Wednesday, November 23, 2011

So, So Thankful

Today, USD has an undergraduate holiday. No classes are held. Staff not taking a vacation day are relishing the quiet opportunity to clean off their desks and empty their inboxes. As I celebrate the eve of Thanksgiving, I am aware that I do not often choose to pause and look outside myself. I move too fast, focus too much on the future- and no matter how much I try to do otherwise, the pace overtakes me. Today, I am trying to do better. I committed to doing three things that would help another, but not necessarily benefit me. I have found 2 opportunities so far, and am hoping that I see #3 when it presents itself.

A few years ago, Facebook friends prompted each other to participate in creating a list of 25 Random Things About You. Did you do it? It was more difficult than I had imagined. As I spend some time this morning considering all that I have been given, I suppose I am even more aware of the difficult things I have not been given. Just last night, I received a text message from a chapter president affirming my suscipion that they were feeling underappreciated for their work, commitment and drive. This president has given their full attention to student leadership this year. They are well-liked, do well in school, etc., but as we approach the break, they shared that they feel unappreciated and unacknowledged. For all the work that has been given, they have been given negative in return. My message back was one of appreciation, but also a promise to continue the conversation of who they have been as a leader and how thankful those in our community are for them.

Below I have listed my 25 "Things". I have also listed (in italics), the blessing that I am reminded of with each one. I invite you to do the same... Truly, I want to hear about you - and the blessings you derive from your everyday life. Challenge yourself to leave a comment with your reflection.
1. I feel most upset/depressed when I am misunderstood or misrepresented. (I am surrounded by those that know the truth)
2. My heart aches and I feel called to action when I encounter social justice issues. (I work in an environment where the call to action is embraced and expected)
3. I haven’t spoken to my best friend from college is almost a year and hope to be a better friend this year. (I have friends that know my soul)
4. I believe in the sorority and fraternity experience. (My vocation is my job)
5. My Dad and my only sibling died within a month of each other from illness this past year (2008). (I have empathy for those with loss)
6. I never like to be the loudest/funniest/most excited person in the room. (I can choose to be surrounded by many people)
7. I have a terrible memory for grudges, but can vividly remember meeting my two best friends from Graduate School over 15 years ago. They started signing the 90210 theme song in the middle of a class when the clock struck 9pm. (My parents provided me with an education)
8. I married my college sweetheart. (Kevin makes me a better person)
9. I read blogs of people I have never met (and probably never will) so they aren’t alone in their journey of caring for sick children and partners. (Through many experiences, I learned that it wasn't all about me)
10. I believe that there is a need inside of me that can only be met through faith in Jesus. (I have that need met)
11. When describing most things, I use the words “best” and “favorite” regularly! As a result, I have many “favorite” students and lots of “best” pals. (People are willing to accept that sometimes I am just a little strange)
12. I almost died in 2001. It was the scariest thing that has ever tested me. I lost over 50 pounds being sick and sometimes wonder if that’s why I don’t seem too motivated to lose weight. (I have had 10 years more than I thought I would to see my children grow, serve my God and impact the world)
13. I am in my 14th year of working for the same University, doing basically the same job. (I have a job - and one that I love)
14. I saw RENT with most of the original Broadway cast in London. (I have had the privilege of seeing a lot of the world)
15. My entire childhood, I wished my name was Kelly. That would have made me “Kelly Lee”. (See #11's comment)
16. After having a daughter, we navigated (and came out stronger people) the San Diego County adoptions process. We were blessed with a firecracker of a kid who makes me a better person! Jury's still out if we will navigate again. (God has humbled my heart as I try to be a good parent)
17. Both of my girls have middle names from spiritual concepts – Grace and Faith. (My kids don't seem too warped from being raised as 'Pastor's Kids')
18. Every year my best girlfriends go to Palm Springs to celebrate our lives and each other. I treasure that trip! (I have the support, financial and people, to abandon responsibilities for a time of selfishness)
19. I was the president of the Home Ec Club in high school – yup, I am a total winner! (I can sew almost anything - and have the confidence to cook without recipes)
20. I cry at almost every episode of Grey’s Anatomy and laugh out loud at almost every episode of The Office. (I am able to understand why I am empathetic and use that to serve my community)
21. When I look in the mirror and see a 36 year old (now almost 39) staring back at me, I am amazed. I still like doing stupid stuff like gluing quarters to the ground to watch people try and pick them up. (I am thankful to be alive)
22. My first car was a 1967 Porsche. (I grew up very spoiled, but with the firm message that to those given much, much is expected <Luke 12:48>. I am thankful that I had/have parents who cared enough to teach me the 2nd part)
23. As I have grown older, I care less and less what others think… It’s pretty liberating. (I am thankful that I know my self-worth is grounded in something larger than public opinion)
24. I have seen Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi well over 100 times and know most of the dialogue. And, I kinda rock at the Disney Scene It game. (I appreciate that there are some inner nerds out there that connect with me on this fact alone)
25. If I could change one thing about the love of my life, it would be to have him love to play cards and games… Guess that’s pretty small, right? He’d probably pick to have me be Lance Armstrong. (I have been given an abundance of everything)

