Pillars of Student CultureDecember 13, 2022 2023-05-05 14:04
Pillars of Student Culture
Pillars of Sattler Student Culture
During the 2020-2021 academic year, Sattler students faced a variety of challenges that exposed significant weaknesses in our student culture. The pandemic era quarantines and online classes left many feeling isolated and disconnected. In light of these observations, the Student Council determined that the time was ripe for clearly articulating what Sattler student culture should be. We were certain that providing the student body with a foundational set of cultural pillars would be invaluable in the early years of student culture formation. The Student Council formed a committee to tackle this project and after several months of brainstorming, the committee completed the Sattler Pillars of Student Culture.
The committee started by asking why these pillars should exist. We determined that the student body needed a common vision to elevate corporate health among the students. To determine how that would best be accomplished, the committee surveyed the student body about the existing culture. The committee asked Sattler students to describe the strengths and weaknesses of Sattler culture along with their conception of the ideal student culture. A few common themes emerged from the survey results. The existing culture was visionary, intellectual, and friendly. However, students also noted that busyness, unhealthy competition, and fragmentation were all too common. Furthermore, respondents reported that an ideal culture would encourage students to be authentic, missional, sacrifice for others, and to cultivate a deep reverence for God. The students had spoken, and we had a common vision with the potential to elevate corporate health in the student body.
The committee processed the results and set about turning them into a concrete vision. At this point the book When Helping Hurts provided an important framework for building our pillars. The authors describe four foundational human relationships: relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of creation. They emphasize the importance of these four spheres of interactions for human health and flourishing, saying, “When they are functioning properly, humans experience the fullness of life that God intended, because we are being what God created us to be.”1 To develop a culture that elevates corporate health and leads to a flourishing student body, it would be crucial for the Pillars to address these four relationships.
Behind The Pillars
The four foundational human relationships form the foundation of the Pillars of Student Culture.
The first and most important pillar is a deep reverence for God. It is our conviction that a relationship with God is the basis for all human flourishing. Therefore, Awe Animates Us.
The second pillar emphasizes the importance of knowing one’s own strengths and weaknesses. As one author says, “Those whom truth brings to know themselves it also causes to think little of themselves.”2 In other words, an accurate self-estimation is vital in our journey with others. The committee noted that the college environment can tempt students to always present the best version of themselves and hide their weaknesses. But this masquerade destroys authenticity in the community. Therefore, Honesty Humbles Us.
The third pillar emphasizes the necessity of sacrificial love. The busyness of college life can collapse our focus as we become perpetually absorbed with the next task. An environment dedicated to developing the skills of a student can easily foster self-centeredness. But the Christian life is by definition an others-centered life. The student body should aim for a culture where prioritizing people over grades is the norm. Therefore, Love Lifts Us.
Finally, a truly Christian education must move students to action in the real world. We embody the way of Jesus when our education motivates us to serve and proclaim the kingdom of God to all creation. Therefore, Service Shapes Us. These four relationships are the heartbeat of Sattler student culture.
How We Keep This Culture Alive
One may ask how Sattler keeps these pillars central in student culture. These pillars primarily keeps their roots in the earth of student culture through student “pearls” at Tea Time. See a few below!
¹ Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012), 55.
² Bernard of Clairvaux, “On the Steps of Humility and Pride,” in Bernard of Clairvaux: Select Works, trans. G.R. Evans (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1987), 115.