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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Miles to go....

Since SMWC's shocking announcement last week, I've refrained from posting all weekend.  I needed to let my heart heal a bit and my head to begin processing the facts without those pesky emotions getting in the way.  Plus, I needed a break!  So many students, both current and past, are very upset about this decision, and have been posting on social media all weekend.  I couldn't get my own emotions in check while having my heart ripped out by the posts of others.  I could have easily taken to social media and voiced my frustration and anger, but I chose not to.  I'm not brave enough, I suppose, to put all those feelings out there.  Kudos to those who were.

As we reach a week out, I know there are a few points that I've been focusing my frustration on, and have questions about.  I'm incredibly upset for the current students- many that I know- who are getting thrown into blindly.  While it's easy to say that there have been guys in campus classes for years (male employees can enroll in campus classes, and some programs allow men), it's one thing to make them a permanent fixture on campus.  The current students have been completely blindsided and I'm not happy with this.  This decision affects them directly, and they should have been informed separately, and not via a press release.

I think that's my main point of anger in all of this (I realize as I type!!!)- finding out by press release or email.  At least Sweet Briar called all the students together to let them know they were closing, as messed up as that entire situation has become, they did tell the students in a much better way.  I'm disappointed in the administration for not trusting in our student body and alums, and respecting them enough to have the announcement delivered in person.  To me, it feels like the administration just didn't care enough about the current students to inform them appropriately.  Because let's face it, finding out via press release is incredibly inappropriate and insulting for all constituents involved.  There was a better way to handle this, SMWC, and you failed. You failed spectacularly.

Two Facebook groups have been created, one could say a group for each side of the issue, that have been pretty vocal all week.  The first one regards delaying co-education until Fall of 2018, or until current students have graduated and receive the all women's education they signed up for.  I'm on the fence about this, but I did sign their petition to support them.  I'm not sure delaying this decision until 2018 will be good for the college, but I understand why they want it so.  The other group is in support of SMWC, and is mostly employees and administration with some alums.  It's looking like these groups represent two sides to this issue, which troubles me.  We all support SMWC, but we just have different visions for what we see as success.

My take?

I don't like the idea of SMWC going co-ed, plain and simple.  I think they could have avoided this situation by taking active steps years ago.

I wanted to drive through campus this morning, but I couldn't do it.  It hurts too much, still.

As a former employee, I always wondered why administration was so dismissive of enrollment, and chose to stomp all over them instead of taking an active role in the promotion of the college.  It seemed as though we were the red-headed stepchildren of the college, always to be sneered at or dismissed as being incompetent.   I always wanted to say just work with us and help us instead of belittling us!  I don't make this stuff up, people!  It was so difficult to listen to a committee make all sorts of recommendations about my job, when in fact I already did everything they suggested.  If they had just asked ME, I could have told them. There is little support for my friends still in enrollment, and I worry about their spirit in the coming days.

There is no marketing department- the promotion of the college is handled by public relations, a small department in which no one has a marketing background and they are so very overworked that they have little to no time to complete the work of promoting the college.  These ladies are amazing, but they are not the marketing department that is so desperately needed.  Much of the marketing came from enrollment, who REALLY isn't a marketing department and has absolutely no background in this field at all!  I handled social media advertising...and while I know quite a bit about Facebook, I had to figure out the advertising on my own.  I did it because I wanted to see the program grow.  We would sit and brainstorm for hours on how to attract more students (both campus and online) and how to make the college look attractive and affordable.  The online program, which propped up the campus program for many years, is in decline.  Much of it is due to cost, program availability, advising, and the general structure of the program.  I can say this firsthand now, as I am a student again.  My semester ended May 18....and I have no grades yet.  My assignment are not even all graded.  But that's another story....

Regardless of the above, my love for SMWC remains, and I do respect the administration, even if I don't agree with their actions.  We have a long road ahead, and everyone must determine what kind of voice they want to have in the upcoming conversations.  I'm still figuring this out myself....

