2019 CVTC Staff & Leadership In-service – Chad Dull: Poverty Informed Practice in Higher Education


He graduated from Winona State and UW lacrosse and is currently pursuing a doctorate in higher ed admin. His core belief, I really have the pleasure of knowing Chad for several years and I know this to be true, his core belief is that community and technical colleges are key to providing social mobility in our country. His work in higher ed has focused on moving from theory to practice in deploying poverty in practices that support student persistence and completion. His presentation is going to expand our understanding of the experience of under-resourced learners and how we can help support them throughout their learning journey. So let’s give a CTVC welcome to Chad. (clapping) Let’s make sure, can everyone hear me? Two lapel mikes I’m wearing. I’m feeling very, I don’t know, mic’d up and robotic. So thank you for helping me be here. It’s been an interesting summer actually Rachelle and I connected about this presentation sometime last spring when I was still working down in Lacrosse and as the whole thing shifted this summer. She and her staff were fantastic in working with me I really wanted to come and do this. I’ll tell you why in a little bit and they were even flexible enough I have to be in Utah on Monday, um, for a conference. So thank you for the video opportunity and the folks who are watching us on Monday. I’m much better live. (laughing) That’s what I thought anyway. The other thing I’ll tell you is this is a recent job change for me and I have gotten a number of emails from former colleagues who have told me that I apparently when I was a dean for 12 years might have said more than once, I’m trying to look away from Margo, don’t ask the vice president for help. All they do is complicate things. (laughing) I’m sure that’s not true here. First things first. Congratulations! You guys are doing amazing work. Actually, I was listening to the presentations and you are in a place that few colleges are in. That three year completion rate, that’s really kind of stunning data. You should really embrace that growing enrollment in this day and age. That’s a huge accomplishment. The institution I work at right now. Most of my work in my first two months of the job has been what are our strategies to get enrollment moving in the other direction. Interestingly enough what I’m going to talk to you about today won’t necessarily feel like academic leadership but to me it is. It won’t feel to you like amazing whiz bang stuff. It’s nuts and bolts. It’s not complicated. It’s hard. It’s the right work. So everybody knows the band U2? I know there’s a few folks are too young. Thank goodness they’re still around. I thought that Bono talked about this notion of a long obedience in the same direction. I saw him on a show on like with Elvis Costello somewhere and thought, “That is brilliant. That is the work that we’re doing.” Find your north star and go there. Turns out by the way that was Friedrich Nietzsche who said something about that but I’m just gonna go with Bono. So poverty has been my issue and you validated me for two hours this morning. I love the RISC survey. Actually, my institution’s gonna do either that one or the HOPE survey and every barrier you identified is a poverty barrier. I love that you’re talking about bringing Tim Wise on campus. I was afraid I might make you uncomfortable today. I got nothing on Tim Wise. (laughing) That is a brave choice and he’s going gonna make you sit in uncomfortable spaces which is something I’m going to talk to you about today. But I want you to realize today that poverty work is equity work. And equity work is poverty work. Your IR folks just did that in a nutshell right. Poverty is not distributed equally so when people ask me, “Why poverty? Isn’t poverty a symptom of other things?” Sure. But it’s actionable and it’s equity based. So let’s get a little sense and there’s my clicker, of who’s in the room. I’m gonna do, everything I do is kind of challenged by choice. So if anything I ask you to do makes you uncomfortable you don’t have to necessarily tell the truth. But I also give you some chance to move your legs if you want. I would just ask you to stand up. I want to get a sense we can see visibly in the room stand up if you know a student or have helped a student who had food insecurity, who was struggling to get enough to eat. Ok. You can sit back down. And ask any of you to stand who know a student or have helped a student who’s struggling with housing insecurity who wasn’t sure where they were sleeping that night. OK you sit back down. Last one. Please stand up if you know a student or have helped a student who is struggling with access to have adequate health care. So that’s easy. Go ahead and sit down. Now we’re going to talk about ourselves and I’m gonna tell you why in a second. This stuff is in deep. So please stand up if you yourself at some point in your life have experienced food insecurity. And thank you for that. Have a seat. Please stand up if you yourself have experienced housing insecurity at some point in your life. You can sit down. And of course you probably guessed the last one I’d ask you to stand if you have at some point experienced inadequate access to health care. Thank you. Have a seat. And thank you for being safe enough in the room to share that. I always want to establish the space that we’re in. One of the reasons I talk about poverty is because I grew up with nothing. Just like some of you in