Monday, September 24, 2012

Our Work for Society…and Penguins

“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 

Monday, September 3, 2012

A View From the Heights

Last week I did something that I never thought I would do.

I testified against a student organization at a university hearing where the question of their official recognition was at stake.  The fraternity in question had been on probation for almost two years before this point.  While on probation their behavior represented a flagrant disregard for previous decision and for the care of those in their organization.

I sat there and answered questions from the hearing board defending my office’s decision to remove recognition.  I talked about the inability of the students to rehabilitate themselves and their organization.  I spoke of our university’s attempts to help the fraternity through organizational and membership reviews.

Most of all, I was arguing to get rid of an involvement opportunity for our students and how that is counter-intuitive to everything that we do in student affairs. 

But is it?

When I began my career as a Hall Director I was all about connecting with students, providing them with opportunities to engage with the university and each other, and to find leadership opportunities. 

Fifteen years later as the Dean of Students on that same campus, I still am.  But my perch requires me to see more.

It’s about health and safety.  And getting students to graduation.  And then sending them off into society to make life better for those that come behind them.  And, if we can’t keep students healthy and safe, they can’t be leaders, can’t succeed in their classes, and can’t make it to that fantastic moment of tossing their caps in the air at graduation.

I feel good about what I did.  And I am sure I will have to do it again.  It’s the responsibility I have accepted as a leader on my campus.

Dr. Keith Humphrey
ACPA President, 2012-2013