Are You Ready to Rumble?

By Rachel Luna

October 17 is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which was a 6.9-magnitude tremor that rocked the San Francisco Bay Area, killing 63 people, injuring thousands, and causing billions of dollars in damage.  As a native Californian who currently lives in the footprint of the Hayward fault – one of four “highly stressed seismic faults… [that] could rupture at any time” – I have a personal stake in this issue.  Not to mention I spend six to eight Saturdays each year sitting in a stadium that is bisected by the aforementioned fault as I watch my beloved Cal Bears play football.

Recently, I took to the internet to help with my emergency prep plans. Even if you don’t live in an earthquake-prone area, preparing for disasters is probably a good thing so I figured I’d share some highlights from my research:

  • The “Text First. Talk Second.” campaign from Safe America Foundation is a good strategy to remember for any emergency that might disrupt power or communication systems.  Side note: If your campus has an emergency text alert system, you might consider signing up for that.
  • I curated a list some helpful Twitter accounts related to disaster preparation, including national organizations and government agencies like @Readygov.  Of the many local emergency entities on Twitter, @EmergencyPrepBC (based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) was my favorite thanks to their fun #PreparednessNinja images like this one about “drop, cover, and hold on.
  • Disaster prep doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom either.  For earthquake-specific fun, test your knowledge while playing the Beat the Quake game from the Southern California Earthquake Center.  Then, embrace your culinary side with the Emergency Kit Cook-Off.  This playful perspective on emergency planning resulted in a handful of recipes that look surprisingly decent.
  • For the app-happy folks among us, check out the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app and mobile-enhanced webpage [free, iOS, Android, and Blackberry] or the American Red Cross’s suite of mobile apps [free, iOS and Android] which includes disaster-specific options so you can download what’s most relevant.

If crawling under a desk or table for an earthquake drill isn’t your thing, you could instead spend a few minutes reviewing your campus emergency procedures, creating a communication plan with your family, or refreshing supplies in your emergency supply kit.  Happy prepping!

P.S. I offer up Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” as a soundtrack for this post as it was stuck in my head the entire time I was writing it.

Are You Ready to Rumble?

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

#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

Highlight an App – Easy Chirp

by Rachel Luna

There are myriad Twitter applications out there (e.g., TweetCaster, Echofon, HootSuite,etc.), and each has it’s own spin on how social media is consumed.  For today’s Highlight An App post, I’m turning the spotlight on Easy Chirp, a Twitter application focused on accessibility for people with disabilities.

Formerly known as Accessible Twitter, Easy Chirp is described as “web-accessible alternative to the website.”  The look, feel, and function of this app is optimized for compatibility with assistive technology, such as keyboard-only navigation and screen readers.  In a nod to universal design principles, these structures and systems are not only helpful to folks with disabilities; they also make Twitter more accessible to people using older web browsers, slower Internet connection speeds, and those who do not use JavaScript.  At first glance, it may seem to lack the bells and whistles of Twitter, such as favoriting a tweet or viewing replies as conversations, but rest assured all the functions are there.

In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), which just passed on May 15, the folks at Easy Chirp unveiled a new feature that I think is a potential game-changer: the ability to add accessible images to tweets by including alternative text.  Alt text is particularly helpful for people who have visual disabilities or are otherwise unable to view the image you’ve uploaded.


I tried out the new feature and found the process simple and intuitive (check out my tweet about yummy cupcakes).  The accessible image is presented on a clean page with my image and chosen description.  To be fair, there are some limitations to posting images with this method, some of which are described on the Easy Chirp image help page.  The biggest issue for me is that the image is not uploaded to Twitter directly, which means it shows up in tweets as a link instead of an image.  This also means images don’t preview in tweets nor do they become part of Twitter media feeds.  Despite these drawbacks, this is a cool feature and an important step toward more web accessibility for all users.

I encourage you to explore the Easy Chirp app and try creating your own tweet with an accessible image.  Here’s the process, as described by WebAxe:

  1. Log in to Easy Chirp with your Twitter account.
  2. Select Write Tweet.
  3. Select Add Image.
  4. Select an image from your device.
  5. Enter a title of the image (short description).
  6. If necessary, enter a long description of the image.
  7. Click the Upload Image button. A URL will be inserted in the tweet input (text area).
  8. Finish writing the tweet and click the Post button.
  9. Happiness!

