From One Dupont Circle: Lead

From One Dupont Circle: Lead

Dr. Cindi Love, Ed.D.In the July 2014 Leadership Meeting for ACPA, I introduced an acronym that I believe illustrates the present and future context for our work as the ACPA – College Student Educators International community of social justice educators and student affairs professionals–L.A.M.P.  Lead. Amplify. Mobilize. Partner.

In this edition I want to talk about Lead.

In the short time that I have served as Executive Director (since July 2014), my observation about leadership in ACPA is that it does not manifest in a traditional way–it’s not about being “over” or “better” than others, rather it draws upon our (1) collective capacity; (2) community wide commitment to thought leadership; (3) the facilitation of insight; and (4) creating venues for positive influence.

For more than 90 years, ACPA – College Student Educators International members have been working at the contested and difficult intersections of equity and inclusion on college campuses.  Our stated intention and, I believe, our heart-desire is to improve accessibility and outcomes for all people within campus communities.  Justice seeking is at the core of everything we do.

Sometimes we fail and sometimes we succeed in specific initiatives or in our language or management of events.  What I like about ACPA community members is that we persist, we are resilient, we have the capacity and desire to recognize and acknowledge our failures; then we seek insight and improve.

I have worked in multiple justice-seeking human rights organizations and settings and, in spite of their missions, the willingness to change behavior was not always present within the leadership, staff, and memberships.  There was too much competition for resources, too much heartbreak, and it hurt our capacity for insight, collaboration and change.

The capacity for insight is central to the capacity for change.  I am grateful that I see this capacity for insight in so many of our members because I believe that student affairs professionals are in the business of facilitating insight which generates hope and potentiates change

Without insight, we repeat destructive behaviors and often pass these on from one generation to the next, (one institution to the next, one association to the next).

Insight flows over time in ways we often cannot predict or appreciate at the moment. Insight is a brilliant moment of powerful penetration into the reality of the issue or situation.  Change is hard because insight is difficult.  Change is hard because even once insight occurs, the brain must develop the structures to support new behavior (and then institutions must adopt the new behaviors) (Bennet, 2014).

I believe that ACPA’s thought leadership, capacity for insight and motivation to change emerges out of our long tenure in rigorous research and scholarship and the situating of our work within the core values of equity and inclusion.

We have taken the time to see what works and what does not work and that depth in understanding and practice takes time and diligence.  We take no short cuts in these areas and the reputation of the Journal of College Student Development grew out of this commitment within the ACPA community of practice.

ACPA as Hyperlocal Community

We understand that we are a ‘hyperlocal’ community of thought leaders.  I saw the term hyperlocal in the November 2014 edition of HillRag DC and adopted it quickly.  It helps me think about everything we do within ACPA to gather, assess, reflect upon, and disseminate best practices.

The HillRag editors define hyperlocal as information oriented toward a well defined community with its primary focus directed toward the concerns of its residents or members.

ACPA addresses the specific concerns of our members within the field of higher education; thus we are hyperlocal.  This means we do not always sign on to the broad resolutions in higher education because some of these may conflict with our core values. This was the case when ACPA took an early position on affirmative action on campuses, when we brought civil rights leaders into dialogue at our Conventions and when we elected the first LGBT identified President in a national student affairs association.

Our hyperlocality is also global.  These may seem like conflicting ideas, but ACPA is formally represented in at least 16 nations and in many more via the informal social media networks that we facilitate.

A few years ago ACPA leaders adopted a strategic imperative regarding globalization.  We changed our name to College Student Educators International.  We changed the name of our team in DC to the ‘international office.’  We are in a period of discernment about what it means to ‘globalize’ our thought leadership and practice.  Our core values demand that we reject any efforts that suggest colonization.  They also demand our attention at the places where there is no justice and where equity and inclusion are devalued by society.

This is a complicated and messy road to travel.  Allow me to suggest an example. In the United States, we enjoy substantive privilege as sexual and gender minorities.  I risk offending my colleagues with this statement because there are many incomplete areas of inclusion for trans identified people as well as bisexual identified persons, lesbians and gays.

We still struggle to ensure that all of our event locations provide gender-neutral restrooms that are appropriately accessible.  And, our privilege in the United States sometimes diminishes our energy to facilitate insight about those places where people cannot even have a conversation about equity and inclusion without risking their lives or imprisonment–Jamaica, Cameroon, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Burma (Rohingya Muslim minority), Cambodia, Syria, Uzbekistan, and many more.

I have been thinking that it can help us to develop insight as a social justice seeking community if we spend as least as much time thinking about those who do not have the privilege we have as we spend thinking about our own failures to provide equity and inclusion. We need this balance in our lives as an association and as individuals.

It is very hard to continue to grow our capacity for thought leadership without intentionally engaging in the challenges for students who come from other countries to campuses in the United States and without supporting our colleagues in other nations who are working in student affairs or creating programs for the first time.

I want to thank our leaders who determined that we should engage in globalization.  I want to encourage all of the rest of us to lean into that work on our campuses, in our research and scholarship, and in developing fresh insight.

I ‘lean in’ to this process best by forcing myself to think more deeply about universal and/or human rights and human dignity.  Recently I went to a United Nations Foundation hosted discussion of a book entitled Human Dignity and the Future of Global Institutions (Lagon & Arend, 2014). Mark P. Lagon and Anthony Clark Arend are the Editors. They dedicated the book to Master of Science in Foreign Service students–past, present and future–as they work to set the world on fire.

I believe our ACPA community of students are part of this cohort of world changers and, therefore, the words of Lagon and Arend feel important to share.

They talk about one of the deepest challenges of the implementation of an international agreement to use the words ‘human rights’ with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948–what is the basis for making the claims that the rights identified in the Declaration’s thirty articles were, in fact, universal?

In place of a justification, the Universal Declaration posits a collection of rights, each flowing from the first words of the first article: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity…In turn, these rights, grounded in a respect for human dignity, became the starting point for constructing a postwar international system whose aim was to ensure that the delineated rights did not remain abstractions.  Rather, they would be realized via institutions, that while international in scope, were national in focus…Over 60 years have passed and we know that the institutions that emerged in the mid-to-late twentieth century (are not) adequate to respond to the challenges of the early twenty-first century. Issues like climate change, human trafficking, water security and weapons of mass destruction, to name a very few, are borderlines in origin and impact and not easily addressed within a logic that gives primacy to national sovereignty. (Lagon & Arend, 2014, p. xiv)

In light of the inadequacies of the World Health Organization (WHO), UNESCO, the World Bank, the IMF and the Millennium Development Corporation and the Global Fund, what can we do?

