As we approach the end of 2021, it is a time of reflection, celebration, and – hopefully – recuperation. In many ways 2021 has felt heavier and more difficult than 2020. As the pandemic emerged and evolved last year, many of us were propelled forward by a combination of adrenaline, fear, creativity, community, and anger. It was the pandemic. It was the ongoing violence against People of Color. It was the disconnect between people as individuals that pushed us further from points of connection in the middle to extremes where we were alienated from one another.
Then 2021. We certainly have not resolved all of the issues of 2020 (and the years before). But this year has felt different. Heavy. Exhausting. Many of us have innovated, adapted, and adjusted ourselves to the point of being completely depleted. Self-care and “take time for yourself” – if not complete myths – are at least no longer sufficing. As individuals and as a profession, we are beyond replacing the old with more of the same. We are now compelled to rebuild in new and better ways.
We do not pretend to know what the end result of the “Great Resignation” will be. It is a catchy phrase to be sure, but it remains to be seen what the lasting impact will be. We are in the midst of a moment to learn about people who are choosing to leave why they are choosing to leave. To make assumptions is inappropriate. We should be asking “Why isn’t this working for you?” and “What has changed?” instead of thinking we already know.
Coming out of a time of social isolation and social distancing, as we are able to reconnect, we can do that in a variety of ways. This issue of Developments includes articles about (re)building connections and professionalism post-pandemic, how to navigate new institutions, and the importance of assessment among other things. There is hope in each of the pieces in this issue, and as Grace Paley said, “The only recognizable feature of hope is action.” Just as the authors here have acted in support and transformation of student affairs, we hope each of you as readers find a way to put action to your hopes, as well.
We can appreciate the lessons of 2021 and still be glad to see it go. We can hope for something better in 2022, but it is incumbent upon us to make the changes to make things better.
Keep up the good (and hard) work.
Michelle L. Boettcher & Reyes Luna, Editors