Rejecting Irrelevancy

finals suck

During Finals, I find it very difficult to truly “help” students. Sure, as campus minister or chaplain you are available as “wise counsel” should a student need to talk, but can you truly “help” those that are somewhere between the living and dead? Because of this, finals have always been the most stressful time of the semester for me. At no other point do I feel so helpless, so tied at the hands in my ability to help.

And it is as this point where I take a walk or two around campus and ask myself how I can actually be supportive. Otherwise I start to gain a sense of irrelevancy not just at this point in the semester, but in the entirety of our profession. And as I started to consider what campus looked like during finals, I came up with a plan.

A few years back, my colleague Mark Schaefer introduced me to the greatest thing since sliced bread: free chocolate during finals. It was a great idea, and one that worked so remarkably well (at least if people trust those pesky religious people at the table) that is became a staple on campus. Tagged with another program, a made to order hot Finals Breakfast, our campus ministry’s dual program of gastrointestinal support during finals make us out to be one of the most popular things during finals at the University of Minnesota. There’s breakfast 6-10 in the morning, then chocolate 10-2 in the afternoon. Miss it one day, oversleep, just come back tomorrow. We’ll be here until the final stroke of the bells on the last day.

I could have given up, just pulled out my laptop and stayed in my office and waited for the students who most likely were not coming. I could have simply left campus and moved on to other things. But then, I would have missed out on my chance to truly support students. There’s not point in being worried about having all the answers to all the finals students are taking. In the end, it may seem like you can’t help them. But you can. You simply have to find a niche that is needed on your campus during this most unique time of the year. And if you ever fear irrelevancy during this time, let this be a reminder that you are not. Because in the end, it’s just about figuring out how you truly are relevant and important.

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