Student Affairs Is...

by Maggie Merryday

What of the standard questions do we ask upon meeting one another, which are followed by "Who are you?", is "What do you do?" For most Student Affairs Professionals, there's never really an easy answer to that question. For me, I usually say something like, "I help a student organization plan large-scale events that provide safe, college-appropriate things for them to do (Programming Board Adviser)." That usually covers the basics of what I do. Here's a list, though, of things that I'd like to say, but don't always have enough time to add into the conversation...

Student Affairs is...

Having an assortment of strange supplies in your office at all times (duct tape, measuring tape, balloons, and bungee cords, just to name a few).

It's late nights, and weekends, and people being surprised that we don't get Spring break off with the rest of the students.

It's getting a phone call from Waka Flocka Flame's management, the face painter for the upcoming winter carnival, the BBQ restaurant that's catering the event, and the Dean of Students' all in the same day.

It's paperwork, and policies, and procedures, and guidelines, and competencies, and standards... oh yeah, and did I mention paperwork?

It's having days when you got nothing done because students were in and out of your office all day.

It's having five different to-do lists and three different calendars.

It's staff meetings, committee meetings, team meetings, executive board meetings, general body meetings, and book club.

It's finding out if there are any events on campus today with free food because you forgot to pack your lunch.

It's never having a quiet office, and when the office is quiet, it's unnervingly strange.

It's someone walking around in a Seal costume... for no apparent reason at all.

It's conference season(s).

Sometimes, it's madness.

It's celebrating because for the first time since August, all of your students on the Programming Board turned in their time sheets on time.

It's getting ready to lose your mind because a student has done something again that you've told them over and again not to do.

It's explaining that "Chubbies" are not appropriate to wear during office hours.

It's Challenge and Support.

It's sometimes giving them negative feedback, because even though it's tough for them to hear - and tough for you to say - they need to hear it.

It's knowing that Nate had a test on Tuesday, Josh has a job interview next week, and Luke's flying home and missing the event this weekend because his grandmother passed away.

It's not being your students' parent or their friend, but knowing things they would never tell their parents or their friends.

It's drying tears of disappointment, stress, frustration, or just plain sadness.

It's watching one of your students unravel while struggling with mental health problems, and another suffer through an illness because they can't afford health insurance.

It's Transition Theory.

It's being the first person they want to talk to when anything good, or bad, happens to them.

Sometimes, it can break your heart.

It's laughing until you cry at the things they say - and wondering if you made someone laugh like that when you were in college.

It's knowing what "It's going to be LIT," "You're being EXTRA today," and "That's FIRE!" mean.

It's staying on top of the latest music trends and surprising people with your knowledge of Machine Gun Kelly, Chance the Rapper, and Rae Sremmurd.

It's your student stopping by to make sure you were the first to see their "Tree" costume they constructed for a Jungle themed fraternity social.

It's being SO ready for them to leave for Winter/Spring/Summer break, and then missing them three days into said break and wishing they would come back.

It's "I want a picture with you!" when they're standing in their cap and gown on graduation day.

It's "Can I list you as a reference?"

It's "Please don't ever leave us..."

It's "Seriously, thank you for everything."

Student Affairs is... not always easy, but it is always worth it.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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