Ease your student supervision speed bumps.

Contested Issues in Troubled Times: Student Affairs Dialogues on Equity, Civility, and Safety

This announcement isn’t exactly hot off the presses – but still worthy of celebrating and sharing! Last year I was approached to serve as an author in the second edition text, Contested Issues in Student Affairs – re-titled to Contested Issues in Troubled Times: Student Affairs Dialogues on Equity, Civility and Safety.  

The book was released back in March 2019, available on your favorite book purchasing platform both digital, paperback and hardback. 

I’m thrilled to share a little bit more about the book the chapter I was part of and why I hope you’ll give it look – as it uniquely gives a macro perspective on multiple issues in higher education. 

As described in the book description, 

Contested Issues in Troubled Times provides student affairs educators with frameworks to constructively think about and navigate the contentious climate they are increasingly encountering on campus.

The 54 contributors address the book’s overarching question: How do we create an equitable climate conducive to learning in a dynamic environment fraught with complexity and a socio-political context characterized by escalating intolerance, incivility, and overt discrimination?

In this companion volume to Contested Issues in Student Affairs (whose issues remain as relevant today as they were upon publication in 2011), a new set of contributors explore new questions which foreground issues of equity, safety, and civility – themes which dominate today’s higher education headlines and campus conversations.

Rather than attempting to offer readers definitive solutions, this book illustrates the possibilities and promise of acknowledging multiple approaches to addressing contentious issues, articulating a persuasive argument anchored in professional judgment, listening attentively to others for points of connection as well as divergence, and drawing upon new ways of thinking to foster safe and inclusive campuses.”

I struggled a bit deciding to sign on, since I was buried in my own book development. But this was an opportunity that just kept calling to me — especially since my chapter prompt was: 

How Do Student Affairs Educators Integrate Personal and Professional Identities in Digital Spaces/Social Media?

This prompt couldn’t be more fitting for my research agenda and passion to support educational professionals on their digital leadership journeys. I decided to set the book aside for one month and pull off the deadlines set by the esteemed editors: Peter M. Magolda and Marcia B. Baxter Magolda. The editors were another reason why it was very hard to pass on this opportunity. Considering Peter’s untimely passing, it was indeed very special to be part of this project and to get to work with him. 

Peter and Marcia created a unique format to the book, with 27 primary authors tasked to write a 4,000 word article and then 27 secondary author respondents reacting to the primary pieces with 2,000 words. I served as the primary author in chapter 22, my piece is called: Orchestrated in Harmony or Forced With a Disconnect.

As I considered the prompt, whether student affairs professionals could integrate multiple identities online – I began to see an orchestra come to life. I began my piece with the following quote:

Orchestras are like people. They’re the sonic embodiment of their community.

— Simon Rattle, Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra 

Through my research agenda and consulting across dozens of campuses, I have found that integration is possible – but is like a dance, a song, a collection of moving parts. I always try to base my education on existing models and research. So I wrote, 

“I believe that by composing a blended digital identity based on Bronfenbrenner’s developmental model, which bridges the individual and the environment, student affairs educators can find a way to not just survive, but thrive on social media. A blended digital identity approach tasks professionals to recognize and navigate environments and systems, but also points to the power individuals have in shaping and even amplifying their digital impact through the lens of individuality, congruence and leadership.”

However, in my chapter, I also recognize the problematic digital disconnect in student affairs – and throughout society. Certain positions and identities have more privilege than others on-campus and online. Cancel culture and call outs are also common on Twitter, and higher education professionals are not protected from nor innocent of fueling this behavior. I reflected,

“How we interact online through civil discourse matters.” So I offered the following guidance, “Because of this digital disconnect, it’s important to consider your values and apply reflection skills so that you can fully stand behind everything you post in digital spaces, even when you are publicly called out for it.”

The major takeaway in my piece is the application of Bronfenbrenner’s developmental model as a guidepost to navigating self, social media and systems. This model, “recognizes that individual behavior is connected to how people interact with their environment and vice versa, so as you place communities in the context of the ecology model, you see the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem.”

Figure By Hchokr at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50859630

Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. (1998). The ecology of developmental processes. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Theoretical models of human development, pp. 993-1028. New York, NY: Wiley

Without giving away my entire chapter – I’ll leave you will the discussion question my piece left readers with. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Discussion Questions

  • What systems exist in your life that gives affordances and place restrictions on how you use social media?
  • What are the core components of your identity that can be found in social media spaces? What about sharing and living out your values on social platforms? Which of them feel more natural or privileged to share than others?
  • For whom could you be a digital role model, based on just how you post, as well as the people you interact with intentionally both online and on-campus? 

I also wanted to give a shoutout to the chapter respondent, Julia R. Golden – Associate Dean Of Students at MCPHS University, who composed the following response to my piece called, “Speaking Up: How Student Affairs Professionals of Color Navigate Social Media with Authenticity.” I greatly appreciate her perspective and challenges.

