by Brenda Bethman
This week’s blog prompt (and yes, normally we answer these on Mondays, not Tuesdays. I have to confess to just completely forgetting to do so yesterday — it’s been that kind of month) asked:
Do you think academics and student affairs can peacefully work together?
My answer to this question is “it depends.” It depends on a lot of things, but what I want to focus on in this post is the ways that we, as student affairs professionals, contribute to a lack of cooperation.
Now, I know many of you thinking, “wait a minute, we want to work with faculty, but they don’t understand what we do! They don’t appreciate what happens outside of the question and aren’t interested in working with us.” And that can be true sometimes (the opposite can also be true — there are lots of wonderful faculty who want to partner with student affairs to enhance students’ out-of-the-classroom learning). BUT, what is also true is that, for many of us, when we say “working with faculty,” we mean that we’ve come up with a program that we want them to support. So someone makes a cold call to a faculty member to ask if s/he will support x program. In many cases, the answer will be no.
Why the no? I propose that part of the problem is the cold calling part and a lack of support from us. Think about it — student affairs folks say they want faculty to support student affairs programs, but when was the last time you went to a faculty event? I go to a lot of events on our campus that are sponsored by departments and unit in academic affairs and am routinely the only person from student affairs there. Of course, one can’t just attend — one has to make an effort to get to know individual faculty. We all know that people are much more likely to do something for someone they know and like than for a stranger.
So, the next time you find yourself complaining about a lack of faculty interest in student affairs, stop and ask yourself when was the last time you supported something of theirs. And if it’s been a while, find an event, show up, and make some new friends. It really will help the next time you need to call on someone for help.
What do you all think? Can we all just get along? What other obstacles get in our way? How can we work to remove them? If you repsond, please remember to post the link to your response in the comments and use the #sawomenblog hashtag when posting on Twitter.
Also, be sure to check out @JoeGinese’s response on Twitter: