From the President

Jeanne Steffes
ACPA President
Syracuse University

Hello ACPA Colleagues! You helped make ACPA history! On July 1, 2006 your votes for the Bylaw amendments passed this important item by a significant margin! In early July, I worked at International Office in Washington, DC to begin planning the first steps of our Association’s collective next chapter. In mid-July, ACPA held its annual Summer Leadership Meeting for approximately 70 Association leaders. So you can see that this summer has been busy. In addition to work at the International office I had the chance to attend several conferences around the country and visit with many ACPA members.

I spent time this spring and early summer interacting with many ACPA members. I want to highlight some of my travels and the unique and special volunteer leaders who I have had the chance to work with and for during the past several months. In April, a few short weeks after the Convention I had the opportunity to visit the South Carolina College Personnel Association conference in Charleston. My hosts were President Bob Hanley and Boyd Yarbrough. I also want to acknowledge the work of Jason Cassidy, Beau Seagraves, Eric Fisher, Mac McArthur, and Adrienne Middleton. It was also great to co-present with Lynn Willett and Boyd Yarbrough on involvement in professional associations. The conference was well attended and featured excellent programs and included a poster session by several graduate students at Clemson University led and mentored by the late Ed Grandpre, Pam Havice, and Tony Cawthorn.

In June I had the opportunity to serve as a keynote speaker and presenter at the Caribbean Tertiary Level Personnel Association conference in Nassau, Bahamas. I’d like to thank my hosts, President Theolora Reynolds, President-elect Jacqueline Austin, Merritt Henry, and Marine Cunningham for a wonderful professional development activity and eye-opening lessons as I learned about student services from an international perspective.

My next ACPA trip took me to Atlanta for the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I) conference this year. I was a guest of President Alan Hargrave, ACUHO-I Executive Director Sallie Traxler and former President Eddie Hull. I also want to extend my best wishes to incoming ACUHO-I President Connie Carson. I met with several ACPA potential and current vendors and prospective corporate partners/friends. It was also another opportunity for me to interact with our members to answer questions about the governance task force and by-laws vote.

The Pennsylvania State University once again served as a wonderful host and back drop for the ACPA/Penn State Assessment Conference in June. Jacqueline Skinner Jackson, ACPA’s Director for Educational Programs and Publications, spearheaded our efforts to coordinate a great line up of nationally known speakers and faculty members. These renowned assessment experts included Peggy Maki from Peggy Maki Associates and Pat Terenzini, Bob Reason, Suzanne Bienert, Shaun Harper, Brenda Lutovsky-all from The Pennsylvania State University. Alice Mitchell, University of Maryland – University College and Gavin Henning, University of New Hampshire, chair and chair-elect of Commission on Assessment for Student Development and Ann Groves Lloyd, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Director, State and Intl Divisions were also presenters. Thank you and congratulations to all of our participants and faculty members who assisted with this effort!

At the end of July Washington University in St. Louis, MO hosted the ACPA Summer Leadership Meeting. All ACPA leader groups (Commission Chairs, State/International Presidents Executive Council members and ACPA International Office Staff) are invited a four-day meeting to be oriented to ACPA, the organization’s strategic plan, and to learn how to maximize their leadership roles in ACPA. Topics included Sustainability in Higher Education by Dr. Debra Rowe, Chair of the Higher Education Association Sustainability Consortium, Legal Issues and Leadership in Non-Profit Boards facilitated by our legal counsel, Peter Wolk, and the new governance structure. In addition, each leadership group met individually to set their agenda for the coming year. Special thanks to Peter Brown, Jenny Garcia, Jacquie Skinner Jackson, Mariama Boney, and Greg Roberts for their assistance with this very successful leadership meeting.

At the Summer Leadership meeting, in addition to the traditional planning sessions for the upcoming year, we spent a great deal of time listening to all constituent leader groups to better understand what each of them needed from the Implementation Taskforce and ultimately the new governance structure to be successful. The Implementation Taskforce was approved by the Executive Council at this meeting as well. The group’s charge is to establish processes and procedures to operationalize the recently approved ACPA bylaws by July 1, 2007. The Implementation Team (I-Team) consists of Patty Perillo, University of Maryland-Baltimore County as chair and the following members:

Kevin Bailey
Lee Hawthorne Calizo
Corin Gioia
Keith Humphrey
Ron Jackson
Stacey Pearson
Gregory Roberts
Matthew Solder
Jeanne Steffes
Chris Strong
Stephen Sutton
Vasti Torres
Lynn Willett
Tulane University
University of Maryland-Baltimore County
University of Maryland-Baltimore County
University of Arizona
Marymount Manhattan College
University of Michigan
ACPA-College Student Educators International
University of Maryland
Syracuse University
SUNY Potsdam
University of St. Thomas in Texas
Indiana University
Coastal Carolina University

In addition, I will be working with Kristan Cilente, Standing Committee Chair for Graduate Students and New Professionals to have a member of her constituent group also serve as a member of the I-Team!

