I love Fall. I have to say that it’s my favorite season. My siblings and I joke that we each have OMT’s – “obvious Mom traits” that we have inherited from our Mother. Growing up, if you visited our family in Hope Mills, NC the house would smell like whatever season that day fell in. So, if you ever visit me in Washington, DC between September 22 – November 30, my place will smell like Fall. It’s my OMT. Well, one of them.
I also love Fall because that means college openings (and college football – which I also love with a passion). While it is always hectic and unpredictable, there is also joy and excitement in the beginning of a new academic year. There are also the opening stories that become folklore. Mine involves waking up the day my residence hall was to open only to find out that the university had closed the entire parking lot for repaving. <insert shocked face emoji> Luckily, my student staff creatively rallied and we had one of the best openings ever.
Sadly, this story pales in comparison to what many of you (especially our colleagues in housing and residential life) have been experiencing since March due to the COVID-19 and racial injustice pandemics. You have been asked to plan, stop, pivot, rethink, stop, activate, pause, rethink & execute – all, at times, in one day. To say that you may be feeling exhausted is truly an understatement.
In the midst of all of this, I ask you to always remember: New students are still entering our campuses. Welcome them with open arms and hearts. They need us. Returning students are excited to be back in community. Welcome them with open arms. They need us. Students from historically marginalized groups are joining and rejoining our communities. Listen to them. Hear their stories. New student affairs professionals are joining our staffs. Mentor and support them.
A few weeks ago, the Presidential Trio along with our Executive Director – Chris Moody sent out a message to all ACPA members that included this:
You are loved.
You are appreciated.
Your life matters.
Remember this always. It is my hope that each of us will be able to look back on this time in higher education history knowing that we contributed to “boldly transforming higher education.” We have and we will continue to do so.
Vernon A. Wall
2020 – 2021