For this week’s President’s Corner, I’m hoping to shed some light on the work that I, my College Government President’s Council (CGPC) and CG Cabinet have been doing to expand the Wellesley notion of success, failure, and what it means to care for ourselves and each other. If you attended Senate this past Monday, you’ll have heard a sliver of this in my President’s Report, but this is an opportunity for me to elaborate in greater detail about what our hopes are for a series of programs that we’ll be doing over the tail-end of April of this semester.
I think many of us can attest to the idea that Wellesley is a place in which every part of the self gets drawn out. So often, we are asked to meet challenging occasions—and do so beautifully—yet almost just as often we might find ourselves missing the mark, encountering bumps in the road that give us pause or inspire us to redirect and begin again.
Being part of this rigorous network and community has enormous benefits: We are challenged in new and fresh ways at almost every turn. At the same time, membership in this historically meaningful and rigorous space is often also a source of unrealistic expectation or undue stress. I believe one reason for this is how we institutionally think and talk about success in limited ways—ways that often prioritize big careers, big splashes in politics or business, or groundbreaking discoveries in tech or science. I think this same disservice happens with how we acknowledge nonlinearity and failure as part of what being at Wellesley means. The stories we see in daily shot and hear about in panels or New York Times articles are so often incomplete or markedly similar in scale—and so in celebrating success (as we rightly should) we also perhaps under-celebrate or under-acknowledge failure in a way that does our entire community a disservice. We lose sight of failure as critical, expected, and often concurrent stories that are worth not only celebrating but also expecting in our own lives.
I and CG think it’s time we pay due diligence to these themes—that we begin presenting a more responsible, richer picture of what success and failure necessarily look like on a day-to-day basis beyond the gloss of our daily shot or the snippets we hear in alum panels. I hope that in the month of April we can take more thoughtful steps toward acknowledging how missteps, moments of pause and redirection, as well as moments of unexpected challenge (ones we ALL encounter not only at Wellesley but beyond Wellesley) are critical pieces of our own Wellesley story, institutionally and privately. They’re a critical part of our famed Wellesley network. And they’re a critical part of our ability to attain success, in whatever sense of the word we mean.
With this in mind, College Government will be partnering with House Councils, House Presidents, student leaders, faculty, alums, administrators and staff to bring these stories on failure and lessons learned to you—via your residential hall neighborhoods and also via more intimate roundtable discussions between students, student leaders, faculty, staff and administrators on their failures in college as well as beyond. As part of this practice to more thoughtfully approach how we think about success and failure, we’ll also be hosting a town hall discussion during the week that zones in on how we can bring our communal values of self-care and community wellness into our day-to-day practices; to our cultural approach to organizational programming, self-scheduling and meetings; as well as to our institutional approach to coursework and how we offer support to students.
As we finish up with March, remember to keep your eyes peeled for dates released through your Senators and through this column. And if you have any questions or thoughts about how to make this week better or more thoughtful, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me either in-person or in e-mail.
Finally, I want to encourage all of you to remember that statements of intent for CG Cabinet positions are due this Friday, March 18 at 11:59pm. Candidates must have already attended one of the election info sessions (from last Wednesday or this past Monday) to be eligible to submit an SOI but if you have not done so yet and are interested in running, please reach out to Elections Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as you can to schedule a time to talk and sign our Honor Code form.
Until next time,