The fall is my favorite time of the year. It has been no matter whether I lived in Wisconsin, Ohio, Massachusetts, Maryland and now New York. It, for me, signifies my most favorite day of the year–the day when resident students move into their residence hall and when both commuter and residential students attend campus orientation. It is a day of promise and pride, of fear and confidence, and an opportunity for us as college student educators to welcome and celebrate the next class of students and ultimately our world’s leaders. My second most favorite day of the year is the first day of the annual ACPA convention, but that story I’ll save for a future edition of Developments. As I hope you know this year our annual meeting will be the joint meeting with NASPA in Orlando from March 31-April 4, 2007. For more information, please visit http://www.2007jointmeeting.org.

In the meantime I wish you good luck with all of your orientation and opening activities. Thank you for all that you do behind the scenes to teach, mentor and serve as role models for our students. I am proud to be in this noteworthy and distinct profession with you. Until next time, take care.

A Ph.D. Student Experience

Every year the ACPA Convention offers a number of programs presented by current doctoral students offering their insights on successfully completing a doctoral program. Over the years I have attended several of these sessions hoping to glean knowledge that would help me when I made the transition back to the classroom. The advice has been helpful, but as I wrap up my first year as a full time doctoral student I have taken some time to reflect on my decision to begin this journey. Although I am happy with this path some of the choices I have had to make along the way have been difficult, and I wish I had learned a few things beforehand that might have made the road a bit smoother.

One of the toughest decisions for me was whether I would resign from my full time student affairs position at a mid-size public institution or attend school as a part-time student while remaining employed. I had really found my ideal job with great colleagues, wonderful students, and a location that had already been home to my family for the previous three years. Having only been in the position for two and a half years I felt that I still had much more to contribute. However, I also knew that balancing a full time job, a family, and coursework would put too much of a strain on me and those I care about. Therefore, I made the very difficult decision to be a full time student and say goodbye to the students, colleagues, and job I really enjoyed. Fortunately, I am able to maintain the relationships with my former colleagues since I continue to live in the area.

Remaining in the same community means that I commute about 75 minutes each way to school. Fortunately I have family near my institution and spend two nights a week in the area. I never realized how much I would miss my partner and son the three days a week I am away from them. Nothing could have prepared me for this, however, I am able to give them much more of my attention the four days a week I am at home. When faced with the prospect of relocating our entire family, or spending three days a week from home the latter seemed to be the best alternative for all of us. So far, with the support of an understanding partner, family, and child care providers these arrangements have worked out much better than expected.

Most of my first year has been about adjusting to a new way of life. At this year’s ACPA Convention two colleagues and I discussed how much our lives have changed since the last time we were all together one year earlier. In less than a month one colleague went from being an entry-level housing professional at large public institution to being the chief housing officer at a smaller university. The other colleague recently became the chief housing officer at a mid size private school after working as an independent consultant. Of course, I went from having a full time position with an office, an administrative assistant, student workers, and responsibilities to just having lots of responsibility without no staff or an office of my own.

Many responsibilities that come with being a doctoral student are part and parcel of the experience. However, looking back I wish I had known to say no far more often as some responsibilities come by choice. Saying no to those opportunities that are unappealing may be fairly easy, but when all of the opportunities seem attractive it is easy to believe you must do everything. Some of my fellow doctoral students would suggest that balance is the key to managing multiple priorities. Instead, I recommend tipping the scales with far more free, flexible, and open.

At the same time, being a student is about stretching beyond one’s comfort zone. Taking risks, and trying something that is unfamiliar can be so worthwhile when it pushes you to develop new skills instead of simply relying on old ones. I suggest seeking mentorship from faculty and/or other students who can help you acquire new skill sets that will serve your future goals. Doing this has been instrumental to my own growth. There will always be opportunities to maintain those competencies you already have, and to collaborate with fellow students and faculty in ways that will build old and foster new competencies.

The most consistent pre-doctoral advice I received was to connect with my fellow students. This has been key to the support I have received and been able to give throughout my first year. My cohort has been instrumental in my success, and I am glad I received lots of good advice prior to beginning my program about how important this group of people would be to my experience.

Our common group experience allows us to encourage and empathize with one another. We also help each other figure out what classes we will take each semester, and stay on top of the administrative deadlines that come with the program. While we all may travel in various social circles, we definitely share a common bound that transcends everything else and makes our experience unique.

I have found that one aspect of being successful as a doctoral student involved giving consistent effort and letting go of perfectionism. This is a lesson that I am still trying to learn. Sometimes it is easy to focus on being perfect since usually in a full time position you have already mastered all or most of what your job requires. As a professional your ability to balance tasks and urgent matters may often be rewarded, but it is the quality and thoroughness of your work that is important as a doctoral student.