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Whose Woods These Are.....I'm Not Sure I Know

This has been a very difficult week for Woodsies.  Many have asked me my take on the recent announcement that Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College has decided to go co-educational.  Per the announcement Tuesday, men will be allowed commuter status to take campus courses starting this fall, and then can be residential students in Fall of 2016.  I've had a very difficult time putting my thoughts into words about this change to a place I feel very much a part of, and a sister to those like me, a woman of The Woods. But, because of what I learned becoming a woman of The Woods, I'm going to try to work this out using my words, as all good writers try to do.

First, my status as an alumnae is unique in a way. I am not a campus alum- the majority of my classes were online- but I did participate in many on campus activities and groups.  I've graduated from the amazing Leadership Development program, and am currently enrolled in the Transition to Teaching program (another online program) to become an English teacher.  Most recently, though, I am a former admissions employee, who has seen first hand the difficulties the college has had with enrollment.  My connection with The Woods runs deep within me, and is something that makes me a part of who I am (for better or for worse, depending on who you ask).  

Over the past few days, I've read countless social media posts from alums and current students who are reacting to this news, as well as those who are not alums, but either work for the college or have other ties.  Some are incredibly angry, many are very upset, and there are those who support the decision.  I've seen these groups clash many times this week over differing opinions, personal attacks, and assumptions.  My hope is we can all find a common ground and join together.

There have been many issues arise from this announcement, and realizations that have astonished me.  There were no conversation with students, alums, faculty or staff regarding going co-ed over the past year that the board has discussed this option. Many found out via email or twenty minutes before the press conference.  I've heard going co-ed mentioned many times by President King as a topic of conversation of the board, but nothing was ever indicated that it would become a reality.  It was more of an item on the table and wasn't of importance.  Many current students have mentioned they were told it would never happen, and yet, here we are. 

Coming from an admissions standpoint, I can see why the decision was made, but that doesn't mean I have to agree.  Stagnant enrollment has made the campus program unsustainable.  It was incredibly difficult to attract high school girls to The Woods once they heard it was female only.  They instantly shied away.  We're a small liberal arts college in rural Indiana- compared to Indiana University or other state universities that are cheaper, we're not so attractive to many.  What can we offer?  The list of what we can offer is endless, but not always what influenced their final choice.  I've always believed that certain students would be a good fit to The Woods- the kind of girl that would flourish in our programs and grow from the atmosphere and opportunities offered.  It is what makes The Woods unique; we have traditions dating back 175 years, an older campus, and a history steeped in the empowerment of women.  Mother Theodore founded The Woods at a time when educating women was not prominent.  She believed women had the right to be educated as men were, and fought against those who would dissuade her.  From a business perspective, I see the necessity and I'm not one to stand in the way of progress.  However, the way this decision was determined concerns me.

I think what troubles me the most about this decision is the lack of communication from the administration to the Woods community.  Where were the conversations?  Did it all happen behind the closed doors of the board of trustee meetings?  Where was the planning, and why weren't alums and students invited to share their opinions?  Many alums have mentioned Rose Hulman going co-ed several years ago, and the four year process they underwent that involved all students, staff, and faculty, as well as alums and other constituents.  Many have asked why the process at The Woods did not mirror Rose's process, and I agree.  Why no open dialogue?  

Since the announcement that Sweet Briar College- another all women's college- is closing their doors, there has been an uncertainty and underlying panic.  It can happen to us if we're not careful!  Is this were this decision came from?  From fear of becoming the next Sweet Briar?  I know things have not been financially for a while; indeed, in admissions we were always cognizant of the budget and many times restricted by it.  I could go on about admissions issues and the lack of interest in recruitment, but it serves no purpose.  Where was the conversation?

To make matters worse (and believe me, it made things horribly worse) an open session this evening regarding the strategic plan has now been canceled and replaced with a closed meeting for current students only.  Current students who are not on campus, and live hours away.  Many alums and recent graduates were already on the road headed to campus when the email came out that they were no longer welcome at tonight's session.  I can't even begin to express my feelings on this unfortunate decision.  Current students asked for alum support, and now the administration is excluding them.  

