What makes a campus community?

A university campus is an encouraging place to flourish, to learn, to obtain and to spread awareness, where creativity and resourcefulness bloom. Community in its essence means a group of people living in the same place or having a particular attribute in common.

Accordingly, its characteristics are the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common. As such, mutuality means the relationship between two or more parties, while fraternity is brotherhood formed around common goals and aspirations. The members that form fraternity share their efforts, friendship and knowledge. Together they learn, grow, and make the fraternity stronger. Their common experiences build ties that last a lifetime.

Student engagement on a campus represents two key components. First, is the amount of time and effort students put into their studies and other activities that lead to the experiences and outcomes that constitute a student’s success.

The second is how institutions of higher education allocate their human and other resources, and organize learning opportunities and services to encourage students to participate in and benefit from such activities. The campus acts as a laboratory for the purpose but if a campus is devoid of care, mutuality and fraternity, it will ultimately  fail to achieve a sense of community. Campuses provide the environment required for knowledge production in the form of various programs like workshops, conferences, seminars, research group discussions etc.

These activities are proven ways to get a higher education community closer. Academic success is a combined effort of its faculty members and students and they work together to create a comfortable learning environment. Participative learning and student engagement will make campus a more favorable environment for knowledge sharing. Experiences fun inside the campus is a key requirement of students. By making learning an enjoyable process, both the college and its students are at an advantage.

In a campus, different experiences are shared amongst students and teachers. This helps learners to respect each other’s point of view. They develop certain values and start listening with care to create a non-judgmental attitude.

In such a space they may not agree with someone’s opinions, but they would respect their feelings and expressions. Moreover, in a campus everyone holds the space together and has responsibility towards making it safer and more inclusive. Above all, it’s in a campus where students also learn various life skills which later help them to  live  both personal and professional life in a balanced way.

A liberal education is meant to incorporate elements of critical thinking, diverse experiences, and challenge and enrich interactions with peers and educators. Studies have shown  that an atmosphere of mutual support has had positive effects on the students’ well-being.

Students who embrace the practices of care and mutuality can enrich their life both inside and outside the university campus. Faculty advisors may play an important role in shaping students’ self confidence in ways that do not promote individualized thinking, but collaborative ways of learning and living.

In order to develop care, mutuality and fraternity among youth, the role of a teacher in a campus life goes beyond just education. They may act as leaders, role models, coaches, advisors and  facilitators for positive growth mindset for  them.

Unfortunately many students are stuck in a fixed mindset as they think that the world needs to change, not them. Recently I  read a book written by Dr. Carol S. Dweck titled as  “Mindset”. In one of the chapters he had a great message for teachers which is, ”If you are a teacher remember that lowering standards does not raise student self esteem but neither does raising standards without giving students ways of reaching them, the growth mindset gives you a way to set high standards and have students reached them try presenting topics in a growth framework and giving students process feedback .I think you will like what happens”.

It’s high time to bring a positive change as far as the formative years of a student life in a campus is concerned. I would like to end by quoting Dan Brown saying”all children should be taught to unconditionally accept, approve, admire, appreciate ,forgive, trust ,and ultimately love  their own person”.

Above all as responsible parents, teachers and as professionals, our mission should be to  develop people’s inner  potential. Let us use the lessons of growth mindset- and whatever else we can do   to achieve this.

Aafiya Hamid is a research scholar, department of education,  Kashmir University