Are we all talk? Supporting transformation towards greater equity through NUFP

Last week, Dr. Dafina-Lazarus Stewart, professor of higher education and student affairs at Bowling Green State University, penned an Inside HigherEd opinion piece called the “Language of Appeasement.” In this article, ze contends that often colleges and universities use diversity and inclusion language to ignore working towards true equity and justice. The piece brought up many questions I continue to grapple with: How is NASPA, as the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession, perpetuating this phenomenon? In my own work, how do I maintain the status quo by talking the talk of diversity and inclusion rather than actively support transformation towards greater equity and social justice? What would happen if I re-read Dr. Stewart’s article and replaced “college” with “NASPA” and “student” with “member” throughout? Where would my professional home of over ten years fall on the spectrum?  

NASPA has specifically worked towards equity and justice through the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program, also known as NUFP. This semi-structured mentorship program for students from underrepresented backgrounds looking to explore higher education and student affairs has literally changed the face of our field. If you are not familiar with NUFP, I encourage you to learn more about the program on the NASPA website or watch these videos from past NUFP fellows reflecting on their experiences.

From Ladson-Billings’ culturally relevant pedagogy to Yosso’s Community Cultural Wealth Theory, the NUFP Board is ensuring the elements of the program strives to create future professionals working towards equity and justice. Recognizing that the system was built to benefit some and marginalize others, NUFP scaffolds these students from traditionally underrepresented and historically marginalized identities, developing change agents. It does not program from a deficit model but rather acknowledges these inequities and strives to erase them. And although I could make broad platitudes about the impact of NUFP, I thought these few facts would highlight the power of this program:

  • This January, Dr. Richard Carvajal moved onto his third college presidency, this time as the president of Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA. Dr. Carvajal was in the second class of MUFP* Fellows. Previous to his current role, he served as the Interim President at Darton State College, President at Bainbridge State College, and Vice President for Student Success Services at Cascadia Community College.  *The NUFP program was previously known as the Minority Undergraduate Fellows Programs (MUFP).
  • M/NUFP Alumni hold a myriad of leadership roles within NASPA, some of whom include Dr. Kimberly Lowry, Director of the NASPA Community Colleges Division, Dr. Tiffany J. Davis, Chair of the NUFP Board, and Dustin Grabsch and Sharee Myricks, co-chairs of the New Professionals and Graduate Students Knowledge Community, and Queena Hoang and Long Wu, co-chairs of the Asian Pacific Islander Knowledge Community.
  • NUFP Alumni and the larger NUFP community give back with their time, talent, AND treasure. The NUFP Fund, which goes to support GRE scholarships for NUFP Fellows, has raised over $76,000 in gifts and pledges in the four years the fund has been in existence. Consider donating to the NASPA Foundation and the NUFP Fund and help us get to $100,000 by the 100th Anniversary of NASPA, which will kick off at the 2018 NASPA Annual Conference in Philadelphia, PA.

No matter how you measure it, NUFP makes waves. We are looking for other individuals to join this current of change. If you are a current administrator, consider sponsoring a student that qualifies for the program. If you are a current student interested in student affairs, find a professional on campus to be your mentor. Our Spring application deadline to join the 2017-2018 NUFP class is May 12.

The goal of NUFP is to empower diverse communities and develop future student affairs leaders. Strive towards creating a more just and equitable student affairs community by joining this long lineage of leaders today.

Want to join the conversation? Comment below how you support transformation toward greater equity at your institution! 

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