The value of successful collaboration between Student and Academic Affairs is often validated in the academic and personal success of our students. In a true partnership between faculty and student affairs professional’s mutually-beneficial outcomes arise that not only promote student learning but create effective working relationships that strengthen the integrity of our programs and services.
At Frostburg State University the Office of Civic Engagement (Student Affairs) and the J. Glenn Beall Institute for Public Affairs (Academic Affairs) have joined forces with the common goal of engaging students in the democratic process. By coming together these two programs have been able to pool resources and expertise from their respective arenas to promote the exploration of the political process; launch collaborative programming and stimulate student engagement. Efforts to cast a wider net to engage students in programming, voting, and the democratic process has proved quite successful. Through this partnership, these two programs have collaborative produced programs including a Social Change Retreat, a Series of Town Hall Meetings, and a student trip to the State capitol.
The Social Change Retreat brought 45 students together with backgrounds in service, social work, and political science for an intensive two day retreat where they explored how to engage in the act of social change by learning the “theory to practice” model as taught by the Highlander Research and Education Center. During this process students learned how to frame social change issues and develop implementable strategies to combat these issues. The Series of Town Hall Meetings consist of three meetings focusing on local, State, and Federal issues respectively. Each town hall allows students to discuss issues that pertain to them at each governmental level. Government officials, University Staff, and the Student Government are invited to these meetings as well to hear the concerns of the students and help teach students how to utilize the democratic process to affect change on the issues that are important to them. This series now takes place each semester and for the upcoming semester will focus on topics that relate to the upcoming presidential elections; help educate students on the different candidates and promote voter registration through TurboVote on campus. Both student democrat and republican organizations and academic classes will bring students together for Debate Viewing parties. Finally the visit to our State Capitol immersed students in the political process with presentations by State leaders; observation of policy delates within the in House/Senate; and a special reception with the Governor.
Bridging the gap between student affairs and academics has allowed for both programs to benefit from each other’s expertise and create effective programs that focus on a common outcome for our students. Faculty involvement brings with it a level of academic integrity that strengthens our student affairs programming efforts; breaks down barriers between our ranks and reinforces the co-curricular objective of our work. To explore further, please refer to the Bottom Line (Student Newspaper) story about one of the Town Hall Meetings: http://thebottomlinenews.com/second-town-hall-meeting-tackles-issues-on-education/.