Overall, I'm not surprised by the decision, however, I am heartsick at what I think will be a very ugly situation that could have been avoided with open communication.  I still believe The Woods are mine to share with my fellow alums and students, I'm just wondering if they'll look the same after this. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mothers Day, Then and Now

Those who've known me over 6 years are aware of the issues we had while trying to have a baby.  For those of you unaware, I lost 4 pregnancies in about 2-3 years. What I'm about to say is a reflection on those times.

Mother's Day was a painful day for me for a few years. It wasn't easy to explain my quietness or lack of good cheer. It wasn't that I wasn't happy to celebrate my mom- I was. But it was more for me. It was a reminder of the losses I'd experienced and the frustration at my body for what I believed was betrayal. The worst was when I miscarried just a few days before Mother's Day. The depression was suffocating and my mind simply would not function. My husband had no idea what to do with me while battling his own grief. In short, I began to hate Mother's Day.

Then suddenly everything worked and in May of 2010,  I celebrated my first Mother's Day. There are simply no words to describe my feelings that day. Those years of desolation and despair seemed long forgotten.  In reality though, I remembered those holidays all too well.

So why bring this all up now?  This is my way of saying to those who celebrate Mother's Day without a thought to not forgot those who are struggling to conceive or have just experienced a loss. Unless you have never been able on conceive, have lost a pregnancy, or have lost a child, you cannot possibly fathom why this day is soul shattering to some. It's best not to try to understand their grief. My advice would be to not forget them, and let them know you are there for them. Check in on them the next day, give them a call, or take them out for a drink. Just BE there in some capacity. They may not need you, or, they may need you desperately.

I feel extremely lucky on this day because I'm finally a mother, but those years of sadness will always be a part of me. To my friends who are struggling, please do not give up. To those who have experienced a loss, my thoughts are with you and I hope you can find peace in some way.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I've found Pinterest!

I know I know, you're saying "big deal" right?  Everyone has already found Pinterest.  But for me, I hadn't actually been on the site to do anything until earlier this year.  And oh my goodness, did I pin stuff!

Now there are haters out there who say it's just another time suck and completely pointless.  I disagree!  I've actually went back and found things later that I knew I had pinned for future reference.  My herbal salves to make later this year are there, decorating ideas for the My Little Pony party for Caris are there, RV tips, and .........glamping!  More on glamping in another post.

Do I use it more than Facebook?  Nah!  More than Twitter? Probably.  Find me here if you care to see what I've been pinning!

Aaaaand......we're back!

Back after a hiatus!  How many has that been now?????  Three?  Oopsies....sorry.

Graduate school is over and spring has sprung!  We've been busy getting our garden tilled and planted, and cleaning our flower beds.  They've been neglected, so the flower beds are an enormous job.  I have no idea what are weeds and what are actually flowers returning.  I'm betting their mostly weeds since I don't remember many flowers last year.  This also means I need to buy flowers to plant.  This isn't a bad thing usually, but when a certain 4 year old enters the flower nursery, she tends to pick every pink and purple flower that can be had.

Our chickens are still clucking, and our little plant business is still growing.  The cold weather has hampered our efforts a bit, so we won't have as much to sell, but we'll definitely have enough to plant.  We've tried to streamline what we sell based on what we want to plant so we don't have quite so many varieties this year. We'll have to wait and see what happens.

I plan to strategically plant herbs this year.  What does that mean, you ask?  Individual plots is the answer!  Between what my mother in law wants to sell to those who use herbs for alternative means (i.e. not illegal means!!) and what I want to harvest, I need individual plots to keep things straight.  This is very exciting for me, as this year I plan to create some holistic remedies with my herbs.  First up is calendula salve, which is basically marigold flowers, but it's a much better alternative to triple antibiotic ointment for minor cuts and scrapes.  I'd love to learn how to distill oils, so we may try that in the future.

I hope to update more often...and I know I say this each time I post!  With no homework requirements, hopefully I will able to stick with this!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

So....um.....hi?

Okay so I've been AWOL for a while.  If you read my last post, you'll see that I've become a graduate student.  Oh.My.Goodness.  What began as a 1 year program has quickly morphed into two years because I could not handle daily life and 2 graduate level courses every 8 weeks.  Now that I'm doing 1 course every 8 weeks, I can actually find time to breathe.  No time to read what I want to read but breathing is a good...

