Art by Peau Porotesano
We, as professors and students, are afforded a unique opportunity working and attending a smaller, Christian university because we can easily communicate and relate to each other. However, we have not been owning this. We desperately need to step out of our bubbles and reach out to each other. How many times have you finished a semester course and felt like you were no closer to the professor or your fellow students than at the start?
From large Elkins lectures to small, major-specific classes, we as a student body rarely take the opportunity to get to know our professors outside of that educational classroom setting. That’s not to say that we aren’t pretty fortunate. Unlike most top-ranked colleges, Pepperdine professors frequently know their students by name or at least by face.
However, it is far too common that neither students nor professors take full advantage of the opportunity afforded by small class sizes and a relatively centralized campus. Both students and professors have the chance not to only get to know one another in an academic context but also in a context that reaches beyond the classroom.
What we should strive for is more than a stiff, professional relationship. Professors are a continued wealth of experience and wisdom; yet students can offer a new, and dare we say fresh, perspective. We’ve seen paradigms in which professors are, indeed, very close to their students in co-curriculars, especially in abroad programs.
Yet the excuses can already be heard echoing through the canyon: “I’m too busy,” “I don’t know them, and they don’t know me” or “They can’t help me with my problem.”
Students, we have a unique resource at Pepperdine — and it’s not just the abundant Instagram and Snapchat opportunities of every sunset. Our university actually wants us to get to know our professors as much our professors want to get to know us.
Besides office hours and house groups, we have an immense pool of opportunities to connect that many may not know about or have been taking advantage of, but neither side can initiate some of these alone.
One way to bridge the gap is with Pepp’s Dine with a Student program. This initiative provides a meal at the Caf or La Brea to any Seaver faculty or staff member who dines with a Seaver student. Any Seaver faculty/staff member may participate in this program up to once per week. To snag this free meal, all you and your professor have to do is stop by the Vice President for Student Life Office (Tyler Campus Center, Suite 210) on your way to the lunch and sign out one of the meal cards at the reception desk.
More of a dinner person? If a professor is up for it, he or she can host an event for students at his or her home and can request reimbursement for this social event up to three times a semester. Pizza party, anyone? The fund is available to full-time and adjunct faculty and full-time university employees. According to Pepperdine’s Student Affairs website, the intent of the fund is “for faculty/staff to entertain students in their homes and promote a sense of community.”
Sick of free food, but need Convocation credits? Pepperdine has got you again, with the opportunity for spiritual mentorship with a faculty/staff member. According to the Convocation website, this program provides an opportunity to meet one-on-one “to encourage and empower students as a spiritual mentor.” The meetings are essentially for students to be able to discuss God and life in a safe and relaxed atmosphere.
All you have to do is meet with your mentor between one and four times for 45 minutes to an hour, with each meeting earning a Convo credit. According to the Convocation website, interested faculty and staff members can apply to be mentors through the Spiritual Mentoring Application, and interested students can request a mentor through their online forms. If you are interested in this program and would like to know more, you can call the Office of the Chaplain or stop by their office in the Tyler Campus Center.
Professors, you’ve chosen a university where students care so much about the course and their grade that they’ll spend their Sundays in a library until they get kicked out. To paraphrase Proverbs 25, “If your [student] is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if [he is] thirsty, give [him] water to drink.” Part of your moral obligation should be to nurture your students and aim to guide and assist them.
We know it’s going above and beyond your job description, but these are significant, formative years for us, and we’d really like to get to know you. Even though it might’ve been a few years since your college years, you’ve been in our shoes before. When students come up to you and ask for guidance or just want to talk, make time for them and check up on them once in awhile. We appreciate it more than we can express.
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