by Kathryn Magura
I have been thinking a lot recently on how to benchmark best practices in Student Affairs. How do we know if the work we are doing is the best way to serve students? Do we even take the time to ask others how they handle certain situations? As educational professionals, do we take the time to learn from those who set the path before us, so we aren’t constantly reinventing the wheel?
There are many days in my work that I feel like no one truly understands the delicate balance of the work I do. Finding ways to please students, parents, coworkers, and University partners can often lead to impossible situations, yet I revel in the strategic challenge of it all. Days when I’m feeling particularly stuck or hopeless, I turn to my saved Twitter searches, and exhale with relief when I see I’m not alone. There are others who truly understand what I’m dealing with, and what’s more, they would love to help me!
I find myself setting time aside each day to check the #ACUHOI and #sachat hashtags to see what issues are salient for my peers. If I feel like I can add something to a conversation, I will provide my 140 characters. Sometimes this proves a bit challenging, seeing as how I’m a late night west coast tweeter. My voice may be a little late in joining the party, but I’m there!
If I am working on revising a policy, I will take time to engage a professional list serve, to see if people are willing to provide their insights. So long as you are strategic in sending out requests at a time of day people are actively on email (this means before 2:00 pm on the west coast, to have a chance of catching the east coast audience), or at times of the year when they may have a few extra minutes (don’t bother asking Housing professionals for feedback in August), you are usually likely to receive a wealth of resources.
As a member of the ACUHO-I association, I also have all the resources from the ACUHO-I central office staff at my disposal. In particular, Emily Glenn, the ACUHO-I librarian is a rockstar in sending documents and presentations from peers when you request help. I am always amazed by the range of resources Emily provides, and the speed with which she gets them to you. Such an amazing asset!
So how do you benchmark best practices? How can we help make life a little easier for each other as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of higher education administration?