Through my course work and involvement with a research team my own research interests have become much more clear. I learned early the value of gaining clarity about my interests, but at the same time being open and flexible to other ideas and opportunities that may come along. While there is no need to begin your doctoral program with a dissertation topic and title in hand, it is important to spend time cultivating your interests. Share your curiosity with your advisor and seek faculty members, even those outside your program and department, whose interests may be similar.

Being open to new experiences also means taking classes outside your program and department. Some of my most insightful classes have been outside of my department. I did not know this going into the program, but have been pleasantly surprised. An added bonus has been the supportive relationships I have formed with students and faculty in other departments.

Beginning a doctoral program is a risk itself. I have learned to not be shy about meeting with someone who I do not know, but may want to work with in the future. The best advice I have received so far has come from a seasoned faculty member who in 20 minutes shared insights that I will carry forever. I was invited to a meeting with two other colleagues who were unable to attend. Since I was already there this faculty member and I just talked about current events, my research interests, and a wide range of other topics. Ordinarily our paths would seldom cross, but because of chance meeting we were able to make a connection that will continue. To date it has been the best hour of time spent this entire year.

Few doctoral students complain of boredom or an over abundance of free time when in a doctoral program. However, one of the most poignant lessons that I have learned over the past year is the importance of holding onto those simple pleasures I enjoy. Being a doctoral student does not mean giving up time with one’s family, friends, and outside interests. While it is true that being a doctoral student is a time intensive experience, it does not need to consume all of your time. This is a recent insight for me and I look forward to implementing it next fall.

Never being one to rush a degree I took five years to complete my bachelors and four years to finish my masters. Though I always had the intention of beginning a doctoral program I thought I needed to wait at least five years before applying. There have been times over the past year when I wished I had started my program a year or two earlier. Nonetheless, I am happy to with my decision to start now. Having a few more years of working and living have made my courses much more relevant than they may have been without six years of post masters professional experience. When to start your own program is personal decision, and does not necessarily need to be contingent on external factors.

As I go into my second year of doctoral study, equipped with all that I have learned about myself and what I want out of my program, I know I will continue making some of the same choices and some different ones as well. One of the benefits of working in higher education is the cycle of the academic calendar. A new year provides new opportunities where old lessons are incorporated into daily practice, and new lessons are discovered along the way. I look forward to the journey continuing.

New Publications from the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in Higher Eduation

New Publications from the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in Higher Eduation

CAS has announced it will suspend all sales of it old publications effective May 1, 2006, and will start taking orders for its new publications to be released on August 1, 2006.  In the interim, if colleagues want to purchase publications, they should realize the 2003 Book of Standards will be replaced with a new 5th edition.

The Book of Standards to be released in August will introduce five new functional areas of standards and guidelines for:  College Honor Societies, Education Abroad Programs, Service-Learning Programs, Internship Programs, and College Health Promotions.  The Book will continue to carry the 30 functional areas already published, while 9 of those 30 functional area standards and guidelines have been revised and unanimously approved by the CAS Board of Directors.

In addition to the Book of Standards, CAS will also publish a Book of Frameworks for Assessing Learning and Development Outcomes (FALDOs.)  The FALDOs give definition to the 16 student learning domains, review relevant research, and provide the practitioner with examples of research questions and concomitant research instruments for conducting assessment activities.  The Book of FALDOs will be available August 1.

Version 3.0 of the CD that contains all the Self-Assessment Guides (SAGs) and functional area standards and guidelines will also be released on August 1.

Mailings to student affairs and institutional research officers at most every college or university will be made by CAS in May and again in August notifying them of the changes while providing the opportunity to order the new publications.

For more information contact: Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, Phyllis Mable, CAS Executive Director, (202) 862-1400

Memorial Resolution: Jack Niven

Memorial Resolution: Jack Niven

Whereas, John “Jack” Niven received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northeastern University, and

Whereas, Jack was employed at Northeastern University in Residence Life from 1973-2002 and as the Director of University Housing at Temple University from 2002-2005, and

Whereas, Jack oversaw the opening of Temple’s first residential classroom, and

Whereas, Jack assisted with the development of Temple’s Student Leadership Challenge to nurture responsible student leaders, and

Whereas, Jack passed away on December 5, 2005, and is greatly missed by students, staff, faculty, family, and alumni,

Now therefore be it resolved, that the American College Personnel Association honors his memory, his legacy, and remembers Jack Niven as a beloved member of the Association.  We express our appreciation for his life, and remember his many contributions to residence life and the entire student affairs profession.

