I am writing this blog as a reflection piece on the recent events that have occurred within the Mid-Atlantic area! Thanks for the inspiration Irene!
Since my arrival at The College of New Jersey, I have had multiple roles…however, the one that has remained consistent is the role dealing with the crisis assessment. I was even tasked with re-vamping and writing the Crisis section for our newly revamped Professional Staff Manual. This has caused me to ask many questions of colleagues from other institutions, as well as researching what TCNJ would do in certain instances. However, with recent events, I realized that there were three instances I never thought of asking about…and how appropriate that all three of them occur within the same week. These instances are: Earthquake, Hurricane and Tornado.
As I reflected on the section of the manual that I wrote, I am quite surprised, especially as a mid-westerner, that I did not think of including a protocol for a Tornado. Earthquakes and Hurricanes not so much as I have never until this week experienced having this be a threat to my environment.
As a student affairs practitioner, I constantly try to get others to see the gray area of things, and understand that not everything needs to be written down…especially because we are not able to always foresee all of the “what if’s”! However, in many of the discussions we had within our department, I found myself starting to move into crisis myself due to the fact that I was not sure of how to handle a hurricane. If it was a tornado…I would have NO PROBLEM…(Seek Shelter, Open windows, and Clean up afterwards…)
This was a true learning lesson for me, and as we finished our last meeting, I had realized that the one thing that I must do is to deliver the information to my student staff the same way it was delivered to me…firmly and calm. So even with some of the further questions I had surrounding “what if’s”, I delivered the new protocol in a calm and firm manner. Following this, I saw that my staff kept a good composure, and they held it together because their leader was giving off that impression (and the academy award goes to…).
Based on this experience, the advice I would give to all of you out there who may find yourself in a self-crisis about anything you may have to do at your institution is to remember the following:
Dont Sweat the Small Stuff: Sometimes we don’t fully understand the instructions being provided to you; however, remember that if it is for the good of the organization as a whole…and it is not going to place yourself or your constituents in dangerous situations; then always smile and carry out the instructions. A great deal of these extraordinary circumstances have been thought out by those who may have more experience than you, and at least they are trying to be PRO-active instead of RE-active if they are giving you instructions in advance. Remember, the one thing that you must be able to do within this field is to remain FLEXIBLE. Furthermore, always remember to remain calm when delivering the advice or instructions as it shows that you are in support of your superiors, and if you are seen as a strong leader…your students and other followers will believe that if you aren’t sweating or worried…then they don’t need to be!
Thanks for reading my blog…and remember that we there are always lessons to be learned in everything we do!