Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Hate You, You Hate Me...

Tomorrow is our departmental meeting where we all cram into the auditorium, listen passively about updates to our residence halls, and pretend that we are one big, happy Student Affairs family. Along with the announcements, there are inspirational speeches combined with a few "fun" games intended to boost morale during the winter doldrums. However, we all think the same thing: who gives a crap.

The reality of it is that barely anyone works well together in my department. Maintenance hates the custodians who hate the hall directors who, in turn, hate the Area Director team. We all are extremely territorial about our areas and feel no one, but ourselves, works to their potential. Given the contentious relationship among most people in the room, these gatherings are seen as a tremendous insult to those who try hard to cooperate with others despite the rude comments and passive-aggression faced on a regular basis.

Honestly, nothing will change the fact that, every year, the maintenance and custodial staffs walk in late wearing tattered jeans and carrying a pile of doughnuts, even though professional staff has been ordered to wear a three-piece suit on threat of death. The inconsistency in standards is what frustrates many of my peers who work hard to convey a professional image while others in the department skirt around policies whenever possible.

Then there are the promises made at each meeting that we will work more with external departments and not remain closed off inside our heavily guarded silo. Ha! That never happens. We are despised by most offices for our gluttonous budget, our snooty attitudes that scream "we have the hardest job on campus and you don't", and an unwillingness to compromise unless we benefit from it.

Last month, I needed to speak to New Student Programs regarding a student in crisis. The icy reception I received was so frigid I caught cold over the phone. I have always treated NSP with respect; however, as I later learned, earlier in the week, my boss' boss had insulted their director during a meeting with several VPs, accusing them of failing to recruit enough residential students for us to meet our residency quota. Nothing says "working outside our silo" better than publicly throwing another office under the bus for failing to do OUR job.

As we start our new semester, I am once again forced to grit my teeth as I attend another meeting pledging collaboration and positive attitudes. Maybe this year they will finally succeed at bringing us together for more than fattening pastries. Maybe this year they will honor the promises to respect the hard work other departments are doing across campus. Or, maybe this year I'll come in late carrying a grande latte while wearing my Care Bear t-shirt.

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