be discussing. Let’s just say that there are always interesting topics to be discussed and that sometimes we have to think out side the box. WAAAAAYYYYY outside the box. To best describe what we do, imagine mixing MacGyver with Chuck Norris. There are times when we want to bend people to our will and there are others when we need to fix a problem with a paperclip, a chocolate bar, and duct tape. Either way, we do what we need to do to get the job done.
You know how they say laughter is the best medicine? If that is true folks on this committee will never get sick again. This is such a great group of colleagues, and dare I say friends, where we are able to share information about our own lives and just enjoy each others company. We joke, we poke fun (usually at ourselves), we just have a good time. When we need to get down to business we definitely do, but this is not at all what I thought I would be walking into. I love this group. They motivate me to go above and beyond, not because that is an expectation but because we don’t want to let each other down. Yes the students reap the benefits of our hard work, but so do we.