Building bridges and creating connections are the foundation of higher education and the theme of the 2019 NASPA Western Regional Conference (WRC). Whether we bridge gaps in knowledge and understanding or connect students to community and opportunity, we in student affairs know the power of supporting others and ourselves to successfully cross divides. Within NASPA, the Western Regional conference bridges two regions and creates connections for professional success.
On behalf of the 2019 NASPA WRC committee, I am honored to invite you to Portland, Oregon, to learn, engage, and stretch yourself professionally and personally. The conference schedule and programs will expand your understanding of current best practices, allow you to meaningfully engage with colleagues and friends, and provide space for you to recharge so that you return to your campus with renewed energy. I hope you not only register for the conference, but also consider additional engagement, whether through attending a pre-conference institute, presenting during a session, volunteering at or before the conference, sharing your perspective during SA Speaks, or serving as a mentor to others’ in the field.
As our work turns increasingly towards removing barriers to increase equity, we must acknowledge our history that has created systems of oppression, so that we can collectively and intentionally build a bridge to a more inclusive future. Portland is now known for its infamous adages “Keep Portland Weird” and ”You Can, In Portland.” As these two slogans suggest, the city invites people to bring their whole and authentic selves to its community. It embraces more than just the quirky, however, and finds ways to shine a spotlight on businesses owned by people with historically marginalized identities, to ensure that members of the LGBTQ community thrive, and implement new ways to address issues of social inequity rooted in current and past events. In 1830, the federal government removed Native Americans from their ancestral lands in Portland to increase settlement for White Americans. In 1844, the Oregon territory ordered all Black residents to evacuate or face physical violence. In 1942, Portland required Japanese American community members to report to an assembly center in the north part of the city for three years of internment. Until 1972, Oregon considered same sex relationships criminal activity, and marriage equality did not occur until 2014. Until 2017, an Oregon state law required people who identify as transgender to publish their names in newspapers before they could legally change their sex on government-recognized documents. Like the rest of the world, this brief history is not comprehensive of the exclusion and pain of many populations of people who represent ourselves and our students. Portland is more than just innovative, hip, and urban. It is a physical representation of ongoing transformation that leads to greater inclusion and justice and a reminder of the importance of continually moving forward. The bridges that will be built and the connections that will be created at the 2019 WRC in Portland are to better practices and deeper collegial relationships, and also to the opportunity of a future with increased representation, justice, and awareness to amplify the success of our students and ourselves.
I look forward to our time together and to the bridges we will honor.
Join us November 2019 in Portland, Oregon.