Memorial Resolution: Edward Grandpré

Memorial Resolution: Edward Grandpré

Whereas, the American College Personnel Association and the student affairs profession mourn the passing of Edward Grandpré on March 17, 2006; and

Whereas, Ed was an Assistant Professor of Higher Education at Clemson University, had been the Director of Student Services in the College of Education at the University of Georgia and had served the student affairs profession and students at Mississippi State University, the Ohio State University and Florida State University; and

Whereas, Ed served the Association as immediate past chair of the ACPA Assessment Commission and is remembered by assessment and other commissions for his spark, his humor, and his focus on student learning; and

Whereas, Ed had two daughters—Hannah and Claire—and his good and trusty dog, Scout, to whom he brought companionship, wisdom, and love;

Now therefore be it resolved that the American College Personnel Association thanks Ed for the many gifts he has shared with individuals, the student affairs profession, and the world of higher education.

Interviewing Tips for Grad Students and New Professionals

Interviewing Tips for Grad Students and New Professionals

Summer is right around the corner and for graduate students and new professionals that means job searching and interviewing for a new or first professional experience.  Interviewing can be intimidating, but with the right information and preparation it does not have to be. Always remember that the interview is an opportunity not only for the interviewer to see if you are a good fit for the position and the institution, but for you to find a good fit for your skills, interests, and personality.

Interview Preparation

The two best ways to improve your interviewing skills are (1.) to recognize what the hiring department is looking for by knowing the job description and (2.) to practice!  Job descriptions are provided for a reason, and they are your best defense in interview preparation.  The hiring department compiles a lengthy list of qualifications and skills necessary to perform the job and it is up to you to recognize how your experiences through employment, student activities, and coursework fulfill some of those necessary requirements.  Once you understand how your skills and qualifications fit the position you can practice. Stop by your University’s Career Center or visit the Commission for Career Development’s website at www.myacpa.org/comm/careerdev for a list of questions.  Actually say the answers out loud. It is helpful to practice saying your answers in front of a mirror so you can focus on your facial expressions. Get your friends and family members to ask you questions and give you feedback on your answers. Better yet, schedule a mock interview with your Career Center. This will give you the opportunity to practice interviewing in as close to a “real-world” situation as possible. Do not let this opportunity pass you by! If you are not currently enrolled in a program, contact the Career Center at your alma mater to schedule an in-person or phone mock interview; many institutions provide Career Center resources to alumni for life.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in an interview is not researching the institution. When you walk into an interview you should know the institution’s size, mission, and something about the student body and culture. You should know if the division or office with whom you are interviewing has a mission or vision statement, and what those statements are. While the interview is an opportunity for you to ask questions and learn more about the employer, you should show the employer that you have done thorough homework. This is a great way to impress the employer during your interview, and will not go unnoticed! Ways to research the employer include reviewing the employer’s website, reviewing hard-copies of materials provided by the employer, reading copies of the school newspaper, searching local news sites to learn about current events involving the institution, and speaking to individuals who work at the institution.

 

Interviewing Types

Interviewing styles vary from employer to employer and interviewer to interviewer.  To better prepare for an interview, students are encouraged to be familiar with the different types of interviews that may be encountered. Many graduate students and new professionals undergo an initial or screening interview.  This can take the form of conference placement or a phone interview. For applicants, the goal of the screening interview is to get an offer to come to the campus.

The campus interview can last all day. You may be evaluated during meals and travel from/to the airport/bus/train. Remember that although the interviewer may engage in casual conversation during this time, this is still an interview, and you will be evaluated on this meeting. If your interview includes a meal, remember that the point of the meal is to interact, and eating is secondary. The entire campus interview will usually consist of a series of interviews with different individuals or groups throughout the day.  Students and people from other offices may interview you, and you may be asked to make a presentation.  Make sure to get two good nights’ sleep, eat breakfast the morning of the interview, and pace yourself throughout the day to conserve energy.  When you walk into an interview, you want to make a good first impression. Your attire should reflect this desire and should be pressed, simple, professional, and conservative. For more details on dressing for interviews please see the Commission for Career Development’s website or meet with a Career Center representative.

 

Interviewing Styles

The behavioral interview, the most common interview style, is based on the premise that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation. It focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job related. Employers predetermine which skills are necessary for the job for which they are looking and then ask very pointed questions to determine if the candidate possesses those skills. For example, if successful leadership is necessary for a position, you may be asked to talk about an experience in which you were a leader as well as what you think makes a good leader.

Your interview preparation should include identifying recognizing skills and qualifications from the job description and thinking of examples of situations from your experiences where you have demonstrated the behaviors a given institution seeks. During the interview, your responses need to be specific and detailed. Tell them about a particular situation that relates to the question, not a general one. Briefly tell them about the situation, what you did specifically, and the positive result or outcome. Your answer should contain these three steps (Circumstance, Action, Result or “CAR”) for optimum success. The CAR method is useful when answering any type of interview question, not only behavioral interview questions.

