supporting extracurricular events

Over the years that I've been at Large Urban, I've been gradually developing my "policies" for certain things -- it helps me respond to situations if I feel that I'm not always reevaluating everything from the beginning. So, of course the first things were grading & attendance policies -- which are the official sorts of plans I publish and share with my students. But I also have my personal policies -- how to respond to service demands in my dept, in my college, and at the university level; how to deal with loaning books or sharing resources with graduate students; how to respond to emails; etc etc.

And one of my internal policies is that if a student invites me to attend an extracurricular event s/he is involved in, I go, if my schedule will allow. Because I teach at a large commuter school, the number of such requests is very small, as compared with my friends who teach at smaller colleges where faculty participation or encouragement of campus events is sometimes not only encouraged but required. But because of that, I think it's even more important that I do show my support for student efforts.

So, over the years I've gone to theater performances, poetry readings, film showings, and a couple of athletic events. Last night I went to a performance art event held at a neighboring institution, invited by one of my students who knew the performer. I stayed for the Q&A afterwards, and really enjoyed the opportunity to hear the students discuss gender issues in a variety of frameworks. It reminded me a little bit of my own college days, the richness that comes from engaging with ideas in many different forms and practices. Sure, I was the only faculty person there, and the oldest person in the room (this other institution draws a more traditional student base than mine does). But my student was happy I was there, and no one else really seemed to mind. At an institution like mine, where faculty and students all commute from different parts of the city, such opportunities are quite rare. I like my privacy and my freedom that come from that urban environment, but it's nice to connect with students outside the classroom occasionally too.