We can lead.

Our students and practitioners have the capacity for thought leadership and the digitized tools necessary to revisit the questions about what it means for us to protect and respect the human dignity of all people.

We can ensure that we are building institutional climates that foster and protect human rights.  We can embrace our core values of equity and inclusion as we imagine and reimagine that rebuilding.

We can deepen our commitment to human dignity by focusing not only on our own rights that we have achieved, but also on those that are not yet a glimmer of hope for others.  We can ensure that the social practices embedded in our existing institutions (and associations) are sufficient to provide the framework for equity and inclusion and to ensure respect for our shared dignity, manifested in a commitment to human rights.

In my next column, I want to talk about what it means to amplify the voices of those who can make a difference in our campus climates as well as the voices of those who have no agency.  We have an important role to play in this work.  Let me provide a preview.

Repression of free media is increasing worldwide.

In 2011, the year of the Arab Spring and large scale street protests, the number of reporters killed rose by 16% to 66, arrests almost doubled, with attacks and threats to journalists up by 43% and kidnappings up by a third. There was also a 10% increase from the previous year in the number of countries routinely experiencing state censorship. Many journalists have been forced to flee their countries and operate from exile in order to carry on their work as reporters (Attfield, 2013).

My hypothesis is that the next decade will see students and our professionals continuing the work that independent journalists can no longer do.  Students will be the people creating dialogue about human rights and dignity on their campuses and in the public square.  ACPA – College Student Educators International members and allies will be helping them develop the platforms for global dialogue and the safe spaces on campuses around the world where they can give voice and agency to the work of equity and inclusion.


Attfield, W. (2013). Independent media in exile: A baseline consultation. Retrieved from FOJO Media Institute website.

Bennet, M. (2014, November 14). Power of insight [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Lagon, M. P. & Arend, A. C. (2014). Human dignity and the future of global institutions. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

From the Editor

Paul Eaton-Web-1Welcome to the Winter Issue of Developments!  If you are like me, you may be questioning how, exactly, Fall semester came to such a rapid conclusion.  Whether you find this semester has been fruitful, challenging, or somewhere along a continuum, please accept the well-wishes for a safe and enjoyable holiday season and break from everyone at Developments.

I was blessed to make my first official visit to the ACPA – College Student Educators International Office in November during the Annual Meeting for the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE).  I want to thank Dr. Cindi Love and the entire team at the International Office for welcoming us to Washington D.C. for such a lovely reception.  If you are ever in Washington D.C., please make a point to visit One Dupont Circle and thank our hard working staff for their dedication and service to our Association.

Before you part campus for your long winters nap, I hope you will take time to learn from the many articles in this issue of Developments.  The Standing Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Awareness begins a new series looking back at the influence and role of ACPA – College Student Educators International in the LGBTA rights movement over the past 30 years.  In addition to the first article in this series by Gretchen Metzelaars, Jonathan Ross from Lyndon State College offers us a Perspectives piece on supporting the GLBTQIA community as a Christian.

We once again have an outstanding group of feature columns.  In Legal Issues, Jeffrey C. Sun examines controversial commencement speakers, and the legal rights of students, faculty, and staff to protest such speakers on campus.  Tadd Kruse discusses the benefits of increasing international student diversity on campuses in the United States in our Global Affairs column.  Marisa Vernon challenges curriculum in her column on Student Development in the Two-Year College, questioning whether general education requirements for technical degrees enhance or detract from student success.  Finally, Jonathan O’Brien shares his model for developing ethical professional practice and leadership.  This column couples well with our Graduate Students & New Professional Piece on the Ethic of Care in student affairs – reflections from the John C. Dalton Institute.

I’d like to close by welcoming new members of our editorial board team who began their terms in October.  Joining our already outstanding Reviewer team is Stephanie Nguyen (Indiana University), Lisa Hatfield (Portland State University), and Tricia Shalka (The Ohio State University).  Joining our copy editing team is Michelle Ciesielski (Arkansas State University Beebe) and Joshua J. Houston.

Look for our Spring Issue of Developments to appear in your inbox one week prior to our annual meeting in Tampa, Florida.  Until then, enjoy, learn, and reflect on the many outstanding articles in this Winter Issue.  Happy New Year!

Diversity in America and on Campus

by Tadd Kruse, American University of Kuwait

Over the last two decades higher education has made significant efforts to emphasize and capitalize on the role and importance of diversity in tertiary education.  Related terminology is easily found in most institutional mission statements, strategic plans, and institutional goals, as well as being illustrated by a variety of offices to support specified services and programs.

Diversity manifests itself in many forms on campus, especially in the United States, with varying perspectives to support exposure both domestically and internationally.  Given the evolving global climate one might question whether higher education is a change agent/advocate in this effort, or is merely a reflection of the current state.  Regardless, diversity and related issues play a major role in tertiary education’s responsibility to prepare students for a global marketplace, and a seemingly shrinking world.  Institutions of higher learning need to recognize recent shifts within domestic and international populations in order to identify, embrace, and maximize benefits.

As the term diversity can be applied in many contexts, and interpreted different ways, for the purpose of the following points diversity is “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.: the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization” as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.  Diversity in this context extends beyond just race and culture to include the multitude of categories often used to identify human differences (gender, ethnicity, age, etc.). Regardless, diversity and related issues play a major role in post-secondary education’s responsibility to prepare students for a global marketplace, and a seemingly shrinking world.

Diversity on Campus: A Reflection of the Global Population

Many universities in the United States have developed offices for equity, diversity and inclusion as a means to foster equal opportunities, open dialogues, mutual respect and cross-cultural collaboration.  Additional offices exist to support more specialized populations and needs, and vary from domestic to international in basic scope: recognizing that domestic students face similar yet different issues as international student populations and vice-versa.  Even with such support services in place, campuses continue to adapt to the growing shift towards heterogeneous student bodies, illustrated through the increasing growth and variety of domestic and international student populations.

