Our next Final Question post comes from Adam Hughes, who reflected on our 11/29/12 #SAChat Christmahanakwanzika and Your Campus with “What kind of programming needs to happen to be inclusive? Small, targeted ones or a large one that appeals to all?”
It’s that time of year again… when holiday decorations go up throughout campus, students get ready for final exams before winter break, and programming that revolves around a certain aspect of the holiday season is implemented. It’s a season that nearly everyone looks forward to (minus the exams, of course!); a season where students can relax between studying, take in all those decorations, and enjoy festive programming.
Yet for me, I struggle with this season on college campuses. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy all the programs that take place, all the decorations, and so on. I just wonder if we take a moment to think about who our students really are. What are their needs? What do they enjoy the most? Are we thinking of students’ different beliefs when it comes to holiday programming?
I’ll leave all the political correctness, the holiday vs. Christmas debate, aside for another day. My point is, how do we appeal (and are we even appealing) to those students who don’t celebrate Christmas, for example? Are we thinking about students, say, from the Jewish community? What about those who celebrate holidays in addition to (or other than) Christmas?
Maybe it’s because my undergraduate institution (The University of North Carolina at Pembroke) was so diverse; one of the most diverse on the East Coast, it really opened my eyes up to how different people were. Ever since, inclusivity is something that means the most to me. This is true especially during the holiday season; it is a time of giving, after all, and it’s important to me to make sure we are giving all students a reason to celebrate the holiday season!
So, for this reason, I wonder how we can go about doing this. In a time of budget cuts and limited
resources, I know this is easier said than done. I know nothing is more frustrating for a Student Affairs
professional than a program that just bombs. So, finding a balance between inclusivity and limited
resources is difficult, I know. But there has to be way to find middle ground somewhere.
I look at the events my office is holding- a madrigals dinner, celebrating winter and all its holidays.
A great (and large!) program, but with a $22 student admission price that will certainly stop some
students in their tracks. The Nutcracker ballet, pictures with Santa, and ornament and Christmas card
making; smaller events, but they scream “Christmas” to me!
So, how do we balance out budget issues and student needs during the holidays? Do we implement a
large-scale program where we try to celebrate all of winter’s holidays, or do we branch out, creating
smaller, targeted programs for our diverse students? Which is more realistic in your eyes? I’d love to
know your thoughts on this. Let me know what events take place on your campus (or what events you’d like to see happen), in order to insure inclusivity.
Adam Hughes is a graduate student at Western Carolina University. He is currently completing a
Master’s Degree in the College Student Personnel program, and is the Graduate Assistant for Operations for WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center.