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Chaparral 2020-2021: 29.1 Reaching Across: Building Bridges with Colleagues

Reaching Across: Building Bridges with Colleagues

by Julie Gamberg and Sandy Somo

JULIE: Can you talk about the impetus behind starting this column? What made you feel that there was a need?
SANDY: We wanted to create space for us to get to know our fellow colleagues at GCC, and the work that they’re doing to make our college more student-centered and equitable. So many of us work with select groups—maybe our Division, and the folks we serve on committees with or attend professional development events with, and so we miss out on interacting with and getting to know other folks outside of those contexts. Given that the success of our work as a college is largely based on not only coming up with and implementing more student-centered and equitable ways to serve our students, but to also ensure that others know about the work, so that they can either introduce students to it, or use it to advance their own work in another area as well, and so we felt that it was important to provide more platforms to communicate about the work. We can better serve students when we work together, and when we have a better understanding of the happenings across the college.
JULIE: Yes! I think the other thing that was really important to us is to better understand what felt important to other GCC employees as they represented the type of work they were doing at the college. What are they doing that those of us outside of their area don’t see or don’t see clearly? What, colleague to colleague, are important things for us to know about others’ priorities, passions, ideas, hard work, and ways of contributing to student success, whether directly or indirectly?
SANDY: And thus, “Reaching Across: Building Bridges with Colleagues” was born as we talked about this need! The Chaparral felt like a great conduit for this project, since it’s a newspaper for all GCC employees, so it seemed like the perfect mode for this type of communication.
JULIE: Yes! I love that Chaparral is by and for all GCC employees!
SANDY: What has been your favorite part about putting this column together so far?
JULIE: One thing that has surprised me is that not only has it been informative and beneficial to read the colleagues’ conversations, but those participating seem to get a lot out of it too. It makes me wonder how we can have this kind of conversation in a much larger way? I know that Cameron Hastings - and others - have talked about how useful an employee directory with photos, committees, projects, and areas of expertise would be. And the Guild is right now talking about what it might look like to host a version of the "issues" and/or "personals" list. It's interesting because we have a much greater flurry of communication at GCC than any other CC I know of. And yet, as annoying as that can sometimes be, it is also part of the vibrancy of our campus. I think the question is how to make that dialogue richer, more meaningful, and even more equitable. We're doing something so well already -- communicating often! Lol! - how can we add to that and continue to increase the quality of that dialogue? We are also not alone in being siloed - it is something that pretty much all academic institutions share; however, I do think that many of us care about this issue deeply, and understand that students benefit when we are less siloed. That makes me think that we will continue to find ways of communicating better across divisions, departments, and groups which hold varying types of knowledge and information. I'm excited about those possibilities, and I love seeing the way in which this column is a microcosm of one form of helpful communication.
SANDY: Spot on! I have felt similarly about this project. Although I think we do have multiple ways to communicate at GCC about a variety of topics, I’ve found that we seem to communicate about our work the least—especially outside of our own Divisions and committees we serve on. And that was certainly one of the reasons we were motivated to create this column! I’m hoping that we start to see more and more ways that we communicate broadly about what’s happening at GCC--to both our college community, and to the greater communities that we serve.
SANDY: I have one more question: Sometimes the column pairs employees who work in adjacent positions and sometimes it pairs employees who work in very different positions. Can you comment on the thinking behind this? Also, can you talk about where employee pairing suggestions come from?
JULIE: Yes! One thing we have been talking about together, and with colleagues, is that silos exist within departments and divisions, and within similarly classified employees as well across the college. We felt like it was important to allow for a wide variety of communication to take place, and we wanted to see a lot of different kinds of bridges too! From mind-boggling suspension bridges to sweet little footpaths across a gentle stream. We also do want to continue to open up the column to more parts of campus, and we can't wait for y'all to see the column pairings for this year. Finally, we get ideas for pairings from asking those who have been involved in student-centered initiatives on campus - we ask who they might like to see represented in this column. With that said, this year, we want to reiterate that we would love it if you could please send us employees who you would like to see in the column, and column pairing ideas.
SANDY: And that’s all from us, folks! Thank you for reading and following along with us this past couple of years. Who would you like to see paired this year? Send us your ideas!

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