The United States’ population is becoming more diverse according to projections from the 2010 United States Census.  A 2012 Census Bureau projection reported that the United States is, and will continue to become, a more racially and ethnically diverse nation.  The Bureau projected that the United States will grow from the 2014 estimated population of around 320 million to surpass 400 million in the next forty years, becoming a majority-minority nation (no group will make up a majority) for the first time in 2043. Minorities, which are now 37 percent of the United States population, are projected to comprise 57 percent of the population in 2060, seeing the total minority population more than double, from 116.2 million to 241.3 million.  Of particular interest to educators is the proportion of the population younger than 18, which is expected to decrease only slightly from 23.5 percent to 21.2 percent from 2012 to 2060.  The Census Bureau report indicates a shift towards greater diversity across the country, which impacts campus populations at present as well as the near and distant future.

The Chronicle’s Almanac of Higher Education 2014, made accessible in August of this year, lists the most diverse campuses by measuring the probability that two people chosen at random from the student body are of different racial or ethnic groups.  The list includes the top fifteen institutions by category (4/2-year, public/private, non-profit/for-profit) with California having the highest number of campuses listed at 36, followed by Hawaii at 14, and New York at 10.  As most public and private institutions enroll students in state or within a geographic region, often within a specified radius, the demographic make-up of the region may largely determine an institution’s structural diversity.  As these states are very ethnically and racially diverse this may be a glimpse of the future for domestic diversity, and the impact on student populations.

In addition to United States domestic diversity, the addition of international student populations significantly enhances institutional diversity.  Globally, 2014 will see nearly five million students’ worldwide pursuing coursework for degrees outside of their home country, with the United States hosting an estimated 900,000.  Although the number of international students coming to the United States this year is estimated to be the highest ever, it represents approximately 3-4% of the national total higher education enrollment, a percentage that historically has been fairly consistent. These figures and trends present a substantial potential resource to universities and surrounding communities providing numerous benefits.

During summer 2014 a number of reports became available to further articulate the flow of international students.  A U.S. News and World Report article, based on data submitted to U.S. News from 263 ranked colleges, indicated the ten national universities with the largest percentages of international, degree-seeking undergrads in fall 2012, ranging from 15-29% of the student population.  The majority of these institutions were in New York, Florida, California, and the Midwest.

Further, The Brookings Institution released The Geography of Foreign Students in U.S. Higher Education: Origins and Destinations.  The report analyzes data on F-1 visa approvals, the most common form of visa for international students in the U.S., which is included in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) database. Unlike previous available data, the Brookings findings focused on the origin and destination cities of international students coming to America.  The report found that from 2008-2012, 85 percent of foreign students pursuing a bachelor’s degree or above attended colleges and universities in 118 metropolitan areas across the nation.  These 118 metro areas collectively accounted for 73 percent of United States higher education students.  According to the report, from 2008-2012, the top five source and destination cities for international students are as follows:

Top Five Source Cities

1. Seoul, South Korea             56,503 students

2. Beijing, China                       49,946 students

3. Shanghai, China                    29,145 students

4. Hyderabad, India                26,220 students

5. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia          17,361 students

Top Five Destination Metropolitan Areas

1. New York, NY                    101,586 students

2. Los Angeles, CA                   68,271 students

3. Boston, MA                                     53,486 students

4. San Francisco, CA                37,610 students

5. Washington D.C.                  35,459 students

Other Asian source cities that followed on the list include Mumbai (17,294), followed by Taipei (15,985), Hong Kong (12,406) and Kathmandu (10,721).  From 2008-12, other cities that welcomed more than 20,000 foreign students to the U.S. included Chicago (35,204), Dallas (25,353), Philadelphia (24,346), and San Jose (19,015).

From 2008 to 2012, approximately 3,700 United States educational institutions received approvals for F-1 visas for Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree programs with the top 100 schools accounting for 46 percent of all F-1 students pursuing at least a bachelor’s degree. With a high percentage of foreign students having attended a relatively small number of colleges and universities, and only one-third of foreign students having attended colleges or universities with little to no research activity, larger research based institutions and those in metropolitan settings do have an advantage.


Regardless of your institutional type and location, there are a number of benefits from developing and supporting a truly diverse student body.  Below are several factors to consider and embrace in support of expanding cultural awareness, cultural exchange, and intentionally promoting diversity at your institution.

  • Cultural Exchange – More diverse campus populations provide for a plethora of cultural exchange opportunities, both formal and informal.  Campuses can capitalize on the diversity presented within the student body through the celebration of culture and intentionally developing awareness opportunities.  These opportunities often are presented through international weeks, special programs, bazaars, campaigns, and language initiatives.  These exchanges can enhance not just the campus community but the local community as well, especially for those institutions in less metropolitan areas.
  • Economics According to The Brookings Institution report, approximately $21.8 billion in tuition and $12.8 billion in other spending added to the 118 metropolitan economies from international students between 2008 and 2012.  Nearly $7 billion a year was pumped into the United States economy during that period from this student population.  Much of that spending went beyond institutions and into community businesses.  The 2012-13 IIE Open Doors report suggests 313,260 jobs were supported by these funds.
  • Education A more diverse group, or class make-up, has long been deemed an important component to educational processes and learning.   Achieving a diverse student body, starting with admissions processes, helps to provide greater opportunities for classroom engagement and idea exchange.  The importance of diversity was supported in the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Grutter v Bollinger, addressing the University of Michigan Law School admissions processes.  The ruling reinforced that maintaining diverse and inclusive student populations is important to higher education environments.
  • Enrollment Source Students make decisions about where to study based on many factors, including academic reputation, programs, and recognition of degrees (both domestically and internationally).  Other key factors include language and cultural considerations; geography; similarity of education systems; links with institutions, regions, or countries; future job opportunities; cost; and cultural aspirations and immigration policies.  Universities need to be aware of strengths and weaknesses related to these factors in order to maximize institutional appeal and potential enrollment sources.
  • Labor Force – In addition to the economic benefits of international students, the labor force can also capitalize. As The Brookings Institution report stated, “With knowledge of both markets, foreign students can be valuable assets to local business communities that are seeking to expand globally, and the wider metropolitan economies in which they sit.”  The report further stated that 45 percent of foreign student graduates extend their visas in the United States to work in the same metropolitan area as their institution.
  • Personal Growth – A vital function of the higher education journey is the personal development of students.  Although often deemed a secondary outcome of the collegiate journey, many student affairs professionals or graduates would argue that this is quite significant.  By developing diverse populations and opportunities for exposure and understanding, institutions further support the maturation and growth of students in a multitude of ways.
  • Promote Tolerance & Cultural Diversity – As the United States and other countries around the world continue to diversify, the increased exposure and opportunities for cultural exchange help to develop and promote tolerance.  The United States has been viewed as a “melting pot” of cultures, but many would argue that it is more of a “kaleidoscope,” (that both immigrants and society adapt and change). A favored Mark Twain quote sums it up best by illustrating the importance of exposure in overcoming barriers to equity, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”


