Breaking Out of the Silo in Student Affairs | Rosenbery, Davies & Hood


Sam, a recent grad and new professional, finds themselves already getting frustrated in their new role as a Conduct Coordinator. In grad school, Sam found opportunities and connections in abundance. Since transitioning to a full-time role, Sam has felt siloed within their functional area. As a Conduct Coordinator, Sam now primarily engages with conduct-related matters and finds limited exposure to other areas within the university. This shift has left Sam feeling disconnected from the broader campus community and unsure about how to navigate seeking connections / collaborative relationships.


Isolation, Conduct, New Professional Experiences, Transition

Primary Character:

Sam (They/Them/Theirs) is a 24 year old Black non-binary new professional at New Yollie University (located in New York City) working as a Conduct Coordinator. Sam recently graduated from University of Highstart’s M.Ed program in a cohort of 37 graduate students. Sam is from Phoenix, AZ, and does not have any family or friends that live in New York.

The Case:

Having recently completed their M.Ed. program at University of Vermont, Sam’s transition from a large cohort of 37 HESA graduate students to a full-time role as a Conduct Coordinator at New York University was marked with anticipation and excitement. The previous summer, Sam had completed an internship at UWindy (located in Chicago, IL) and loved the thrill of living in a city. Sam was sure that New York was going to be no different, and that making connections would be easier in a more diverse and populated environment.

The first few weeks at NYU were full of introductions, training sessions, and paperwork. Sam was the only Conduct Coordinator that was hired and was on-boarded solo. Most of Sam’s coworkers have been at NYU for two or more years and are in their upper twenties to lower thirties. At times Sam felt lonely, but the excitement was in the unknown, and the busy days coupled with fresh faces kept Sam entertained during the onboarding process.

As the energy and engagement of training and introductions to other staff started to fade, Sam noticed a shift. Sam’s role as a Conduct Coordinator, while vital, was singularly focused on conduct-related matters. Sam’s days were spent mostly in the office and around the same people every day. At first Sam was inspired to be working with other professionals with more experience, but as time went on and everyone returned to their normal office routine, they became frustrated with the rest of the team’s lack of openness to new ideas.

During the day, Sam began to think about graduate school a lot. Sam started to miss the constant exchanging of ideas, the camaraderie of late-night paper writing sessions and shared passions, and the opportunity to hear about what other departments on campus experience or were up to. Each day Sam felt more disconnected as they continued to think about what they were missing in their experience.

In hopes of combating their feelings of isolation and in an effort to check out what other offices were up to; Sam went to NYU’s annual involvement fair. Sam chatted with students and professionals while visiting many tables of offices of colleagues they met during their onboarding and student organizations on campus. Sam started to connect which offices had      strong relationships and collaborated often. Sam started to reflect on their department and longed for the kind of collaborative relationships that other departments had with one another.

When Sam returned to their office, Sam started to think about what they could do to meet other professionals outside the Office of Conduct, and how the office of conduct could collaborate with other offices on campus. Sam began to wonder how they could encourage their department to do more outreach. Many of the other professionals in the office had been there for a while and Sam heard many of their colleagues combat new ideas with “That’s not how we do things,” and “Well, this is how it’s always been.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. How did Sam’s role as a Conduct Coordinator limit their interactions and collaboration with other departments? What impact did this have on their sense of connection with their colleagues and the broader campus community?
  2. Considering the resistance to change within the office of conduct, what strategies or approaches could Sam consider encouraging more outreach and collaboration? How might they navigate the response, “this is how it’s always been”?
  3. How can organizations effectively balance maintaining traditional practices while also embracing innovation and change? What benefits and challenges might arise from finding this balance?
  4. How might Sam enhance their feelings of connectedness, and get involved on campus outside of their office?
  5. How can Sam’s supervisor assist them in finding opportunities to interact with other professionals outside of the office?

Author Bios

Alex Rosenbery (She/Her/Hers and They/Them/Theirs)- Alex is currently serving as a Coordinator for Residence Life at the University of North Carolina Greensboro where they oversees two apartment style continuing student buildings and serves on the Student Staff and Professional Staff Recruitment committee(s). Alex has obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University Illinois at Chicago and their master’s degree from Clemson University.

Amber Davies (she/her/hers) – Amber is currently serving as a Residence Director at Johns Hopkins University where she oversees a second year community and serves in capacities including student recruitment and first year experience. Amber has obtained her bachelor’s degree from Stockton University and a master’s degree from Clemson University.

Kayla Hood (she/her/hers) – Kayla is a recent graduate with a Master of Education in Counselor Education, Student Affairs with interests in social justice theories/practices, intersectionality, and holistic wellbeing. Kayla currently works at Davidson College as the Assistant Director for the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion.