Monday, October 31, 2016

Who Are the Adults in Your Rooms?

“What do you want, Burr
What do you want, Burr
What do you want, Burr
What do you want….

…I wanna be in the room where it happens…”

from Hamilton, “The Room Where it Happens”

I’ve been noticing my rooms for decades now.
How many women? What is the age/stage distribution?
Are there any people of color (sadly in my area of academia there are rarely many)
Who is the senior woman? (increasingly it’s me)

In a departmental seminar:
How many faculty vs. grad students? How many undergrads?
Who is paying attention, who is not?

If we’re there to make decisions:
Who speaks; who listens? Who is not paying attention?
Who can be community minded? Who is often self-centered?
Who brings in evidence to make arguments? who makes emotional arguments?

Lately the question is:
Who are the adults in the room?

I have learned a lot from watching the adults in my rooms. The adult pays attention and is reasonable and wise. The adult elevates the conversation and helps prevent the group from making bad decisions. If there is bad behavior, the adult will say “that behavior is not acceptable here”. 

I find myself thinking lately about how even a small faculty meeting is a microcosm of our larger political environment, and how my segregated rooms mirror the segregation of the world.

My jobs are to work to widen the doors to the rooms and to be the adult when I am inside.

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