A Striving Beach: 2

My last message laid out the framework we use to build a Beach environment that has the highest probability of promoting success for our entire community. Think of three levels of a pyramid. The bottom level contains the universal services and environments available to all that are known to encourage physical, academic, social, and spiritual well being.

What does that universal level look like at The Beach and how are we all involved?

Let’s start with the physical environment. We are constantly upgrading our campus to enhance safety and access, optimize learning, facilitate social interactions and activities, and support beautiful and sustainable surroundings. These ongoing upgrades include streets, parking lots, drought resistant landscapes, active classrooms, labs, Wi-Fi access, and meeting places. Our recent move to a smoke and tobacco free campus is an example of a universal intervention that is environmentally good for everyone (I understand the challenge this poses for some—but more on that in Part 3 when we talk about targeted services).

Our excellent police force is a key component of our safe and secure environment. In addition, all those involved in campus safety—from building marshals to emergency specialists—train regularly to keep us as hazard free and resilient as possible. We also have partnerships and train with community agencies to work collaboratively in the event of an emergency. History and recent events reveal that bad things happen to good people. Because of our ongoing efforts, we are ready.

The Health, Counseling, Student Recreation and Wellness, and LifeFit Centers are important universal services as they teach us to practice healthy life styles. These centers also focus on helping community members develop resilient mindsets that help us succeed in the university’s sometimes challenging learning and social environments.

We recently launched a web-based Center for Scholarship Information (soon to cover all colleges) that has streamlined the process for students seeking and applying for scholarships. In fact, the number of applications to privately funded scholarships has risen by an average of 150 percent across the colleges thanks to this new system. Financial security is a concern for most of us. Our Career Development Center is another universal service that helps students prepare for and connect to internships and jobs.

Interacting with others in respectful and helpful ways reduces hassles and anxiety. A smile and some useful guidance are two easy-to-do components of a healthy environment. SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising and Registration) is a universal service that increases every participant’s chance to hit the academic highway with confidence, as is our support of over 300 student organizations. Clubs and organizations make our big university far more inviting and manageable and are often the source of significant peer support and lifelong friendships. It’s well documented that people thrive in social groups. And our housing professionals have implemented living learning communities that, while designed around students’ special interests or affinities, are a part of creating right-sized peer and professional support systems.

Students’ academic success is promoted by having effective faculty members, helpful advisors, academically focused peers, and caring and knowledgeable staff members. Everyone on campus is part of this mission. If you keep our buildings clean, our landscapes beautiful, and our technology humming, you are creating environments that enable students to do their best. No kidding, it does take the whole village.

Opportunities to explore our inner selves and special purpose in the universe (spiritual wellness) abound at The Beach. Academic study, participation in faith-based and social justice actions, positive collaboration with colleagues, and service to others enhance the life journey of connecting to causes or entities bigger than the self.

A great education is a universal service offered by our university. Everyone benefits from knowing particular information and, more importantly, how to learn for a lifetime. We benefit by meeting others who are similar to us, and those who are different—if we are willing to learn and appreciate the multicultural world we inhabit.

Explore what’s available and be a part of creating an environment that promotes health and safety (e.g., glide only where safe for pedestrians). When we smile, listen, assist, care, and share just a bit more we all are creating a thriving environment.

My next installment (yikes, I can’t stop) will explore targeted services at The Beach. Your feedback and participation is vital. Keep the comments coming.

Go Beach!