the room and I don’t have a lot of time today to credential myself so I’m going to trust you to trust Rachelle that I’m not just making stuff up. I could give you the research basis behind all this you can go out and read all kinds of things I do. I’ll tell you a little bit about I’m I’m certified through a group called Aha! Process, I was on campus six years ago at the intentional teaching conference. I think that it was called the great conference, I met Hunter Boyle and I remember that. I also worked with a group called Communication Across Barriers where I am a certified poverty coach and I’m doing quite a bit of work, some of you probably know because I know she’s been here, you know Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab who was at UW and is now at Temple with her RealCollege initiatives. But what really qualifies me to talk about this stuff, and I’d argue this till the day I die is, I’m a poor kid. So I stand in front of you as middle class, middle aged, somewhere above middle weight (laughter), formerly middle management. And so why is it my issue. Well I’m going to try to make the case that what you come from stays with you. My colleagues at Western, people I really like, would have told you that one of my strengths and one of my weaknesses is this giant chip that sits on my shoulder that you can’t see. And it’s a chip your students and your colleagues who grew up like I did bring here. It’s about not having a sense of belonging. It’s about imposter syndrome. All right. It’s about a lifetime of messages that “you’re not supposed to be here.” So that will often manifest there’s a couple of you in here that know my friend and partner at Western, her name is Mandy. Mandy is like the middle class person of all time. And I’m this other guy. And we would come back at him if you guys have meetings here. But we had a lot of meetings down a Western because apparently other than teaching students the most important thing we could do if you measured it by time was management meeting with management. Apparently we thought that was a very important thing. But we would come back from those meetings because sometimes I would just be steaming hot over something somebody had said and it was usually because they disregarded me. And she would look at me like, “What are you talking about?” No no! they they don’t think I know what I’m talking about and she’s like Chad you’ve been here 20 years. Everyone’s pretty sure that you know what you’re talking about. Or if they don’t know you you’re I can convince them after 20 years. But that was it comes from this other place. So I got to try to get your attention today because I know I’m the last speaker before lunch. My friend Dr. Donna Beagle shares this statistic everywhere she goes. Generational poverty means your family has been in poverty two or more generations. So it is your shared experience. If you come, this person comes to your college, to my college and we don’t do something differently, One out of 10. I call it malpractice. By the way if that students came out of the foster care system. 3 percent. So we have to do things and the good news is by the way. You’re doing some of them already. Right. You’re doing some of them already. But that number should get your attention. Those are the stakes. That’s why I run around talking about this stuff because I sell a product right. I sell social mobility. But I have a system that yields it to 11 percent of a population I really care about. And colleges like ours we are the game in town for these people. Now I was gonna be funnier when I got up here but I got all fired up. Listen, I want to one thank you for the opportunity here because my daughter’s next door at UW Eau Claire. She’s a freshman there. We failed she went to a four year institution. We’re gonna do better with the next one. I have also reminded her that any dating that occurs, boys from here because they’re gonna have jobs. (laughing) (Laughing, clapping) If you knew my daughter the odds are actually she’s gonna come home with a graduate assistant who lives in his mother’s basement and really loves Greek art history. (laughing) But we’re the game in town and I’m I’m impressed you’re not talking about enrollment issues but if and when you are this is your population you’re not competing for. This is the population that belongs to us. This is why I work in two year institutions. Right. So I can’t fix poverty but I do work in a system that does, and we saw it in the IR data, social mobility happens here. Come to see complete a program and we change your economic reality. And you change it exponentially going forward. See one of my goals here, and I love that I’m talking to staff, is some of you don’t know, and Margo you already referred to this which I think is great you think maybe you don’t impact that. You absolutely impact that. I dropped out of college three times. I have an IQ score I’d be embarrassed to tell you how high it is because I should have done a lot better. The reason I finished the last time was one person. Its name is Dr. Bob Herman. He was at Winona State University, which was my third institution, with my ACT score and all that but I just had other stuff I was carrying. And when I came to Dr. Herman and said, you know it is funny- my backup plan was to go to a technical college and become a police officer- Law enforcement should also thank Dr. Herman- so he said one thing to me. It’s stuck with me, this is 20 plus years ago. I said, “Dr. Herman I can’t do this. I’m 28 years old it’s