As tertiary education the world over continues to expand, crossing more borders than ever before and continuing to pair with shifts in domestic diversity figures, academia is not necessarily the change agent perhaps it once was.  It is now a closer reflection of the global population.   Multiculturalism and diversity issues are present on campuses now more than ever, mirroring an increased societal picture, especially in the United States.  Census projections see the country diversifying in major categories over the next three decades.  However, diversity tends to be generalized across a broad population of individuals depending on institutional make-up, and is not always an accurate representation.  These factors coupled with the largest international student population in the United States to date presents a need to revisit what diversity really means on your campus.  As student affairs practitioners, it is important that we acknowledge how diversity presents on campus.  Further, we must intentionally review and plan to embrace the dynamics of an evolving University community, as both a reflection of shifting national and global dynamics.

Discussion Questions

  1. Is your campus a reflection of the region in terms of overall diversity?  If not, how does it differ and why?
  2. Do you know the demographics of your student body on campus, including both domestic and international populations? Does your supervisor or peers?
  3. How might you go about gathering information about diverse student populations on your campus, and the services in place to support those most common?
  4. Is your institution type/setting one that benefits from the findings of The Brookings Institution report? What can your institution, your department, and you do to benefit from diversity at your institution?

About the Author

Tadd Kruse is Assistant to the President for Institutional Planning and Effectiveness at the American University of Kuwait (AUK).  With fifteen years of higher education administrative experience and having worked at institutions in the US, UK, and in the Middle East, he has spent more than a decade working abroad. He has experience in international education on a variety of fronts including international student housing, study abroad, exchange programs, and he co-founded and still oversees the Student Affairs Graduate Summer Internship Program at AUK.  Tadd has served as Senior Student Affairs Officer, founded a department at a start-up institution, and worked in a variety of professional fields within Student Affairs.

Please e-mail inquiries to Tadd Kruse.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

General Education Requirements in Technical Degree Programs: Do They Close or Open Doors?

Marisa Vernon, Columbus State Community College

Community colleges seek to provide education pathways to the masses, with missions focused on access. Given this focus, American community colleges have always served as the most natural home for technical education programs designed to provide occupational training. During the community college growth period in the 1950s, popular programs included automotive technology, skilled trades, book keeping, and construction.

Today’s community colleges remain committed to workforce needs and training students who select to pursue practical education over a liberal arts experience. Generally resulting in a certificate or associate degree credential, such programs provide a direct route to highly skilled career opportunities. While many community colleges have established articulation or completion agreements with area universities, applied associate degree programs essentially “flip” the traditional pathway to a bachelors degree by frontloading applied training coursework. This model attracts many students to community colleges. However, as community colleges seek to increase academic rigor, technical certificate and associate degree programs are often outliers in the discussion. Can a community college offer skill training programs without holding students to minimum standards in English composition, reading, and mathematics? Do students pursuing technical programs need the same general education foundation as their peers who utilize the community college to complete arts and sciences degrees?

Perhaps the most valuable and yet contradicting value expressed by community college missions is the lack of a one size fits all approach. This approach to education has helped community colleges to fit a niche in the American higher education marketplace and to respond quickly to gaps in the regional and national workforce. By offering both liberal arts and technical coursework, the community college can welcome students with any number of educational goals. Without an awareness of these two concurrent missions, however, community colleges can easily deter students from certain programs and thus suffer a negative impact to enrollment. Consider, for example, the implication of a minimum reading level on a program designed to cater to applied learners (such as automotive technology, welding, or other skilled trades). These programs offer excellent career pathways for individuals seeking immediate employability and a specialized skillset. They also fill a gap within the American workforce as more individuals enroll in universities and obtain a more general educational foundation.

While several career development theories are widely referenced in student affairs and workforce development discussions, most theories detail a subset of the population that possesses strong physical, applied, and kinesthetic preferences. While the K-12 classroom may not cater to these preferences, technical degree programs offer a learning environment where individuals who prefer applied learning can thrive and obtain valuable career skills that are needed within our society. Some areas of general or liberal education can be perceived as disconnected to a student who is pursuing technical training, and thus may even be seen as a barrier to career preparation.

The Pressure to Articulate

While many Americans immediately associate community colleges with technical training, some states have begun to hold all state institutions to the same level of accountability, or grouped them together in the public debate on degree completion. With much of the focus on creating a more educated workforce, the bar continues to rise as states engage in an education arms race. Community colleges are under pressure to create completion agreements with universities, and to not only train employable graduates but to facilitate their eventual transfer as well. With an increased focus on bachelor degree attainment, applied technical degree programs are faced with the challenge of managing enrollment while still folding in the general education coursework that prepares a student for further education later on.

In the early 1980s, three distinct degrees were established among American community colleges. This determination, led by the American Association of Community Colleges, ultimately created the Associate of Arts and Sciences degrees which were designed to create pathways to four-year degree completion, and the Associate of Applied Science which was intended to support vocational training. This distinction still exists at most community colleges almost thirty years later, and serves as the most basic filtering systems for providing students with education options that best fit their academic ability. However, state achievement goals and a changing workforce have created gray areas between these seemingly simplistic degree options. While the Associate of Applied Science degree focuses on technical training, additional general education requirements have begun to pile up in the degree plans (Chase, 2011).

Even with these efforts, however, Chase (2011) finds that only about half of a technical program’s credits transfer to four-year universities. Of the credits accepted by universities, technical credits are generally not accepted outside of specific and identified articulation agreements. Students are often set back by this upon entering the university, and many need to begin at the first-year level even after earning an associates’ degree. While the general education courses in the technical degree help students who transfer, many students are still held back at their future universities due to the low number of credits accepted anyhow. Is this system truly promoting degree completion, or is it creating barriers for students who seek immediate and applied workforce training?