It is helpful to frame your answer as a story that you can tell. Typically, the interviewer will pick apart the story to try to get at the specific behavior(s) they seek. They refer to this as “digging a well.” The interviewer will sometimes ask you open ended questions to allow you to choose which examples you wish to use. When a part of your story relates to a skill or experience the interviewer wishes to explore further, the interviewer will then ask you very specific follow-up questions regarding your behavior. These can include “What were you thinking at that point?” or “Tell me more about your meeting with that person ” or “Lead me through your decision process.”

Whenever you can, quantify your results. Numbers illustrate your level of authority and responsibility. For example: “I was a graduate assistant.” could be “As a Graduate Assistant, I trained and evaluated 4 student employees.”  Be prepared to provide examples of when results did not turn out as you planned. What did you do then? What did you learn? Your resume will serve as a good guide when answering these questions. Refresh your memory regarding your achievements in the past couple of years. Demonstration of the desired behaviors may be proven in many ways. Use examples from past internships, classes, activities, team involvements, community service, and work experience.

Another interview style is the case interview.  Although case interviewing is typically thought to be business focused, you may come across case interview questions in your student affairs interview. These questions give you the chance to demonstrate your ability to work through student situations similar to those you might face as a professional. Cases are usually scenario-based activities, and your performance will be determined by how well you demonstrate problem-solving skills and competencies in the interview.

 

Questions and Follow Up

The interview is also your opportunity to learn more about the position, the school, and the department you are considering.  You are not just looking for the school that will have you, you are looking for a good fit; a program that fits in with your philosophy and will meet your needs.

Most interviews will provide you with an opportunity to ask questions during the interview.  If you do not ask any questions, it may look as if you do not care/have not prepared, or are not discriminate in your job search.  Before heading to an interview, write down a list of some things that you would honestly want to know about the school or position.  Decide which things would be appropriate to ask during an interview and work to phrase your questions carefully.  Some sample questions include: What challenges are currently facing your department/institution?  What kind of training will I receive for this position? In what ways are your department growing?

After the interview it is important to immediately write down the names of the interviewer(s), and any impressions you may have about the interview; send a handwritten interview note to the interviewer(s) using their names A handwritten thank you note is always better than an email. If you know the department is going to make a decision quickly, it is okay to send an email thank you, indicating you will be also be following-up with a handwritten thank you note. Then send your handwritten thank you note ASAP; keep in touch with individuals with wh om you have interviewed. If you have not heard from them by the time they indicated they would make a decision, call them to restate your interest in the position and follow-up; if you are no longer interested in an institution, let them know.

As you prepare for interviews, keep in mind that the keys to success are knowledge and practice.  The combination of these two elements will provide you with the confidence necessary to nail the interview and receive a job offer for a position that is a good fit with your skills, abilities, values and personality.
This article was adapted from the ACPA Commission for Career Development Career Planning Guide

Career Planning Guide authors are:

Betsy Reed, Vanderbilt University
Sonjala Allen, Carnegie Mellon University
Caryn Crane, Quinnipiac University
Aaron Phillips, University of Louisville
Julie Purcel, The College of William and Mary

From the Editor

From the Editor

Welcome to the summer issue of Developments. In this issue we begin a new series that provides voices to our graduate students and will be complemented by thoughts from staff and faculty.  We expect these voices to continue throughout several issues of Developments. Tom Segar from the University of Maryland reflects on his decision to pursue his Ph.D. and the wisdom he has gained during his first year in his program.  The staff article highlights interviewing tips for new professionals.

In addition to these articles Jason Lane, in our Legal Issues article, explores Facebook.com and the role of student affairs professionals with this medium and others like it.  Jane Fried provides a timely piece on using ACPA’s newStatement of Ethical Principles and Standards practically.

For those members who were unable to attend the Conventions, the President’s Convention address is included in its entirety. Executive Director, Greg Roberts, updates us on Capitol Hill issues and President Jeanne Steffes provides a thank you to the many volunteers who helped ensure the success of ACPA and the annual Convention this past year.  Jeanne also highlights successful endeavors of ACPA over the last year of which one is the publication of Learning Reconsidered 2.

Learning Reconsidered 2 is a follow up Learning Reconsidered (2002) and as the “the behind the colon” title suggests, this new publication focuses on the implementation of concepts from Learning Reconsidered.  As invested members of higher education, this document explores our collaborative efforts to ensure learning in the environment.  It provides current examples of this collaboration and provides ideas for new links that student affairs staff may choose to explore with others committed to learning in the academy.   If you have not had a chance to read this wonderful document, I suggest adding it to your summer reading and consider how you may incorporate the content in professional staff training, classroom experiences, and with the many other university staff and faculty with whom you interact on a regular basis.

Good luck as summer arrives and you gear up for summer campus activities, plan for fall, and energize yourself for academic year 2006-2007.

