I Hate to Be the Bad Guy…

By Ryan Manning — During my job search process, I have had a lot of opportunities to think and speak about how and why I became interested in a career in Student Affairs. When you have a Bachelor’s degree in Latin and a minor in History, higher education administration does not necessarily jump out as a possible career.

The truth is, I went to a pretty non-traditional high school (or very traditional, based on how you think about it) where students were required to take to Latin from Grades 7-10, with the option of AP courses during junior and senior year. My Latin teachers were some of the greatest educators I ever had. So I went to college with every intention of becoming a Latin teacher. Through some teaching experiences I had in college, I eventually found out that classroom management was not my strong suit, and began exploring other ways to be an educator outside of the classroom.

I enjoy working in Student Affairs partially because I am able to see students at their absolute best, but we all know that sometimes, their behavior can less than admirable. One part of being a Student Affairs professional that I honestly find incredibly rewarding is serving as a student conduct administrator. I understand that I may be unique in this, but it’s true. This week, I was at a campus interview for a Conduct Coordinator position and I was asked the question that may also be on all of your minds, “Why is conduct something you like doing? Do you like being the bad guy?”

No, I don’t like being the bad guy. But, the truth is, I don’t see myself as a bad guy, or even a disciplinarian, when I meet with students for behavior that may violate campus policies or values. For me, meeting with a student in a conduct setting can be just as educational and developmental for them as their Writing class, or internship, or campus leadership position. I feel that it can be very powerful for students to be actively engaged in a conversation about their actions and the effects that those actions can have on themselves, their loved ones, and the community; possibly the first conversation of that kind that they have ever had. A conduct meeting is an excellent way to challenge a student’s reasoning for excessive alcohol use, or to help a male student cast off the burden of traditional, restrictive norms of masculinity and come into a greater sense of understanding and comfort with emotions other than anger and aggression.

So, for me, I love working with student conduct, because it allows me to be the educator that I have always wanted to be. Sure, meeting with students at their best can be more pleasant at times, but the impact one can have supporting a student at what may be their worst and helping them create lasting change in their lives can certainly be significantly more profound.

1 Response to “I Hate to Be the Bad Guy…”

  1. 1 Abbey July 7, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Awesome post, Ryan!


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