Over the past couple of years we have noticed an increase in a number of fads within Institutions across the country. Title IX, for example, is now an issue on everyone’s radar within student affairs. We know it exists and there are professionals in place to work with this specific area. Since August 2015, there have been an outrageous number of school shootings in schools and on college campuses: 45! Looking at the federal government and their responses, Obama focuses on tightening gun control laws, and the presidential candidates are saying that this is now just a fact of life. That is the absolutely WRONG way to think. Are we as student affairs educators going to just sit by and let this happen? Today, if anyone was to go on YouTube in the United States, there are a large number of active shooter training vidoes and new segments related to these on campus shootings. The problem is clearly visible for everyone to see, but why is nothing being done?
The real question is, what can we as student affairs professionals do to help our students during times like this? If we align with what the presidential candidates are saying, we have completely given up on our field. If we say that Obama is correct in controlling gun laws, we are not doing our students justice. While he does have a point that gun laws are extremely lenient, it is not going to stop a student from getting their hands on a weapon.
Our job is to stay resilient and do whatever it takes to develop, educate, and protect our students. How do we do this?
We should provide our students with the opportunities to challenge and be challenged. Today, we worry too much about making things too hard for our students. It’s like we focus on making sure that we hold their hands the entire way up until graduation. By doing this, we are only providing one aspect of student development and missing out on another. Our focus should be to challenge them in ways that are educational, forcing them to struggle and think more complexly about the situations they find themselves in. While challenging them during the process of discovery, we can then go back to supporting them through the process. This is also about our students gaining independence and understanding that it’s okay to fail! In order to provide this type of environment, we need to be there for them along the way!
One of the issues surrounding this fad is that students, faculty, and staff fail to report disturbing things that are posted on Social Media sites. It is the virtual aspect of the bystander effect that we are noticing. We can help each other become more prepared to hop into the driver’s seat and be proactive when things like, “shooting on 10-23-15” on the bathroom walls or on anonymous sites that are being used. We are becomming more digital each day, andit is our job to teach our students how to be a responsible digital citizen.
Sometimes protecting our students means protecting them from friends or even themselves. We should always be on the top of our game when working with our students to know when things may seem a little off, or a student comes to our office to talk about something that is bothering them. If a student has a concern, we need to make time for them and sometime just listen. We spend so much time teaching our students, but sometimes, all we should do is listen and be more aware of the larger perspective.
Lying down and accepting that these school shootings are apart of our college culture is no way to think! We need to ponder and consider what we can do to help our students in whatever way we can.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Marsha Herman-Betzen on A Story of a Life in SA