Ready. Set. Go. Prepare Yourself To Serve Our Students

Rodney Bates, NASPA IV-W Oklahoma Membership Coordinator

January 30, 2018

Student affairs professionals, according to James Rhatigan (2009) in the new edition of  “The Handbook of Student Affairs Administration, must continually educate themselves, conduct research, and produce scholarship concerning the profession that we hold dear. Addressing new and traditional areas of support, student affairs will continue to contribute to student learning as it is defined by students themselves and by other stakeholders within and beyond the boundaries of higher education (Schuh, J. H., Jones, S. R., & Harper, S. R, 2010). Student Affairs departments are designed to welcome students, provide support to students, and educate others to be accepting. There are many multicultural centers, Greek offices, student leadership offices, and other offices on campuses across the country, and yet many people of color and marginalized student populations feel unwanted, unaccepted, and unaccomplished. As higher education institutions continue to create and promote personal growth in civil responsibility, it also needs to assess its campus climate, mission statements, values, and goals.

The complexities of college campuses will continue to remain challenging as institutions wrestle with traditional non-inclusive policies, and students who look for a more inclusive holistic education. Not to mention our country’s political and social climate seems to place the nation at odds. In college, student affairs areas are the first boots on the ground to deal with the fallout of whatever might be the leading issues. As mentioned, we are seeing a spike in all areas of health, although I would say, for so long the stories of those most marginalized students were ignore. I offer just a few recommendations as ways to navigate in difficult times.

  • For many of us, students remain our top concern, so it is vital to surround yourself with information that not only challenges your consciousness, but also surrounds yourself with information and knowledge that reflects the populations that have been historically marginalized.
  • Use your privileged identities to gain access/resources for those who don’t have access/resources.
  • Read up on literature/scholarship on savior complex, ally ship, and interest convergence, in doing so, you potentially can avoid being co-opted by larger systems of oppression and participating in re enforcing norms.
  • As you journey through the tough unpredictable situations on your campus, be sure to self-care and recognize your limitations. Student Affairs is known for making huge personal sacrifices for others, and not taking care of self. That is largely because someone might have made sacrifices for us. We must self-care ourselves and we must teach our student we care so much about to self-care as well.

In the words of great scholar Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

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