Collectively, student affairs professionals represent thousands of voices; working together we can make a powerful noise with policymakers on behalf of our students and our profession. Engaging with our representative democracy is essential to maintaining the health and function of our nation’s government, which is why NASPA invites you to take part in the first ever National Student Affairs Day of Action (NSADA) this July 17. No matter your position, title, or area of expertise, as a student affairs professional there are a myriad of ways you can – and should – engage in public policy conversations for the benefit of you, your students, and your institution. We’ve made it easy for you to join #SAadvocates across the country by taking part in the NSADA:
We encourage to you join with thousands of your colleagues on July 17 to raise awareness of student affairs professionals as powerful advocates. Whether you are just getting started on your journey to becoming an engaged participant or have been active for some time, NASPA has compiled resources and suggestions for learning and engaging in local, state, and national policy conversations relevant to student affairs professionals. We know advocacy in public policy can seem like a tricky topic, and we’ve prepared these resources to provide comprehensive tools and talking points to learn, engage, and represent in the ways you are able in the coming weeks. This post will describe the key types of resources available to you and how you can begin to use them to plan how you will be spending your time this National Student Affairs Day of Action!
Background briefs provide salient information on a number of current policy issues relevant to higher education and student affairs. Topic areas include: Higher Education Act reauthorization, trans individuals’ rights, freedom of expression and intellectual diversity, Title IX and sexual assault prevention and response, and immigration and international students. These topics are all representative of NASPA’s Public Policy Agenda, which represents the values guiding NASPA’s engagement in public policy.
Background briefs combine historical background and knowledge of each topical area with policy developments during our current federal and state legislative sessions to provide a timely update, comprehensive policy overview. Briefs tie the current state of policy to specific relevancy in higher education and how our institutions have and may be impacted by impending legislation, regulatory developments, and court rulings.
Finally, briefs offer advocacy options and best practices for student affairs professionals wherever relevant. Some of these best practices include: avenues to create challenging spaces on campus in which students may practice First Amendment rights and the freedom to exchange ideas safely and respectfully; options for providing additional support services to marginalized students, faculty, and staff dealing with instability due to an evolving policy landscape; and guidance for administrative leadership under pressure to respond in an ambiguous cultural climate.
Briefs may be used to gain foundational knowledge on the issue areas most relevant to you, and come away with ideas and talking points for further information dissemination and opportunities to connect current policy conversations to higher education and student affairs.
Position statements leverage the information from background briefs to inform NASPA’s official stance on the issues. You can tailor these position statements to your own needs and use them to create advocacy messaging in the ways you best see fit. NASPA Hill Days participants will be using these statements on July 17 to form talking points in speaking with their Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill, and we encourage you to also use them as a tool to speak with your elected officials. These one-page statements include specific details on current policy considerations and provide commentary on how students, faculty, and staff are likely to be impacted.
Position statements can be restructured to create call-in scripts, text messages, or emails for use personally or when organizing a lobbying day in your state or to your local elected officials. They are also perfect for in-person meetings where they can be left with your elected official as a reminder of where you stand. These one-pagers are also useful for canvassing, or any other action or effort focused on getting the word out about the issues you care about.
Sample letters provide an easy-to-use template for personal use or institutional letter-writing campaigns. These sample letters pull key information from NASPA’s official statements, and concise instructions to offer a quick and easy way in which you can participate on July 17.
Federal level sample letters are designed for you to encourage your Congressional representatives to act on your behalf to support the needs of students and student affairs professionals. State level sample letters include information on specific legislation under consideration in those states legislatures still in session for 2018. These sample letters refer to specific policies considered during the 115th Congress and 2018 state legislature, as well as executive and administrative developments during the current administration.
Finally, we understand that student affairs professionals are sometimes hesitant to engage in active advocacy because of uncertainty about where their roles as campus employees end and their rights as private individuals begins. While we cannot offer legal advice or guidance, there are many ways for student affairs professionals to engage politically, both as institutional employees and as private individuals. If you are looking for more foundational materials or guidance on balancing your personal and professional roles as an advocate, please check out our Policy Basics (I, II, III) and Engage! (I, II, III) series.
The resources provided for the NSADA are free and specifically tailored for student affairs professionals. We encourage you to share your activity among #SAadvocates, friends, and colleagues alike and reach out to the Policy and Advocacy Team with any questions or concerns you may have!