“It is not enough to be compassionate, you must act” -Dalai Lama
Nationwide, students on college campuses over the past few years have become forces to be reckoned with. They have advocated for what they want and what they need. As a student affairs professional, it is both refreshing and scary at times. We have seen advocates and activists stir up the climate on campuses and these acts have demanded change to spark within administrations. We have seen what students are capable of through U of Missouri Incidents and Emma Sulkowicz at Columbia University, to name some. These brave acts are going to shape the needs of college students and our future roles in higher education. So, how are we going to support and empower our students during times like this?
The power of silence is crucial in allowing for change to occur on our campuses. This is the difference between working with them and against them. So I ask my fellow administrators:
- What support and guidance are we giving students as administrators?
- What is your role as an administrator?
- Do your students feel empowered?
- Does your campus climate help foster this type of social change?
As a curious advisor to the Student Leader Alliance for Multiculturalism,I asked one of my students to share her perspective of what she desires from the administration, for her to be empowered to make change. Here are Jasmyn’s expectations as a seasoned student leader on our campus:
- First and foremost, I expect a resource from my advisor; I expect someone who is eager to pass on their knowledge and share their passions.
- I expect to be challenged. I want to grow in my beliefs and so I believe guidance is essential.
- In terms of leadership styles- I like to be held accountable without the feeling of being micromanaged. I want to be told when I’m not meeting expectations, as well as when I am surpassing them; in an effort to grow and learn together.
- Finally, I expect intentional time from my direct advisor. Time to be spent brainstorming, and exploring our goals set, commitments, and the needs of my constituents.
Here are some things we can do to empower our students to do on campus and in their community to become change agents and make a difference:
- Becoming mentors
- Standing up against injustices
- Facilitating dialogue
- Investing in passions
- Getting involved in service
- Guiding social movements and working with them through this process (not against them)
So I leave you with this: Will you be an upstander throughout these times? Will you stand by your students?
Marinel Martinez and Jasmyn Plasencia