Refocusing with a New Lens

Chair, Relations with Local Senates

Marcel Proust stated "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." As our local senates start to plan for the year and set their goals, this is the perfect time to view our landscape with new eyes.

We tend to get so wrapped up in our old issues, problems and relationships that we lose our "vision."

So how can we refocus with a new lens and sharpen and renew our vision for our students, faculty and college community?

Well what else is new-the state budget was late! So our old response kicks in and we lose an opportunity to view it in a new way. The next time this happens (and it probably will), take action! When was the last time your local senate wrote its local state representative and senator? Take the time to research how a late budget will affect your college and most importantly your students. Go to student services and ask what type of student will be affected and get a personal story to share with the legislature. Make a formal and public statement to the students about your concerns of how the late budget affects them and what we all can do to create change. Get postcards and have them preaddressed to your local legislators and have the students fill them with their personal concerns and the impact the delayed budget will have on them. Support other campus programs that may be affected by this late budget and let the staff know you care and want to help. Build new relationships and strengthen old ones.

It is the time to work to write your local senate's goals for the year. Are you noticing the same old themes coming up yet again? How can you broaden your perspective? How about asking a spokesperson from areas such as DSPS, EOPS, library, technology, CalWORKS or Economic and Workforce Initiatives to come and share their concerns and see if new ideas can be generated. New vision comes with getting refamiliarized with programs on your campus that you may have not heard from lately.

This year will be a great year to refocus with a new lens on "old" issues. The Basic Skills Initiative training will be coming to one of your local campuses soon if it has not already made its visit. Visit the newly launched Basic Skills Initiative website at and see where and when the meetings will be held. Basic skills is one of the long term issues we have talked about, worked on and deal with daily, but now is the opportunity to look at it through a "new lens". Is there anything we missed? Anything new we can do or change to help our students succeed? What a great opportunity to sit down with our basic skills faculty and student services to generate new and creative ideas to address this problem.

We cannot seek "new administrators" but perhaps we can view them with new eyes.

Have your local senate discuss at least one area where you can walk into a meeting with a new proposal rather than waiting for them to give you one to respond to!

Start the year off by having a meeting with your key administrators and asking them about what their goals for the year are and why. Ask them what their management style is; what they value in a person-get a different view of what you think is a "known". You may just see them with a new lens and it may open a door you did not know existed to building a new relationships.

So as we start a new voyage this year we know we are not going to see any new landscapes, but we can make the voyage new, exciting and perhaps even fun if we try to view it with new eyes. Refocus with a new lens and Oh the things you might see!