ridiculous. I’m still in school I’m embarrassed and (I’m a school teacher by training). He said, “Chad, the kids need you.” He doesn’t know to this day. He said it three times to me three different times I came (he was an adviser to two hundred and fifty students). He actually didn’t get tenure later and I think he spent too much time advising student but he changed my whole family line. “Chad the kids need you.” All right. All right. I’ll go back. I’m embarrassed. I feel like I don’t belong here. I feel like I failed. So I want to do better. So this has been my theme and actually was only about a year and a half ago that I kind of shifted how I talk about this and now I get opportunities like this. So I was up here, actually Joel Raney and I were talking I came up and did my Ruby Payne thing about six years ago, had great interaction but I figured out that I had spent a dozen year creating awareness and awareness is nice. 11 percent tells me we gotta do something. So I’m asking you to get comfortable being uncomfortable. I had better stories about that. You’re bringing Tim Wise on campus he’s going to put you in an uncomfortable place that’s going to get you into motion. It’s too easy. We have lottery winner jobs. We work in higher education. We get to make a difference. We don’t make widgets and we can choose to maintain kind of safe distance from the people we’re trying to help or we can get in there and get uncomfortable. We can try to create an environment in which our policies will solve all of our issues or we can realize that if everything ran by a flow chart and a policy they wouldn’t need us. The professionals like us get in those gray areas and get uncomfortable. I just had one the other day. So I took a picture with a student on the first day of classes at my new institution. He’s so excited. We’re there and he’s like we’re with social media stuff. And two days ago I had to expel him from campus through our behavior intervention team. I agonized over that. I agonized over that. I’m asking you to make the choice I make. This is personal. I was at Western technical college 17 years I was good at what I did. Everyday it wasn’t a joy. I always say I try to go for three for five. Professional people if we go three for five every week we have pretty good jobs. But I got uncomfortable and knew that we needed to do more so I jumped systems, I’m forty nine years old, I had to figure out like how to retire in another state, I had to figure out how to get health insurance. In the state of Minnesota, by the way, in order to get insurance for your spouse you have to produce a marriage certificate. I didn’t know there was a marriage certificate my wife and I spent three days thinking maybe we have been married for the last 19 years. Unfortunately she looked excited about that prospect and maybe she had her out but we did find the marriage certificate. So, let’s sit in that discomfort a little bit. I’m going to go quickly today. I would encourage I know I’ve got some time and a breakout if we want to get a little more interactive and talk a little bit more about stuff that’s our time frame. But I want to be respectful of your time today but I may give you two big takeaways there’s about three or four things I would ask you to remember. First is I want to show you the fundamental disconnect in higher education and why we struggle with students in poverty. So this is not something I made up. This is information collected over many years through the group Aha! Process where they would ask individuals living in poverty to graphically represent their lives. If you get a chance to interact with students it’s an interesting activity. And they talk about all kinds of things many of which look familiar. They of course care about family and friends, they care about their children, they care about food maybe in different ways than folks in different situations do. They also have this notion of agency time. Anybody got any idea what agency time is? Someone want to be brave? Yes, sure Rachelle. It’s going to social service agency training and services and filling out forms with the same information for every agency. Yes and thank you for the appropriate bias against that idea. What she was sharing is that we love to tell poor people we got a program for that. Well there’s something we got a program for that. Well I got to have an appointment? I probably, Rachelle said, you got to have an intake form that says the same thing I said the last darn program. And I have to perform my poverty to get what I need. We are a unique country. The Brazilian scholar Paulo Freire, I just like saying that, a long time ago came and visited America and he said, “You are a unique place because you have convinced poor people it’s their fault they’re poor.” And they blame themselves. So they every time I ask for that help I’m not really saying it’s really just someone trying to get what they need for the most part. Now there’s exceptions. I don’t think we build policy around exceptions. I hope we don’t. But for the most part we try to give a name. But we we deep shame it. The disconnect by the way is look at what sits at the middle of this circle for these individuals. Relationships. And the quick version of that is of course it does. That’s how you survive. Oh my friend, anybody ever see, It’s all over like YouTube. Ever see Rita Pierson do the “Every child needs a champion?” It’s a great, Rita was a friend of mine and Rita always she had all these great sayings that you know poor people don’t go to Triple-A