Share your adventures in accessibility by posting your tweets in the comments or tweeting at me @RachelHLuna.  I’m excited to see (and read) your accessible images!

Highlight an App – Easy Chirp

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

Best Practices for Creating Community in a Graduate Program

By Niki Messmore

If student affairs graduate programs were to be depicted in a painting, they would most likely be said to resemble one of Bob Ross’ “happy trees”. In reality, graduate school is often more of a ‘whomping willow’ than a happy tree. Grad school can be difficult in many ways (class/work/life balance) but it can be an especially isolating experience. I’ve written about the 4 types of #sagrad loneliness before in my personal blog and was surprised to hear from the number of people who identified with those experiences.

Community is key to supporting student success and I would like to discuss best practices for creating a community within a student affairs graduate program; particularly through social media.

I’ve taken on several roles, both official and unofficial, to help create, build, and sustain community in Indiana University’s Higher Education & Student Affairs (HESA) program through social media.  We’ve experienced success in building community through Twitter and Facebook during recruitment, orientation, and ongoing experiences, and I’d love to share some practices that have worked for our program.


1. Explore a deeper understanding of social media, both as a philosophy and the technical aspects. Social media works when there is engagement; i.e. capture people’s emotions, ask questions, interact, post interesting news about the program, etc.

2. Create a social media guide. Identify the purpose that social media will play in building community within the cohorts and the strategies that will help to engage students. For example, the guide I created is 5 pages and identifies our philosophy on social media and how we will be engaging students, alumni, faculty, and friends via Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. Intentionality is the key to success.

3. Create a ‘how-to’ guide. The term ‘digital native’ is unrealistic and we can’t expect all grad students to understand how to use the different social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc). Consider writing a manual if you don’t have one already. For example, I’ve written a 13-page document (Professional Social Networking for the #SAgrad) outlining how to technically use social media (create and manage accounts), how to professionally use social media (live tweets, student affairs hashtags and connections), and best practices.


Twitter usage is increasing in the student affairs world thanks to excellent live tweeting sessions and hashtags that connect us across institutions. Therefore Twitter is not only a tool to engage students within a grad program but good professional development.

1. Create a Twitter account for your program. For example, the IU HESA program has a Twitter account for the HESA student organization that I currently manage (IUSPA_HESA). This will give you an official voice in sending out news, interacting with students, and reaching out to alumni, faculty, and staff. Several other great programs out there tweeting with their students include BGSU BGSDA, UT HEASPA, Northeastern CSDA, Baylor HESA, and FSU HESA.

2. Create a program hashtag. Make sure it is unique (check Twitter to see if it gets used by unaffiliated people), captures your program brand, links the reader back to your program (i.e., that it makes sense), and is easy to remember. For example, for IU’s HESA program uses #IUHESA. It was first used by alum Sean Ryan Johnson in 2011 but has been sporadically used since then; I revived it as part of our branding in July. Since then there have been almost 200 tweets using the hashtag. It’s helped masters, doctoral, faculty, and alumni connect to one another over Twitter and has been great in building relationships with one another; adoption of the hashtag by the IU School of Education has been beneficial as well.

Other examples actively used by SA programs include #IUPSAHE and #HESAnation; my search did not demonstrate that there are many grad programs actively using hashtags to connect with one another.

3. Create lists. On your Twitter profile you can follow people and add them to lists that can be made public. Create separate lists for alumni, institutional student affairs staff, and faculty. This will allow people to use the program Twitter account to find one another and interact.


1. Create a Facebook group for your interview weekends. One current first-year student informed me that IU’s Facebook group for the outreach experience was a strong factor in selecting IU. Why? Because she really cared for the community that was built in the Facebook group.  Current HESA students posted in the Facebook group, encouraged questions in group, interacted with prospective students, and during the weekend experience many group photos were uploaded – effectively building a welcoming community for students.

2. Create a Facebook group for your admitted cohorts (one for each cohort and then one combined group has been effective for us). This increases opportunities for interactions in both a fun and academic capacity. For example, our Facebook groups are a combination of social plans, updating on events, and sharing articles to help create discussion on issues of social justice and other areas of higher education.


This is a brief outline of some of the best practices in creating community via social media during my time at Indiana University’s HESA program. Based on personal observation, I can see a distinct difference in the HESA community, especially among first-year grad students. I believe that social media, coupled with creating social events in July and August, helped to build a stronger community within the program.

