These are uncertain times. We all recognize this. And nowhere is this sentiment stronger than in the university system. Students worrying about what's going to happen next, students of color wondering how the nation will respond, undocumented students scared they may be deported. Staff who fear they may lose their rights. Veterans who feel pulled in a number of directions. There are many questions. And it's up to universities to be a light out of the darkness.
How can we ease people's worries? How can you bring your university together? This is going to be an ongoing discussion, but here are a few things to consider:
Create content that makes a difference: Hold program discussions with your leadership teams. Create banners that show your are committed to diversity and inclusion. Create videos that show the many voices of your campus community. Offer new programs that make faculty of color feel appreciated. Reach out to your community via social media.
Align your messaging: What are you saying to these students? How are you easing the pain of your staff? How are you creating avenues where your faculty can speak up? What are you doing that will make a difference? Think about you want to say, how you want to say it, and who it is being directed towards. You have to have clearly defined goals and objectives.
Bring people together: It may sound strange, but you will need a strategy to respond to changing times. And that means more than just surveys and tweets. It means getting out there, listening to your community, understanding their concerns, and creating materials that engage them, activate them, and inspire them. Anyone can start a rally. But it takes long-term planning to ensure your message continues to resonate.
Share Your Stories: What divides us, many times, is that we don't know much about the other person. We see divisions when we should see common ground. We see polar opposites when we are really more alike than we realize. To ease the fears of your students, get them talking to each other. Create forums where students can meet and engage. Branch out into the community outside your campus. Learn what is going on with them. Connect your faculty across departments. Show them that they are not alone in their concerns.
The road ahead is uncertain. But by bringing our voices and experiences together, we can find a way through the changing times. That's what we do, here at Glitter Corps, and we are ready to help.