they go to Uncle Ray. That’s how I take care of my car because car trouble is a catastrophe when you’re poor. And I know that in poverty when things are good for me I’ll take care of you because I know that when things are good for you you’ll take care of me. It’s actually kind of beautiful. The most generous people I’ve known are people who have next to nothing. But it builds a relational culture and it contrasts with this. This is what a mental model for being middleclass looks it looks like. And sometimes people get uncomfortable with that word achievement most of us either have always been or are now living middle class lives by the way which is a completely nebulous defined term because we shame poor people in this country. If you survey people, people making twenty thousand dollars will call themselves middle class and amazing people making three hundred thousand dollars will call themselves middle class. Someday. But if the word achievement makes you nervous ‘cuz like I’m not that, I’m not competitive. Think goals. How much time in middle class culture to we’d spend talking about goals. And this is what we sell by the way. I’m not telling you that you have to change your college but you have to realize your college sells middle class lifestyles. We sell delayed gratification to people who don’t have that luxury. We work with folks who are trying to get to tomorrow, to tonight, and we say, “Give us two years and we’ll change your life.” Nw we’ve gotten better. The WTCS is doing great work. I love career pathway work. I love things broken down into embedded certificates. I was in the middle of all the developmental Ed redesign that’s gone on and you guys were we’re ahead on that too. Time is the enemy. So we’ve worked to shorten timelines and we’ll talk about that but understand that you are selling goals to people whose primary driving force is relationships. And just as an example I had a student about 10 years ago who you know some student stick with you more than others. Young guy named RiCarlos was the alternative high school student when I was running that program and he graduated that and that was a heck of an accomplishment and then he went to sell Cutco knives so I have a seventy five dollar paring knife because my God we got to buy a knife and he couldn’t he didn’t quite time getting into school because our processes don’t always lineup so I I bought his books but he made me, he wrote me an IOU and he was doing great four weeks in, sailing through. I’m like “yeah” and then he was gone. Just gone. I couldn’t find him Teachers couldn’t find him. Three weeks later I see him walking across campus. “RiCarlos, what are you doing?” Well my mom was sick. She lives in Milwaukee. In his world view, you drop everything and go. And I had all my middle class questions. Did you notify your professors?did you reach out? “My mom was sick!” She has taken care of me my whole life. I went and took care of her. That’s the mismatch. As odd as I sounded or as he sounded to me I sounded just as odd to him. Who would do all those other things when your mother is sick. Short side note on that, so when RiCarlo’s got his financial aid in order and got his refund check the first person he paid was me. Now the funny part of that story is, at least the last time I checked, he was still in default on his student loans because he had a relationship with me. Financial aid was just an office. I’ve lost track of him. Unfortunately. I’m going to read these slides to you because these are important to me. I going to talk about mindset and actions and this is the mindset stuff. So we worked real hard, my staff and I, to define what this thing is and it really it started from that transition from awareness to Chad, “What do you want us to do? Who do you want us to be?” So we boiled it down to four points, that poverty informed practice is a mindset, a way of thinking that allows us to stand in awe of our students who face the impacts of poverty daily and choose college anyway. So we used to have people at a former college of mine that would make fun of students who came to register at the last minute. Called them “Last Minute Larrys”. It’s not cool. Larry who had a real name was coming to us to say, “Help me. Help me change my life.” And I’ll tell you one of things I’ve ditched and I’m guilty of every sin. I’m gonna tell you about so this is not me throwing people under the bus. This is about change. I got rid of the notion of readiness. I worked with students for years so it’s you know it’s really not time for school. Let’s have you go and get ready and then come back. Except there’s no ready place. I don’t know what I was expecting them to do. There’s not a layer of employment where I can go and make enough money to get financially stable. So really the onus is on us. They indicated readiness by crossing the threshold. And anytime we decide that you’re not ready or this student that’s on my mind this week we should agonize over that. We should agonize over that. Poverty informed practice is a form of first choice service. It’s customer service and it acknowledges the audacious courage it takes to pursue education when even your basic needs are tenuous. They come to you when they’re not sure how to get enough food eat today. Holy cow. Because we’ve told them, we the large we- society- that you guys and me were the ticket out. Forty years ago my dad graduated high school and half his class moved to Janesville Wisconsin. They’re all gonna go be GM guys They had great lives. 