Staff, the Forgotten Piece in Student Development

When I think of my college experience and what kept me there, it wasn’t the academics. I had the opportunity to meet a few faculty who impacted my experience beyond the classroom, but that wasn’t true every semester. This was especially untrue when it came to core classes that didn’t relate to my passions. The things that kept my spirit alive and developed me were my mentors. My mentors were found in different departments throughout the institution, not necessarily in the classroom.

When I think of the importance of academia, it would be a disservice to not include the staff members who are helping students navigate their self development. It would be a disservice to not include the individuals who help put students back together when they feel unseen and unheard. The folx who provide advocacy and representation for students when discrimination happens in the classroom. I am not writing this to further expand the gap and misunderstandings of faculty and staff, but to emphasize the importance of both positions in higher education.

This has been heavy on my mind for some time, but even more so with our current circumstances surrounding virtual and hybrid learning. The lack of care and thought put into the decision making of bringing students back to campus did not put character development at the forefront. At a time where students will be missing out on programming and community, student development and student growth will take a major hit. As students are pouring into their academics this semester, there needs to be programs developed to ensure they are taken care of personally. This is especially true for Black and Brown students.

Reflecting back on long nights I spent making sure I secured an A, or at least an A- to assure I was able to stay involved with the many organizations I joined, I remember it wasn’t an easy task. I remember my supervisor in Residence Life pushing me outside of my comfort zone to think of life beyond college. Academics are very important but I don’t remember half of the equations I learned in statistics or how to properly use SPSS. I do, however, remember the grit and resilience I developed. I remember learning efficient interpersonal and communication skills through leadership positions I was introduced to by mentors.

Education is important to me, not only education, but equity in education. The significance of making sure students are receiving the resources they need to succeed. Equity, to me, does not mean receiving the same exact resources because it’s more than that. Yes, I would like to receive the same materials as my classmate, but I also may require more due to my circumstances and that should not be a problem if I do. There should not be red rape involved with policies that effect disadvantaged populations. On many occasions, this is where staff come in. The staff that will fight tooth and nail to advocate for their needs.

When I think of Higher Education and my role as a staff member, I remember why I took this route and how important it was for me to develop students outside of the classroom. This is not a one person job. One position is not more important than the other when it comes to developing a student to be socially competent. We have a duty in our roles to provide students with the skills advocate for themselves, as well as others.

Higher education should not be presented as a hierarchy when student’s lives are at stake. The amount of hours Student Affairs employees put into making sure a student’s whole self is developed, should not go unnoticed. What is a piece of paper when they graduate, without the confidence and aptitude to apply all they have learned? Student involvement and development This is the real world, students know it and we need to start treating it as such.

Processing …

I am not being silent, I am still
I am processing
If you’re taking the time right now to process, that doesn’t make you less Black
With media being thrown in our faces 24/7
You deserve to be still
If you didn’t watch the videos
If you didn’t dive deep into the stories
If it’s too much right now
You are not less Black
Take some time, process
I can’t promise healing, we never truly heal as Black people
The next story comes so fast and the wound is re-opened before a scab began to form
Use your anger, in whatever way you see fit
Grieve, feel it
We don’t deserve this shit

#Hashtags

Hashtags, they come faster than a virgin boy when a Black person dies

But the anger we feel disappears like a White lady swinging her bag to the other side when we walk by

I waited days to read your story because I know it’ll end the same

Cops walk away free? That’s the name of the game

It began with the same cycle, your face scattered everywhere I look 

And I don’t blame my people because it’s now instinct to grab a phone instead of grabbing a book

And no, books aren’t bulletproof but they would have prepared you for this fight

Takes more than yelling on social media, saying this ain’t right 

And after finishing Seven Seconds I realize not even television can give us a fairy tale ending

What makes Brenton different from Stephon, Stephon different from Michael, Michael different from Sandra, Sandra different from Tamir, Tamir different from Jordan, Jordan different from Trayvon, Trayvon different from Korryn, Korryn different from Eric, Eric different from Philando and dammit we know the list goes on, because Philando wasn’t no different from Alton

It takes less than a second to decide to shoot their gun

As Black people you can’t even tell us not to run

While Dylan gets taken to Burger King, “Uhh, Can I have a Number 1?”

We can’t wait for Amerika to place value on our bodies

Seven seconds to 20 minutes, 20 bullets to two hands

Another Tragedy, Another Riot, Another Forgotten Black Body, Another Hashtag …

Selective Boycotting

Black people

It seems like you caught a case of selective boycotting

You know, like selective memory when ya moms told you to clean the house but you only cleaned the dishes

Selecting the things that benefit you and so quickly forgetting the full picture

I cannot take you serious

Instead of boycotting blatant racism, you jump on the bandwagon from a poorly used image

Taking apologies from these billion dollar companies while they still laughin and callin you a nigga

Man please

Selective boycotting, ah you caught a case of it I tell you

Boycotting only because it offended you but don’t boycott for marginalized groups that need it too

Wanna scream Black Lives Matter but leave out certain groups

Wanna fight for certain rights, but only ones that benefit you

If you’re offended, I’m clearly looking at you

You make me laugh

You make me sad

You make me angry

Stop picking and choosing your battles solely based on the decision of the masses

Still walking around wearing clothes from the brands who got you bowing down calling them master

I commend you, but at the same time some of ya’ll just lookin like some asses

Throw your whole purpose away, cuz you know next month you gonna forget the last one

Storms & Light

See, I wanna change the world

I wanna put on my cape and make everyone happy

And bring this huge rainbow across the sky

Not cuz I’m gay

But I realize you can’t see rainbows, if it never stops raining

And the sun never shines, on your part of town

And the puddles the kids wanna splash in

Are way too deep

And the waters too dirty 

And time stands still

We always harp on the dark days

Always told that black girls don’t cry

Always waiting on a storm

God forbid, we share our shine, and those puddles begin to dry

God forbid, we lend our light, and bring the sun to our own neighborhoods

See, I wanna change the world

One grey day, at a time