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(Mis)Understanding Students: Approaches to Affirming Student Identities (2022 Update)

Student Success Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice AVP or "Number Two" Mid-Level Senior Level VP for Student Affairs
April 20, 2022 Alexa Wesley Chamberlain Elise Newkirk-Kotfila

As institutions seek to improve their structures, processes, and policies, a holistic lens—one that takes into account students’ intersecting identities and differences in lived experiences—is required. (Mis)Understanding Students, updated in 2022, is a resource from the Advising Success Network and NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education that offers resources and questions to consider for institutional leaders looking to reflect on their unique student population. Synthesizing learnings from interviews with practitioners in the field of higher education and the student affairs profession and an examination of existing scholarship, the guide offers a national, field-level context for this moment in time. Institutional leaders can draw upon the guide’s key principles for learning about students with a more holistic and intersectional lens, as well as common misunderstandings about student identities. Considerations presented in this resource can help inform approaches to identifying institutional systems and practices that cause harm to students and campus communities. While the guide has relevance for understanding students broadly, it primarily focuses on a limited number of student identities, namely those related to: race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, social class, first-generation status, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, immigration status, veteran status, and involvement with the carceral system.