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Monday, November 2, 2015

Some people are SO competitive...

Sore winners
There are more dysfunctional work places than bearable ones. I know this because I have met people. I will now go about explaining why we, in Student Development, are not the former, though the evidence may indicate otherwise.

First off, Student Development is the informal moniker for what used to be Student Affairs, but now includes staffs from the Experiential Learning and Career Success and Student Success Centers as well as a few colleagues from International Services and Study Abroad. Basically, we are the ones who serve, support, and challenge our students in so many ways across campus. We are dedicated, hard-working, and professional. We care deeply about our students.

Games of Thrones: The Banners
We have three committees: the Divisional Assessment Team; the Professional Development Committee; and the Social Committee. For our purposes I am going to explain the Social Committee. This is the group that plans our gatherings (end-of-the-year party, Holiday Jubilee, etc.). This year, with the larger Student Development Team in place, that committee decided to split us into four teams to get to know other colleagues from various areas.The idea was to have friendly competitions at monthly lunches. The first was football trivia and October's was a "Minute to Win It" style of games.

It turns out that there are some competitive people in the Student Development area. Apparently, these people, including me (according to some), were split up into different teams. Because it would be rude to name these people I will do so: Melissa Flowers, Jamie Thompson, Stephanie Ackerman, and Lisa Chapa are the worst. It is worth noting that Melissa and Stephanie are from the east coast, so, you know...

There has not been a game yet that hasn't elicited some form of controversy. Apparently dedicated professionals can squabble over the smallest perceived injustices. It is odd to me because every team except mine has found one way or another to cheat. One person used both hands in the stacking ping-pong ball and cup bouncing game, which stabilized what was supposed to be an unstable stack. But it would be petty to complain. We have all gotten over the fact that Wanda Olson's team won the football trivia contest though the night previous, her husband Phil, was in possession of all of the questions. And answers. But karma is a thing, and the same team was shut out in the second competition. Turns out "Blue Steel" lacks a fierce competitive spirit.

Our team, the "Esther Bunnies," is named after our Captain, Esther Kim. It is the most creative team name, though there are apparently no points for that.(Other rejected suggestions: Kim Rats, Kim Dandies, The Fi-esthers, Court Esthers, and Besther.)

While this may be giving us strong connections outside the office, I can say there is definitely tension between me, Megan, and Yvonne on game days. This has become serious. I have to admit to having the shakes as I was (victoriously) stacking lug nuts eight high (on their sides) using a skewer. My teammate, "Brandy the Intern," thought it would motivate me by yelling, "They are all doing better than you," though the careful approach proved the correct one. I don't know if I was nervous about the task, nervous about wanting to win, or nervous about how I would fire my intern.

Who knew that what would bring out the worst in us would also bring out the best in us. But it has. Over the years we have done these really nice events with awards, centerpieces, and words of encouragement and support for how we help our students discover, grow, and become. This year though, there is something different in the air. Competition, complaining, boorish-behavior, a lack of civility, and a keen sense of anticipation for the next game day. Everyone but the "Esther Bunnies" hates me. But I don't care about them. By the end of the academic year we are going to win this thing. Isn't that the sign of a perfectly healthy workplace?

Perpetual Giving

Katie Ogawa chats with a conference attendee.
I once wrote a post about Trinity's over dependence on student Katie Ogawa in campus publications and marketing. She was, of course deserving, but we have many phenomenal students. So I hate to add to the mystique here, but even after graduating in 2014, Katie continues to bring our University the best PR imaginable. On October 31, Katie was flown in from Albuquerque to the Oblate School of Theology "Dorothy Day for Today" seminar. Katie received their first annual Social Justice Advocate Award in the student category. The excellent presentation was made by Chris Plauche of the Catholic Worker House. Check out the introduction and presentation below.