Public Policy Agenda Update

naspa divisions groups public policy division

Shawn DeVeau

May 22, 2017

At the NASPA National Conference in March, the Public Policy Division (PPD or Division) conducted a Town Hall as a general session. The goals within the scheduled time were to give a brief introduction of Division volunteers and NASPA staff, provide an update from the National Office on federal and state policy topics on which the association is focused, and then to open the floor to discussion of the NASPA Public Policy Agenda, which guides the work of the NASPA Policy and Advocacy Team as well as the PPD.

The PPD is charged with crafting the Public Policy Agenda for review by the NASPA Board of Directors on a triennial.  The current agenda was approved in 2014 and is scheduled for review this year.  The agenda currently consists of the following key items:

  • Student success and college completion
  • Issues related to undocumented students
  • Cost of and funding higher education, including related accountability efforts
  • Student safety and wellness

During the Town Hall at the Annual Meeting, a number of topics were discussed and ideas shared to either expand the agenda or to give specific topics within the general agenda on which the national office, Public Policy Division, or both could focus.  Topics included:

  • Free speech was raised as a possible topic to add to the agenda as a whole. With a number of incidents surrounding the topic of speech and student advocacy on campuses and state legislatures seeking to increase policy around it, several members suggested adding this as a separate item on the agenda. 

Areas identified for further clarification or calling out within the existing agenda included:

  • State budgets, public/private partnerships, and spending endowments as related to costs and funding higher education,
  • Immigration policy, particularly about campus law enforcement assisting ICE as well as institutions debating the use of the term “sanctuary campus”, and
  • Student mental health and specific training requirements for staff, especially campus police, from a Rhode Island bill.

The PPD has reviewed these, as well as other topics, to determine the proposed agenda and members of the Division will be circulating the draft proposed Public Policy Agenda among their Regions and constituent groups for additional comment and feedback this month. In a change from previous practice, the PPD will be recommending a two year Public Policy Agenda to better align with the biennial nature of many state legislatures and the federal election cycle.

If you would like to provide feedback, please contact a member of the Public Policy Division.  The proposal will be finalized at the June Division meeting for a formal presentation to the NASPA Board of Directors, who will be asked to comment on and approve the agenda during their July meeting.  As always, the Public Policy Division as well as the Research and Policy Institute at the NASPA National Office are happy to receive comments and requests for information and/or support on particular topics, including those that are not specifically addressed with the published agenda.  Public policy is fluid and we certainly hope to be able to address, as best we can, when the membership needs help and support with a particular issue.

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