30 years at GM. Bought a boat Retired at 50 years or something. That’s all gone. We are in a post-secondary education model for all now. So we have to do it differently. And I think, if you read into these you’ll see we start thinking about our students differently. So in action poverty informed practices is a commitment to reducing barriers. You’re in great shape. You already started identifying. Your students will tell you. Reducing barriers so they can use their education to change their economic reality. That’s what they’re here for. They’re asking you to help them change their economic reality, on down the line. So it doesn’t matter. So everyone’s all people get in these rooms get nervous to me like, “Is this political?” I don’t care what your politics are. Want to be my conservative friend we’ll talk about turning tax users into taxpayers. Want to live on the other side of the political spectrum we’ll talk about changing the world and social justice and all those things. This is what we’re doing. This is the good work. And the last one, I always have to preface this by saying I am from the Midwest, I am Scandinavian German, and I was raised Lutheran ,so I don’t even like tell my kids I love them on a regular basis, They know. (laughing) We don’t hug and do all that stuff a lot but I’ve made a choice to say that this is an intentional choice to love the students you have. A lot of the work I do is based on, so I’m all about credit go Google what’s happening in Amarillo College in Amarillo Texas and you’ll see the roots of a lot of this work. Amarillo talks about loving their students to success all the time. Now, Why love? Can’t you like them? Can’t you care about them? I would argue we do things differently for people we love. And you can choose it. Some of you either probably are or have been front line staff. This choice changes your whole job. You can have that where you go, “I am answering the same question for the three hundred and fiftieth time today.” That’s not a good day at work. “I’m changing economic reality for people I love.” Hard to have a morale problem when you’re in that space. I work harder than I’ve ever worked in the last three years. I like my job better than I ever liked it because this is how I frame it. Our students are our inspiration. We are their advocates. Everything else is just stuff that you have to do. So that’s really, those four things are the framework of what I’m talking to you about today. That notion of admiring your student, that idea of what sort of service do they need based on where they’re coming from, how do we reduce barriers, and choosing to love them. I said we get a little uncomfortable. So I’m in a room full of policy people. This is my friend Dr. Lowery-Hart at Amarillo. You walk around his campus they’ll tell you this all the time. This is the agonizing part. If we do this right we love our students more than we love our policies. It doesn’t mean we don’t have policies. But it means, we try to find the humanity. I give you a real concrete example, happened just before I left Western. Our nursing program, like every nursing program, has very high standards. Everybody wants 100 percent competent nurse. I got called out real good by a nursing instructor and that about ten years ago that when I’m in the hospital I don’t want 90 percent competence. But one of their rules was two times late to clinical and you’re out. Very standard. And by the way they would have called it fair. Hopefully everyone understands that equal and equitable are not the same thing. Like giving you the same thing as you give me is not, I’ve said upfront is not necessarily equity. We have different needs. That’s where we wrestle with it. The nurses had a student late to clinical. Second time. We’ve been talking for two years at Western about being more poverty informed. Instead of the standard, “I’m sorry we’re gonna have to boot ‘ya.” They asked deeper questions. Student was stuck in agency time, the student was homeless and had an appointment for housing that day and that agency was-there was no flexibility there either, by the way I work with nonprofits on this too, and they decided to love the student. They found a way, they found a way to make it up and by the way that is the uncomfortable place because now you have that dreaded thing. I did it for one do I have to do it for everybody? I don’t have an answer to that but I think you should get uncomfortable and stay in there otherwise we do this thing, we do where we maintain distance and we use code words by the way. My least favorite code word and there’s some things in my language I’ve thrown away. Enable. I can’t enable people. That word should make you uncomfortable a lot of times enable as an excuse to not help. What if something needs a little, well something to enable for a little while and again I don’t have hard lines for you. But I’d encourage you to think about it. I’m going to try to pick up my pace here a little bit. In terms of practice, there are really- so how many of you, because it hasn’t been that long since he left ,how many of you know Roger Stanford? Thank you very much. I know he’s a memory and fading in my rearview mirror as well. But anyway Roger when he was at, he’s still at Western, he’s into visual management and I’m the least visual person in the world, so Roger and I always had an interesting relationship. But I always teased him, I made him a triangle that was as visual as I could get. But really, but with apologies to Maslow and Bloom, who I have stolen liberally from here, we