It is a story much in the news. First, a call to police to report a napping African American student in the dorm common area. Turns out, after producing ID, she was “cleared.” She was a student and this was her dorm – late night studying does take its toll on sleep … apparently, as well as our aspiration to build cultures of respect and inclusiveness on our campuses.
We are humbled by these stories that will continue unabated until we finally understand and address the root causes. First, we begin with understanding the myriad of issues faced by community colleges in the bewildering world of today. One positive challenge lies in embracing diversity among our growing list of stakeholders – faculty, staff, students, and leaders at all levels. We know the world has changed. – by 2055 there will be no single ethnic or racial majority. In addition, inclusiveness in all aspects of diversity – intergenerational, gender, ethnic, sexual preference and more – is a proven key to innovation, productivity and most importantly, a feeling of value and worth by stakeholders. Defining and filling the position of diversity officer is the hottest trend.
So why are we continuing to be confronted with stories revealing the disturbing reality that certain people, owing to a particular aspect of their diversity, are treated disrespectfully. Perhaps along with the baring of gender inequity issues with the #MeToo revolution, we witnessed the surprising and growing power of social media stories to reveal the truth by peering unabashedly into the corners of our most basic behaviors. Most of us react with disbelief of these stories that bare the unvarnished truth about our most respected and precious institutions, and perhaps about us.
The future is bright for community colleges that understand the need to fix what is broken and continually and with effort to endeavor to be better each day. To address community college needs for building a culture of inclusiveness and respect, we begin a journey that takes both time and commitment accompanied by constant review and revision.
The answer? First, by acknowledging that there are no quick fixes and the solution must fit the particular circumstances on each campus. What works is a culture of continuous improvement on many fronts. We begin through PREPARATION – understanding our own campuses and their particular needs. We PLAN by meticulously choosing appropriate training and development activities that focus on healthy communications and empathy. We establish PURPOSE and values that define exactly what you are and the red lines that will not be crossed. We acknowledge that all stakeholders must live and walk those values. Finally, we develop the human gift of PERSPECTIVE to constantly review all that we say and do and make the judgment calls that allow our colleges to thrive.
To learn more about how to survive the storms, check out Dodging Coconuts on www.rgs24.com.