Right off the bat I’ll admit I’ve been scheming, starting, planning, and drafting this post for well over a year now. The original was focusing on the “fishbowl” that student leaders live in. Tell me if you were ever told as a leader, “You are in a fishbowl now, which means everyone is watching you and looking to you on how to react to situations. Act accordingly.” I can remember being a student leader and being so tired of the fishbowl that I’d go off campus just to be social for fear of an empty beer can being found under the bed of a friend while I was in the room resulting in possible suspensions and disqualifications from positions. This “fishbowl” phenomenon always had a negative connotation until I started talking with two future student affairs practitioners about it.
Robby Binnall (@RobbyBinnall) and Andrew Gresenz (@AndrewGresenz) are two students that I’ve been working with for over a year now that are pursuing futures in student affairs. In a conversation about the “fishbowl” of leadership and how it can sometimes be a negative aspect of holding positions such as RA, OL, TA, etc. the idea was turned on its head. What if the “fishbowl” was a good thing? What if student leaders could use the “fishbowl” perspective to their advantage in spreading the good rather than avoiding the bad?
That was it.
With social media, digital identities, and personal branding all entering the daily vocabulary of students and staff, the “fishbowl” was now bigger, more accessible, and didn’t require people to be physically present to peer in. A student now has more control over what their “fishbowl” looks like more than ever!
Establishing a digital identity and encouraging your floor, team, community to follow, engage, and share with you brings them into the “fishbowl” that they could only look at before. This of course is not all sunshine and rainbows. One rash tweet, one sour Facebook status, one questionable photo posted to Pinterest could result in broken trust, diminished impact, or a possible pink slip. However, with an engaged community, you have the opportunity to immediately correct, discuss, and show how to deal with adversity.
Sounds sort of like a hall program, right? That’s the point!
Robby and Andrew (both RAs) established the point that with a well managed online presence resident assistants can create a year-long program. A program that shares up to date knowledge with residents, provides examples of proper online identity management and communication practices, and keeps the community engaged no matter where they are on or off campus. No longer would RAs have to worry about bulletin boards being torn down, or flyers not catching the attention of their residents. They now have tweets, videos, wall messages, blog posts, and photos for residents to retweet, watch, respond to, repin, comment on, and share.
The “fishbowl” is still there.
People are still watching.
Only now, they are watching from inside the fishbowl they are helping create.
(Note: Andrew and Robby actually presented this concept to during a regional drive-in conference focused on residence life. Their Prezi can be seen here: http://prezi.com/_vzhxzvuwvmf/wrln-presentation/)