A good evening to you all.
As I sit down to write this, however, it looks like Move-In day(s) happened the way we envisioned!
I mean, there were probably some moments. Maybe some of our families had to wait a little longer than expected to move in. Maybe there were paperwork holdups. Maybe some of our student leaders will have sore feet, or backs, tomorrow (I know for sure we have one student leader with a sore knee). For our parents, maybe it was harder to say goodbye to their student than they thought. But on the whole, it was a great day.
Part of my great day was seeing the differences that each of the families and new students brought with them to campus. Rather than trying to form them into one picture of what a Saint Joe’s student is, all of our student’s different personalities and perspectives, their creeds and colors, their experiences, majors, and beliefs – all of that makes us a better Saint Joe’s.
The College values the dialogue that emerges out of difference. This means an unflinching commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. But beyond words, what does that look like?
Well, we know surrounding ourselves with people who are the same is pretty doggone comfortable. No real disagreements, no fear of rejection, or feeling stupid. No change. Frankly, living and studying on a diverse campus can be messy, it may not always feel right, we’ll likely be frustrated, we might have to compromise. Isn’t it easier just to live in our bubble?
But, by this day 3 post, we know different! That’s not why you came to Saint Joe’s (except if it’s an NBA pandemic bubble you’re wanting to live in, and if so, count me in). We know that respecting, appreciating, and seeking out the diversity of human experience is what makes us….human. Coming to understand someone else’s perspective. Hearing someone’s story. Working to understand how to make someone else’s experience just a little better.
I can’t say it’s been easy for me. Part of growing up with privilege is the basic step of recognizing how it’s played a role in your life – and how it doesn’t play a role for many in theirs. It’s tough to even get there.
Many of us may not have any fully-formed strategic plans on how to completely heal this country from the racism and social unrest that we’ve continued to witness since……well, since pretty much forever. But, it can start with one step, leading to more, and not just the (hard) work of educating yourself – it’s the (harder) action required as a result of doing so.
That’s why I’ve continued to be drawn to the Sisters of Mercy – I mean, now this is a religious Order that centers their work on action. From the example set by Catherine McAuley and the women who founded our College (heck, the Sisters of Mercy were even called “the walking nuns” because they’d be seen in the streets, ministering to the poor and sick) – to the ongoing dialogue we’ll have this year as a community on campus around justice and inclusiveness, it’s who we are, and always have been, as a College.
So, on behalf of all the staff and students who helped out today – welcome to this College (and, welcome back!).
Have a good night, Monks, more tomorrow. Two, (2!) until we start!
Matt Goodwin is the Dean of Students at Saint Joseph’s College.
Along with a team diverse and committed Campus Life professionals in the areas of Student Engagement & Residential Living, Counseling Center, Health & Wellness Center, Campus Safety, and the Mercy Center, Campus Life supports students’ holistic personal development, learning, and empowerment in service to a global community.