Choosing a Spring National Conference 2015

By Josie Ahlquist

Around one year ago I wrote a post called “Choosing a Spring National Conference” spelling out the line up for spring national conferences.  I bring you version 2.o for 2015, also including ways you can be part of the conference experience without physically being on site.

There are many decisions that go into attending a conference.  Especially in the spring, a number of national conferences are scheduled to choose from.  Due to the various costs that it takes to attend each of these, for most professionals the likelihood is only attending one, if any at all. 

To help bridge these challenges, every year conferences seem to integrating technology to further their educational offerings and attendee interaction.  For example conference hashtags, as well as live streaming keynotes and educational sessions.  

Please make note of the early bird deadlines that I have gathered.  I have noticed some trends, including early bird deadlines being pushed up weeks early from last year.  I have also noticed three association prices significantly rose since last year, while two others have remained the same.  One association (ACPA) prices dropped across each early bird registration category.

National Association of Campus Activities (NACA)

College Student Educators International (ACPA) 

  • Dates: March 5-8th 2015
  • City: Tampa, FL 
  • Website:
  • Registration: Early Bird February 18th Member $450 Student $190 Non-Member $650
  • Follow Hashtag #ACPA15

National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) 

Association of College Unions International (ACUI) 

  • Dates: April 8-12th 
  • City: San Antonio,TX 
  • Registration: Early Deadline by December 17th Member $795 Students $395 Non Member $1,025
  • Website:
  • Follow Hashtag #ACUI15

National Intramurals-Recreation Sports Association (NIRSA) 

  • Dates: March 30th-April 2nd
  • City: Grapevine, TX 
  • Registration: Early bird February 18th Member $565 Nonmember $735 Student Member $450
  • Website:
  • Follow Hashtag #NIRSA2015

Association of College and University Housing Officers – International (ACUHO-I) 

  • Dates: June 27-30th, 2015
  • City: Orlando, FL
  • Registration: Early Registration April 30th Member $588 Non-Member $798
  • Website:
  • Follow Hashtag #ACUHOI

For more information about choosing a national conference, check out my post last year that considers four major elements to consider including your conference goals, adding up your costs and receiving institutional support.  

I’d love to hear other conferences to consider in Student Affairs this spring and early summer.  How are you seeing technology fused into the conference experience on-site as well as for virtual attendees?

Personally, this year will be a very heavy conference attendance season, as I share research from many studies I have been working on.  You can find me at NACA, ACPA and NASPA!  Hope to see you there! 

If you can’t attend, follow me at @josieahlquist as I’ll be tweeting out session content!

Choosing a Spring National Conference 2015

Four Years and Counting

by Kristen Abell

Roughly four years ago, Brenda Bethman and I started this collaborative blog as a place for women to blog about technology and student affairs when no other such place existed, when women were hardly seen in the student affairs technology space at all. Since then, we’ve published almost 600 posts and worked with many awesome women in technology. Some have started their own blogs. Some have gone on to do speaking and consulting about technology in student affairs or other things. We think all of them are pretty incredible.

As we head into our fifth year of blogging here at Student Affairs Women Talk Tech, expect to see more great things from all of us ladies. We’ll be adding some information about opportunities to have us come speak at your institution, giving you chances to see us live on the interwebs, and maybe even let you hear our voices from time to time. And of course, there will be more great blogging coming your way, too.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating our four years of fabulousness and stick around for even more great things to come.

Cheers to these amazing women!

Four Years and Counting

Follow Friday

By Rachel Luna

#FollowFriday is one of my favorite social media traditions because I’m always looking for ways to learn new things.  As Abigail Adams said, “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”  In this spirit, I look for accounts to ensure my Twitter timeline will keep me connected with the goings-on in the world, pique my interest, and enhance my awareness around issues of social justice.  For this #FF post, I’m sharing a trio of such accounts:


NPR’s Code Switch, @NPRCodeSwitch

Twitter Bio:

“We tweet about race, ethnicity and culture, how these things play out in our lives, and how all of that is shifting. We did @TodayIn1963. Hang with us.”

Sample Tweets:

My Take:

Fans of intersectionality will enjoy this account, which features a series of bloggers who tackle race, ethnicity, and culture.  On any given week, posts can touch on music, research, literature, language, etc., all through the lens of race and ethnicity.  I particularly appreciate the way they engage with their followers, often posing open-ended questions, retweeting responses, and inviting suggestions for future stories. One “don’t miss” project from these folks is the innovative, robust history project @Todayin1963, which simulated live-tweet coverage of that dynamic year in US history.


