As a relatively young student affairs professional, I continuously seek guidance. I am lucky enough to say I have few people I call mentors. One of my mentors goes by the name of Jason Meier and unconditionally gives me advice from time to time.
A little while ago, Jason started a petition to remove ice breakers from campus life. At some point in your life or career, I guarantee you were involved in an ice breaker. Whether as a student or a facilitator, you have an idea of how an ice breaker is structured. I was the guy in graduate school that loved them and could not wait to share my knowledge and tray full of ice breakers. For myself, it was where the magic began as an undergraduate student and then, that magic turned into a career choice.
I visited Jason’s petition and began reading and learning about the other side of ice breakers. Honestly, removing ice breakers might be the right move for more genuine student interaction and engagement. Think about some the introverted students that have ever visited your office, sat in front of your desk, and even became a student-leader in your department. You grew to learn all about these introverted students and care about them as individuals.
Now think about their first day of orientation. Their first ice breaker is about to start and the facilitator is asking them to jump or catch someone in their arms. Do you feel like we are even making a genuine effort in this scenario? I see forced socialization for an introverted student. They could feel extremely uncomfortable with touching others. This game will be the defining moment of their campus introduction.
What if that student had a panic attack right then and there?
If so, what did that ice breaker accomplish?
Even without mental health concerns and the student still felt uncomfortable, what did the ice breaker accomplish?
I am not saying I have an end-all solution. However, I am saying that we need to be more intentional. We need a more proactive approach that helps all students (introverts included) connect in meaningful interactions that benefit student life and engagement from the beginning of their education.
What do you think?
To view Jason’s petition, click here.