How does your program use social media to build community? Do you think social media engagement relates to overall program engagement? Leave a comment or tweet me at @NikiMessmore.



Best Practices for Creating Community in a Graduate Program

Follow Friday: East Coast Edition

By Kathryn Magura

It’s my favorite day of the week, Friday! Not only does the culmination of busy week come to an end, it’s Follow Friday day on the blog! I love this blog series because it gives our blogging community an opportunity to highlight some people or places to follow (in a non creepy way, I promise).

I’m excited to present what I’m referring to as an East Coast Edition of the Follow Friday series, because I am choosing to highlight two women I admire who happen to reside on the east coast. And they say east and west coasts can’t get along!

  1. Cindy Kane: Cindy is the Director of Student Involvement and Leadership at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. I first “met” Cindy soon after I found the #sachat community on Twitter, and instantly knew that this smart and witty woman was incredibly kind and authentic. Cindy is known for adding wonderful insights into conversations, and is especially adept at discussing the intricacies of the Strengths Finder assessment. Cindy and I frequently commiserate about our shared Individualization strength, and how exhausting it can be. As a bonus, Cindy is the proud mother of the most hilarious red haired kid I know on Twitter: Little Red Said.
  2. Sue Caulfield: One of the things I love about social media is how you can get connected to people you may never meet otherwise, yet are grateful for the opportunity that brought you together. Sue is a recent connection, and someone who quite simply is a joy to know. Sue is caring, compassionate, and quick to advocate for her fellow introverts. Sue and I share a number of nerdy tendencies, which is something I really appreciate. Something that truly inspires me about Sue is her artistic talent. If you haven’t checked out the myriad “suedles” on her website, I would encourage you to look through them. Simply amazing and inspiring!

Check out these two outstanding women on Twitter!

Follow Friday: East Coast Edition

Follow Friday – the “Silent” Tweeters

by Valerie Heruska

There was an interesting conversation via the Twittersphere the other day. @StacyLOliver started by asking the question:


Of course I responded by saying that some of the best voices aren’t even on Twitter because they’re too busy doing stuff. I agree with Stacy, being that there are times I constantly see the same people’s “voices” on my feed and wonder if they even work during day, but that’s another blogpost. I digress.

But there are people on Twitter who I think carry more validity than those who are the loudest or who have the most followers/fans. Here are just a few:

@DeanWenner : Dean Annamaria Wenner from Wentworth Institute of Technology is a fabulous example of how a dean connects with her students. I find her tweets to be fun and very student focused. I think if anyone is thinking  – but she’s a dean and she is so far up the admin chain, how does she have time for students? – be sure to follow her because she always makes time for her students. Her thoughts of the day are fantastic too!

@JasminePClay  I love to follow Jasmine because she is always tweeting out motivational and inspiring things. If I’m ever having a bad day, I know I can count of Jasmine to make my day better with a little word love. Some examples of her tweets: “It isn’t motivation that creates success, but habit and action.” or  “Compassion can encourage efforts toward global justice and social change.” Thank you Jasmine for making my day a little brighter!

@ShineyJames Similar to Jasmine, Shiney is just a fantastic person who makes my life a little better. Shiney works at BU with me and she is one of the most fantastic women who work here. She;s our director of orientation and does a fantastic job of welcoming the new Terriers.  Some of her tweets that make my day ” Challenging the folks who settle to discover the errors in their ways is something I am always willing to do.” and “If we live only for our individual goals or only for the community, we live a short life. Finding the balance between the two gives us joy.” Thank you Shiney!


Follow Friday – the “Silent” Tweeters

Promoting Live Tweeting as an Educational Tool

by Niki Messmore

There’s a new plague.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is keeping it quiet, but fortunately I’m here to inform you on the symptoms.

Do your hands clench at the thought of technology in the classroom? Do your lips involuntarily curl into a sneer when you witness students on their phones, tablets, or laptops? Are you unable to prevent yourself from grumbling under your breath about “kids nowadays”?

Well, you just may have #BackinMyDayitis (yes, the medical definition begins with a hashtag).

Those afflicted with #BackinMyDayitis get twitchy at the sight of students texting on electronic devices, aggravated that students (typically of the Millennial generation) are ‘not paying attention’ to the class discussion. The creeping thought of ‘lazy’, ‘tech-obsessed’, ‘disrespectful’, and ‘narcissistic’ travels through the mind.