My prayer for you all is that you feel love beyond measure; contentment with who you are; and a peace that comes from knowing that you matter. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Event Themes, The Issue No One Wants To Discuss: Part 1

This week I received the following news story from not only my professional listserve, but from several professional friends. For you see, when something comes up in Greek Life, I am the person that comes to mind for oh so many. I am the one to answer the calls, run roster checks to see if so and so is Greek, or just check in to be sure no one gets a similar bright idea on our campus. Just like some of you who hold positions, I am responsible for all of our community's actions. Sometimes when I tell you things, it is because I care about you. Sometimes, it is because I want you to avoid the hurt and pain you may cause yourself or others.

USM Students in Blackface Article

Really, Team?  Really? As you may have noted in the article, the theme of the event was "80's".  I am fairly confident that the intention of the group was to be funny.  However, the impact was so much more. Sadly, I have found my staff team engaging in a similar conversation more than half a dozen times in the past month.

When I look at USD's mission, it is pretty clear to me that we are tasked to develop culturally competent leaders. We, as a staff team, are charged with creating experiences that allow students to learn, grow and develop. So, why all the crazy when we ask you to look outside of yourself?  Why all of the anger when asked to consider how someone might feel about your costume? I have been surprised by the hostility and lack of willingness to engage in dialogue about how we represent ourselves. I have been left shaking my head and asking, "Really, Team?  Really?"

We do so many amazing things, just like these women from USM. They will not be remembered for those.  Instead, they will be remembered as women who mocked a culture and race by dressing in blackface for a social event. I want to remember you as more than this type of situation.  I want to remember your laughter and joy at celebrating new members with your sisters; I want to remember the roar of cheering when your fraternity took first place at skits. I want to remember that this era was the one that said, "We are better than this." And, I want us to be the one that means it.

Last week, I wrote about being "on the road". Maybe you just aren't as far along that road as you need to be to understand how dressing up as a racial/cultural stereotype can be hurtful and offensive. Maybe it has been one too many conversations where I have sat eye to eye with someone who felt alone, isolated, not accepted.  And, that experience was compounded by them being an underrepresented group at USD. When I talk about diversity and inclusion, I like to talk about power and privilege.  We are the largest student organizations on campus.  We have the power to protect those who are not as powerful.  We can choose to protect them in our word and deed.

I suppose I am asking you to consider it all.  And, to consider the role you play in our community.  Do you board the bus for events without saying anything, or do you step out of your comfort zone to share the message of, "not cool" with those that you call sisters and brothers if they have on inappropriate costumes? Before we jump to Mandy, Onar, etc. are ruining this, let's think. Intent versus Impact. Really.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

On The Road

If you are in my direct advising world, you have probably heard me explain one of my (many) life philosophies. It goes something like this... We are all on a journey. As we travel down the road, we recognize that each of us are in different places. Our goal is to be (1) moving and (2) doing so in the same direction.  That, Friends, is what we call progress.

Each of us sees our world in different ways.  As the primary advisor to the community, I have little doubt that my world view does not always match yours. But, are we on the road together? Are we, together, moving? Is it in the same direction? More significantly, is it in the right direction?

On Thursday, November 17th, at 1pm we will be hosting our Fall Town Hall meeting in UC Forum C. I invite you to attend. And, to engage in the assessment of where you, individually and as a chapter, are on the road.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Celebrating Excellence

A busy week, but filled with much celebration.  Greek Awards was held on Wednesday night (I am using that as my excuse for missing the Thursday posting deadline) and many of your peers were recognized for their outstanding work.  Enjoy these photos!
Dr. Mills, Order of Omega Commitment to Excellence recipient,
with Dayn Sommer, Order of Omega President. 
Alli Berryhill, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Ryan Boufford,
Beta Theta Pi, 2011 Greek Woman and Man of the Year.

Joe Wetzel, 2011 Delta Tau Delta President with
Dan Martin, 2010 Greek Man of the Year, and
Brian Maurer, 2011 New Member of the Year.

Greek Woman of the Year finalists: Allison Berryhill,
Kappa Alpha Theta, Sam Keil, Kappa Alpha Theta, and
Cicilya Kaunang, Gamma Phi Beta.

Greek Man of the Year finalists: Jourdain Artz, Sigma Phi Epsilon,
Ryan Boufford, Beta Theta Pi and Beau Velten, Phi Kappa Theta.

Alpha Chi Omega with Stephanie Sibley, Chapter Advisor
of the Year.

Kappa Alpha Theta, 2010-2011 Dean's Trophy Recipients.
Alison Bloom, 2011 New Member of the Year, and Allison Berryhill,
Greek Woman of the Year.

Beta Theta Pi, 2010-2011 Dean's Trophy Recipients.
Ryan Boufford, 2011 Greek Man of the Year.
Beta Theta Pi
Dayn and Erin, Order of Omega hosts for Greek Awards.
Thank you for a great evening!