Student affairs professionals see first-hand both the triumphs and the struggles of students in ways that few other campus administrators can. Telling the stories of our students, stories that complement data showing what we know to be true across the country, is a powerful advocacy tool. Each student story is unique, but student affairs professionals work with students across campus, allowing perspective to identify trends and patterns in students’ experiences. As a national association representing the voices of student affairs professionals, NASPA is uniquely situated to elevate those stories and use them to inform policymakers at the state and federal level about the real impacts policy decisions have on the lives of students. Every day, student affairs professionals advocate for student success on campus; NASPA can help support and carry that advocacy to the next level, but we need your voice. Won’t you join #SAadvocates around the country in July to share your expertise and insight with policymakers?
The 2018 NASPA Hill Days (July 16-17, 2018) coincide with the National Student Affairs Day of Action (July 17, 2018). Both events are designed to help student affairs practitioners develop their skills and master approaches to promote and to participate in advocacy and activism on a city, state and national level. NASPA Hill Days and National Student Affairs Day of Action has a range of options for student affairs professionals who want to get involved, including an in-person event in Washington, D.C., online live briefings, and suggestions for engaging with policymakers in participants’ own communities.
Public policy is always something of a moving target, so while it’s impossible to know for certain the specific legislation or regulation #SAadvocates can expect to respond to in July, key topics will be identified in alignment with the NASPA Public Policy Agenda. In order to present a strong, coherent message to policymakers, advocacy topics will be narrowly tailored with specific action lawmakers can take identified. Over the spring and early summer, NASPA is offering a series of six free live briefings to provide background on the issues we expect to focus on in July. You can sign up for as many of the live briefings as you want from the 2018 NASPA Hill Days website. All briefings are 60 minutes and will begin at 2 p.m. ET; recordings will be available in NASPA’s OLC following the briefings.
Title IX and campus sexual assault response & prevention (2 p.m. ET February 8, 2018): Since the start of the Trump administration, advocates have tried to predict upcoming changes to the Department of Education (ED) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and Title IX guidance and protections regarding both protections for trans individuals and in the area of campus responsibilities for sexual assault prevention and response. Participants interested in these topics may have opportunities to engage with ED staff members and members of Congress to affirm the needs to secure equal protections for trans individuals and to inform OCR guidance to campuses on sexual assault prevention and response.
Immigration and international students (2 p.m. ET March 13, 2018): In announcing the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for undocumented immigrants, President Trump called on Congress to pass legislation that would protect undocumented immigrants that arrived as children, but it’s unclear whether or what legislation may eventually pass or on what timeline. At the same time, changes to visa processing and requirements will have lasting impacts on international students studying in the US. Helping policymakers to see the direct human impacts these policy changes have for our students may lead to policies that both protect US interests and recognize the essential contributions of immigrants and international to our national economy.
Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (2 p.m. ET April 12, 2018): NASPA is committed to efforts that influence policies to facilitate the ability of students and families to make informed choices and those that increase college affordability, increase access and availability of financial aid, and decrease student indebtedness, particularly for students from backgrounds that have had fewer resources to support college preparation and access. As Congress engages in hearings and drafting legislation for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, participants can be influential in sharing the stories of their students and the need to ensure they have both the information and the resources to be successful in their postsecondary endeavors.
Free speech and intellectual diversity on college campuses (2 p.m. ET May 10, 2018): NASPA recognizes the central role that student affairs professionals play in fostering democratic campuses that bring together and give voice to diverse people, thoughts, opinions, and points of view. Ensuring that all have the opportunity to speak must be balanced with an understanding of the historic and structural inequalities embedded in our policies. The very real presence of historical, social, and political power dynamics can neither be ignored nor become the sole consideration in navigating controversial topics and issues on campus. Policymakers sometimes have a distorted view of how these dynamics play out on campus, so participant conversations can shed light on actual campus policies and practices to reassure lawmakers that freedom of speech is alive and well on college campuses.
State-level advocacy (2 p.m. ET June 14, 2018): With most public higher education funding coming from state budgets, building knowledge on how to advocate for student success at the state level is a key skill for student affairs professionals. Creating succinct and effect talking points to connect with state-level policymakers and developing effective strategies for in-person meetings and best practices for engaging groups in advocacy help capture attention on needed issues.
Federal advocacy (2 p.m. ET June 14, 2018): Federal policymakers are increasingly concerned with events happening on campus. From the start, one of the stated goals of the Higher Education Act of 1965 was to expand the federal government’s role in higher education policy, including provision of federal financial assistance to students, specifically those from lower- and middle-income families. Today, lawmakers debate policies related to campus free speech, campus conduct adjudication, and recruitment practices for single-sex student social groups. Developing skills for communicating narrowly and effectively on such a wide variety of topics is essential to the success of all students.
Student affairs professionals can participate either in person or by reaching out on July 17, 2018 by phone, fax, email, or text message. All advocacy on July 17 will help raise the visibility of issues affecting our students and their ability to succeed.
Attendees at the in-person NASPA Hill Days (July 16-17, 2018) event will be briefed on key topics and provided with suggested talking points they can use when speaking with their federal elected officials and/or executive agency staff. Advocates will practice successful approaches for meeting with policymakers and meet with members of their Congressional delegations in Washington, D.C. and officials from the Department of Education. This two-day event in our nation’s capital will engage institutional representatives of all levels, including Vice Presidents of Student Affairs, senior level professionals, and new professionals working in student affairs. Direct training on in-person legislative advocacy from national experts in higher education will precede a day of scheduled small meetings with attendees’ Congressional delegations in the House and Senate.
Those participants unable to join us in D.C. are invited to hone their advocacy skills throughout the spring and early summer by attending the live briefings, working to raise awareness of issues on their campus, and encouraging civic participation. Materials to support letter writing campaigns on select state-level issues will be provided throughout the spring. Stop by the NASPA Booth at the 2018 NASPA Annual Conference to fill out a postcard describing what you’ll be advocating for in July and we’ll mail it back to you as a reminder in June!
We hope you will consider joining us in July as the field gathers to engage in advocacy and activism to support the present and future of higher education. The application deadline for the Washington DC 2018 Hill Days is February 16, so explore this unique event further and apply today!