by Michael King
Working in the higher education environment comes along with a few unique realities. Freshman students will stay around the same age, for example, while each Fall finds me another year older. Students will always joke about chancing a bump from a campus bus for free tuition. Roommates will always be ready to cite “irreconcilable differences” (while rarely being ready to, you know, talk to each other about said differences). For me, working in residence life, one such reality is that July and August are annually destined to become a high-octane blur: Julaug.
I tweeted something along these lines, but the last days of June feel a bit like my last opportunity to catch my breath, bid a temporary farewell to my people. “See you in September,” I say, then laugh. Then pause. Then cry inconsolably.
The truth is, though, that Julaug is also characterized by the best kind of energy: New people and students and stories are around the corner, and we have got to get to work being ready for them.
I work in a large department comprised of talented and hard-working human beings. July is dedicated primarily to getting to know them and working together to be sure we are all on the same page for department-wide systems as the year approaches. This year, I will remember karaoke performances, coaster piles, Steak n’ Shake trips (Chad!), the sunset in downtown Indianapolis, and plenty of opportunities to laugh. There are good people working here, and they are helping me to grow as a professional and as a person.
I’d be dishonest, however, if I indicated my work didn’t spring to life in a special way with the return of students. As a student affairs professional, my energy and passion comes to life with the return of students to campus. This year’s RA crew is already inspiring me with their courage and commitment to making a meaningful difference for their residents. They also make me laugh, mocking my catchphrases (#bless!) and busting out ridiculous roll calls. These are the people with whom I work, and – for some crazy reason – I am getting paid to do it.
And Julaug is almost over. The building is open, the residents moved in. Another year has begun rolling, and so the adventure begins anew.