talk about poverty inform practice in three things. At the base is that idea of meeting basic needs if you can’t eat, you don’t have a place to stay, your odds of success in college are low. Thrilled to hear you have a food pantry. Don’t stop there. Don’t stop there one of the big successes at my last institution, we’re starting at my new institution, it’s an idea we invented I think because other people started doing it. Grab and Go. If you go down to Western right now there’s food all over campus. Just baskets full of food. They go through more food grab and go you do at the pantry because the best pantry in the world is still a little stigmatized. Now one of things they did at my recommendation before I left, I’m thrilled that it stuck, they put their pantry right in their learning commons. Need help with your disability services, it’s there. There you need help with academic support, it’s there You need help with food, it’s there. It’s on the list of help. Normalising help. Success achieved with help is success. So, what can you do to meet basic needs? If you come to the breakout, I’ll challenge you a little bit to think about what else you could do here. I would tell you too, and I don’t know the whole background of your campus, you may be ahead on some of this. Partnership partnership partnership. One of the best things I did was put our workforce development agency right in my division. We gave them an office. I got in trouble for that later by the way you’re supposed to sign a lease agreement (laughing) but they had stuff! Your social service agencies have stuff. If you can put them in your space they are retention tools for you and they want, they need to enroll people too. Over on this side is exactly what Margo referred to this morning when you look in the middle a sense of belonging I think was in Bruce’s notes too. You can impact that every moment every day. You need to remember that your students from poverty have been hearing they don’t belong their whole life. Subtly, micro aggressively, aggressively. You can change that in lots of ways. I’ll talk about a couple in a second but it can be as simple as Hello. Good morning. One of things I changed, I hate name tags. I wear my name tag every day now. Because they’re students tell us. I want to know who works here. I don’t want to have to guess about approaching you. It’s made a difference. We talk a lot about beginning with strengths. Your students in poverty come with an incredible set of strengths. They solve more problems to get here today than most of us solve in a week and we want to increase their self efficacy. You talked about being a self directed, engaged learned that takes self efficacy- belief in yourself. And I know we don’t have as many academic folks here so I won’t talk as much about the right side of the triangle but when I have your faculty group we’ll talk about acceleration. Thrilled to see what you do with credit for prior learning. Credit for Prior Learning is one of the most poverty inform practices there can be. Do you know why? The easy one is sure it saves you money, right? It also does the whole left side. So at Western we had started to do credit for prior learning for students pursuing their GED and HSED. We did almost 400 credits last year because those people come with experience. And I have video things that I did with folks or they they’d say “well it’s really hard. I see all these college students.” And I’d say, well you have nine credits aren’t you a college student? And they literally stood up straighter and go “Oh yeah.” So keep chasing CPL, CPL is a powerful, powerful tool. This is just some examples of what we did. This is what my students affectionately came to call the bowl. This was in my division at Western. This started from a story a young student named Titan who was in a youth building program we were running. His instructor had a pizza party right. That’s what teachers do we have a pizza party and Titan refused to eat pizza. I go, what? It wasn’t like my nephew just doesn’t like cheese or something. So I feel like I pulled Titan aside, by the way because calling people out is not good poverty informed practice. I said “What’s going on?” He said, “Chad, I don’t want my body and mind to get used to eating.” Right. How insightful. That kid’s 17. The next day I brought the party bowl and we started putting snacks in it. By the way, I’m not vouching for the nutritional quality of my snacks. I got things people like. (laughing) That grew so fast. The other rule we did with it that, if you decide to go down that route, my staff ate out of the bowl. There are no rules on it. There’s no screening. I had well-meaning people say well how we make sure like only poor people get it? I don’t care. Food is community. It’s the beauty of it. And by the way there’s still no college dollars in the bowl. Actually this year I think when I left the student stepped up and there’s five more bowls around campus. They go through more food in the grab and go bowls than they do in the pantry. It’s respectful and it’s just an acknowledgment. The other thing you can do and again I know it’s it’s the non-academic group but you have influence. Get your faculty to put a statement of basic needs in their syllabi. All it has to say this is what ours did. We understand that housing and food insecurity are barriers to students success. If you are experiencing these please feel welcome, and we said the dean, or if you’re comfortable your instructor. It does two things. We can’t solve all those issues