Teaching Tolerance, @Tolerance_org

Twitter Bio:

“Founded in 1991 by the Southern Poverty Law Center [@splcenter], Teaching Tolerance provides educators with free educational materials.”

Sample Tweets:

My Take:

This account helps me remember that I am both an educator in my role as an #SAPro, and a student in my role as an engaged global citizen.  From their historical #OnThisDay tweets to suggested curricula for current events, Teaching Tolerance focuses on applied learning about diversity and inclusion. Although their materials are generally aimed at the K-12 classroom crowd, I find it a fun exercise to consider adapting and applying their resources to higher education and student affairs settings.


Race Forward, @RaceForward

Twitter Bio:

“We advance racial justice through research, media and practice. We publish @colorlines and present Facing Race. Formerly the Applied Research Center.”

Sample Tweets:

My Take:

This is a “challenge and support” account for me in that keeps me informed and also keeps me thinking.  In addition to providing useful news updates via their outlet @Colorlines (described as a “daily news site where race matters”), this account also hosts provocative Twitter chats like #LivesOfBlackMen and promotes social change initiatives like the “Drop the I-Word” campaign. These are also the people behind the Facing Race conference (described as “the country’s largest multiracial conference on racial justice”), which you can attend in person or lurk on the backchannel (#FacingRace14).

Your Turn

What accounts do you follow to stay up on current events, culture trends, and perspectives on social justice?  Share in the comments or tweet @RachelHLuna so others can follow, too!


Follow Friday

#StayWoke: A Ferguson-centered Follow Friday

by Niki Messmore

This #FF post is being written on Sunday, August 18th. My timeline is full of #staywoke, #HandsUpDontShoot, and #Ferguson. There are photos of men, women, and children who have been tear gassed. Reports of peaceful protests hijacked by police wearing military gear. Residents and journalists being threatened by riot police to “Get back! Or next time you’re going to be the one maced” or “Get out of here or I will shoot you.”

This is all the result of a police officer shooting an unarmed black teenager.  And really, it’s all about systemic racism.

What can I do? I feel helpless and angry as I read the young man’s autopsy report and scroll through tweets. There are some things I can do (especially as a white woman). One of them is to educate (myself and others).

The following is a list of folks who have been reporting & tweeting on the events in Ferguson (mostly thanks to Black Twitter). I know there’s a chance that by Friday that issues in Ferguson may have calmed down, but I guarantee we are still going to need to keep talking about this. As professionals in higher education we MUST acknowledge that systemic racism is a thing and that our society does not value the lives of people of color.

  • @Awkward_Duck: Black feminist activist, she has been organizing in the Ferguson community, including stopping looters
  • Mikki Kendall: Writer for, her commentary is on it at all times, and she RTs all the key Ferguson things
  • zellie: Activist in the black community, he runs and flew to Ferguson to participate in the protests.
  • Antonio French: Alderman for St. Louis’ 21st ward, this man has been on the ground since Day 1
  • Maria Chappelle-Nadal: MO State Senator representing parts of Ferguson, she was tear gassed during a peaceful protest
  • Robert Cohen: Photojournalist for the St. Louis Dispatch, and photos like this and this make me question America
  • Jesse Williams: More than just an actor on Grey’s Anatomy, his tweets will get you reflecting on race in America
  • Christopher Hayes: MSNBC host who has been reporting a lot on site, including police run-ins
  • Wesley Lowery: Washington Post reporter who was arrested w/o cause by Ferguson police alongside Ryan O’Reilly and has been reporting on site
  • Imani: Senior Legal Analyst for @RHRealityCheck, her commentary and RTs are a must


Also, I put together a Twitter list of folks who are on the ground in Ferguson – both journalists and verified community leaders and activists. Get your info from the source.

At this point, there are probably new voices out there reporting on Ferguson. Who have you been following? Leave your suggestions in the comments or tweet them out to @NikiMessmore so I can follow them also.

And remember…we sometimes forget ourselves, locked in the Ivory Tower of Academia and focusing on our campuses. We need to continue our education, create discussions, and take action. But mostly? We need to wake up.


#StayWoke: A Ferguson-centered Follow Friday

On My Desk: Function and Fun

By Josie Ahlquist

I recently reclaimed my desk.

It was taken by books, random post-it’s, binders and too many picture frames.  In every office and campus I have worked, office visitors have commented on the “liveliness” to my office.  Call it busy, full or colorful.  There has always been a lot going on.

Not messy, just full.  I like to think full of life.  I want my personality into my work, which includes function and fun.

Especially working on a college campus, if I was going to spend so much time in the office I wanted to be comfortable.  Not like a couch and sleeping bag, but memento’s, books and photos.  For some I know this wouldn’t work.  Simplicity and empty shelves may bring on a sense of comfort.

