Why is student affairs so difficult? [graph]

by Jess Samuels (@jessmsamuels)

A few years ago I was reading my favorite geek comic, xkcd and came across this one graphing fruit – items that have no business being on a graph.

fuck_grapefruit

Immediately I thought of another thing that has no business being on a graph – the work we do as student affairs professionals. So, what did I do?  Graph it of course!  As with any humor, it’s meant for a little laugh at ourselves, so take it lightly (and don’t forward it to any parents at my institution) 😉

EasyDifficult

 <Click on image to enlarge>

What did I miss on the graph?  Let me know in the comments!

Why is student affairs so difficult? [graph]

Why Student Affairs Professionals Should Care About #GamerGate

By Kathryn Magura

**Warning: this blog post contains content of a violent nature that may unintentionally trigger someone. Please read on with caution.**

 

I am not a gamer. I do not go online and play video games with other people. Why then would I purport to get involved with an issue called #GamerGate?

Well, for starters, women are being threatened with horrendous crimes because they have chosen to speak out against #GamerGate. Yes, you read that correctly. Women – a growing population in the gaming world – are being threatened with specific threats of violence like gang rape when they choose to speak out against the sexism in gaming. If you are not aware, there is quite a bit of overt sexism in the gaming world. Everything from female characters who are sexualized to bullying women out of the community, it is truly an ugly world to be a part of if you are a woman. That said, some women still choose to partake simply because they love to game. Something they have every right to continue doing.

Women who speak out against #GamerGate face a real threat of being doxxed (which is internet speak for when personally identifying information like address, age, Social Security Number is published) and thusly sent into hiding. Felicia Day, a famous gamer and actress finally spoke out against #GamerGate, and within minutes was doxxed. Men who speak out do not face the same doxxing threats. Why?  This is wrong, and the only way to stop it is to draw more attention to the issue.

For some more context about this issue, those who are pro #GamerGate claim that the issue is about media ethics in gaming. When I first tweeted about #GamerGate:

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 8.22.37 PM

I received quite a few responses from people who defended #GamerGate under the belief that they were defending the need for more ethics in gaming. While I believe these people wholeheartedly believe this version of #GamerGate, they are also incredibly naive to ignore what has happened to the women who speak out against #GamerGate. These atrocities are happening to women only, not the men who also speak out. How is this an issue of gaming ethics??

Newsweek sought out to answer the question of what the root issue of #GamerGate is, and concluded that #GamerGate is about harassing women more than gaming ethics. In 2014 we have blatant sexism running rampant without consequence. THIS IS NOT OK.

So why should Student Affairs professionals care about #GamerGate? Besides the fact that we have women being harassed and threatened, there is a deeper issue at play here. Many of these gamers who are threatening women and sharing their private information are our students. They are our residents on campus. They are the students in our first year seminar classes. They are the students who attend our events (or not).

We have students on our campuses who think it is ok to publish personal information about a woman, or even threaten to rape her, simply because she disagrees with him. This is not ok. We need to reach out to these students and help them see the true value in other human beings. This is not a game. This is reality, and people are getting hurt. The threat is real, and we owe it to these gamers to encourage them to see the difference.

Why Student Affairs Professionals Should Care About #GamerGate

The “Future Student Affairs Grad Students” Facebook Community

By Niki Messmore

The process for selecting a graduate program in student affairs is changing. The platform for this change: Future Student Affairs Grad Students (FSAGS), a public Facebook group that boasts 4,093 members as of Oct 21, 2014.

Several years in the making, there are 13 administrators who monitor the page. Members include prospective students, currently enrolled graduate students, recent graduates who joined the group during their graduate program search, and current faculty members. It is a highly active group with 55 posts in the last 7 days.

No longer are students exploring programs through just their personal contacts, but now they have the opportunity to explore programs from around the country with a simple post.

I’ve been observing and participating in the group for around the last two years and it is interesting to consider what impacts it may be creating. Here are a few brief thoughts that require further exploration and discussion:

Observed Benefits

  1. There is an online community for individuals who want to enter student affairs
  2. A variety of schools are represented; top-ranked, regional campus, counseling focus, administrative focus, etc
  3. Great opportunity for current graduate students to take ownership of their experience and engage in mentoring activities with prospective students
  4. Information on #SAgrad programs is notoriously difficult to find (NASPA’s website is ok but not easily accessible). Prospective students can easily inquire about almost any program and almost every post has at least one (or twenty) responses.
  5. The group is accumulating a wealth of user-generated resources, such as database on program assistantships (70 positions/schools & counting) and information on graduate programs.