While general education coursework has certainly elevated the academic level of technical and applied degree programs, one unintended consequence is the impact on students beginning in developmental education levels. Such developmental reading, writing and math sequences require underprepared students to maintain high levels of motivation in order to persist towards the vocational coursework they desire to take. Without support, a clear career goal in mind, and a healthy dose of willpower, many students will exit the community college system before discovering the programs that facilitate the hands-on and applied coursework they desire.

The debate over entry points to technical education coursework is a delicate one that includes the voices of many unique stakeholders. While college administrators seek to improve the academic success of the student body, many technical program faculty are passionate about keeping the doors to their programs open to all. Still another stakeholder group among faculty may argue the need for basic reading, writing, and math competency in fields such as automotive technology, skilled trades, photography, and the like. State and national government entities also enter the debate as pressure to both fill workforce needs and promote degree attainment collide. These voices and competing priorities all add additional depth to this discussion.

Impact of Additional Courses on Motivation

ACT (2012) reports that roughly half of new students leave community colleges prior to the completion of the first year. Bers and Schuetz (2014) sought to dig beneath this rate to determine the reasons why so many students stop out while attending community colleges, and revealed several factors. While their research outlined known reasons such as financial constraints, heavy external responsibilities, and transferring prior to degree, the writers also addressed reasons that pertained specifically to frustration with institutional requirements and structure. Community colleges enroll high percentages of first-generation students who enter the college seeking pathways to specific careers. As Bers and Schuetz (2014) indicate, many students are not aware of how their credits will apply to credentials, the benefit of general or preparatory coursework, and the requirements of specialized degree programs. External demands such as family responsibilities, work, or finances also compile and create a sense of skepticism among students with regards to taking classes that are perceived as “extra”. As the authors indicate, community college students, often under pressure, want to avoid wasting time, money, or effort on extra steps to their career goals.

This mentality, while not necessarily found among all community college students, does help administrators and faculty members understand why general or developmental education foundation coursework can quickly deflate individuals seeking vocational or applied science credentials.

The Math Barrier

For nearly every first-year community college student, one of the first steps in the enrollment process includes a placement process by which Advisors determine reading, writing, and math starting points. While developmental reading and writing placements can often delay a student’s entrance into technical program coursework, mathematics remediation creates perhaps the largest barrier to degree completion.

Two-thirds of students entering community college students require developmental education in the area of mathematics, and the majority of these students do not achieve college-level math at any point in their college experience. While many community colleges offer certificates and technical degrees that do not require high levels of math proficiency, Bahr (2012) finds that struggling students do not necessarily shift their efforts to these programs before simply stopping out all together, and that the large majority will exit the institution without earning any credential.

Math continues to prevent many community college students from earning degrees. While many colleges have employed strategies to support students through developmental math levels, the average community college student spends about three to five semesters working through developmental math sequences (Bahr, 2012). Depending on pre-admission criteria or course pre-requisites, many Associate of Applied Science degree-seekers may not receive exposure to his or her field of study until several semesters into his or her community college experience. This gap, while enhancing the technical degree with general education coursework, can present a barrier to a first-generation student who is eager to earn an employable and applied credential.

Employable Certificates

Many community colleges have begun to develop workforce certificates that either prepare students for licensing exams or lead to specialized, entry-level technical work. The certificate programs are designed to offer alternative routes to students who choose not to pursue an associates’ degree, or, ideally, can be used as an entry point to specific careers. In addition, such certificates offer another credential alternative to students struggling through developmental or general education coursework, but who have the skills necessary to succeed in technical coursework.

While many applied certificates take only a few courses to complete, these training programs are in fact seen as valuable to employers, according to Dadgar and Weiss (2012). Many community colleges, however, struggle to both create and recruit students to certificate programs, as students often cannot utilize some forms of financial aid to pursue this credential. In Ohio, for example, colleges must not only develop certificate programs, but prove their employability in order to qualify for student aid. One alternative to this, however, is creating certificates that lead to degrees. While challenging in terms of course sequencing and pre-requisite coursework, this approach may be a viable option for some students who are eager to jump into training, but are apprehensive about pursuing all coursework for a degree.


Technical education is, by nature, an evolving component within many community colleges. In an effort to respond to workforce demands, technical departments create strong programs that are designed to offer specialized training at the associate degree level. This level of education, to many students, provides a desirable opportunity for quick training in high-growth areas.

However, as community colleges are also asked to take on a bigger role in bachelor degree completion, promote transfer, and increase academic rigor, these programs often find themselves at the center of the debate between access and success. For decades, community college technical programs have opened the doors for many individuals to receive valuable skills training. As higher education has grown to fit new facets of the workforce and serve a wider net of students, the landscape of these “front door” programs has changed in response. As community college faculty and administrators employ success strategies that raise the qualifications of their students, these potential impacts to technical program enrollment should be considered. While general education coursework embedded within technical curriculum helps to improve the transferability and academic perception of these programs, unintended consequences may surface. As institutions add qualifying layers to previously accessible programs, the access mission on which community colleges were built may begin to diminish. Likewise, student achievement may begin to decrease as well, as additional barriers can decrease a student’s desire to pursue a seemingly unreachable goal.

Discussion Questions

  1. Community colleges are often viewed as the solution to issues of unemployment, underemployment, and regional economic development challenges. Does this role place additional pressure on community colleges to ensure students leave with a credential or degree? Why or why not? What are the other options open to students if they are not academically successful in a technical degree program?
  2. Do you feel as though technical degree programs should include college-level general education classes? Why or why not?
  3. In your opinion, what can be done in order to change the general perception of career/ technical degrees? What information is important for parents, families, and students to consider when reviewing various educational/career routes?


Bahr, P. R. (2013). The aftermath of remedial math: investigating the low rate of certificate completion among remedial math Students. Research in higher education, 54(2), 171-200.

Bers, T., & Schuetz, P. (2014). Nearbies: a missing piece of the college completion conundrum. Community College Review, 42(3), 167-183.

Chase, M. M. (2011). Benchmarking equity in transfer policies for career and technical associate’s degrees. Community College Review, 39(4), 376-404.

Dadgar, M. & Weiss, M.J. (2012). Labor market returns to sub-baccalaureate credentials: How much does a community college certificate or degree pay? (CRCC Working Paper 45). New York, NY. Retrieved from:

Packard, B. W., & Jeffers, K. C. (2013). Advising and progress in the community college STEM transfer pathway. NACADA Journal, 33(2), 65-76.