Now, working from a home office it is nearly impossible to make a distinction from personal and professional.  I share my office with what serves as a guest bedroom, extra storage and an ever-present puppy ready to play.

Moving into the dissertation phase of my doctoral program my desk is going to be crucial.  From data collecting, analysis and reporting.  Nine-month countdown is on to May 15th 2015!  I recently wrote about my dissertation topic on my blog, feel free to read more about that here.

I am a visual person, color-code addicted and in love with my label maker.  This is obviously going to carry over in how I stay organized and even in how I conduct my research.

photo 2

When I reclaimed my office, I moved around my desk and the objects on it.  The one item that I added was a bulletin board that corresponds to my research participants.  It is a visual, colorful and secretly labeled object that allows it to remain in plain sight, yet completely informative and inspirational just to me.

photo 1
I love it because it is functional, yet fun.  It represents my personality.I think these ‘secret’ items are the coolest additions to have in your office space.  They can be used to break the ice with a student or have significant meaning so much that just seeing it is uplifting.  Maybe it’s a quote, a card or a weird pencil you received when you were five at Disneyland from your grandpa.

Professionalism in the office doesn’t mean leaving our whole selves back home and that includes the items we choose to lace in our work-spaces.

What is on your desk?  What does your desk/office say about you? 

What is your stance on personal items in your office?  Do you want clean lines or okay with clutter?  Do you have one item that will always be in you office, no matter where you go? 

Tell us about it in the comments below!

On My Desk: Function and Fun

The Integration of Social Media in the Grief Process

by Niki Messmore

The memory is sharp and cuts like broken glass.

Garbed in black like Death’s reapers, they stood out in the sunny summer day. Their state trooper hats brushed against the door frame as they entered. Fear struck me, but it was not the quick strike of lightning but the smoldering of flames playing along the edges of dry wood. Either way, it burned.

My stomach clenched and my back stiffened. There was only one reason why state troopers would come to my door. There was only one member of my family not present in the house.


The jarring truth of life is that death is the only constant. Yet we do not speak of death often. Reports state that only around 30% Americans discuss death, making it a taboo topic, although 90% are interested in discussing the subject. So how do we deal with death when it is actually presented to us?

For an increasing number of people, it is social media.

Journalists and researchers are beginning to examine how people are using social media during the grief process, from the New York Times to Fast Company to Slate to a pleasant list of articles via Google Scholar. Social media is, at its core, about relationships in a digital age. For many (but not all), there is a strong desire to reach out to those they share a relationship with during grief, so the concept of ‘cyber grieving’ is not surprising.

I should know.

Last August my father was killed in a car collision – during the middle of residence life training and the beginning of my second year of grad school, as my luck would have it. He died on the way to the grocery store and thus there was no food in the house when we arrived. Like Buffy Summers in the episode ‘The Body’, it was my responsibility as the eldest to be strong, stable and make all arrangements. It wasn’t until I went grocery shopping that I broke down in front of the bagger, weeping and convulsing. All I could think about was the aftermath photos that the newspaper so callously published and trying to figure out what to do next.

I felt so utterly alone. Hallowed out like a jack ‘o’ lantern, with a grim, insincere smile frozen on my face.

So I reached out to people I cared about, and who cared about me, on social media. First for a request for prayers and then, after all notifications had been made by phone, with a statement about what occurred. The response was more than I could have asked. Wall posts, private messages…they gave me the strength of ten vampire slayers. Yet there were invasions of privacy that were upsetting – such as a one-time college acquaintance demanding I say how I was doing through a Facebook comment and getting angry when I ignored his request (he was promptly deleted).

Is cyber grieving an appropriate or beneficial part of the grief process?

As student affairs practitioners, we must learn to talk about grief more so we can better support our students and colleagues. With the trend going towards expressing grief through social media, it is important that we learn how this can help or harm the process.

Some Benefits of Cyber Grieving
1. Provides instant support– even just ‘liking’ a status gives the grieving person the knowledge that they are not alone
2. Accesses a large support network – provides opportunities for people to reconnect and gain support, from current friends to old friends to coworkers, etc
3. Allows for expression of emotion – society doesn’t provide spaces for people to openly grieve and release emotion; social media allows people to create their own spaces
4. Provides an opportunity to connect with others who are grieving as well – whether it is memorial Facebook pages or writing on the deceased’s wall, social media allows people from different areas of someone’s life come together to grieve

Areas of Concern Regarding Cyber Grieving
1.  Can be triggering – since everyone grieves differently, one person posting statuses about a person can trigger emotions in others.
2. It may be offensive to others who are grieving – what happens when one family member wants to share thoughts about the deceased yet another family member believes that should be private?
3. All information is public – everything lasts forever on the internet, and social media begs the act of over-sharing
4. Ethics – the impulse to share is strong, especially as human life becomes more intertwined with using social media. What happens when information gets shared too soon, and people close to the deceased find out first through a Facebook status or tweet?

