As another difficult year nears its close, many of us are paying attention to today’s not-guilty verdict of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, WI, and the ongoing Ahmaud Arbery murder trial in Glynn County, GA. The impacts of these trials are experienced in many ways among our students, colleagues, and campuses. Our basic needs of safety, belonging, and justice may be challenged, which creates vulnerability and personal distress, and many student affairs divisions lead campus efforts around response and security in the wake of events taking place near and far.
NASPA reminds our network that your well-being is tantamount to the shared goal of supporting student success. In the next month, while you and your communities experience ongoing reminders of the country’s systemic and individualized racism, we hope there are opportunities for restorative time. For some, this may mean volunteerism and community engagement, using informal support structures, spending time with your chosen family, or seeking help from a counselor or member of clergy. Leaders in higher education can help by removing barriers to accessing formal and informal restorative practices, such as taking leave for mental health appointments or forming caucus groups to discuss issues with peers.
It is hard to balance the tensions of hope and fear, numbness and anger, exhaustion and restoration. The challenges remain for all of us in student affairs and higher education, and NASPA commits to engaging in that work in solidarity with our members. Once you are in a space that is safe for you, we encourage you to contribute to the collective work of the Association through:
- Learning about NASPA’s public policy priorities and the work of the Public Policy Division
- Joining a Knowledge Community, where members are advancing innovative equity and justice work
- Sharing findings from NASPA’s research and report, “Moving from Words to Action: The Influence of Racial Justice Statements on Campus Equity Efforts”
While some members may think about NASPA as our conferences and publications, the true power of any association is in its collective efforts. Whether dismantling systems of oppression, addressing toxic work cultures, improving pay equity, or designing a more socially just system of higher education, we recognize that there are issues that are beyond the capacity of any of us individually, but that can be changed by our network working collaboratively. We are grateful to be a part of that collective with you.