Introducing Public Policy to Student Affairs Professionals, Part III of III


naspa divisions groups public policy division

Author
Stacy Heldman-Holguin

Published
April 26, 2017


Editor’s note: This is the third of a three-part series presented this month that’s presented what comprises public policy, why student affairs professionals should pay attention to policy issues and conversations, and, in today’s post, how to get informed and become involved in policy conversations relevant to your field. Check the previous two posts, Part I & Part II, in the series for the full conversation!

How do I find out what is going on in my field?

There are many options for learning about potential public policy issues related to higher education in general and your field in particular.  National Associations in your field are likely to have professional groupings that are tracking public policy issues. Check out NASPA’s resources from the Research and Policy Institute where you can find articles on current issues, state by state analysis, weekly blog posts, monthly live policy briefing, and contacts to reach out to throughout the country. The official NASPA public policy agenda is driven by the association’s members and is approved by the NASPA Board of Directors. The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) regularly publishes e-newsletters, and many of the sector-based associations like the American Association of State Colleges & Universities (AASCU) provide daily or weekly higher education policy focused headline services that you can subscribe to.

Budgeting time to follow reputable media outlets is also important for staying connected to public policy news. Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education are great online resources that publish daily articles and that report on developing news stories affecting college campuses. While some of the content on the Chronicle’s website is available only with a subscription, you can sign up to receive the daily headlines without one. Integrating local and national news review in your routine will help to develop your expertise, better inform your current practice, and help you recognize current needs in order to better connect to your community. Many national papers have sections dedicated to education issues that you can subscribe to directly.

If you’re looking for information on specific legislation at the federal or state level, for changes in regulation or agency policies, or for cases on the docket of the US Supreme Court, the following links will be helpful:

These are a sampling of resources for developing further understanding of public policy. To truly engage in your field, it is incumbent on you to understand how public policy plays out in your field, on your campus and for your students. By doing so, you not only build your own skills and voice to engage in civic discussion but you also make yourself more valuable as an employee. Your perspective can be invaluable to raising understanding of policy needs or implications for college campuses and for professional associations. Insight from your host institution can also be appreciated by peer institutions. Take advantage of opportunities within NASPA, such as attending the Student Affairs Law Conference or applying for the Certificate Program in Student Affairs Law and Policy, and attend public policy related educational sessions or meetings of the Public Policy Division at the NASPA Annual Conference.

As a SSAO managing multiple units, I am dependent on my managers and staff to raise pending issues of concern and potential needs that are emerging in the public policy space so that our campus can adequately address concerns for our students, prepare a campus response and manage our risks in the many arenas touched by public policy actions.


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