In the University of Iowa’s housing office, right above our copy machine, hangs a piece of paper titled “Six Little Stories with Lots of Meaning.” Below that headline it reads as follows:
As my team and I make a number of difficult decisions, I have found great value in these words. They have taken on more meaning as we face almost unimaginable circumstances. We know that students want a traditional residential experience, but, regardless of choices each campus will make, we also know that such a traditional experience simply will not occur. So, these experiences – like so much of our lives – have been and will be different, but that doesn’t diminish them. That is because, during the pandemic, we all have utilized faith, trust, hope, confidence, love, and attitude.
We have a love for our institutions and profession that powers us as we work long hours and deal with situations others do not. And we have the attitude that we are all in this together, and together we will get through this better and stronger.
We have faith that students will come to campus ready to live, laugh, and learn with their peers. We have trust that decisions being made by campus leaders are valuing our departments’ perspectives. We have hope that everything goes according to plan. We have confidence that our staff can be nimble and respond to the challenges that come their way. We have a love for our institutions and profession that powers us as we work long hours and deal with situations others do not. And we have the attitude that we are all in this together, and together we will get through this better and stronger.
As we move toward the reopening of our campuses, I hope you will join me in drawing inspiration from these six stories. Take those words to heart as we work to re-imagine and re-create, as best we can, the residential experience that sets us apart from the rest of the campus market. How can we create community in the midst of social distancing guidelines, closed lounges, and limited room occupancies? How can we flex our creativity even while we may be limited budgetarily?
The answers to those questions will be different for everyone. I hope you have been following the progress of ACUHO-I’s Future of Housing work group, a team of almost four dozen professionals (plus many other contributors) who are pooling their expertise to create considerations for our programs. Please note that I said considerations rather than prescriptions. The specifics are different, but I do think the best answers will grow out of a similar approach.
I offer that limitations are amazing drivers of creativity. It’s okay to admit to your staff that you don’t have all the answers. In turn, lean on them to brainstorm innovative ways to build community, maximize efficiency, and promote healthy habits. That is the approach that will get us through this difficult present and potential future waves of infections.
Even as we all work to support our campuses and students, please do remember to make time to take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Know that ACUHO-I is here to support you and is working to assist you in any way we can.
Von Stange, ACUHO-I Presidentvonfirstname.lastname@example.org
Talking Stick magazine takes its name from the symbol of international friendship presented to ACUHO-I in 1973 by the Ohiat Band of the British Columbia Indian Nation. The talking stick, or speaker’s staff, is hand-carved, and the inscription explains, “It is a sign of authority carried when proclamations are to be made or a meeting of chiefs is in session. It is a token of common heritage both to Canadians and Americans.”