Finally, I wanted to recognize a number of student affairs professionals that contributed insight into the chapter – and are quoted throughout. Their lived experiences really brought the chapter to life! Thank you!

  • Sonja Ardoin, Assistant Professor, Appalachian State University
  • Fredrick Smith, Assistant Vice President, Equity & Community Inclusion and Senior Diversity Officer at San Francisco State University
  • Juhi Bhatt, Assistant Dean of Students for Community Standards and Student Involvement at SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Peter Konwerski, Vice President for Student Life at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Joe Sabado, Associate CIO of UCSB Student Affairs/Executive Director of SIS&T at University of California – Santa Barbara
  • Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs at Northwestern University
  • Joy Hoffman, Interim Dean of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion – Washington University in St. Louis

Purchase the text here!

Order Your Copy Today From Stylus Publishing or on Amazon!

Below is a range of topics covered in the text, including all chapter authors – a very impressive roster that I am honored to be part of!

Preface—Peter M. Magolda, Marcia B. Baxter Magolda, and Rozana Carducci

Part One: Introduction

1) Why Is It So Hard for the Student Affairs Profession to Foster Inclusive Environments for Learning?

  • Bonding and Bridging for Community and Democracy—Penny Rue
  • History Matters: Against Romanticizing Student Affairs’ Role in Inclusion—Dafina-Lazarus (D-L) Stewart

2) How Do Student Affairs Educators Help Students Learn to Engage Productively in Difficult Dialogue?

  • Learning Dialogic Skills for Effective Campus Conversations—Kelly E. Maxwell and Monita C. Thompson
  • Systemic Integration of Dialogic Skills: An Opportunity for Student Affairs/Academic Affairs Partnerships—Jeannie Brown Leonard

Part Two: Cultivating Inclusive Learning Environments: Equity, Civility, and Safety 

3) How Should Institutions Address Student Demands Related to Campus Racial Climate? 

  • To Address Today’s Student Demands for Racial Justice, Institutions Must Shift From Multiculturalism to Polyculturalism—Ajay Nair
  • Critical Considerations in Advancing Social Justice Agendas in Higher Education—Samuel D. Museus

4) What Are the Responsibilities and Limits of Student Affairs’ Roles in Preparing Students for Political Activism?

  • Student Affairs Educators’ Brokering Role in Political Activism—Sandra Rodríguez
  • Brokering Students’ Political Activism: Expanding Student Affairs Professionals’ Views—Cassie L. Barnhardt

5) What Does It Mean for Student Affairs Educators to Establish Safe and Just Responses to Campus Sexual Violence?

  • Moving Beyond Policy to Address Campus Sexual Violence—Chris Linder
  • Abating Campus Sexual Violence Requires a Multifaceted Approach—Frank Shushok Jr.

6) How Do Student Affairs Educators Navigate the Tension Between the First Amendment Right to Free Speech and the Expression of Ideas That Create a Hostile Campus Climate?

  • Free Expression, Civic Education, and Inclusive Campuses—Rafael E. Alvarado
  • Balancing Free Speech and Inclusive Campus Environments: A Worthy Yet Complicated Commitment—Naomi Daradar Sigg

7) How Should Institutions Redefine and Measure Student Success?

  • Student Success as Liberal Education Escapes Definition and Measurement—Laura Elizabeth Smithers
  • Redefining Student Success to Foster More Inclusive Learning Environments—Molly Reas Hall

8) What Are the Risks of Assuming the Sharing of Proper Pronouns Is a Best Practice for Trans* Inclusion?

  • More Than Pronouns: Problematizing Best Practices of Trans* Inclusion—Kathryn S. Jaekel and D. Chase J. Catalano
  • What Happens to a Dream Deferred?: Sharing Proper Pronouns as an Act of Gender Self-Determination—Z Nicolazzo

9) How Should Institutions Support Students With Marginalized Identities? What Practices Are Essential for the Establishment of Safe and Inclusive Learning Environments? 

  • What is Equitable?—Engaging the Four Is of Oppression to Support Students of Color—Jonathan A. McElderry and Stephanie Hernandez Rivera
  • Intersectionality, Culture, and Mentoring: Critical Needs for Student Affairs Educators—Julie A. Manley White

10) What Role Should Student Affairs Educators Play in Supporting Undocumented Students in the Current Political Climate?

  • Confronting Anti-Immigration Rhetoric on Campus: A Student Affairs Imperative—Susana M. Muñoz
  • Emphasizing Institution-Wide Strategies to Support Undocumented Students in Higher Education—Maria Sanchez Luna and Mei-Yen Ireland

11) How Does Social Class Influence Student Learning and the Work of Student Affairs Educators? 

  • Social Class Complexities in Curricular and Cocurricular Learning: Options Do Not Mean Access—Sonja Ardoin
  • Disrupting Educational Privilege: Partnering With Students and Communities to Create True Inclusion—Angela Cook

12) What Is the Role of Student Affairs Educators in Helping Students Whose Learning Is Complicated by Experiencing Trauma?

