The Importance of Joining the Conversation

naspa divisions groups public policy division

Kimberly Grieve & John Howe

March 13, 2017

With a new Presidential administration, higher education is again in a time of change and transition. Although the Trump administration has not shared much around their agenda for post-secondary education, we know Congress is expected to take up the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act which means change looms on the horizon. While it may be too early to address the current moving targets of educational policy under a Trump administration, it’s an ideal time for student affairs professionals to become active participants in local, state, and federal policy conversations.

Student affairs professionals are engaged daily in some of today’s most salient public policy issues, from protection of trans and undocumented students to addressing challenges to freedom of expression and civility, from questions around balancing sexual assault victim services with due process rights for accused persons to whether and who should be allowed to carry firearms on campus. Understanding and translating the experiences of our students on campus, those most directly impacted is an essential contribution to policy conversations at all levels.

An easy way to become part of this developing state and federal educational policy conversation is to provide feedback and express your concerns to the NASPA Public Policy Division. The current Public Policy Division agenda covers student success and college completion, issues related to undocumented students, cost of and funding for higher education, including related accountability efforts, and student safety and wellness. Further information on these policy areas may be found on the division’s webpage. A town hall is held every year at the NASPA Annual Meeting where attendees are invited to join a robust discussion and offer changes to the existing agenda in order to best reflect the current needs of higher education. This town hall will be held during the NASPA 2017 Annual Conference in San Antonio on Monday, March 13 at 1:15pm in Convention Center 209.

The Public Policy Division hopes that you will engage in this open forum and participate in the facilitated discussion that will shape the division’s agenda during a time of changing and challenging educational landscapes at the state and federal level. Whether you can join us on Monday or not, we invite you to tweet your questions and comments regarding our policy agenda with #NASPAppd. The NASPA Policy and Advocacy Team staff will be assisting in responding to questions and compiling themes from the comments for the PPD to discuss during our April meeting.

And if you’re looking for more ways to engage while in San Antonio, be sure to stop by the NASPActs booth in the Exhibit Hall! From an educational booth in the NASPA Exhibit Hall with sample letters to legislators, an Instagram photo challenge to demonstrate that we celebrate diversity in all its forms, and a culminating vigil on Tuesday evening that will shine a light on the action we need to take across this country, NASPActs will engage conference participants in encouraging a socially just community in Texas and beyond.

Student affairs professionals and NASPA have a storied history of adapting to change and advocating for students. During this political shift it will continue to be important for Student Affairs professionals to engage in dialogues that are respectful of all diverse values and opinions. We look forward to informing our practice and beloved organization through a policy agenda that supports positive student learning environments. We look forward to hearing from you.

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