Orientation

Several recommendations from the CCTF are related to welcoming students and employees to CAL. From their first moments, we want new members of CAL to feel welcome and included.We realize that many harmful encounters happen when students, staff, and faculty first enter the institution and they do not yet have a community of support, thus making this entry point a strategic site for changing the culture. What should not be lost here, however, is the intention to proactively welcome new faculty, staff and students into a healthy, caring, and empathetic environment. This means that whatever the best practices are for the department, we recommend they be evaluated with regards to how well they serve this goal and intention.

The CCTF made several recommendations including changes to CAL’s interaction with New Student Orientation and other early entry points for new students:

  • New Student Orientation - we recommend that language/discussion of care be included in College-wide New Student Orientation sessions beginning this summer. We are waiting for further development of the campus-wide New Student Orientation sessions but have reached out to the CAL Undergraduate Affairs area for partnership on this.
  • CAL Colloquium - we recommend that examples of Spartans caring for Spartans be visible at the CAL Colloquium on the day before fall classes start as a role model of how we expect ourselves to behave toward others in our CAL (and broader) community.
  • AL 101 - we recommend that the AL 101 instructors consider the possibility of hiring CAL students as Teaching Assistants to coach and mentor incoming students through that entry point into CAL discussions of resources, student success, community building, goal setting, purpose, etc.

We believe that with the adoption of these rather simple best practices we can create a more welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for students and employees which also contributes to a culture of care. We began here because these are quick adjustments that can easily be implemented at both the College and Department levels. We suggest creating more intentional,thoughtful, and regularized introduction practices for all new employees entering CAL including graduate students, staff, and faculty. While this may look different depending on the culture of the department we offer the following as suggestions that could help jumpstart our imaginations as to simple shifts that we can already make in order to do this. For example, for all new employees, we suggest that CAL

  • partner with the WorkLife Office to create a welcome packet that includes information on things to do in town, resources from housing to childcare to doctors, etc.
  • offer monthly CAL newsletters with things to do on campus.
  • offer CAL sponsored event nights-- include unique activities from sports to lectures
  • offer child-care during these events and all CAL events outside of regular hours
  • gather information on already existing support groups in CAL and MSU to offer expanded social opportunities like Women of CAL or Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,Transgender, Queer Faculty and Staff Association Association (GLFSA).
  • facilitate a more meaningful and intentional introduction of new faculty to the CAL community to result in partnerships related to possible synergistic or unexpected research areas. Only CAL has the knowledge of what each new hire specializes in.

These best practices can also be augmented and modeled within departments to introduce new employees to the culture of the department, from the practical (where they might choose to live)to the academic (a list of MSU-specific acronyms and clear expectations for what the department values in terms of recognized contributions), to the interpersonal (what are the values that guide our communication with one another). Many faculty may be teaching for the first time and as such syllabi, FAIS, D2L, EASE reports and more can benefit from a thoughtful and regularized orientation. This could take the form of a sustained, ongoing cohort model where those new to CAL meet regularly to engage in trainings and workshops to support their transition to CAL. For example, new faculty, instructors, grad students, etc. could meet once a month for a half-day workshop to explore best practices for teaching or how to navigate the institution.

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