We must stay together during crisis

This article is the final article of a series highlighting synergy at Guilford and areas where we need to grow as an institution.

In previous articles, I have highlighted how Guilford is changing the world through initiatives to solve issues like education, access to food and refugee resettlement.

We have come a long way, but this is not the end of the road. We need to do a better job building synergy on and off campus to make a positive impact in the world.

It was not until this year that the Office of Admission intentionally worked together with Soy un Líder to improve access to education for marginalized students. It was not until this year that we decided to connect the classroom with experiential learning initiatives to address hunger in Greensboro. It was not until this year that the campus in general, rather than a small group of people, came together to address refugee challenges.

It has taken Greensboro being named number one nationally in food insecurity to come together to address hunger. It has taken a crisis in Syria for most people to realize there are thousands of desperate refugees.

The question is, how will Guilford continue to impact the world as it faces internal crisis — finances, enrollment and retention? Will this bring us together or separate us?

“When there is crisis, we either isolate and are less likely to work together, or we come together — when one succeeds, we all succeed,” said Wess Daniels, William R. Rogers director of Friends Center.

What does isolation look like?

“Isolations leads to being territorial and protective,” said Daniels.

This means you defend your department instead of Guilford. You collaborate less with other departments because their success becomes a threat to you.

What does togetherness look like?

“When a professor succeeds, Guilford succeeds,” said Daniels. “When the library succeeds, Guilford succeeds.”

The campus becomes one, and everybody works for the betterment of the institution. In contrast to isolation, togetherness means the success of others becomes your success.

In the midst of a financial crisis Guilford is starting to react.

“The cuts have not only served as an opportunity to find more efficient ways to do our jobs and collaborate, but it has given us an opportunity to collaborate with others on initiatives we did not before,” said James Shields, director of the Bonner Service for Community and Learning. “The cuts are part of life, but our mission mostly remains the same.”

It is important for Guilford to remember its role in the community and the world.  Our internal crisis should not distract us from changing the world, and perhaps it should strengthen us to do the job better.

“There are still hungry people, there still homeless people and there are still kids that need to be tutored,” said Shields.

“And there are still students who want to tutors those kids, and who want to feed the hungry.”

Things are subject to change. The question is, will those in charge bring our community together, or will they separate as things get harder?

There are many students looking for ways to change the world. They eagerly wait for the College leadership to guide them with wisdom and lead by example. As we respond to crisis and before crisis occurs, we should remember we are members of one body, the Guilford community.

Collaboration should be part of our culture on and off campus as we seek to change the world.