“Welcome to Eugene! We’re glad you’re here!” were comments that I heard time and time again from people this weekend as I traveled with my university’s football team for an away game at the University of Oregon.
When I first heard this, I figured that they were trying to soften the blow that they knew was coming on the football field for my team. (We ended up losing 49-0). But I kept hearing it.
“Good luck – we hope you have a great time at the U of O!” said others. They came up to shake my hand like I was a celebrity. Comments like that went on and on.
I was part of a delegation of maybe 40 people wearing Arizona red in a sea of 60,000 displaying their Oregon green. We stood out like sore thumbs, but people went out of their way to make us feel welcome. I mean, out of their way. People got up and offered us their seats at the tailgate and told us about their travels to Tucson and how beautiful they found our campus.
For a reality check, we did get harassed throughout the game by a fan in the seats nearby. He was attempting to be dressed like an Oregon Duck, but he was actually in a penguin costume. And, it was clear that he had overindulged at his pre-game tailgate. I’m not sure he knew he was a penguin.
But he was the anomaly in a sea of civility.
Why can’t everything in life be like this, I thought. It wasn’t that hard. We entered the day with opposite goals, but were able to be friends throughout the process regardless of the outcome.
Promoting a civil society is key to our work as student affairs professionals. This is why I convened the first ever ACPA Think Tank to offer recommendations to the profession on our role in producing students ready to advance civil discourse. We will hear their thoughts by the time we convene for our annual convention in Las Vegas.
I’m even more excited than before to hear what they have to say, and will be sure to send a copy of their thoughts to the south pole so that our penguin friend can take note.
Dr. Keith Humphrey
ACPA President, 2012-2013