Table Talk: Who’s Not At The Table

Tya Pope & Jasmine Prince

May 15, 2018

During the 2018 NASPA NPGS Conference Consortium, our discussion came back to the idea of millennials in the workplace. More specifically, the challenges that we face, both positive and negative, navigating this profession as new professionals and graduate students. As a cohort we decided that our final product would be a collection of all of our voices addressing some of the many challenges that we identified and providing practical solutions & tools to our peers and to our colleagues. This collection of voices would be most easily created using a blog, which we have decided to call “Table Talk.”

The concept of Table Talk stems from the buzz phrase “seat at the table or voice at the table” that we hear often in this field. We recognized that many times, although new professionals & graduate students have a seat at the table, our voices are not always heard. This is our invitation to our peers, colleagues, and senior level administrators to join us in conversation to better understand what new professionals & graduate students want & need to be successful in this profession.

The metaphorical table. It is a common phrase used within our field that denotes the place where decisions and important conversations are had. As a new professional, I am always eager to be invited to sit “at the table” and add value to the conversation that is happening. But I am always aware of who is and isn't represented in the space. I’m also keenly aware of whose voice truly matters at this table. As new professionals and graduate students, it is no surprise the missing voice is often ours.  We are told we don’t have enough experience, professional and personal.  We haven’t been in the field long enough.  Well, there is something we do know.  We know how it feels to be the new kid on the block and trying to navigate this monster called higher education in a day and age when technology rules and students are far and away more connected than they ever have been before.  We know the mantra in 1918 cannot be the same mantra used in 2018.  Now more than ever our voices are needed.  We need to have a seat at the table and a voice that is heard and valued.   

Our goal with this blog is to not only provide a seat at the table for those who are often silenced due to age, but to bring others who are silenced for other reasons to the table.  Folks are silenced because of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, etc. and that has to stop.  We want to start the conversations many are talking about in hushed tones.  Bringing issues to light such as tech literacy, age vs experience, and the complexities of navigating change.  Those marginalized voices are critical to moving the conversation forward.  Without the opinions of people from all walks of life we can’t advance our cause or our work. Our hope is that everyone, no matter how often you’re invited to the table, will lean in and engage with this blog.  So, pull up a seat, you’re in for a ride!

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