Baptized into SDA

Last weekend, after enjoying dinner and a few drinks, I brought up Governor Chris Gregoire’s budget cuts. Lively conversation came to a screeching halt, the discussion instantly got heated, and I found myself thinking some not so nice things… Word to the unwise, don’t bring up politics at dinner parties! One question has lingered, or should I say, nagged at me since, “Why do you need everyone to be equal?!?” (insert exasperated tone).

This question BLEW MY MIND.

As an SDA student at Seattle University, I am lucky to be part of a group that believes in access and tolerance for everyone. Dialoguing about micro-aggression, oppression, and the role we play in overcoming it is a norm. And the goal of equality is simply understood. It’s been a while since I’ve heard from someone who doesn’t feel the same way. In this case, how does one explain that meritocracy is a grand delusion and that there are systematic barriers in place that go unnamed and ignored every single day?

This is what I have taken away from it:

  1. Moments like that offer a chance for teaching and learning: I had an opportunity to name some of my frustrations with our nation’s value system but also take other opinions into consideration. Additional perspective (while oftentimes annoying) can lead to deeper critical thinking and insight.
  2. Having said that, don’t shy away from dialogue: Personal conversations are golden opportunities to influence someone’s thinking or plant a kernel of thought.
  3. Learning is often a by-product of how you say something versus what you are say: In my case, epic fail. I was too worked up to verbalize my thoughts respectfully and my active listening skills went out the window. It is imperative to hear the opinions of others and then ask questions to find out where those individuals are coming from and why they think that way.
  4. Becoming well-versed in current events and research is key to supporting an argument: I have put a lot of thought into what I believe and where that stems from but cannot support these opinions with facts and stats. If I am going to spout the merits of education from the rooftops, I need to be conversant in my arguments!
  5. Let it go/Agree to disagree: This is usually the most difficult to put into action but one cannot stay sane otherwise.
Prior to my coursework at SU, I wouldn’t have dared bring up some of the points I did for fear of ruining the mood or offending someone. In terms of professional practice, I am first and foremost an advocate. Advocacy becomes especially important when certain voices aren’t represented in conversation or cannot be heard even when they are. It’s happening; I am transitioning into a Student Affairs Professional and being baptized into living out its core beliefs.

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2 thoughts on “Baptized into SDA

  1. Thanks for this reflection, Debbie. This is actually a really relevant topic for me right now, as well, so I appreciate you laying out possible steps for dealing with this kind of conflict. Working in the Women’s Center at NSCC, I get frustrated with the fact that Women’s Centers–especially small ones–are often one of the first things to go when crushing budget cuts hit. I have also been doing a lot of contemplation about how to effectively increase multicultural competence on college campuses in a way that is truly inclusive of all, and I think this conversation requires a bit of chutzpah and gentle confrontation, as you have indicated. In a reading I just did for Foundations (in the Student Affairs Handbook), the authors also mentioned the importance of asking questions to clarify, rather than accusing. They also reinforced the importance of “confirming” the person we disagree with as someone who is valuable and comes from a legitimate perspective, even though it may be mislead. The work of sharing new ideas and awareness with this person must come after the confirmation piece. Of course, it’s also good to realize we may not always be right! Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Echoing Lindsey’s comments, I feel that such conversations are necessary to our growth as professionals. In our Foundations class last night, we touched upon some very uncomfortable topics regarding multiculturalism in higher education. In fact, while I took the initiative to disagree in our small group sessions, I did not voice concerns in the large group that I possessed. I find it amazing that I can treat a person on the cusp of death and confront dangerous situations as a paramedic yet I feel impish when it comes to voicing dissenting opinions in class. Your reflection gives me impetus to do a better job of making myself heard despite the frustration that might result.


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