As an advisor to several student organizations, I have learned that I can’t fix all of my students’ problems. When I started my current job, I was very secure about what kind of an advisor I was going to be. I felt confident with all I had learned in graduate school, and was ready to make an impact. Three years down the road, I still feel rather conscious of my actions and if I’m doing too much, or if I’m not doing enough. Balance is such a tricky thing to achieve, but not impossible.

This week I struggled with a very delicate situation with one of my organizations. Several students have come to my office to talk one-on-one about one of my Executive Board officers being a bully. It’s very difficult to hear things of that nature, especially when you have so much faith in your students. Maybe that’s my fault for being so trusting. But I have to keep my students’ best interest at heart, and that also means to keep them safe. So I had to take a trip to the Dean of Students Office to document some incidents that had occurred recently.

When I was in graduate school, during my summer practicum, my supervisor at that time told me “You always see the good in people. Don’t lose that”. Here I am several years later, trying hard to keep that in mind. Trying to understand that everyone goes through struggles in life, and maybe that is why some individuals are the way they are. However, my “zero tolerance” side says that’s no excuse to be mean and rude to someone. Over the past couple of weeks I have kept telling the students that my one expectation of them was to be respectful of each other. However, things have escalated to a point of judgment and fueled on gossip, mixed with immaturity among my students. This is beyond ineffective communication, but about the feeling of concern for your fellow man: respect.

So, fellow advisors please share with me…how do you teach respect, besides modeling respectful behavior to your students? My pep talks with the students are not working in one-on-one nor group format. 

Tabatha Cruz

Student Affairs - the First Years

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