During RA training last year, each of the grad and professional staff of our residence center presented “I Believe…” statements to the RAs. I compiled my statements a few weeks after arriving in Indiana, and I think they are a great representative of my governing philosophy of student affairs (prior to actually taking any student affairs courses). They pretty much reflect what I learned as an undergraduate student and as a staff member at Wheelock.
Knowing that I was going to craft a post about my “I Believe” statements, I decided to get ahead of staff training preparation and begin writing my statements for 2012. The process of coming up with these statements is much harder than I remember. Maybe I’m thinking too hard about it, or maybe I think that these statements need to have more gravitas now that I have a year of intentional theory and practice under my belt. Maybe it is just too early to start thinking about RA staff training.
I Believe (2011)
- that we are all more than capable.
- that all staff (professional, grad, and student) were chosen to their role for a reason and are equipped to do the tasks at hand, whether we feel that way or not.
- that residence life, while remarkably challenging, is also remarkably rewarding.
- that students are the best part about working in higher education.
- that one of the most important factors in doing this job well and without burning out is a sense of humor.
- that being unfailingly polite is a necessary attribute.
- that some students will always surprise you (sometimes positively, sometimes negatively).
- that regardless of how jaded or biased you feel, one should always have high expectations of others.
- that we should always strive to be life-long learners.
- that we should be allowed (but not encouraged) to fail.
- that we should learn from the aforementioned failing.
- that those who do not learn from failing will continue to fail in the same way on a grander scale.
- that while trust should be earned, the price should not be exorbitant.
- that common sense goes a long way.
- that in this role, you will know a lot of things, see a lot of things and hear a lot of things, and you will have to keep a lot of things to yourself.
- that self-care (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) is of primary importance.
- that sometimes you will have “I hate people” days, and that is okay.
- that sometimes you will need to take a mental health day, and that is okay.
- that listening (really listening) to someone is often the greatest gift you can give, because very few people in this world are good listeners.
- that “with its shame, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” (Desiderata, Max Ehrmann)
- that “the mind that is not baffled is not employed.” (The Real Work, Wendell Berry)