  • Navigating the Complex Space of Supporting Student Survivors of Trauma—Tricia R. Shalka
  • A Focus on Relational and Narrative Aspects of Trauma: Challenges and Opportunities for Higher Education—Kelli D. Zaytoun

13) Why Is Religion a Difficult Issue In American Higher Education and How Should Student Affairs Respond?

  • Balancing Competing Interests Through Principled Practice—P. Jesse Rine and Brian D. Reed
  • Supporting Interfaith Climates and Outcomes: Considerations and Practices for Student Affairs Educators—Benjamin S. Selznick

14) What Is the Student Affairs Educator’s Role in Navigating Tensions Between Legislative Action and Institutional Policy?

  • From Guns to Transgender Students’ Rights: When Policy and Personal Positions Do Not Align—Amelia Parnell and Jill Dunlap
  • Passion and Policy: How Student Affairs Educators Navigate Their Roles in the Face of Legislative Restrictions—R. Bradley Johnson

Part Three: Cultivating Professional Capacities to Foster Inclusive Learning Environments

15) Given the Complexity Associated With Fostering Equitable, Civil, and Safe Learning Environments, How Should Graduate Preparation Programs Prepare Students to Work in Higher Education?

  • Advancing Power- and Identity-Conscious Student Affairs Graduate Programs—Rosemary J. Perez
  • A Systemic Approach to Enacting Equitable, Civil, and Safe Learning Environments—Jessica C. Harris

16) What Professional Development Opportunities Are Necessary to Ensure that Professionals Have the Capacities and Competencies to Make Good Decisions When Faced With the Unknown?

  • Trust Your Instincts, Pack a Compass, and Never Hike Alone—Cynthia H. Love
  • Professional Development as a Healing Community Practice—Michelle M. Espino

17) What Responsibility Does Student Affairs Have to Help Graduate Assistants Navigate the Ambiguity Between Their Student and Professional Roles?

  • Navigating Two Worlds: Supporting Graduate Students in Their Dual Roles as Students and Professionals—Jessica Gunzburger
  • Caught in the Middle: A Stable Anchor for Graduate Students Amid a Discursive Struggle—Hoa Bui

18) How Should Student Affairs Professional Preparation Programs Address Discrimination and Bias in the Graduate Classroom?

  • No Struggle, No Progress: The Complexities of Pre-Tenure Minoritized Faculty Addressing Bias, Discrimination, and Oppression in Student Affairs Graduate Preparation Programs—David Pérez II
  • You Are Not Alone: Graduate Preparation Programs’ Responsibility and Commitment to Addressing Discrimination and Bias in Classrooms and Beyond—Bridget Turner Kelly

19) What Is the Value of Student Affairs Research as It Relates to Issues of Equity, Civility, and Safety?

  • The Value and Disconnect of Student Affairs Research Related to Equity, Civility, and Safety—JoNes R. VanHecke
  • Considering the Practical Usefulness of Higher Education Research and Theory in Promoting Equity, Civility, and Safety—Nicholas A. Bowman

20) How Can/Should Student Affairs Educators Use Assessment to Improve Educational Practices Related to Equity, Civility, and Safety?

  • Using Deconstructed Assessment to Address Issues of Equity, Civility, and Safety on College Campuses—Gavin W. Henning
  • Assessment as Power: Using Our Privilege to Center the Student Voice—Abby C. Trout

21) What Would It Take for Student Affairs Educators to Facilitate a Personal Learning Design Approach That Enhances Equity, Civility, and Safety?

  • Pursuing Equity, Civility, and Safety Through Personal Learning Design—Taran Cardone
  • A Personal Learning Design Approach: Are Student Affairs Educators Ready?—Matthew R. Johnson

22) How Do Student Affairs Educators Integrate Personal and Professional Identities in Digital Spaces/Social Media?

  • Orchestrated in Harmony or Forced With a Disconnect—Josie Ahlquist
  • Speaking Up: How Student Affairs Professionals of Color Navigate Social Media with Authenticity—Julia R. Golden

23) What Does It Mean for Student Affairs Educators to Maintain Self-Care in Turbulent Times?

  • Practicing Self-Care Is a Radical Notion in Student Affairs and It Shouldn’t Be—Tiffany J. Davis
  • More Than Consumption: Creating Space for Self-Care in Higher Education—Shamika N. Karikari

Part Four: Epilogue

24) What Is the Promise/Potential of the Student Affairs Profession to Foster Inclusive Environments for Learning?

  • Putting Potential to Work—Susan R. Jones
  • It’s the Means, Not the Ends: Incorporating Humanity Into Our Practice—Craig R. Berger

Order Your Copy Today From Stylus Publishing or on Amazon!

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Rebekah Tilley is the assistant vice president of communication and marketing for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). In that role she supports fundraising and alumni engagement efforts for the university, including its CASE Gold winning Iowa Magazine, and serves UICA in a variety of strategic communication efforts.

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