This issue of Developments focuses on how people are affected by, engaging with, and negotiating issues related to COVID-19. As editors we thought about the best approach for this quarter’s issue. After discussion, we decided to reach out and solicit your thoughts, essays, and reactions to dealing with the global pandemic in the context of our work.
We realized in doing this that it could be received as a “call for productivity” in the midst of crisis. Instead, our goal has been to share a “call for community.” While not everyone is in a place to write and share about their experiences, for some people this is not only helpful to the profession, but cathartic and healing. Ultimately, we decided to offer space to come together on the topic.
With that in mind, we are grateful to our authors for taking the time to provide information for conversation and reflection. We are still in the midst of the pandemic, however, starting here and starting now and engaging with each other is essential. In a period of social isolation, we cannot afford to be isolated from one either another as colleagues and friends or as colleagues and a community. We need each other to do the work required of us through and beyond the pandemic.
Too often student affairs work is depicted in a secondary role to academic affairs. SA professionals sometimes speak almost apologetically about what we do in comparison to what faculty and upper-level administrators do. In the context of COVID-19, however, what Student Affairs is essential – whether each of us is deemed an “essential employee” or not.
We may not teach students physics or literature or graphic design. What student affairs does is – if not more important, it is differently important. Student affairs does not give students degrees to be qualified for jobs, but we give students skills to secure and keep those jobs. We work with students on issues of group dynamics, communication, navigating conflict, integrity, and the other skills that help them thrive in whatever their chosen fields might be.
Additionally, at a time like this, we make sure that students’ needs are met when it comes to safety, food, shelter. We reach out to support them through family challenges, financial concerns, wellness issues… the list goes on and on. So whether you are a graduate residence hall director who is providing space for students who have nowhere else to go, a student activities staff member who is supporting students navigating the loss of spring programs they have been planning for months (or years), a professional bridging the academic and student affairs realms supporting students as they transition to online learning environments, or a career services team member who is counseling students through the loss of a summer internship or the graduation to job transition in a constantly-changing and unpredictable new world, you are part of the essential work that is continuing to be done.
You are part of the community that has come together to share and grieve and learn and comfort one another in these uncertain times.
Thank you for your work in your position. Thank you for engaging in the thoughts shared in this issue of Developments. Higher education could not, cannot, and will not function without you.
Michelle L. Boettcher
ACPA Developments Editor
ACPA Developments Co-Editor