It’s important that we provide spaces and resources on campuses for students who are going through the grief process (which can be in regards to many types of life events; i.e. not just death, and take many forms). As technology continues to grow as a tool of human communication, we have to continuously consider how cyber grieving can play a part in the grief process for our students and colleagues.

I’d love to open further dialogue on this topic of grief in general and am considering a blog series. What are your thoughts? Do you think cyber grieving is helpful or harmful to the grief process? How can student affairs be better prepared to help support those grieving? Please consider sharing below in the comments or tweet me at @NikiMessmore.

Many thanks to those who responded to my Facebook status and shared (publicly and privately) about their own experiences with grief in the social media age.


For further thoughts from a student affairs perspective, I suggest reading over all links in this article and this following presentation:
Kocet, M.M., Hale, C., Burne, Quinn, P.M., & Sarahs, J. (2013, March). Cyber grieving social media in addressing grief and loss, and inspiring well-being in students. Presented at the ACPA Annual Convention. Powerpoint retrieved from

The Integration of Social Media in the Grief Process

Productivity Tech Tips: Google Tabs, Labels & Filters

by Jess Samuels

Everyone has felt overwhelmed by email at one time or another, either because of the sheer quantity of it, or because of all of the “to do” items that get created because of it.  I am going give you two simple tricks that I use to help manage my inbox and keep calm when the emails are in  rapid fire mode.

Google Tabs

If you aren’t yet using google tabs, you are missing out on a wonderful opportunity – to clear your inbox, and most importantly, to clear your mind.  Google has brilliantly created a system for automatic organization of your emails into categories:

  • Primary

  • Social: Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

  • Promotions: Deals, offers, and other marketing emails

  • Updates: confirmations, receipts, bills

  • Forums: online discussion groups, mailing lists

Before Google Tabs I would get annoyed by any email I received during work hours that took me off track.  While it is nice to receive the occasional email update from Facebook, you don’t want to feel buried in updates in order to get to what is important.   What I find when using Google Tabs is that I diligently work through email in my primary tab and that when I have time, I am able to look at all of the updates, mailing lists, and offers together.  The mere act of clumping these types of emails makes me so much more receptive to receiving them!  Google Tabs is smart enough to learn as well, so if a particular mailing list is SUPER important, you can assign it to go to your primary inbox instead.  So if you aren’t using google tabs yet – give it a try.

Google Labels & Filters

Many folks use their email as a giant to do list.  If there is an email in the inbox you know something needs to be done with it – however, when you get behind in your email or check your email on your phone it is hard to keep actively managing your inbox.  The key is to use labels to tag to do items, items you are waiting for and projects.

A browser add-on, such as “ActiveInbox for Gmail” is one way to do this – however, you can also use the same system with your existing labels.  Creating a “!Action” label, and a “!Waitingon” label.  The ! keeps the labels at the top of your labels.  Don’t forget to add a bright color to each label, so that they stick out.  To take labels to the next level, you should use automatic filters to attach colorful labels to important emails, like your boss’ emails.

Productivity Tech Tips: Google Tabs, Labels & Filters

Highlight a Woman: Taylor Koch!

Graduate Student. Leader. Innovator. Friend.

When I was asked to highlight a woman in technology, I immediately thought of Taylor Koch and her work in establishing the IUSPA Virtual Conference. Taylor is a second-year masters student in the Higher Education & Student Affairs (HESA) program at Indiana University and her assistantship is at IU Career Services Center. Most recently she was the 2012-2013 President for our HESA student organization, Indiana University Student Personnel Association (IUSPA).

During her tenure Taylor created and implemented the IUSPA Virtual Conference in October 2013 alongside a small group of dedicated volunteers; advancing technology as a tool to link graduate students and professionals across the country. I am thankful that she allowed me to interview her about the experience.

Creation of the Conference
Taylor’s inspiration for the conference began in learning IUSPA history. In 1976 IUSPA sponsored the first Midwest Meeting of Graduate Students in Student Personnel (MMOGSISP) which became an annual event in the field. This event originated with George Kuh, who had “the idea of bringing graduate students to interact with students from other programs.” Unfortunately the last MMOGSISP was in 2007 at IU because grad students had lost interest in traveling to short term conference; time and money were limiting factors.

