I fought myself on choosing what to write about this month, but discussing how I’ve seen the election, at times, negatively impacting communication within our community is important.
Aren’t religion and politics two topics we’re told not to discuss in the workplace? If so, why then have we taken to Twitter, a particular valuable tool in our own field, to go back and forth with members of our own community? Generally speaking, the election is too ideologically-based to assume that people will always be fair and objective in conversation.
Additionally, we have to expect that many of the students we work with will be/already are having discussions about this election that are similar to our own. So, when they’re confused, when they feel like they’ve been attacked for their views, how are we to respond without knowing how our colleagues feel?
That said, my overarching question for this post is: within an increasingly transparent field, how are #sapros and #SAgrads expected to maintain both “authenticity” and “professionalism” when discussing something that can be so emotionally-charged?
Unfortunately, my way of dealing with this has been just to turn away from it. I’ve learned it’s better to watch any election discussion from afar, rather than be involved anymore, because seeing some people’s tone towards others change, others even appearing overly combative…I mean for what? It’s just not worth it.
But what do you think? Am I overthinking this? Am I seeing something that isn’t there? I fear that some of us are tuning others out if our thoughts on the election don’t match.
We can’t allow this to happen. What we bring to the table is far too valuable for politics to get in the way of that. The experiences we share with each other, the insight, etc. are all too valuable for this field’s growth to be potentially halted just because someone didn’t like how someone else characterized their candidate.
Not to mention, in a field that celebrates challenging students to think differently and to become well-rounded thinkers, isn’t building walls and shutting people out based on another’s political preference awfully hypocritical?
Frankly, I’d much rather be discussing my transition from student to professional, but understanding our role on Twitter during an election is important to consider too. We can be considered models for our students after all.
For me, understanding Twitter during an election has been too cumbersome. I find much more pleasure researching my own niche within higher education than attempting to understand why politics is heating up discussions so much.
As far as the transition is concerned, I’m now three months into my role as Writing Center (WC) Coordinator and I’m finding that the staff has been deferring to me for guidance quite frequently. Honestly, I questioned how well this role change would be perceived considering how just months ago my responsibilities were the same as the rest of the WC staff.
However, my passion for the WC’s mission has spoken volumes. Similarly, I’ve attempted to impart my work ethic onto my fellow staff members through simply leading by example, something I had done even before assuming this new role. For some, the WC is a means to an end, perhaps a teaching position or some other writing-based employment. Meanwhile, since the staff understands my career goals are bound to WCs, I feel as if they’ve bought into my role as a leader, someone they can trust to have their back yet still nudge them towards realizing their own abilities as a consultant and instructor.
Generally speaking, this position is serving me as a “trial run” of sorts. I’m furthering my understanding of what happens behind the scenes in a WC, especially how to navigate institutional politics and, more importantly, budgets. In the short-term, perhaps the biggest benefit of this position has been that my supervisor, the WC Manager, can now focus on increasing the reach of the WC while I ensure the day-to-day operations continue uninterrupted.
So career-wise, specifically the short-term, I feel pretty good about myself! I’ve happily devoted more time to WC-focused scholarship, and frankly, if an absence from Twitter in hopes of steering clear of potentially damaging political discussions means I’ll have better weeks like the last few, I’ll gladly embrace an absence!
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Valerie Heruska on SA Professionals Role in Development Efforts