This is probably the most hectic week of my life.  Or at least it feels as such.  Caris' first dance recital is Friday and Saturday, her birthday party is Saturday, and we leave for Florida on Monday.  My house is a wreck, I've not made anything for her party, our yard is a jungle, and I'm still packing for Florida.  I like to call it organized chaos.  BUT.....this time next week we will be at Disney World!!  To say that I am excited is the understatement of the year, and between you and me, my mind is already there.  Caris is excited and is ready to be immersed into everything princess, and Dave is ready to....well...I guess get on a plane for the first time!  He's been informed that he cannot show fear as this will completely freak out Caris- Daddy is afraid of NOTHING.  Thankfully, it's two 1 hour flights with an hour between and not hours long.

I am ready to just be away...which sounds bad but I really don't mean like that.  I love my life, but a little down time in the sun never hurt anyone, right?

I'm going to attempt to post about our days in Florida as sort of a travel blog, but I may end up using Tumblr.  I say this never really using Tumblr, so add that to my list of things to do before we leave.  There's Wi-Fi on the plane, so surely I can learn how to use a completely different social media platform in two 1 hour flights?


Saturday, September 1, 2012

So I'm back...for a bit...

So yeah, I've been gone awhile from this blog.  But, in my defense, I've accomplished quite a bit.  I know have the coveted bachelors degree, and am currently a graduate student in a nonprofit leadership development program.  But, that is not the reason for my resurgence to the blog world.

It's politics, plain and simple.

Before we begin, let's get some things out there.  Firstly, I am NOT a republican, and couldn't be paid enough to be one.  Secondly, I don't feel very liberal, but many would say that I am.  If so, that's fine with me.  Thirdly, my perspective is not the same as yours, so please remember that.

I actually watched part of the RNC last week...why I'm not sure, but it was on, and I watched.  Although, I will admit Romney's speech put me to sleep.  That could explain some of dreams from that night...but I digress....

While I do not agree with bringing spouses into the mudslinging that the parties do, I have some opinions about Ann Romney that I'd like to share.  First, I firmly believe she has no idea what it's like to wonder where your next meal is coming from.  Having to eat tuna and pasta means you CAN eat, unlike others who can't even afford the 50cent can of tuna.  Now, this being said, I've never been in this situation, but I know those who have.  Ann Romney has never been in this position.  They may have started out modest, but they had wealthy families to fall back on.  Many people do not, and have to make it or end up homeless.  It's a fact of life that Ann Romney will never experience.  While I thought her speech was good, it in no way will EVER make me believe she can relate to the poor of this country.  Neither can Mittens either....  This was an attempt by the Romney campaign to make voters believe they can relate.  It also means they believe the majority of Americans are stupid.

There's a disturbing trend going on right now trying to define rape.  You'll notice the majority of politicians who are trying to define rape are male.  It infuriates me that some politicians claim that rape can be legitimate or not.  How the hell would they know?  I refuse to allow laws to made in this country that would keep a woman from seeking an abortion in the event of rape or incest.  It's simply unfathomable that in this century women are still fighting for the right to make decisions about her own body.  These movements, of course, are mostly led by men who will never have to worry about whether the rape they just went through will end in pregnancy.  Selfish, ignorant bastards!

Some of you may be thinking right now that I'm completely off my rocker here, but you couldn't be further from the truth.  For the first time in many years, I've discovered my true stance on things.  I've found my fit, you could say.  Call me a feminist-- I will embrace the title gladly.  I will lobby, debate, and argue, as long as it means that my little girl and all girls out there can keep the right to make decisions about their own body.  I refuse to let a male politician, who does not know me from Adam, try to tell me what I can and cannot do to my body.  We're a far cry from the time of women being nothing more than dirt on a man's shoe.

I could foray into religion at this point, but I won't.  Let's just take a look at history in regards to women's rights....

So yes, politics has brought me back to the blog.  It won't happen often, as time simply does not permit.  But, if you follow me on facebook, you'll definitely be seeing more political posts.  It's that time of year!!!