but we can solve some of them, once we’re aware. But two, it normalizes it. If my instructor put it in a syllabus it must be a thing. If those of you that are student facing ask those questions it must be a thing- I’m not the only one. I would talk a little bit about communications. This is my favorite example, this poor woman who taught for me for ten years, hates that I use this slide. This is the Black River Falls campus at Western and, you won’t be able to read it so I’ll tell you what it says. She has a sign on her door for years says, “Which door opens your future? College, community college, vocational school, OJT. And then the sustainability team came through and put stickers under the door that says, “Please keep door closed.” I think maybe they took it down after I left but we want to think about how we communicate because that’s a thing about sense of belonging. I don’t give you some examples of bad stuff. When we started this work at Western I really started in kind of guerrilla warfare style with signs. We did what we called a “no” audit. How many places did we have the word no? By the way that sign was in every classroom in my building and no one had enforced the food or beverage rule in 20 years. So I don’t even know what it was for other than a big no. If any of you have any K12 background when they talk about PBIS they do a lot of this work in K12. What are the messages in our buildings? We had staff only signs on locked doors all over the building and because it was pre- netiquette, all caps. Which means what? I’m yelling. I said these translated to “get out.” By the way, the door was locked. The worst consequence was gonna be jiggle jiggle. Right? This is my favorite one. This was on the inside of two sets of locked doors in red, all caps but it is in braille. So I don’t read braille but I think this meant this also said “get out.” So we had except those are all gone and actually my staff took that job on and replaced those with signs like this. This is my cell phone camera so I apologize for the quality of it images. It was some some instruction. If you need to speak with someone please ask at the front desk and it pointed to where to go. Some of you might be thinking “Oh, come on.” Students told us this mattered. If you accept the premise that they have heard for years and years from this little, “You don’t really belong where you are.” This stuff starts to change things. Couple other dumb things we did. I should probably stopped throwing Western under the bus in these presentations. I think I get a year. We loved put stickers on materials. We wanted to make sure you knew it was ours. We had some that said you don’t and don’t take. Want you to pause for a second and think about the futility of that. That’s a GED book. We bought hundreds of them a year. And we spent hours with office staff putting stickers on. The black market for GED textbooks is very weak. It just is. I’m going to estimate that ninety eight percent of our students, because all statistics are made up, had no interest in stealing these books. However if they did we were a reading program. It would be a shame that you stole a book. And lastly after we’d spent hundreds of man hours putting stickers on books I was trying to picture the individual taking the book to sell it on the black market, getting to the door and going, There’s a sticker, I have found my moral compass. I will return the book. So it’s fun. But it’s real. So I said no more stickers. My office staff went nuts. They loved the stickers. But Chad. and so it was one of those leadership moments right. I mean it isn’t just silly like by God, No stickers. I had to really hold my ground. And the reason I tell you that is I want you as how many embedded practices you probably have that you think are sacrosanct or sacred. That really came from nowhere. I worked in the system a long time. You know we love to say, “Well the state says… No, it’s from the state and I would often go, “Oh good.” Who should I talk to? Where’s that written down? Is that in the ESM? Oftentimes it was really something we’d kind of embedded in. So anyway, we got rid of the stickers and we did a lot of things that it sounds like you have in motion too in terms of helping people in the moment. I ran roughly the equivalent of your academic services area for a long time. And we, like almost every program in the state, operated for a long time on what I would call a fix it model. Students come to us we assess them for the mysterious readiness, we decide that you’re not ready, you come to my magic division and we will fix you. And then folks like me had to have a hard, clear moment of dealing with the brutal facts. That it didn’t work. We started looking at the data like everybody else did and found actually we lost most of those students before they ever finished. So we started to shift what could you do. How do you get people to what they care about as quickly as possible because time is the enemy. When you are struggling in poverty the odds of something happening in your life that knocks you off track. The longer you go the longer the more likely it’s going to happen. I think it’s important to recognize bullet number three that everyone needs help. For most of us it’s built in. And I always think about 20 years ago my girlfriend stepped on my glasses getting up in the morning and we almost broke up. Because all I can think is my glasses are two hundred and fifty dollars. What are we going to do? I mean like I mean I drove to Lacrosse. I made Pearle Vision