The Line

I’m sure it happens to everyone. There are certain students you like better, that you see more, that you’re closer with, that you’re…gasp…friends with. Of course I’m not saying that you go to the bar with them and invite them over for sleepovers or something. But. You probably know which of your students I’m talking about.

The good thing about these students is that they’re the good ones. They follow the rules. They’re involved. They come to events. Heck, they bring friends to events. Sometimes they’re the eyes and ears in an organization. They tell you things you would not normally know. They stop by to say hi. They ask about your wife or boyfriend or kids or pets. They get to know you. They’re great.

Until the day that they’re not. They do something wrong. They’re caught at a party. They don’t turn a form in by the deadline. They fight back on a policy change. Honestly, most of the time it isn’t something that’s a “big deal” because they’re the good kids, remember? But it’s a standard that you uphold with every other student and you have to uphold it with them. Some of them ask if you can make an exception “just this once”. And you can’t because what’s that teaching them and more importantly what sort of message are you sending to everybody else? Sometimes you have to have a conversation with one of these students or even report them.

And you know what? It sucks. Nobody ever wants to be the bad guy. I did not go into residence life all eager to bust parties and write kids up. That is not the fun part of my job. I don’t really like yelling at the kids I barely know so it really sucks when I have to do it to students that I have gotten to know.

Unfortunately I had a day like that today. It wasn’t just one incident though. There were three separate things going on and I had to call several of my student leaders in for conversations. I just spent the whole day dreading what was coming next, like how when you were a kid and you did not want to go home because you had done something wrong and your parents were going to yell at you. I didn’t even want to eat at lunch. I told the students what I needed to tell them, but at the end it was so hard to be the bad guy. I wanted so badly to say that I was sorry…but sorry for what? Doing my job? Making sure they grow as a person and a leader?

While days like this definitely remind me why I can’t be “real” friends with my students, there’s still a part of me that feels bad. I guess it’s my inner nice guy.

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