Fortunately, #BackinMyDayitis has a cure! The cure is simple, quite honestly. All that must be done is for the ill person to recover is…just get over it.

Although many articles lambasting the Millennial generation would have us believe that young college students are disengaged from the world, they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Time spent on electronic devices to access social media is just another method for Millennial students to connect to the world.

And therein lies academia’s opportunity to increase student knowledge.

There are plenty of scholarly and practitioner-based articles citing that students learn best when engaged within the classroom. But what about engaging students beyond the classroom – and into social media?

This concept is nothing new. An increasing number of university instructors are using social media platforms to engage their students. To narrow the field of thought, let’s consider how to engage student affairs graduate students in the classroom utilizing social media as a tool.

Student Affairs tech blogger Eric Stoller incited a Twitter discussion on how SA grad programs need to incorporate technology into the programs. Some observers pointed out that many grad programs are not utilizing technology. Of course, without those pesky APA citations, we can’t be sure of who is not including technology into their programs.

What we can talk about are the student affairs graduate programs that are incorporating technology into their classroom – specifically through “live tweeting” on Twitter during the class.

Twitter defines live tweeting: “to engage on Twitter for a continuous period of time—anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours—with a sequence of focused Tweets”.

To some this engagement tool appears too risky to implement, citing the possibility for distraction. But other educators cite that it’s an opportunity to engage students in order to fully realize the academic goal of creating a conversation instead of a lecture. A 2010 study in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning stated that students who tweet have a higher GPA and “showed that students and faculty were both highly engaged in the learning process in ways that transcended traditional classroom activities” (p.119).

A survey of different student affairs graduate programs shows that live tweeting is utilized as a classroom engagement tool. Two examples examples:

1.) Indiana University, Higher Education & Student Affairs: The HESA program live tweeted in several first-year classes this past spring utilizing a hashtag for the course that students and faculty created. Students were then able to engage with guest speakers who were video conferenced for those days.The general hashtag #IUHESA is used as well as course-specific hashtags have carried over for fall 2013 courses.

2.) Florida State University, Higher Education & Student Affairs: First years last month used the hashtag #AmColStu to live tweet their class. They even took 7th place in the Top20 of Tallahassee’s Twitter Trends on 8/28!

Special recognition goes to Bowling Green State University’s program – while I did not see examples of live tweeting courses during my research online, they are actively engaging their students with the hashtag #HESAnation.

Do you have other examples of SA programs that engage in live tweeting tactics? Let me know in the comments! Or better yet, tweet me at @NikiMessmore 🙂

For further consideration: What are the ways in which can live tweeting be incorporated to campus programs and events in order to engage students?

Promoting Live Tweeting as an Educational Tool

Follow Friday: Tech and Student Affairs

by Kristen Abell

There are a few different hashtags I follow on a regular basis for good material in my Twitter stream (I’m still working on the whole hashtag thing in Facebook – let me know if you’ve figured out a good way to utilize it). The first of these is probably one many of you already follow, or maybe you just join it for the weekly chats, but it’s definitely worth following all the time for good, up-to-date tech info for higher ed. That’s the #satech hashtag. There is a weekly chat on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. CST, but people have been using this hashtag for awhile to denote any info they’re sharing that is worthy of student affairs technology interest. Or sometimes just tech interest. In any case, it’s well worth the follow if you’re trying to learn more about technology, stay up on your tech, or just love to talk about technology.

In addition to #satech, there are a couple more recent hashtags that I’ve enjoyed learning from. One of these is the #sambti hashtag that has some great info about Meyers Briggs types in student affairs. In addition, folks occasionally post more info about introversion and extroversion on this hashtag, and it’s almost always fairly interesting. In addition, if you’re lucky, you’ll chance upon some of Debra Sanborn’s posts, and we all know she rocks it when it comes to the MBTI.

Finally, a new and still somewhat seldom used hashtag that I’ve been learning from is the #salean hashtag. This was originally designated for discussions around Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, but it has generated some additional discussion around women, work, and leadership that has been fairly interesting. I hope that you’ll consider not just following it, but contributing to it, whether you’ve read the book or not.

What hashtags do you follow for news and discussion?

Follow Friday: Tech and Student Affairs