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What's It Like to Serve in Governance? An Interview with Tilandra Rhyne

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What's It Like to Serve in Governance? An Interview with Tilandra Rhyne

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Category: Governance

Published: Mar 28 2016 12:00AM

<i>Tilandra Rhyne joined the College in 2008 as a temporary employee for the Libraries before becoming a full time staff member as an access services library assistant. Tilandra is the chair of the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus and the secretary of the College Council.</i>

<p><b>(MC Governance): What motivated you to serve?</b>
<p>(Tilandra Rhyne): There are a few things. First of all, my colleague's term was ending and she decided not to sign up again. So I asked her what her experience was like. Second, working in the library in the capacity that I do, I have fewer opportunities to connect with so many others working on campus. After several years of being here, there were too many people I just did not know -- and I walk by them every day! So for me it was an opportunity to connect and network and meet new people. But it also allowed me to learn more about the College and how it works. Plus, I love my campus and I felt why not be part of a team that wants to work toward making it even better for the students we serve and the people who work so tirelessly to promote student success.

<p><b>(MC): What is it really like to be a council member? What do you actually do?</b>
<p>(TR): I think the experience is really what you make it. And each year it's different. Each council is different. So the answer could be different based on the person and the council for which he or she serves. Sure, we show up for monthly meetings, but we really are helping in the decision-making processes behind the scenes. So much goes on that most people don't realize. We discuss real issues that people encounter -- we provide people with a voice and a platform to be heard on a wider scale.

<p>Last year, one of our biggest focuses was making sure the Cafritz Art Store was not shut down. This year, we rallied for increased wellness offerings on our campus, stricter recycling enforcement, and more open and swift communication in many areas, just to name a few, and we have had some positive outcomes. We meet, we either hear a concern or bring in a concern on someone's behalf, we brainstorm possible solutions, reach out to others who can help provide more information, and if it's something within reach, we work to implement change. We also have people from all over the College come in to give presentations, provide us with updates about things going on within the College, and we are sometimes asked to provide feedback on initiatives in the works.

<p>As a council member I am a part of the conversation. As the chair, it is my responsibility to facilitate those conversations. In this role, there is more work that goes on, including scheduling guests, drafting agendas, researching issues, providing updates on outcomes to the council and constituents, planning events, and updating the campus community about the meetings. A lot goes on behind the scenes.

<b><p>(MC): What would you consider a few of the most important accomplishments of governance?</b>
<p>(TR): I think the resurgence of this governance system is the greatest accomplishment. From my experience, I would say the fact that people feel empowered and that they have a voice and a body of people who cares is a great accomplishment. I know there are some issues that fall outside of our purview, but when I get to talk with individuals one on one and they share how they truly appreciate being able to come forward and share their stories and actually be heard, I consider that a win.

<b><p>(MC): Do you think governance makes an impact on the College? How?</b>
<p>(TR): Yes. The fact that the old system was overhauled and replaced with this system speaks to the fact that a change was needed. This system, although still in its early years, has had a positive impact on the College. Just in the time that I have served, I have seen issues come to councils and rise all the way to the top, get considered and approved. I have visited different council meetings and have seen senior leadership attending those meetings. What that says to me is that they hear us and are open to taking seriously the matters we encounter and bring forth. They come to us for input. To me that shows a good faith effort that we are all considered in the decision-making processes because we are given the opportunity to participate.

<b><p>(MC): What advice would you give to someone considering whether to serve?</b>
<p>(TR): Attend the meetings. Attending will give you insight into whether it's something you would be interested in doing or not. Also, reach out to others who have served and ask about their experience. It is a time commitment. Sometimes you will be required to do work outside of your normal work schedule, and you have to be OK doing that. I would also say know your motivation for wanting to serve. Apart from anything else, it is a great opportunity to work with people you might otherwise never work with.

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