CAS Symposium

CAS National Symposium

Offered by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education

CAS Standards, Self-Assessment, and 
Student Learning Outcomes in Higher Education

November 12-14, 2006 
Hilton Crystal City Hotel, Washington, DC

Keynote Speakers:

Richard P. Keeling, M.D. 
Chief Executive Officer & Executive Consultant
Keeling & Associates, Inc. (K&A)

Susan Komives, Ed.D.
Associate Professor of Counseling & Personnel Services 
University of Maryland, College Park

Programs:

  • “CAS Basics” – introduction to CAS materials & approach
  • Learning sessions
    1. Connecting Functional Areas to Student Learning Outcomes
    2. Frameworks for Assessing Learning Development Outcomes:
      Setting the Foundation for Imagining the Future
    3. Preparing for Institutional Accreditation
    4. Creating a Culture for Assessment
  • Round table discussions institution type
  • Round table discussions by functional area

Early Registration cost:  $195 – Limited to the first 300 registered participants
Room cost:  $169/night, single or double

For more information contact:  Phyllis Mable, CAS Executive Director, (202) 862-1400 or visit <www.cas.edu>

ACPA Award Winners

ACPA Award Winners

These Association awards were announced at the Leadership Reception and Awards Ceremony during the Indianapolis Convention.

Annuit Coeptis Award-Senior Professional: Jan L. Arminio, Shippensburg University; Linda M. Clement, University of Maryland; Tracy L. Davis, Western Illinois University.

Annuit Coeptis Award-Emerging Professional: Elisa S. AbesMiami UniversityRashida Hiba GovanCommunity College of Baltimore CountyShaun R. Harper, Pennsylvania State UniversityAshley Mouberry SiemanUniversity of North Carolina Chapel HillJ. Malcolm SmithOhio University.

Emerging Scholars: Elisa Abes, Miami University-OhioBrian BridgesGeorge Washington University.

Senior Scholars:  William M. McDonaldPresbyterian CollegeRichard P. Keeling, Keeling & Associates, Inc.

Senior Scholar Diplomate:  Robert B. Young, Ohio University – Athens.

Senior Student Affairs Officers Practitioner Program:  Peter BaigentStony Brook University, State University of New York; Karen WhitneyIndiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

Voice of Inclusion Medallion: Individual Award: Michael SpirosMissouri Western State UniversityNancy J. EvansIowa State University.

Voice of Inclusion Medallion-Exemplary Program: White Privilege Conference; Shaha: The Storytellers, University of Massachusetts – Amherst.

ACPA Excellence in Practice Award: James C. HurstUniversity of Wyoming.

Esther Lloyd-Jones Professional Service Award: Dennis C. RobertsMiami University.

Contribution to Knowledge Award: Susan R. KomivesUniversity of Maryland.

Contribution to Higher Education Award: Marvalene HughesDillard University.

ACPA Lifetime Achievement Award: George D. KuhIndiana University, Bloomington.

ACPA Presidential Citation Award: Robert F. RodgersThe Ohio State University.

Facebook.com: An Overview of Uses and Limitations in Judicial Cases

Jason E. Lane
Assistant Professor
University of North Dakota

You walk out of your office to grab a file and notice your student worker quickly minimize a screen on his computer.  Curious, you ask him about it and he simply replies that he is “facebooking.”  Curiosity piqued, you inquire more.  Looking over his shoulder he describes to you a website that allows students to connect with each over the internet.  Interesting, but it sounds like only a new iteration of e-mail and instant messaging.  Later that day on the way to a meeting, you observe that students in the lounge, computer labs, coffee shop are all “facebooking.”  Research about Facebook is very limited; however, it should come as no surprise that a recent study by two students at MIT on Facebook usage reported that 60% of users in the study log into the site at least four times a week (Jones & Solten, 2005). (In fact, many of the undergraduates with whom I have discussed Facebook indicate that they log on to the site several times a day).  The study reported that usage was so prevalent that on campuses such as Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University the percentage of students possessing a Facebook.com account surpassed 90%.

Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) belongs to a cadre of new internet ventures known as social networking sites.  The sites exist for a range of purposes.  Consider this: by exploring the profile of other members, one can quickly find out such personal information as dating status (i.e., “single”, “in a relationship”, “in an open relationship”, “engaged”, “married”, or “its complicated”), sexual preferences, political views, movie and music interests, and favorite quotes.  Assuredly, some of the information available is quite provocative and a bit disturbing. While shocking to some, these reported behaviors are not new (although, some may argue that the structure of the site works to promote such activities or at least normalize them).  The site makes publicly available information about what college students have been doing in private for years.  This public access to traditionally private information is raising a number of questions regarding the relationship between postsecondary institutions and their students.

