Just think if you had to go through everyday wondering what would be next-what the next insult would be that you would have to rise above, the next passive aggressive comment that you would have to ignore. After growing up not being the prettiest, coolest or best at sports, how do you keep telling yourself that you are worth someone’s time? October is anti-bullying month and I would like to enlighten you on what I have noticed in the professional world of Student Affairs.
We are halfway through the semester in higher education. We are all strung out and exhausted because of the continual work that we put in to begin the semester and know that we still have the rest of the semester to work. Because of this, even the nicest and most poised person will have some negative slip-ups every-so-often.
I would like to challenge you in reflecting on these moments that we were negative and ask ourselves (1) why were we so negative, is it really that negative of an experience? (2) what were the affects of my mood on others around me (3) how am I able to change that for later?
I think that unintentional bullying happens in our work place especially as student affairs professionals. We must hold our tongues sometimes to go by office politics, we engage in office gossip to break up some monotony of the day, and we sometimes even gang up on ideas and new policies we don’t particularly enjoy. Some of these activities and attitudes are just habits. Habits that we don’t necessarily see as hurting anyone.
The cycle of socialization is an easier way to describe this behavior. The cycle is that we start in a society where we learn all these new biases, like wearing the right jeans to elementary school so we don’t get made fun of or that boys are not supposed to take barbies to school for show-and-tell. Later on in life, once we learn that we have a choice in our society: whether to perpetuate the cycle or break free and strive to make a change in the systematic approach to social issues.
I realize that the cycle of socialization is for social justice stories, but I am an individualizer and believe in the story of the individual. I have seen/heard stories of individuals in different departments getting bullied out of their department or even student affairs as a whole. Isn’t this ironic? The same thing we preach to our students everyday to be inclusive and celebrate differences, we have used to isolate colleagues so much to that their quality of life will only get better if they leave said environment.
Now, my disclaimer is that I do not believe that every student affairs department has this issue in the undertones of office relationships in this extreme way, but I am sure we all have unknowingly contributed negatively to someone’s quality of life. If we all focused on one negative aspect of our life everyday for 30 weeks out of the year, imagine the impact we could make by focusing on one positive aspect of someone else that is different than us or sees the world from a different point-of-view.