About the Author

Marisa Vernon serves as the Assistant Director of Advising Services at Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio, where she leads a large team of professional Academic Advisors and coordinates the community college’s mandatory First Year Experience Seminar. Marisa has seven years of higher education administrative experience at open enrollment institutions specializing in two- and four-year degree programs and transfer preparation. Before joining Columbus State Community College, she was the Assistant Director for First Year Experience at Kent State University’s Stark Campus in North Canton, Ohio, and has also worked at the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education.

Please e-mail inquiries to Marisa Vernon.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

A Model for Ethical Professional Practice and Leadership

A Model for Ethical Professional Practice and Leadership

Jonathan O’Brien, California State University, Long Beach

As practitioners, we share values and principles that are the foundation of our profession. How we implement them is filtered through our family traditions, life experiences, and the preparation and training we received in formal education.  Once employed, we are also obliged to support the missions and goals of our institutions and functional areas (Hirt, 2006; Tull & Madrano, 2008). Although I have stated this rather straightforwardly, it’s not this simple. Anyone with time in our field knows that personal dilemmas and interpersonal conflicts about ethical issues are common.

In this column, I start with the assumption that ethical conflicts present us with opportunities to develop ethical competency. “Ethical Professional Practice” is the only competency area recognized by our largest professional associations as an “integral component of all the competency areas” (ACPA & NASPA, 2010, p. 12). An ethical practitioner is obligated to “explain how one’s professional practice also aligns with one’s personal code of ethics and ethical statements of professional student affairs associations” (p. 12). Although ethical practice is so central to our work, there are surprisingly few theoretical tools to guide reflection, dialogue, and leadership around this topic. I will offer a model for thinking about ethical professional practice and its integral role in promoting dialogue and leadership.

The Attitude Problem

As a former supervisor and now a faculty member in a student affairs preparation program, I find that professional conduct is very difficult to teach and evaluate. We have resources to describe the knowledge and skills required for practice (CAS, 2006; ACPA/NASPA, 2010). We also have conferences, training, and knowledge communities that increase our awareness of self and others. However, I have not yet found a concise and useful way to guide the exploration of moral conduct or to translate this behavior into ethical leadership that is reflective of the values and competencies of our field.

In reality, it can be difficult to articulate the conduct we are trying to evaluate and develop. We tend to focus on the extremes or our feedback is too vague or too selective. A constructively critical conversation about character lapses, if poorly facilitated, can insult those on the receiving end. Additionally, I am sensitive to the ways that the term ‘attitude’ has been abused by those from privileged groups to marginalize people, often from minority populations, who advocate for social change. It can be easy for those in power to dismiss persistent advocacy as a bad attitude. Instead, it might be more productive to discuss behavior and avoid the term ‘attitude,’ which is often offensive or confusing.

Many documents enumerate values and principles in student affairs; yet, universal agreement is elusive (Reason & Broido, 2011). As our campuses diversify, students and colleagues bring with them values and perspectives that challenge conventional notions of what is morally acceptable and ethically defensible. Every day we read about ethical issues, such as increases in internet-based plagiarism (Gabriel, 2010), secret video recordings of sexual encounters to avoid allegations of rape (Bazelon, 2009), male students who refuse to work with female peers on religious grounds (Slaughter, 2014), or objections to gender-neutral housing (Fowler, 2013).

Conflict as a Source for Reflective Practice

Kwame Appiah (2010) aptly noted that the most intense conflicts are between individuals who can agree on the definition of the values they share but quarrel bitterly over how best to implement them. Campus conflicts can arise from many sources, like feeling disrespected by our colleagues or the realization that we are complicit in institutional structures that suppress dissent (Holmes, Edwards, & DeBowes, 2009). Unfortunately, we can frustrate our efforts to support students when we are quick to vilify those who disagree with our positions and implementation strategies.

When viewed as critical incidents, conflicts with ethical implications become opportunities to explore our ethical professional practice.  A critical incident is an actual event, bounded in time and history, involving people, practices, and policies. Try this exercise to identify a critical incident:

Take a moment to identify a specific incident in which you were most proud of what you did, although others advised you not to do it or they questioned your motives. Instead, you took action and you were right!

Identify the incident:

  • The facts: when, where, who was involved?
  • What was your role/title/position?
  • What were your goals and intentions in the situation?
  • What was the outcome?

C3 Model of Ethical Professional Practice

The model I propose here is intended to facilitate reflection and promote dialogue on ethical practice. I refer to it as the C3 model, as it constructs ethical professional practice across three domains: (a) consciousness, the awareness of self and situation; (b) capacity, appropriate knowledge and skills required to act responsibly; and, (c) character, the motives and values that drive our response to a critical incident. Each of these domains combines in varying degrees in order to produce the observable behaviors that others recognize as our ethical conduct. This process is subjective and, although it often occurs without much thought, I contend that we are able to choose how we respond to a critical incident, especially if we commit to reflecting on our strengths and weaknesses in each domain.

C3 Ethics Model

The model is a synthesis of two theories that describe moral conduct. The first theory, on the origins of moral behavior (Rest & Narvaez, 1994), posits that ethical behavior is the result of an interaction of four subjective functions, including an individual’s sensitivity to an ethical dilemma, judgment to select the best course of action, motivation to prioritize values, and the character to act ethically, even in the face of resistance from others. The second theory describes the character of professional educators as dispositions, an individual’s motivation to act with awareness and intention in a given context (Splitter, 2010).  The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (n.d.) defined them as the “habits of professional action and moral commitments that underlie an educator’s performance.”

Although the concept of dispositions is relatively new to student affairs literature, I prefer it to attitudes when describing moral conduct in professional practice; the former has a long tradition in virtue ethics. It describes the relatively stable patterns of thought and emotion that produce behaviors that we tend to display consistently over time (Timpe, n.d.). The term attitudes is problematic for me, since its common usage describes moods or temporary states. Dispositions are the enduring influences on our behavior that others come to perceive as our character.

Since they emanate from the personal values and beliefs of individuals, dispositions are difficult to teach; yet, they are essential for ethical professional practice and can be brought to light. O’Shea (2011) described how dispositions are best learned by “a synthesis of traditional classroom instruction in the intellectual virtues with experiential influences and critical self-reflection” (p. 4). Employers expect positive dispositions from candidates as well. In a content analysis of more than 1,700 job descriptions for administrative positions in student affairs, Hoffman and Bresciani (2012) found the dispositions most highly sought after by employers included diversity and social justice, creativity, enthusiasm, flexibility, and positive attitude.

