On Feb. 7 Bellevue College held a College Issues day. Bellevue College held no classes for the day. Instead, the school hosted a variety of workshops and a speaker to help students and faculty recognize and address current issues and adapt to incoming changes on campus.
Thursday, Feb. 7, saw Bellevue College’s faculty and administrators coming to school to learn, instead of teach. Starting at 8 AM and ending at 4 PM, College Issues day was meant to be a time of preparation and growth for the BC teachers, especially in light of recent negative press about the campus in regards to a sexual assault lawsuit with a former employee. However, the focus of the day was not pigeon-holed into one single category; workshops to improve many aspects of teaching and caring for students and other faculty members ran all throughout the day.
To start the day off, BC welcomed Dr. Larry Roper as the keynote speaker. Dr. Roper is a professor in the School of Language, Culture and Society at Oregon State University, who has held many other prestigious positions during his career, such as Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs and Commissioner with the State of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission. In his keynote, he spoke of hope for the future, and challenges of the present when dealing with change. He spoke of the potential pitfalls of change as well, saying, “During times of change humanity, dignity, sense of worth, reputations, livelihoods are at stake.” Dr. Roper’s keynote gave a sense of inspiration to the start of the day, but also tempered the optimism of growth with the wisdom of one who has grown.
Classes for the day included a vast array of topics. Workshops with titles such as “Cultural Responsiveness to the Intersectionality of Student Identity” were obvious in their content and intent, teaching skills for identifying, reflecting and responding to students from diverse backgrounds to reduce prejudice and increase understanding. However, not all of the classes were aimed at teacher-student relations. Topics such as “Conflict in the Workplace” and “Supervising Hourly Employees” were also brought to the fore, to foster communication among faculty and improve the college’s community for every student.
Classes weren’t all about emotional and social connections either. “Yoga at Your Desk” encouraged teachers to “create a more calm and centered mind, rejuvenating your day.” These classes recognized the importance of the educator as an emotional pillar in the classroom; an unhealthy instructor can contribute to an unhealthy classroom experience. Workshops on personal mindfulness and student empowerment gave instructors more tools to help students grow and succeed in their classes. Active shooter instruction was also given to teachers, so that, in the worst-case scenario, faculty can remain calm and organized in times of crisis.
Student voices were also given a chance to be heard. The school held a student panel called “What Is BC’s Ideal Student Experience,” wherein students voiced what they felt were their biggest obstacles outside of the classroom. While the instructors might give students access to the best education possible in the classroom, outside of the classroom, the systemic barriers of society prevent students from reaching their full potential. This panel was aimed at identifying and addressing problems that might remain on campus and how the college must act moving forward.
Most students stayed home on College Issues day, but the learning continued at Bellevue College. Teachers came to campus and were taught how to put their best foot forward when dealing with the many different backgrounds and cultures represented at BC. The next College Issues day is scheduled for April 25.