Toward the beginning of this semester while toying with writing this column, I was chatting with my graduate assistant about Facebook and she convinced me that the only way to understand the phenomenon was to log on to the site and explore.  After some trepidation about joining this group of mostly undergrads, I consented. With a few clicks and the entry of minimal personal information, I joined the community of 12.4 million college students, alumni, and a few faculty and staff.  Within two days of joining, I reconnected with friends from both my undergraduate and graduate institutions, read about the current trends in music and movies both on my campus and nationally, and discovered more about my undergraduate and graduate students and their friends than I either wanted or needed.  From the six people who I added to my “friends” list in those first few days, the site let me know that I was then connected to 289 other people.  I could investigate my friends’ friends to see if there were any who I want to list as my friends and add them to my list.

The site does not belong to the university nor is it a formal official extension of the campus environment.  Unlike many of the online social networking sites, Facebook is based on its members participating in a shared setting: a college campus (whether they area taking classes on campus or are distance learners).  For the most part, users can only access a particular college or university Facebook site if they possess the corresponding institution.edu e-mail address. Thus, the members of each individual site are also members of a broader campus community tied together through common courses, academic programs, cultural norms and values, and daily events that take place on and around campus.  In some ways, this sense of a quasi-exclusive community creates a sense of privacy and safety for many users who post pictures and stories about illegal and ethically-questionable activities.

One of the most egregious examples of the boasting of illegal activity centers on the recent burning of nine churches in Alabama.  Newsweek (Skip & Kim, 2006) reported that the culprits, three college students, chronicled some of their other criminal activity on Facebook. The magazine revealed that the students used Facebook to exchange messages about “alcohol, drunken driving, illegal hunts, guns, and vandalism and feckless law-enforcement officers” (p. 8).  While little data exists about the extent to which students reveal criminal activity on the site, significant anecdotal evidence suggests that students often willingly share information about such behaviors as sexual activity and alcohol and drug use.  For example, when a New York Times reporter was working on a story about abuse of the drug Adderall at Columbia University, he interviewed more than 20 students because of their membership in the Facebook group, “Adderall, You’re Breaking My Heart”.

With all of this information available, college and university officials in public safety and judicial affairs offices are increasingly turning to the site to gather evidence about violations of the law and the institution’s code of conduct.   At Penn State, campus officials used pictures on the Facebook group I rushed the Field After the OSU Game (And Lived!) to identify and discipline more than 50 students who had rushed the football field after PSU defeated Ohio State last fall.  In November 2005, The Northerner reported that Northern Kentucky University fined four students for posting pictures of a drinking party in a residence hall on Facebook. In another example, according to Ohio University’s student newspaper, The Post, a student Resident Assistant was terminated for posting photographs of underage drinking in the residence halls.

Unsurprisingly, such actions by college and university administrators cause a great deal of consternation among college students who repeatedly claim violations of privacy.  While efforts to collect evidence via Facebook may be viewed as an invasion of private space, there is nothing illegal about college officials using the site to collect evidence about student behavior.  A judicial affairs officer has the same opportunity and access as a fraternity brother to browse the site, peruse pictures, and read postings. In many ways, posting information to Facebook is no different than posting the information on a public bulletin board.  Once posted, there exists no expectation of privacy — who reads the information cannot be controlled.  This situation raises questions about a university’s obligation to provide students with a certain level of internet literacy.

As universities venture into the regulation of online behavior, they do need to be cautious of their own activities.  Some campuses no longer simply use Facebook to collect evidence about reported code violations, but actually assign a student or public safety officer to monitor activity on the site.  When an institution begins actively monitoring the site, it may begin to assume a responsibility (and legal liability) for activities that occur on Facebook.  (Some readers may recall a similar issue in the late 1990s when the National Panhellenic Conference asked the institutional Panhellenic Councils to stop actively monitoring sorority social events because of the potential liability involved with assuming responsibility for monitoring student behavior).  On Facebook, institutions may create an expectation that the university is obligated to provide them with a safe and harassment free environment – when in fact the university is really only looking for alcohol violations such as underage drinking or drinking in a “dry” residence hall.

Keep in mind that collecting evidence may be legal, but the evidence collected may not always be legitimate. Pictures do not always prove action or intent.  Merely holding a red plastic cup does not mean alcohol was being consumed.  Further, what if after punishing a student for drinking in his residence hall room you discover on Facebook a picture of the same student clearly drinking in the hall?  One should be cautious of such evidence. Is this a picture of the same event, for which the student was already sanctioned, or a different violation? If a student posts a caption suggesting a student with a funny look in the picture is stoned in a residence hall, does this mean the student was smoking marijuana on campus? Not necessarily, the person may never have smoked pot and the caption may only be an attempt at humor.

As a still emerging phenomenon, the legal concerns of Facebook and other social networking sites remain ambiguous.  Issues such as harassment and the posting of threatening speech are likely to be some of the major legal issues to arise in the future; particularly when both public and private universities seek to manage the speech of their students and other community members on Facebook.

