Managing Conflict and Crisis

Graduates should have the ability to deal effectively with interpersonal conflict and campus crises. Specifically, students should be able to:

  • provide leadership and positive solutions to resolving interpersonal conflicts;
  • respond calmly and thoughtfully to campus crises;
  • provide support to individuals, both students and employees, who have been adversely affected by interpersonal conflict or a campus crisis.

Student Staff Termination
When I was a marketing assistant at Cal Poly Pomona, I was supervisor to a large student staff of 20. I was one of several full-time staff charged with the hiring as well as the termination of student staff. We often emphasized to our student staff that while the position they held with us was not a “real career,” they needed to treat it like one; on occasion students would forget this. Unfortunately, I only had to let one student staff member go while working here for two years. For example, I wrote a student up three times prior to his dismissal. We talked about the immense potential he had and how he needed to bring that to the table at work. In addition we spoke about how he needed to show up on time and how he needed to follow through with his job duties. According to Hagberg’s theory of personal power development (1984), I was in stage four of her theory; I was genuinely concerned about this student’s well-being and wanted him to build up his abilities as I had talked to him several times in attempts to encourage him and do well in his position. However, after several warning meetings and notices it was time to let the student go. It was an unpleasant learning experience, but one that I know is valuable.

Flash Flood in the Student Center
Just a few months into working as a full-time employee at Associated Students, Inc and Cal Poly Pomona a small crisis occurred in our Bronco Student Center (BSC). I had just arrived to work for the day when I heard people yelling down the hallway that the BSC was flooding. I shortly saw a river of water pouring into conference rooms down the hall from our office. Everyone, including myself, grabbed brooms and anything else we could find to push the water out before it got to our office where about 10 computer towers sat on the floor and lines of wires lined the floor. I instructed students to move the towers off the floor and onto desks and to unplug everything. Fortunately the water did not make it to our office. Facilities services from both the BSC and the campus were brought in to manage the damage. We later learned that a grounds man had accidentally hit a water main with a lawnmower. Overall, it was validating to know that I was able to stay calm in such a situation and know what to do without alarming the students. In addition, I was able to trust fellow colleagues as well as the students by working together to avoid further damage the flooding could have caused.

Student Injury
During my time as a marketing assistant for Gas Creative Group at Cal Poly Pomona, we provided safety training for all of our student staff. The most dangerous object in our office that required training was using an X-acto blade for cutting paper, using a paper cutter and using our heavy duty paper cutter that could literally cut a ream of paper in half. Needless to say the “guillotine” cutter as everyone called it, managed to cut more than just paper one evening. As I was packing up to leave a student was using the paper cutter and with no anguish in his voice said he had just cut his finger and he was in a lot of pain. He had a straight face and was known for joking so I thought he was kidding with me. Until he showed me his bloody finger, I did not believe him. We tried using the gauze and bandages we had in our safety kit, but it did not stop the bleeding. I called Emergency Services and on-campus EMT’s arrived to take care of the situation. We filled out a worker’s injury report and had the student sign it. The following week we had additional training on how to properly use the paper cutters.

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