Who am I? Professional Dispositions and the C3 Model

If we accept that dispositions are underlying patterns of thought and emotion that produce our ethical conduct, then it helps us to know and articulate them to others. The C3 model provides a means to do this, through its framework of consciousness, capacity, and character. When we can define the components of our dispositions, share these realizations with others, and learn about theirs, we are inevitably more aware, competent, and authentic practitioners who lead ethically.

How can we identify our dispositions?  One way is to examine our responses to critical incidents. Using the critical incident identified above, reflect on it using this protocol based on the C3 model:

  • What drew your attention to this situation as an ethical concern?
  • What skills and knowledge did you use in this situation?
  • What values and beliefs motivated you to do something?

The answers to these questions form the basis of a description of the professional dispositions an individual uses in response to a critical incident. In the same way that we learn to articulate our skills and academic degrees to employers and colleagues, we can also concisely convey who we are as a practitioner and ethical leader. Here’s an example, from a new professional:

My passion for students and commitment to open access education, diversity, and student success aligns well with the mission of the institution and will guide me as I engage with students and colleagues as an outreach and recruitment advisor.

When we communicate our ethical conduct as professional dispositions, we engage colleagues, potential employers, and supervisors authentically and from a position of strength about the unique contributions we make as leaders in the profession and our institutions.

Levels of Ethical Professional Practice

Ethical professional practice is aligned with standards and performed in an institutional context; yet, what we believe to be ethical may, in fact, be contrary to the perceptions held by supervisors and colleagues in the exact same contexts. In the table below, I apply the C3 model to three levels of practice, informed by the social change model of leadership (Higher Education Research Institute, 1996). The levels are practitioner (person), profession (group), and institution (society).  There is a critical question at each level to prompt deliberation on the roles and conduct we accept as we strive to be ethical leaders in the profession and in our institutions.

Level of Practice Critical Question C3 Domains and Leadership Roles
    Consciousness Capacity Character
Practitioner Who am I? Aware Competent Authentic
Profession Who are we? Learners Servants Colleagues


What is our influence? Teaching Leading Advocating

I don’t claim that the roles I present here are the only ones; rather, I suggest how the C3 model can be implemented at each level of practice. For example, at the professional level, we need ethical leaders who are learners, open to acquiring new skills, ideas, and values. Leaders also ought to be servants, who share skills and knowledge with each other to achieve common goals for the greater good (Greenleaf, 2002). Authenticity at the practitioner level facilitates mutual regard for our colleagues, as individuals worthy of respect and grace.

Ethical Dialogue

At the professional level, we use dialogue to engage colleagues in discussions about ethical standards and moral conduct that is acceptable in our work environments. Dialogue is an exchange of perspectives that transcends mere conversation (Sundberg & Fried, 1997). It can get contentious when we must make ethical decisions involving people or practices that we support, yet we disagree about how to take action. If properly facilitated, the open and authentic exploration of others’ perspectives in dialogue expands our individual consciousness (Schoem & Hurtado, 2001).

We do not have to agree with another’s perspective in order to engage in dialogue and we may retain our positions. However, we cannot escape dialogue and become ethical relativists either. Although we may be tempted to roll our eyes to the skies and say “whatever!” with a sigh, we must resist the temptation. Sometimes the best we can do is engage in dialogue to understand another’s viewpoint. The real challenge is to remain open to the possibility that we are wrong and to take the opportunity to learn about ourselves.

The NASPA Ethics Statement (2012) provides a useful guide to “ethical decision making that is based on context and dialogue” (p. 2). It is motivated by two key questions:

  • How can we act ethically to maintain the integrity of everyone involved in contested situations?
  • How can we appreciate the diversity of ethical beliefs across cultures without enforcing a single ethical belief system?

These questions guide the process of discernment for ethical action. Although they are primarily directed to individuals, the questions focus on important ethical considerations that must be incorporated into dialogue about critical incidents.

What is our influence?

In the C3 model, the institutional level refers both to our educational institutions and to those organized entities in society with which our particular educational institution interacts (e.g., governments, religious communities, regulatory agencies). As ethical practitioners, we work through professional networks on campus and across the field of student affairs to influence positive social and political change. Accordingly, the C3 model suggests that teaching is a role of ethical leaders, who impart knowledge or skill related to the concerns of students and campuses. We are also leading others ethically toward worthy goals that advance broad interests. And, as ethical leaders, we commit to advocating on behalf of others who are not at the table or cannot speak for themselves.

Where do we go from here?

In this column I proposed a framework for looking at the ethical conduct of individuals across three domains: consciousness, capacity, and character. Through dialogue with colleagues we can explore and define the roles and tasks that characterize our leadership. I have also suggested how the same domains can be applied to our interactions with colleagues; and, in turn, these same domains describe our collective efforts as a profession to take the lead in making ethical social change.

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you describe your practice using the C3 model? Where are your strengths? Where do you have room to grow? How will you do this?
  2. Are the roles and tasks identified in the table relevant to your experience at the professional and institutional levels? How would you and your colleagues revise it?
  3. What are some critical incidents that you and your colleagues share? How might you engage in dialogue to explore your perspectives on ethical leadership at your institution?


American College Personnel Association & National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. (2010). ACPA/NASPA professional competency areas for student affairs practitioners. Washington, DC: Authors.

Appiah, K. A. (2010). Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. WW Norton & Company.

Bazelon, E. (2009, September 21). Smeary lines: The lesson we’re not learning from the Hofstra date rape that wasn’t. Slate. Retrieved from…

Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (n.d.). CAEP Glossary. Retrieved from

Council for the Advancement of Standards (2006). CAS professional standards for higher education (6th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Fowler, H. (2013, September 11). Students to protest Board of Governors over gender-neutral decision.  Daily Tarheel. Retrieved from

Gabriel, T. (2010, October 25). ‘Generation Plagiarism’? Copying and pasting from the web is just like copying from a book. But too many students either don’t know that it’s cheating—or don’t care. New York Times Upfront, 143(4), 6-7.

Greenleaf, R. K. (2002). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. Paulist Press.

Higher Education Research Institute (1996). A social change model of leadership development: Guidebook: Version III. Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles.

