by Tolu Taiwo

Last weekend, the groups of students I supervise—the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH)—planned to have a retreat for about 120 members of the campus’ hall councils. In the past when the groups have had their Fall Hall, they took everyone up to Pingree Park, which is an awesome site up in the mountains that is used for conferences, team-building activities, and retreats. My students were pumped, ready to go, and excited to take the troops 9,000 feet into the air.

Unfortunately, Colorado’s weather wasn’t up to speed on our plans. A day before the retreat, we realized that the flood that was affecting Northern Colorado had flooded the roads to Pingree. We weren’t going 9,000 feet up, we were staying with our feet firmly on the ground, and having the retreat on campus.

My students handled the event like pros. There was, of course, the inevitable freak out, but they were able to calmly assess what needed to be done to maintain the same “retreat bonding” feel that everyone would have got up at Pingree. The rearranged the space and schedule, and made it work. I couldn’t have been prouder of them. I also realized that my role in programing and student affairs has drastically changed.

Things change in this field. This is something that I knew, and something that I have experienced as a student leader. However, it was interesting to go through a big change like this from an advisor standpoint. And last weekend, I learned that support in times of change doesn’t necessarily mean an advisor needs to coddle the students. I am definitely someone who likes to check up with the people around me in times of a crisis. My nature is to jump in the action and help out, and constantly make sure everyone is okay. However, I realized that I needed to take a step back and let my student leaders do what they needed to do. Knowing that I am a total mother hen and a strong Blue, I decided to just let my advisees know that I was available during the whole day, and leave them alone. And I’m pretty sure they appreciated the autonomy more, and even came to me for help when they needed it.

It’s weird for me sometimes to step back and let the students take care of business. After all, I just came out of undergrad, so some days I still feel like that 20-year-old student leader who just wants to take care of all of the problems. However, I need to learn to step back and let go, not just for my sake, but for the leadership growth of my students.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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