We are 10 days into the new administration which has brought with it an unprecedented number of executive orders that have far-reaching impacts on the world at large. This is not politics as usual, with these orders signed and implemented outside of the customary process of checks and balances that exists between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the government. The confirmation process for cabinet nominees has also been fast-tracked, bypassing and/or expediting the full and careful consideration usually given to these individuals prior to their hearings.
While the Trump administration is moving at a blistering pace, we are committed to staying on top of new developments, never losing sight of our mission to be the leading Association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession, including the students we all support. This is new territory and we are learning as we go about what actions are necessary and effective in response. However, above all, we maintain our focus on the diversity of our membership, institutions, and communities.
NASPA is particularly concerned about the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. While Ms. DeVos’ professional background and areas of expertise may have made her successful in prior business ventures, we do not believe that her corporate acumen is a fit for the proposed position in the Department of Education (DOE). We have witnessed her inability to effectively display knowledge about federal financial aid and guns on campus, two areas that are critical in today’s higher education landscape. Additionally, as student affairs professionals address tough issues such as sexual violence and Title IX compliance, they rely on the DOE to provide stable and sustainable guidance and resources. We do not believe that Betsy DeVos has the leadership experience necessary to ensure that our students have the inclusive and supportive educational environments that they need to succeed.
The recent Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States signed by President Trump also has caused significant concerns about our ability to support our students, our colleagues, and our communities, all of whom are comprised of diverse backgrounds, religions, nationalities, and ideologies. As an organization, NASPA centers itself on the Guiding Principles of Integrity and Inclusion which focus on committing to high moral principles exhibiting authentic, honest, just, and ethical behavior as we create communities which seek to ensure access, voice, acknowledgement, opportunity, and participation at all levels. We see none of these qualities in the most recent Executive Order from President Trump.
As a nation, the United States has long been a place where we celebrate the cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity, and lend a hand to those seeking refuge from persecution. Postsecondary education has also been a haven for a diversity of opinion, thought, and scholarship which can improve our future and prevent us from repeating the mistakes of the past. We must continue to be vigilant in supporting students in their aspirations and educating them to be active citizens who can advocate for the equity, inclusion, and social justice that will strengthen our global community.
For today, a few resources of note:
● RPI 5 Things Brief: 5 things you can do to institutionalize civic engagement at your institution [PDF]
● NASPA Archived Briefing - FREE this week: Islam in America and on our Campuses: Reducing Stigma, Increasing Support
● We invite you again to join us in #SATakeSpace, which provides an opportunity to intentionally process your feelings and experiences. These virtual calls, powered through Zoom, can include up to 75 people. If you are interested in participating, please register for only one of the sessions, as capacity is limited. Please also feel free to share this information with your colleagues, as this space is for the entire profession. To register, please click on one of the links below:
● For our non-U.S. based members, we will offer a substantial discount on the NASPA Virtual Ticket in recognition of the fact that travel to the United States is limited by the recent executive order. We will send a separate email to our colleagues abroad with the details of that discount later this week.
● The American Council on Education (ACE) is drafting a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in support of foreign students and scholars. NASPA intends to sign on to this letter along with other higher education associations. We will share it with the NASPA community as soon as it is available.
NASPA’s commitment does not start and end with this statement, or any statement that we’ll make in the future. Our goal is to provide you, our members, with the resources that you need to successfully navigate this new landscape at your institutions, in your communities, and as citizens of the world. We don’t have all of the answers today, and likely never will. But we will always provide an inclusive space where you can learn, connect with each other, and practice self-care during these trying times.