I recently attended campus day - my first "parent meet faculty" event at the university my daughter has chosen to spend the next four years of her life. As an mom and experienced sport parent, I approached the event with my usual silent support, and measured, but contained enthusiasm ( I am very proud of her!). Since she has already accepted the offer of admission, the check has been deposited, the dye cast, my attendance goal was to listen, absorb, people watch, and purchase university spirit wear. I accomplished all this -- but walked away from the event with so much more. In short, I was BLOWN AWAY.
The university motto, Pro Humanitate (for humanity), says it all. Professors, university executives, deans, student leaders and student volunteers, all exude a palpable sense of community and service to others that defined the event in a manner that I have never experienced before. Service for humanity was not only defined in terms of study abroad or assisting underdeveloped nations, it was much broader. This university serves humanity by challenging their students to expand the limits of conventional wisdom in all areas of life and society. They challenge the status quo in every sense.
This was demonstrated in one particular session that resonated with me. The sociology department chair opened his presentation with a screen shot of various book covers of works he had authored or co-authored. One book in particular argued for "test optional" college admissions. He and the universitybelieve as I do that a student's SAT scores are a narrow measure of a intelligence and do not reflect the student's true ability to learn or achieve. Moreover, his research pointed out that the disparity in test scores among students of different ethnic backgrounds can reflect a socioeconomic bias in many cases. I later asked the professor if his findings have influenced major universities to change their admissions policies. "No, not yet," he responded, but with a smile and a wink that clearly indicated he was not giving up.
Later in that same session, another professor passionately described the Women's and Gender Studies program that she chairs. The program, "examines and questions cultural, biological, political and social constructions of femininity and masculinity." Thirty-five years ago, I took "Economic Problems of Women"- a single course offering, the only of its kind at the time. Today, an entire curriculum and college major is centered on that topic! We've come a long way, baby!
A few weeks later I attended the reception of the university athletic program's booster club. Tthe campus day excitement was still fresh in my mind. This event was equally inspirational, for the spotlight was not only on the capital campaign, but on the program's success in building scholars, graduating student-athletes and developing community leaders. The men's basketball coach described his recruiting strategy as he rebuilds his team for the 2012 winter season. He prioritized personal character and values over sheer athletic talent. He went on to describe his new team and the leadership he expected from his sophomores as the new team forms. While there was no question he wants to win, there was an equally strong conviction that he would do so without compromising the university's core values. In his closing comments, the athletic director described a recent alumni reunion of individuals who not only succeeded in professional sports, but in the game of life as they give generously of their time and other resources to help others. Pro humanitate. A core value the university not only teaches; it demonstrates, it covets.
The excitement I felt inspires me now as I think about momsTEAM, and the service to humanity that all of us who are part of the momsTEAM team, whether it be as a blogger, expert, guest contributor, forum or comment poster or site visitors, are performing. We challenge ourselves and society to change, to improve the youth sports culture that values winning over child safety. We are activists using blogs, posts and tweets to encourage change at as many levels as we can. We see the connection between environmental issues, the health of the earth, and the promoting safe and vibrant playing areas for our kids. We learn to speak loudly and listen carefully. We share, we revel in our victories, both big and small, for we know that our actions make a difference and our kids will learn from these actions more than from what we say. And, with time and luck, our kids will become momsTEAM parents, and carry on the good fight for their kids - for good sportsmanship, great parenting, and safe, fun, competitive youth sports experience. Pro humanitate. It's a fight worth fighting.