With millions of college students now using the Facebook site, student affairs administrators need to be aware of the site and understand its role on college campuses.  In many ways, the site serves a very valuable function of creating a campus community (albeit a mostly unregulated one).  However, it can also be a useful tool for campus administrators to investigate potential violations of the law or student code of conduct.  These administrators need to remember, however, that the same protections and freedoms granted students in the physical world also apply in the virtual one.

Summary Points for Administrative Consideration

  • Even though each Facebook site restricts access to members based on their .edu web address, the information provided on the site is available for public consumption.  College and university administrators can use the site to collect evidence about possible violations to the student code of conduct or the law.
  • There is a difference between using the site to collect evidence and actively monitoring the site for potential code violations. When universities actively monitor student activity on Facebook they may begin to assume responsibility (and thus liability) for activities conducted on the site.
  • Public institutions must respect student’s freedom of speech rights. So long as students not in engage in unprotected speech such as that which is libelous or threatens the health and safety of another, students have a right to say (or post) whatever they choose – even if an institution does not like it.
  • Institutions must be judicious in how they use evidence collected on Facebook.  Simply holding a red cup does not prove alcohol consumption by a minor.  Sometimes it may be best to simply use the evidence to have a conversation with the student about appropriate behavior, rather than trying to use it to determine responsibility for a code violation.

References

  • Jones, H. & Soltren, J. H. (2005). Facebook: Threats to privacy.  Unpublished
    Manuscript, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.
  • Skip C. & Kim, T. (2006, March 20).  Church burnings: What we did last night.
    Newsweek, p. 8.

From One Dupont Circle: Quarterly Update

Greetings from One Dupont Circle!

This spring has been a very busy and as you might suspect in the nation’s capital the activity on the “Hill” has been swift:

  • No Higher Education Reauthorization Bill. As of this writing, Congress has returned from break and the discussion continues.  It is highly unlikely that any action will be taken on the bill this session.
  • Budget cuts proposed for next year in the Department of Education (in committee). Secretary Spellings addressed a group of us earlier this spring about the pending budget cuts for education and higher education in specific.  The Trio programs are once again on the “table” for cuts in 2007 and the reallocation of those dollars would be redirected to the “No Child Left Behind” agenda.
  • Gasoline prices through the roof and Presidential intervention in the works. This needs no explanation.  The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the District is around $3.15.  Campuses will be looking carefully at athletic team and professional travel and motor pool necessities.
  • Senate debates immigration legislation. This issue continues to heat up as a national agenda and I would encourage each of you to ensure that you understand the facts of the multiple bills being presented on this topic.  Please research the impacts on your local community and the nation.   This discussion is just beginning.
  • Recording and motion picture industries launch new anti-piracy effort targeting colleges and universities. Forty universities in 25 states have been targeted by a new anti-piracy campaign launched by the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of American (MPAA).  Campuses are alerted to curtail piracy activity or face serious consequences.
  • New Orleans colleges ask for additional federal help in recovery efforts. The Presidents of Tulane and Dillard Universities called on Congress to “establish a loan program to help Gulf coast hurricane –damaged institutions with ongoing expenses while they wait for disaster-relief checks and insurance money.” (ACE, 2006)
  • The American Council on Education’s “Solutions for Our Future” campaign. ACE and 400 colleges and universities launched a national public outreach campaign designed to raise awareness about higher education’s critical role in the future of our country.  “Solutions for Our Future is a multi-year effort aimed at establishing a dialogue with local communities and policy makers about the broad societal benefits of higher education.  The campaign will utilize national television, radio and newspaper advertisements, an interactive web site and grassroots participation of member campuses and local stakeholders to convey how America’s colleges and universities teach the people who solve our problems and change our world”. (ACE, 2006)

In addition to the federal governments’ activities, the higher education community in Washington, DC, hosted a delegation of academic leaders from Poland for a three-day session on higher education with a focus on governance, institutional management, accreditation, and instruction.  ACPA was represented at this event.

At the state level, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) settled out of court on the Shin case (an MIT student whose death in 2000 was ruled a suicide).  This case had national implication for colleges and universities in allowing legal action against individual campus staff and not the institution.

ACPA will host two delegates from South Africa in mid-June representing the two leading student affairs associations from South Africa.  I will travel to South Africa in October to address their student affairs association’s annual convention on student issues in the United States and to further our relationship as collaborating partners in the two year retention study sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation.

The most critical issues facing our campuses and higher education must be addressed by active participation in the midterm elections.  We must register ourselves and our students and educate ourselves on the issues and what candidates would serve the best interest of higher education in this country at this particular time.  Difficult times lie ahead for education in general in this country and each citizen must be knowledgeable of the issues and exercise their voice. Vote!

Until next time,

Greg

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