bend them back into a shape because two hundred fifty dollars might have well been ten million. The difference now twenty five years later, right, it would just be a pain. Recognize that things that may. If you’re losing the memory. Are annoyances are catastrophes. And by the way don’t bargain for equity. I get trapped in that too right. I feel like I have to explain to you that the right thing is also a good thing. It happens to be true in this case by the way. Learning from your students with the greatest barriers will teach your institution how to be a better institution. But we oughta do it just because it’s correct. Seen some great equity speakers and I’ll put Tim Wise on that list and I was gonna tell you. When he comes in to tell you about making things more equitable, he won’t spend any time making sure the people who are currently winning feel okay about that. And if you listen for it people do it all the time. Like we’re going to do better for this group but I promise it won’t hurt you even though you’ve been at a structural advantage forever. Couple more things now. So this is what I’m asking you to do. So what I’m asking you to remember today is that that mismatch between relationship based people and goal achievement based institutions. How do you marry those two things? In terms of what I’m asking you to do I’m asking you to default to action. I don’t know that I have all this figured out. But I’m so tired of waiting for people to do something. Be iterative. Jump in. I hate the airport thing. If you see something say something. If you see something do something. Help somebody. You might be Bob Herman. You might keep that person in school that day right. So default to helping. Then wrestle with all the tough stuff on that. Because I’ve had to get in places you know so a student needs to get somewhere and they want to go in my car. I don’t put them in my car just for the record. We didn’t stop there right. Well my policy says… we found other solutions. You should do, borrow this from the recovery community, a fearless self inventory for bias. By the way, you will find your bias you can do it two easy ways. Anything you call, I never say common sense except in workshops. Anybody says yeah some just common sense. You should say, “common to whom?” By the way, that’s correct English teachers I’ve checked. (Laughing) It’s whom. Common sense is just a set of rules of people who are alike agreed to and then they decide that it’s right. It really is. You know it’s it’s a very default thing. The other thing you could do if you want to look for your own personal bias ask yourself, my mentor Dr. Donna Beegle’s question, “what does someone have to do to be worthy of your help?’ A great exercise by the way for those of you in the helping profession. If you can be honest. What do you require? So I used to do a lot of work with emergency funds. Thrilled you have an emergency fund too by the way I would encourage you to reduce every barrier you can on it. Believe students, why not? Don’t build policy for the 5 percent of people that lie to you. Build it on the ninety five percent of them that are telling the truth. But what do you require of them? I’ve seen well intend to people well we give them a short essay on how to pay it forward. Wow. Seems like common sense right. These are generous people. They’re paying it forward everyday. How much gratitude do you require? What do you ask of them to get what they need? Why do you think that that’s OK? I sound like I’m chewing you out. You’re actually good people so you’re OK. Seek to connect build relationships and create solutions. That is my speech. Now this appears to be a very positive organization struggling with no morale issues and everybody loves to come here every day. That’s a wonderful thing. For the majority of people who aren’t in the room you guys on video who are struggling with maybe feel a little pessimistic. Be solutions oriented. The lowest form of participation is criticism. I know this. I was great at it. I was very, very good at telling you why what you were doing was wrong. It’s not very interesting. I’d be much more interested in what we could do instead. Honest to God. The lowest form of participation is criticism. And lastly get comfortable being uncomfortable. Continue your journey down the road. That the idea that poverty work is equity work and equity work is poverty work. You are so lucky to work in an institution, maybe the last great democratic institution, that moves people through social mobility. There’s a lot wrong in our country. We’re the solution to a lot of it. And you dig in there and you get in those uncomfortable places and you be solutions oriented. And things start to turn around pretty quickly. All right. I will tell you and then I’ll get off the stage. You are in such a place to make an impact. My heroes down in Amarillo who are a community college about six years ago went head on into poverty. They do things, amazing things. They’re putting people in hotel rooms they’re doing things with emergency funds through their foundation that are unbelievable. They had a three year graduation rate of 19 percent. Five years ago. They’re 57 this fall. Five years. This is not theoretical stuff. It’s not. This is not huggy buggy let’s feel good stuff. This changes outcomes for people who are asking us to change their outcomes. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about it and I wish you well as you go down that road. Thank you.

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