So why a virtual conference? Taylor explained. “This <money and time> was the reason behind suggesting a virtual format- to allow for a free meeting of students, that could happen any time, in a variety of locations.  Additionally as technology becomes an increasing tool for student affairs professionals, I thought it would be helpful for SA professionals both experienced and new to the field, to engage with newer forms of communication.”

Taylor’s Personal Purpose
It is no easy feat to create a conference that is centered on technology and institutional partnerships – especially as a busy graduate student. So why is Taylor so invested?

“I think that IU HESA prides itself on being a leader and strong program in the field of Higher Education and Student Affairs. For this reason, I wanted to create a program that would allow IU to bring together other graduate students, and provide an innovative method of engagement. I became very interested in the history of the program and I was dedicated to reviving this part of IUSPA’s history.”

Google Hangout was selected as the platform for the conference due to its inclusive nature (Google+ accounts are free) and widespread use. More so, the platform provided an opportunity for sessions to be small and interactive.

Partnerships & Promotions
The challenge of creating a virtual conference that works across multiple campuses is promoting the event to recruit both presenters and attendees. Taylor reached out to programs throughout the Midwest, focusing on this area as MMOGSISP once did (although presenters also represented the south and west coast). Social media marketing was implemented by Niki Messmore (me, your friendly author).

Program Content
There were 11 one-hour sessions provided over a 4 day period. A variety of session topics were included, such as “A Thousand Paper Cuts: Students of Color Speak on their Experiences in the Academy”, “Breaking Down Silos: Building Connections Across Functional Areas” and “You Ask, I’ll Answer: A Virtual Fireside Chat with an Alum in the Field”. Presenters included grad students and professional staff from 9 institutions. The conference booklet can be found online here.

“When using a virtual setting there is a certain degree of control that is lost.  Some technical issues, such as a frozen Power Point, do not allow for trouble shooting during the session.” Taylor recommended that future conference planners make time for a ‘practice run’ for presenters and facilitators to practice using the technology.

Taylor was proud of the variety of session topics and number of institutions involved. “It was great to have not only graduate students, but experienced professionals involved in the conference.  It has also been wonderful to see a strong response for those at other institutions that would like to help plan the conference in future years.”

Looking to the Future
“Marketing is one area that I hope will greatly increase in the (hopeful) future of this conference. With the foundation of at least one year of the conference the hope is the conference will be simpler to promote and explain to potential participants.”

Participation from Partnering Institutions
Now that there is groundwork for the conference, Taylor knows that investment from other institutions will be key. “I hope that this conference can continue through both IU in collaboration with other institutions, and continue to spread to other graduate programs.”

“I think there is also potential to either create a theme for the conference, or create a list of requested/suggested topics that most interest current students/alumni/professionals. I also think that it would be great to engage more faculty both from IU and other institutions.”

Final Thoughts
What do you think, Gentle Reader? Would you be interested in participating in a Virtual Conference? Do you see this conference as a logical next step for technology, student affairs, and graduate school? Leave a comment or tweet me at @NikiMessmore

Highlight a Woman: Taylor Koch!

Productivity Tech Tips

by Jess Faulk

Just recently I teamed up with @RobbieSamuels for my first non-student affairs presentation on Productivity Tech Tips.  This was particularly exciting for me, as it wed two of my very favorite things – productivity and technology.  It’s probably no accident that these two areas complement each other perfectly.  However, it is not only my own productivity that I am concerned with.  I hate to see others spending time on tedious tasks unnecessarily (learn mail merge ASAP!) or not using the latest and greatest tools.  Help me help you.

How would you rate yourself in productivity?  Do you strive to find the shortest route to the solution to any problem?  Are you one of those people who watches a co-worker doing something like copy and paste in ten laborious steps and then can’t help but tell them the keystrokes to do it in two?  Then you and are in the same cursed group.  A group full of Maven’s who feel like it is their personal responsibility to rid the world of ineffective or inefficient processes.

Productivity tech tips to the rescue! I am excited to share these gems with you.  Not every tool is right for every person, so try them out and see what fits best in your life.  Below is our entire keynote presentation featuring 16 powerful technology tools to increase your productivity.  Note: Video with audio embedded in presentation.

I hope you try out some of these awesome tech tools to make yourself happier, and more productive in your job and in your personal life.  Oh, and please learn the keystrokes for Copy (Cmd-C) and Paste (Cmd-V) 😉

Priority Inbox
Boomerang for Gmail
Gmail labs
Google docs and forms
Google Drive and Dropbox
Hootsuite and Tweetdeck
Doodle and MeetingWizard
Google Hangouts
Jing +

Productivity Tech Tips