Areas of Concern

  1. Group think can occur. Some posts (especially around Jan-March) cultivate a hive mind that student affairs as a field already has difficulty shaking.
  2. Unsure what the best course is for rules of engagement. There is a list of SA grad program information with current student contact names, but often prospective students don’t take time to look for the list and post general questions. They literally list 12 schools that they are interested in attending and asks “who goes here?”
    • While this is probably helpful for prospective students, it is time consuming for highly engaged folks who reply to multiple posts and – quite frankly – can be terribly annoying after a while.
  3. Who should be a member? Some prospective and current students post fairly personal thoughts, feelings, experiences, etc. Should assistantship providers and program faculty stay away from this group so the space is safe? Or do they have wisdom to provide?
  4. It can become, at times, a space that straddles the line between shameless self-promotion & helpful information
  5. There’s a reason why we can’t cite Wikipedia: crowd-sourced information isn’t always accurate. Some advice that is provided should probably, well, not.

Follow-up Questions

  1. Is FSAGS a community? The exchanges are often brief Q&A, so it is difficult to tell if authentic relationships are being built across social media. Will these connections last?
  2. Will this impact how SA grad programs market themselves? Should we be providing current students with more ‘marketing’-esque info since they have a more public opportunity to represent our programs? Already some personnel and students are using the group to share their marketing information, like visiting days and webinars.
  3. Are prospective students being authentic? From reviewing posts (quite a few ‘inspirational’ links about leadership), it appears that some may recognize they are being observed by individuals that could impact their opportunity for an assistantship…or is that just who they are?
  4. Will this even the playing ground for lesser-known or newer programs to market their degree and increase applications? Grad programs rate based on reputation. With easily accessible space provided, programs can really get their name out there.

Ultimately, it is a very cool corner of the internet. This group creates further exposure to student affairs, thus possibly increasing awareness to students who may not have considered a masters in higher education. Currently, the group is a wealth of information for navigating the grad school process and it may also increase accessibility for historically underrepresented populations – which is awesome!

Have you had any experiences with the group? Do you think this is a positive addition to the student affairs field? Please comment or tweet me at @NikiMessmore. I’ve been thinking on this group a lot and what it may mean – I would love to hear your perspectives!

The “Future Student Affairs Grad Students” Facebook Community

5 Ways to Involve Students in Accessibility Efforts

By Rachel Luna

Accessibility is a team sport, and students are great teammates to recruit.  Involving students in efforts to increase accessibility is a win-win solution.  First, everyone wins when campus environments are more accessible.  In addition, bringing students into the process can provide robust learning opportunities for all involved by increasing awareness of accessibility issues and gaining enhanced technical knowledge.  Not to mention, there are potential psychosocial benefits for students particularly in regards to developing self-efficacy, advocacy, and leadership skills.  Here are a few ideas for involving students in your campus accessibility efforts:

  1. Solicit Feedback – Are you updating your website, creating campus accessibility guidelines (see this example at University of Wisconsin, Madison), or considering a new software vendor?  Invite students with disabilities to beta test and provide feedback on your websites, applications, and projects.
  2. Program with Student Organizations – Does your campus have a student organization regarding disabilities (such as Student Awareness for Disability Empowerment at Cal State Monterey Bay)?  What about one for STEM majors?  Perhaps the groups could collaborate on a program featuring demonstrations of assistive technology available on your campus.
  3. Teach Student Staff – Do you have students who produce marketing materials or web content?  Train them on principles of universal design in education and encourage them incorporate the new concepts into their work.  Or, have them explore on their own and present what they learned during a staff meeting.
  4. Collaborate in the Classroom – Does your institution have computer science or programming classes?  Connect with a faculty member and suggest captioning videos as a class project.  You could provide campus videos that have yet to be captioned and students could have hands-on learning of these technical skills in a social justice context by working with content that is relevant to their community.
  5. Provide Student Employment or Volunteer Opportunities – What accessibility services or programs are provided by your campus?  Students can often be hired as notetakers, cart drivers, or other assistive aides.  Technology peer mentors (like the ones at Portland Community College) can teach fellow students how to effectively use computers and technology.

What are ways you involve students in efforts to make your campus more accessible and inclusive?  Comment below or tweet me with your experiences and ideas!

Special shout outs to Kathryn Magura (@Kmagura), Gregg Wandsneider (@blindfaith21), rita zhang (@12itazhang), Amy Jorgensen (@AmyLJorgensen), and Kaela Parks (@KaelaParks) for engaging in discussions with me to inspire this post and introduce some of the examples.

5 Ways to Involve Students in Accessibility Efforts

#FF Follow Friday #FF 3 VPs of Student Affairs

by Jennifer Keegin

Josie Alquist did an amazing job putting together a list of Higher Education Presidents to follow on Twitter and due to a recent addition to my job duties, I immediately asked for her next project to be VPs. I decided for today I’d highlight just a few that I’ve followed and enjoyed.

I have a personal interest in this because I managed to convince my VP of Student Affairs to start tweeting. He’s been at it now for two weeks straight (with some help from me) and I am really proud of what has been posted already.

