“I don’t understand why I’m here,” said Vice President of Student Engagement Connie Tilden at her first couples counseling session with her significant other Assessment Data. “I love Data!”
Tilden agreed to attend therapy only after Data threatened to end their relationship.
“Connie tells me all the time that she loves me, and I admit that it was exciting for my ego every time she got up meetings and told everyone that she loves me,” said Data. “Pretty soon, though, I had a weird feeling that something wasn’t quite right.”
“Do you hear Data when it tells you that it doesn’t feel like you really know it, Connie?” asked therapist Jeremy Yun. “Do you understand what Data is saying to you?”
“That makes no sense at all,” said Tilden. “I demand that my staff provide Data to me all the time. Why would someone do that if she didn’t really care about Data?”
“It’s not that I doubt your sincerity about your feelings,” said Data. “But you have to be honest. You haven’t even looked at me in months. If you saw the real me, I have a feeling you wouldn’t like what the reality is.”
“That’s silly,” said Tilden. “How could I not love my Data?”
“I know this is risky, Data,” said Yun. “But can you give Connie an example of something you’re afraid would make her change her mind about you?”
“This is hard to say, but if you really listened to me, you would recognize that I’ve been telling you about the steady drop in our enrollment retention,” said Data with a shaky voice. “See, I can see you closing down right now when I tell you that, but it’s true. Retention has decreased every year since you’ve been vice president.”
“Okay, fine,” said Tilden. “That’s hurtful and cruel, but I’ll assume that’s just because you’ve withheld it for so long. What else?
“Well, our NSSE survey results indicate a growing dissatisfaction among our students,” said Data. “Those numbers are dramatically lower than when you started working here. It’s painful for me to tell you this, but the results are statistically significant.”
“We’re getting close to the end of our hour,” said Yun. “Is there anything you want to say, Connie?”
“I think we need to explore Data’s discomfort with intimacy,” said Tilden. “I get the feeling that every time I try to get close to it, like I did by listening just now, Data pushes me away. I’m not ready to accept that. We can make this work. Everyone knows I love Data!”