While the college consists of many individuals, it also consists of groups: students, faculty, staff, administrators. There can be value in classifying individuals into groups such as these, because presumably, members of each group would share certain roles. But there can also be danger. Because when we do this sort of classification, we risk seeing each group as separate from and possibly at odds with the others. I believe that every member of our community came to the college in hopes of a richer, more purposeful life. For employees, that may be good pay, a nice working environment, and the opportunity to make a difference in the world by supporting the development of young people as they become the future of our country. For students, that hope may be for a better paying job or a dream career or it may be more elusive…they’re not sure what they want, or why they’re here, but there is some vague promise of transformation that they don’t want to miss out on.
Those hopes can likely be summarized as follows:
We all want meaningful work for which we are fairly compensated. And we all want to be successful in achieving the personal and professional goals that we set for ourselves. And in these endeavors, all members of our community are inextricably tied.
We are more alike than we are different. We are FAR more alike than we are different. But our labels sometimes obscure that. Can we agree on this? Without compromising our individuality, can we agree that we are all part of something bigger and in a very profound way there are no sides, but rather, just interconnecting pieces that together make up the whole?
If we come at our conversations and our work from this perspective, then with practice, we can get good at talking about places where we are doing a good job and places where we are not doing a good job. And if we get good at talking about those things honestly and openly, then we can improve. And the conversation is about US as a system. And there is no THEM, because we are all part of the whole. And individually, we each have a role to play and we can explore what those individual roles might look like. And we can improve how we function together and that can reduce the friction that we experience—as students, faculty, staff, and administrators–when we work in isolation.
I want to have a conversation about roles. I want to have a conversation about vision. I want to have a conversation about communication. In this living system called Foothill College, I want our work to be guided by visions that inspire.