I am Switzerland

For longtime readers of the Daily Deac, you will know I often talk about Wake like a buffet, and the more bites you take, the richer and fuller your experience here might be.  The buffet extends to faculty and staff as well, and we are the beneficiaries of a lot of great training opportunities.

I went to one such training class today, Safe Zone training.  While the term “safe zone” has taken a bit of a beating in the media as relates to college students, this type of Safe Zone training was meant to provide a place where people (students, faculty, and staff) can find support, as seen on the Safe Zone web site:

“Safe Zone is a campus wide program designed to visibly identify students, staff, and faculty who support the LGBTQ population, understand some of the issues facing LGBTQ individuals, and are aware of the various LGBTQ resources. Safe Zone prepares individuals to create an environment in which all people are free to thrive academically, professionally and personally.”

Though Safe Zone training was created around LGBTQ issues, I personally extend the borders a bit wider.  When I have my first group meeting with my academic advisees, I tell them I want them to feel like they can be themselves with me, and that I am Switzerland, a neutral party on whatever they bring to me – whether that is they are a math person or an arts person, a believer in a particular faith (or not), a sports lover (or not), hold a particular political leaning, or particular gender or sexual identity, if they have depression or anxiety (or other), have a particular racial or ethnic identity, if they are introverted or extroverted…you get the idea.  My goal is to welcome my advisees (and all others) no matter what…with the caveat that I take umbrage at Wake students rooting for our archrivals in sports (I say that to lighten the mood).

Today’s Safe Zone training was a good reminder to do what I think we all try to do at Wake: meet students where they are and provide mentoring and support if they want it, no matter the circumstances.



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