When we first interact with our students, we open with kind words of welcome, ranging from “Marhaban” (we like to have that international competency under our belts—it is a global society, after all), “Howdy,” “Aloha,” and even, “What’s up?” We’re hip. We also like to suggest a light-hearted “come as you are” mentality, encouraging students to ask questions and figure things out all the same. Our campus resources serve everyone, right?
As part of the reception new students receive upon entrance to the campus community, it is imperative to embrace difference and accept, rather than tolerate, diversity of thought and appearance. Judge a book by its cover, and you’ll cut down your reading.
More so than ever, it is crucial to define your mission and allegiance to diversity and inclusivity immediately. We hope students will sense our passion for acceptance, rather than reading our printed mission of tolerance. Success begins with community, a sense of belonging. We want to foster inclusion and diversity as is authentic to one’s self, respectively. However, we must have an action plan to accompany our diversity and inclusivity statements!
We as hip student affairs practitioner-scholars are savvy with the belief that cultural appreciation, rather than appropriation, to greet an ever-diversifying incoming first year class is vital. Everyone has identity. Everyone has culture. It’s time to acknowledge, appreciate, develop that. We know that, right?
Let us acknowledge the times when there is a disparity in access. Let’s speak up when we find a student struggling with identity formation. We should not only direct students to a resource or campus member that can assist them further, but let us walk them over. Let us recognize that race has become social currency and speak for students with invisible setbacks. Let’s mean it when we offer up our office hours or divulge an open-door policy. Let’s carry out the missions we joined our institutions to proudly embody. Orienting a student to the college experience is not just a seasonal task. Students’ integration into a fresh scholarly and ethical environment is paramount to the entire campus community’s wellbeing.
One woman’s take in her article for Noodle states that the true question of our commitment to inclusivity is, “Are you willing to take a risk in order to create a more inclusive campus environment?” Are you? She challenges, “What if we all said yes?”
As we continuously and soon welcome new students to our campuses, let’s take solace that we are not alone in orienting ourselves to an increasingly new wave of faces and backgrounds, parenting and policy, conduct and academic successes. Let’s risk others’ perceptions of us and bravely and firmly welcome our students into our every day ventures. Let’s take a stand when we see unequal treatment. Because they’re worth the risk. And orientation is rarely a one-day success.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Dave Kerpen on Authenticity/ Branding on Social Media