As our nation works to understand the implications of the election results, students throughout the country have been meeting with deans and other administrators to discuss its impact. Here at Conn our administration has been proactive in learning about the needs of our community. The day after the election, less than twelve hours after Donald Trump was declared president-elect, I attended Lunch with the Deans with Jefferson Singer, John McKnight, and Victor Arcelus, the deans of the College, Institutional Equity & Inclusion, and students respectively.
Lunch with the Deans is a monthly event that allows students to have discussions with those in charge of their academic and social well-being at the College. What I enjoy about this event is that it gives me the opportunity to connect with these people in a very communal and human way. Here at Conn our administrators’ doors are always open to students, and I have had many good and enlightening conversations with them. Even President Katherine Bergeron sets aside time in her schedule for office hours with students twice per month. Additionally, I often see administrators at the myriad lectures and talks on campus. I always hope that other students take advantage of the many opportunities to connect with the people who run Conn as I have.
At the beginning of the lunch, Dean McKnight acknowledged that just as we students were coming to grips with the results, so too were he and his colleagues. He suggested that being in a community, as we were in that moment, would help us process the election results. The conversation that followed in the next hour included deeply heartbreaking stories from students about late-night phone calls with their families and friends. Students also offered reflections about how they view the nation in the aftermath of the election, and how we need to look at life and our future beyond campus.
Listening to these students speak has had an incredible impact on my views of our future. As the day progressed I kept thinking about their comments and wondering how I personally could respond. That evening, I attended a dinner with members of the contemporary string quartet ETHEL where we had a discussion about relationships between teachers and students. Our professor said that one of his best experiences as a teacher is seeing his former and current students succeed outside the classroom. I realized this idea was something that was also espoused at Lunch with the Deans. It also can be a time where we celebrate our achievements. Every day I see our community in action as students, faculty, staff, and alumni celebrate and commiserate each other’s successes and setbacks. Our community is the reason I love Conn.