As part of his duties as Dean of Students, Christopher Buddle shares weekly wisdom with McGillians through his Dean’s Corner newsletter. The column has garnered attention across campus, even leading to the new #buddlehuddle moniker for his student outreach efforts. Buddle sat down with The McGill Tribune to discuss the #buddlehuddle and his greater role as Dean of Students.
McGill Tribune (MT): What inspires the advice you give to students?
Christopher Buddle (CB): “[Dean’s Corner] serves a number of purposes [….] In many cases, it’s just kind of what I see as issues with students or in academia that maybe I can offer some advice or opinions [on], or highlight services [for….] I have a long […] list of different ideas, and I basically think about what’s going on around campus and what might be good advice or things to talk about at that time. I always try to time some around midterms to [recommend] resources [….] Sometimes I just give advice from experience. I did that a couple weeks ago with a post called ‘Learning to Fail.’ I failed courses in my undergraduate [career], and it’s okay to fail. In fact, it’s normal for students to struggle academically now and then, and that doesn’t define you. That’s part of what it is to be a student and go through a transformation.”
MT: Do you have a favourite Dean’s Corner installment?
CB: “I made this [post], ‘Hey Prof Dude: How do we help students write effective emails,’ and I actually got pushback from students saying, ‘Well what about profs? Because they write horrible emails’ [….] We all have to be respectful and think about how we communicate with people all the time, so I loved that one [….] People still write me [emails addressed], ‘Hey, Prof Dude’ on purpose.”
MT: How did you find out about the Buddle Huddle?
CB: “I think it was embedded in the comments on Reddit. After I wrote the ‘Learning to Fail’ [post], some people questioned why the Dean of Students wrote them an email about failing. One of the comments was something around [joining the] #buddlehuddle, and I read it and thought, ‘well, that is outstanding,’ because that’s actually what I want to do. I want to find a way to connect with students. I think I can own that hashtag, [and it will] be beneficial in connecting with students.”
MT: Are there any plans to use a #buddlehuddle in the future to better connect with students?
CB: “Yes, I think [there are….] I’m constantly looking for ways to engage and to be accessible, and so, the ‘Buddle Huddle’ idea is one step in that journey. I’m thinking of starting a podcast in January [….] My goal […] is to answer questions that people have about the university [and] about the Dean’s office. I know students listen to podcasts, so I’ve got to go to where students are [….] I think I’m going to pursue a lot of those things. I think it’s great, and I’m not sure it’ll succeed. Some things work [and] some things don’t, but, who knows? I’ll try.”
MT: If you could only give one piece of advice to McGill students, what would it be?
CB: “[I would like students to know that] thinking and doing beyond the classroom is important [….] I don’t mean to not concentrate on academics, but, beyond the classroom [this might mean] finding your community. We all need friends [….] Loneliness and isolation are huge concerns for me among our students, so [a main focus is] how […] we facilitate getting beyond the classroom and developing that community, whether it’s support, whether it’s a club or activity, or whether it’s finding out what resources are available.”