Conversations about mental health and well-being
Aspirations - Community
One of the greatest observed testaments to the enhancement of the community atmosphere within the Division of Student Affairs was how highly the different departments spoke of each other. Interviewees were familiar with programs and events occurring in other departments and commented on how supportive the departments were of each other. Some interviewees that have been at the university long before the development of the Campus Compact commented on how drastically Oregon State University has changed over the years. Many noted the enhanced student benefits and streamlining of programming that has occurred because of the unified community that has developed within the Division of Student Affairs. Reflecting on the strong community that continues to develop, many people had achievements to share.
"In the past the university used to be very stratified. It still is, but not to the same extent. It used to be that feelings, concerns, and thoughts of staff were really downplayed and rarely considered. Staff members didn't have a voice, morale was low and people felt discouraged. My observation is that a lot of that was really severe in some of the student services departments of the university. Many People were feeling alienated and didn't feel that they had the ability to express their ideas and input. The Campus Compact made a major difference when it came about. Everyone had an equal voice and people were empowered to speak. New ideas were encouraged and experimentation to pursue those ideas were encouraged which made the environment much more open... Before we didn't know each other but now we do and are working together much more effectively . It's like barriers and boundaries have been broken down. It's not perfect, there is still more that can be done, but it's a much more open environment for people to participate and have a voice."
"Overall, Student Affairs folks have gained the respect of academic departments, because they begin to see our efforts that we are trying to create a good community for our students and each other and they understand that. Whether or not they engage in the work they see that it is happening and they are trying to figure out a way to latch on to that energy."
"Before the Campus Compact, some areas of Student Affairs felt stagnant, we had not kept up with the times. When I was fresh out of grad school I could not believe the office where I worked. Nothing had changed for 20 years and nothing was allowed to change. Now, after the Compact change and growth are encouraged. It feels so much better professionally."
"By really practicing the principles of the Compact in daily interactions the ideals spill over into the community. Being grounded in those values has had an environmental impact."
"This is a very welcoming community... Student Affairs at other university are more corporate as opposed to a family-type environment. Other universities I have had experience with never had a Compact or anything like it set up and the units seemed further apart. Here I feel like it is more friendly so you get to know more people."
The Campus Compact is limited in scope being only a vision statement for the Division of Student Affairs. Many interviewees from Student Affairs and other divisions expressed an earnest desire to spread the ideals of the document to the rest of the campus community. Interviewees frequently mentioned the struggles of developing a strong, accountable community within the units of Student Affairs while receiving pressures from the community outside of the division which is not as firmly committed to the same ideals. The struggle of interacting with outside entities that are not committed to the same principles was a common theme in comments from interviewees.
"The Compact needs to be more than just a Student Affairs thing for it to shape the campus community, there needs to be more buy-in from academic departments, athletic departments and others. Not being a whole campus document holds us back from collaboration with other divisions."
"Sometimes it seems that the campus doesn't believe that the ideas from Student Affairs have value."
"The environment on campus tends to not be as open as I would like, where people feel as safe as they want to feel to be who they are to ask the questions that they have, or to just even walk around sometimes. I think as a campus we struggle, but within Student Affairs we do a pretty good job with it. However, you're not always living in Student Affairs when you're on campus."
"Sometimes we are a community as the United States is a community, which is entirely different than how a neighborhood would be a community. States each have their own different way of doing things under a blanket of rules. OSU colleges and departments have different ways of doing things under the blanket of OSU and the Oregon University System. It depends on your definition of community. If you see community simply meaning a group of people geographically or electronically attached having similar needs, wants, and goals, that is one thing. If you see community a group of people that are bonded together caring for each other, moving towards common goals, and uplifting each other as they go, then OSU is not a community. Everybody here believes that they are doing the best they can do for the students, but among that there are the politics and economics of survival; we don't trust enough yet as a community to let go of some of those old ways and really lay ourselves out there."