December promises to be a busy month across the university. We have many things to be thankful for this time of year, and one of those things is the increase that the university fought to add to our salaries. In October, our Vice Chair Megan Kirk and I attended an event for university Staff Senates across the Commonwealth of Virginia. The variety of work experiences was an eye-opener, and I became even more grateful to work for George Mason University. This is a university that supports us and does what it can, when it can, to make our lives a little easier. I know that it may not come as often as we would like, but the reality is that forces beyond their control sometimes tie the administration’s hands from being able to increase our compensation packages.
In November, emotions ran high as a result of the presidential election, and political divisions became more apparent across the country. This has wound its way down to our everyday lives at the university, and you may have experienced someone saying things that have impacted your work life. This was a true situation for one of our Staff Senators last month. While their comments were their own personal opinion, the Staff Senate was impacted greatly and saw negative reactions spill through social media and our other avenues of communication. It created a divide among staff and perhaps generated uncomfortable working situations.
I believe the circumstances of the last several years, both locally and nationally, have created tense working environments. It is important to know that if you are experiencing one of these situations, there are university resources to help. While the changing climates in our country can affect our daily experiences, what does not change is who we are. We are Mason. We are a united front and bring forth the best students and leaders to the global community. We are the staff who helps to make this happen. No matter our personal opinions, we support the future leaders of tomorrow and maintain a university environment of professionalism and inclusion.
At our December 7 meeting, we will be wrapping up the calendar year with two very important speakers:
- In response to our inquiries regarding workplace bullying, Shernita Parker, Director of Organizational Development and Faculty/Staff Coaching, will speak with the Senate from 12 to 12:30 p.m. regarding best practices on dealing with difficult situations and answer questions on problematic workplace environments.
- We will then hold our general meeting from 12:30 to 1 p.m.
- Starting at 1 p.m., President Cabrera will join us for an hour-long conversation where he will update us on the university and answer questions. This is your opportunity to ask questions of Dr. Cabrera. If you submit your question to our email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or our website’s anonymous submission form, I will do my best (time permitting!) to ask those questions of the President.
Thank you for your continued service to the university. I hope that your final weeks of the year are wonderful—don’t forget to stop by the university holiday party on your campus—and enjoy your winter break!