On giving fraternal correction and life in higher education

On giving fraternal correction and life in higher education

Being a department administrator is very, very, very challenging. When I served as the Vice-Chair of my department, I was exposed to many stakeholders. It is not unusual to hear about issues from faculty members, staff, and students that may be at odds against each other. I wouldn’t lie – there were many times when I felt that I am caught at a crossfire.

It is very difficult to manage relationships. I needed to be close to my students so they could be confident that they can raise concerns to me without reprisal. Yet I also needed to have boundaries so that I could remain professional.

I also had to be collegial with my co-faculty members yet maintain a semblance of authority worthy of their respect.

My dilemmas would often involve instances when students would candidly share with me concerns about a faculty member yet would want to maintain anonymity or hold back in filing formal grievances. It is hard to act in these contexts, so I am forced to give vague forms of fraternal correction to my co-faculty member. The challenge is since I cannot be very specific, the change in their behavior cannot be reasonably expected to be significant.

There were also times when in my desire to arrive at a win-win resolution, I encountered a situation where the student thought I was protecting a faculty member because they were my friend.

Being a department administrator can feel like a job full of dilemmas. Sala sa init, sala sa lamig. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

So I had to find solace and meaning in the vocation. I remember my former professor who shared how being an administrator in any capacity at a higher education institution is an act of service, and I tend to agree. A rational cost-benefit analysis would show that if we take the role of an administrator seriously, it would eat a lot of time from one’s work that could have been spent doing research or preparing for classes.

But when done right with a little bit of luck and faith, the sacrifices unlock a deeper meaning that hopefully makes the workplace and classroom more beautiful than before.

This has been a cross I have been carrying, and I commit to support our department’s current administrators and coordinators. As more full-timers join our ranks, I am optimistic that our fraternal corrections towards each other can cover our blind spots and make us thrive fully and authentically.

Matthew 18:15-20. If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.


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