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Saturday, August 27, 2011

systemic and interpersonal

I have resisted writing this blog entry, trying to think of a good reason for keeping the difficulties private. I can think of none except my own ego. So here is a summary of what I learned this last week. This has a bit to do with others on campus but I am doing my best to see that this is my experience, not anyone else's.

Linda and I had a meeting with someone in administration and she was pretty discouraging about Cal Poly's ability to do anything "special" for registration of SUSTAIN students. This was very frustrating, of course, but the meeting surfaced some conflict between Linda and I about the scarcity of time to work together. Roger and Bill Torbert were gracious enough to spend some time with us deconstructing what happened and the underlying patterns. This stuff is pretty difficult. Not only does it require patience with others, but also a self-reflection that is hard for me because I see so many ways in which I am very immature: I am trying to make SUSTAIN happen, and I am often trying to protect my own ego. These are ugly and at the same time hard to let go of.

The one thing I learned is that the conflict between Linda and I is a symptom and a manifestation of the greater struggle going on within the university. A small example....The University is very rigid about some things; requests for help are often met with genuine feelings of being overworked. "There is no room in the system for innovation" is a direct quote. When people do help us, they feel put upon and resentful. With Linda and I, I see a similar patterns. We are both committed to many things and find it hard to find time for creative problem solving. When we do find time, we end up feeling more overwhelmed by the "to do lists." To me this looks like the same pattern, one at the university level and the other at the interpersonal level. Somehow this makes me feel better because I see it as a systemic problem and not mine alone, but on the other hand, it seems very difficult to solve.

On a more hopeful note, I met with the Assistant Deans of both College of Engineering and College of Business and they are both willing to provide resources to advise students who might want to join SUSTAIN. They were gracious in their support.

I was thinking about why the two university groups where so different in their receptiveness to providing aid and I think it might be that I have long-term friendly relationships with both the assistant deans, while my relationship with the person in administration is not as personal. Who knows?

I hope this entry wasn't too much information and we can all learn in the process.

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