Twitter   Search   brian t rose

His areas of interest: Student Affairs Law (he’s a former lawyer), Urban Planning (especially around public transport), Career Centers and their development, and #Gratitude – working to improve recognition within the Division. You can check him out at @BrianTRose. He’s also got his own Flipbook magazine.

Other VPs for Student Affairs:

@warkent Shana Meyer

Shana Meyer  warkent  on Twitter

Very down to earth person. I mean the first two words in her bio are “Shana Banana”. She’s the VP for Student Affairs, Missouri Western State University.

 

@LevesterJohnson Levester Johnson

Twitter   Search   vice president for student affairs

Also known as a past-president of NASPA, Levester is the VP for Student Affairs at Butler University. I always enjoy his positivity.

 

If you have other VPSA’s that you’d like to recommend – please do so!

 

#FF Follow Friday #FF 3 VPs of Student Affairs

#YesAllWomen

By Valerie Heruska

I often try to stay disconnected from social media on the weekends, particularly those with the extra day, just so I can enjoy time away from the online world. This weekend was no different, but on Sunday morning, I read about the unfortunate event that took place outside the University of California Santa Barbara.

As my CNN notifications popped up on my iPhone throughout the day, I didn’t fully grasp the impact that this killing rampage had on people until I read the #yesallwomen hashtag and the story behind how this happened.

Once I was done hanging out with my friends on Memorial Day, I sat down and read the #yesallwomen stream. For me, reading about all the women and men who shared their thoughts on Twitter, was simply amazing. I appreciated the activism and a place where people came together to fight the bitter and hateful words of  Elliot Rodger. While none of us can undo what Elliot did, I am happy that we can show our solidarity and hopefully put an end to rape and harassment and advocate for our rights as women.

What are your thoughts on the #yesallwomen hashtag?

 

#YesAllWomen

Follow Friday: SSAO’s on Twitter

By Josie Ahlquist

As part of our ongoing series of Follow Friday, I share four women who are in senior level administrator positions in student affairs that you should be following on Twitter.  I could have listed dozens of Deans and Senior Vice Presidents, but selected four with various styles, backgrounds and length of time since joining the twitter community.  Some of whom I haven’t even met before, but see their leadership clearly through how they use Twitter in their leadership roles.

Mamta Accapadi is the Vice President of Student Affairs at Rollins College.  I encourage you to follow her because she gets that twitter is a tool in her position and provides accessibility to students.  She shares news, inspiration and is intentional of joining, supporting and amplifying conversations by other tweets of interest by Re-Tweeting.  She also is living a blended life, sharing family pictures and is part of the student affairs Scandal TV fan base.

Gage Paine is the Vice President of Student Affairs at University of Texas Austin.  Just looking at her feed, you know she is a VP woven into campus life and truly cares about students.  She is also very active in NASPA, adding to the learning process for other professionals during conferences.  She adds a dose of humor, like when she tweeted about being starstruck when meeting George Takei.

Donna Lee is the Dean of Students at Agness College.  She is actually quite new to twitter, but I already see great things for this leader (and hoping this post will encourage her further).  Active in leadership with ACPA, she celebrates the student affairs community and finds connections to share quickly.  I was sold on her potential presence on twitter as her second-ever twitter post read, “I am in the rhythm and flow of an ever-changing life…”

Jayne Brownell is the new VPSA at Miami University.  I knew Jayne acts out her authenticity through twitter when I saw her promoting her previous AVP position with glowing endorsements.  She celebrates Miami university students at events, as well as ensures accurate information/news gets to them quickly such as a school closure.  You can also see her sharing personal life adventures, like going to Billy Joel concerts.

If I was to summarize the qualities of twitter use I see all of these women in leadership acting out would be:

  1. Sharing both personal and professional content
  2. Celebrating their campus communities
  3. Active NASPA or ACPA involvement and intentional content sharing at conferences
  4. Elements of humor and not taking themselves too seriously

I challenge you to think about your own twitter use and how it may or may not fall into these categories.  As you move into higher levels of leadership, incorporating twitter into your practices, what will your presence be like?  

There are various curated twitter lists out there, specifically that pull together upper level administrators in Student Affairs.  While extremely beneficial to quickly find upper administrators, I do give warning.

Do not assume just because a professional is at that level that they will be active nor will add to your personal learning network, at least in twitter form.  Before going and adding every Senior Vice President out there, go into their feed to explore the types of knowledge they are sharing and example they set using twitter on their campus and within the field.

I will also give you a heads up, don’t be surprised to see many listed that signed up for an account and are no longer active.  I call this a twitter graveyard.  Sure they may be active again one day, or maybe just when conference season comes back around.  But what message is that sending?  That SSAO’s only have to sign up for an account, not really use the tool properly or to its’ full potential, and still get tons of followers?  Or you could argue strength in numbers.

Either way, here are a few of those lists to explore.

Happy Follow Friday!

Follow Friday: SSAO’s on Twitter