We are officially at the start of the new school year. New Student Orientation began yesterday and our first year students will be participating in convocation today. As I start another school year, I am again reminded of my 2014 theme, wellness. I direct a peer mentor program, and I expressed to them that one of my goals for them this year (as it is with all of the students that I supervise) is to emphasize the practice of balance and wellness. A student’s well-being is one of my priorities as I recognize they are juggling their academics, involvement, job(s), social life, and family life. As my colleagues are wrapping up RA training, Orientation leader training, and the on-boarding of our new staff and graduate assistants, I hope that we can continue to create a culture where the well-being of students and staff are prioritized. I know I’m not the only one in the profession that believes in this philosophy, and there is still so much work to be done in order to change this culture and dismantle the structures that are inherently limiting our well-being in student affairs.
I do NOT believe in training that is from 8 am to 8 pm and on the weekends. For students and staff, our jobs are not 100% of our lives – even if it’s only a “week or two” commitment.
I do NOT believe in training that has built in “free time” and then giving participants a task list where the only time they can accomplish it is during this so-called “free time.”
I do NOT believe in training sessions that are 3 hours long. Topics can be covered in 90 minutes or less and weave it throughout the training, rather than blocking it in to a specific time. No one can sit and pay attention for 3 hours straight, no matter how interactive the material.
I do NOT believe in meetings just to meet. Enough said on this one.
I do NOT believe in mandatory attendance at trainings and then all you provide is unhealthy food. Provide healthy options and energy-boosting snacks rather than sugary products that are draining.
I do NOT believe in a training model where students and staff “stay up all night” to accomplish tasks (especially things like skits or door decs) and it’s normal.
I do NOT believe in systems where people who are on-call stay up until 4 or 5 am to finish writing an incident report and then have to go into work/school the next morning at 8 am and it’s normal.
I do NOT believe in the glorification of busy and awarding people for time spent in the office.
I am being critical, and not just for the sake of complaining and pointing out everything that is wrong in our profession but because I want to be part of the solution. I want to contribute to the change in student affairs where we don’t have students and staff burn out, where we don’t have staff leave the profession, and where we don’t have students and staff sacrifice other parts of their well-being just for their jobs.
I DO BELIEVE that wellness and balance* are achievable. (*I use the term balance loosely since I know that looks differently for everybody).
I DO BELIEVE that the well-being of students and staff matter. Our lives matter and we matter.
I DO BELIEVE that we can create structures that support the wellness of students and staff.
I DO BELIEVE that we can provide trainings that are stimulating, impactful, informational, and one where everyone feels well-rested and ready to engage.
I DO BELIEVE in rewarding productivity and creating a results-only work environment.
I DO BELIEVE that we can change the culture in our profession towards wellness.
I DO BELIEVE that we can be and do better.
I know I’m not alone, and I hope to find other professionals who buy into this philosophy and who also BELIEVE. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts with me: @jessikachi or firstname.lastname@example.org!