Avoiding a Campus Shutdown

Folks, it’s happened. We’re in it. After a series of what are called stopgap measures, we’ve reached an impasse in our nation’s Congress. The result?

There are a lot of reasons for this strategy, which I won’t go into here. The Washington Post put together a great and easy-to-follow summary of the process, which I highly recommend looking over. And my goal with this post isn’t to scold our legislative branch for paralyzing the nation.

Instead, I want to look a little more closely at the dynamic that led to the shutdown.

What we have are two parties tied into a way of thinking that preserves pride and party allegiance, without consideration for the opinions of the other side, assuming they know their intentions and desires. So many that I’ve seen commenting on the shutdown have ascribed responsibility to one side or another.

Haven’t we seen something like this on our campuses before?

Be it a misunderstanding with others in our offices, other departments on campus, or our faculty members and others in academic affairs, we fall victim to this kind of thinking all the time. Consider some of the quotes that have surfaced during the intense debate to keep our government going:

“”It’s time for Republicans to stop obsessing over old battles.”

“It’s quite irresponsible how the government has been running the country

“”They live in these narrow echo chambers. They listen to themselves and their tea party friends. That keeps them going, forgetting that the rest of the country thinks we’re crazy.”

When you take out specific references to our government and the politics associated with this debate, do you recognize these phrases as sentiments you’ve expressed or felt?

This morning before work, I shot an admittedly snarky question into the Twitterverse:

And it’s a valid question. This is a great example of what can go wrong when consideration for compromise, shared value, and the effect of our decisions on our constituents (namely our students) are ignored. I also want to cite a message from Mallory Bower, who voiced a course of action that I strongly believe in:

So today, even as we seethe with frustration (from whatever angle you view it) over the shutdown of our government and the effect it will have on our friends and family, use this as a lesson for your students and coworkers on the power of collaboration. Don’t allow your desire to effect positive change for students shut down as our government has. Be constructive. Be creative. Be better.

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