Hirt, J. B. (2006). Where you work matters: Student affairs administration at different types of institutions. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Hoffman, J. L., & Bresciani, M. J. (2012). Identifying what student affairs professionals value: A mixed methods analysis of professional competencies listed in job descriptions. Research & Practice in Assessment, 7, 26-40.

Holmes, R. C., Edwards, K., & DeBowes, M. M. (2009). Why objectivity is not enough. In J. M. Schrage & N. G. Giacomini (Eds.) Reframing campus conflict: Student conduct practice through a social justice lens (pp. 50-64). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

National Association for Student Personnel Administrators. (2012). NASPA Ethics Statement. Washington, DC: Author.

O’Shea, J. (2011). A disposition for benevolence. Journal of College and Character, 12(3), 1-4. doi: 10.2202/1940-1639.1811

Reason, R. D., & Broido, E. M. (2011). Philosophies and values. In J. H. Schuh, S. R. Jones, &

S. R. Harper (Eds.) Student services: A handbook for the profession, (pp. 80-95). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Rest, J. R. (Ed.). (1994). Moral development in the professions: Psychology and applied ethics. New York: Psychology Press.

Schoem, D. L., & Hurtado, S. (Eds.). (2001). Intergroup dialogue: Deliberative democracy in school, college, community, and workplace. University of Michigan Press.

Slaughter, G. (2014, January 18) York U student’s refusal to work with women sparks rights debate.  Toronto Star.  Retrieved from…

Splitter, L. J. (2010). Dispositions in education: Nonentities worth talking about. Educational Theory, 60(2), 203-230.

Sundberg, D. C., & Fried, J. (1997). Ethical dialogues on campus. New Directions for Student Services1997(77), 67-79.

Timpe, K. (n.d.). Moral Character. Internet encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved from

Tull, A., & Medrano, C. I. (2008). Character values congruence and person-organization fit in student affairs: Compatibility between administrators and the institutions that employ them. Journal of College and Character, 9(3). doi: 10.2202/1940-1639.1118

About the Author

Jonathan O’Brien is assistant professor of educational leadership and coordinator of the Student Development in Higher Education master’s program at California State University, Long Beach. He teaches law and ethics and qualitative research methods. Jonathan has worked at public and private universities in Missouri, Kentucky, and California. His consulting and scholarship focus on assisting students in personal crisis and promoting professional conduct in student affairs practice.

Please e-mail inquiries to Jonathan O’Brien.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

The Pomp and Circumstance Marches

The Pomp and Circumstance Marches

by Jeffrey C. Sun, University of Louisville

Colleges and universities are gearing up for commencement.  However, on some of our campuses the pomp and circumstance march will not be in academic regalia.  Instead, we may face marches of students, alumni, and guests who are protesting the invitation of the school’s commencement speaker.

The pomp and circumstance march is not a new phenomenon.  According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, “controversies over commencement speakers are practically an annual tradition on college campuses” (Anonymous, 2014).  The reasoning for pomped-up protests have included disdain over a speaker’s actions while in political office, objections about public expressions over social and political matters such as individual rights or war, and disapproval (June, 2014).

This article touches on the student rights and conduct concerns involving pomped-up protest through what is known in law as the Heckler’s Veto.  Heckler’s Veto is conduct that inhibits the free speech rights of the speaker in response to an opposing individual or party’s protest reactions (Daniel, Gee, Sun, & Pauken, 2012).  In situations involving a commencement speaker, a Heckler’s Veto prevails when a public college curtails the speech in reaction to protest tactics such as chanting, rallying, name calling, rabble-rousing, or thrown objects (Daniel, Gee, Sun, & Pauken, 2012).

Supporting a Heckler’s Veto potentially counters First Amendment principles of free speech (Daniel, Gee, Sun, & Pauken, 2012).  In other words, it is not consistent with the First Amendment.  As a federal appellate court once explained in non-education case, a Heckler’s Veto “would empower an audience [or others in a crowd] to cut off the expression of a speaker with whom it disagreed” (Glasson v. City of Louisville, 1975, 905-906).  In essence, a Heckler’s Veto rewards “community hostility and threats of violence to justify censorship” (Glasson v. City of Louisville, 1975, 906).  Therefore, public colleges may only address the conduct that is not protected under the First Amendment, such as expressions or activities that:

  • actually are or likely to lead to substantial disruption of the educational purpose;
  • true threats in which serious messages of one’s intent to commit an unlawful act of violence onto a particular individual or group of individuals;
  • incite the audience to engage or leading to imminent physical harm; or
  • are obscene expressions that an average community member would say appeal to prurient interest, are patently offensive, and lacks value (in a social, political, scientific sense).

For public colleges, the challenge is that they “are taxed with a dual responsibility to permit the free expression of ideas on campus while providing the safety and security of their students” (Rock for Life – UMBC v. Hrabowski, 2010, p. 555).  Thus, public colleges must consider the rights of the speaker, the audience, the hecklers, and the institution.

Because of its legal origins (i.e., constitutional rights drawn from the First Amendment), the Heckler’s Veto may not strictly apply to private colleges. The First Amendment precludes government from creating policies or taking other actions that abridges one’s freedom of speech.  Thus, public colleges, which are also government entities, must comply with constitutional standards in developing policies and procedures and engaging in practices involving their operations.

Given the legal distinctions between private and public colleges, it’s not surprising that private colleges have much greater discretion in terms of oversight and regulation of its campus environment (Daniel, Gee, Sun, & Pauken, 2012).  Typically, private colleges would refer to its student code of conduct and other campus policies to determine the student rights and conduct regulations.  These decisions are largely analogous to or actually treated as contract terms.  These policies may resemble First Amendment rights, so the principles discussed below are relevant to many college campuses.  Further, on occasion, a special law such as the situation in California may govern a private college’s policies regarding student expressions that require adherence to certain legal principles of the First Amendment’s free speech provisions.[1]

While there are differences between public and private colleges in terms of free speech, the academic environment should, regardless of its organizational form, foster an open dialogue and maintain its status as the space for the marketplace of ideas.  Thus, we should avoid activities that suppress speech.

Conclusion and Discussion Questions

Here are some basic guidelines that we should consider when we have veto attempts from hecklers.

  • Review the actions of the hecklers.  Are they creating a disruptive environment that substantially interferes with the purpose of the event?  Are there conduct matters of concern such as events leading to physical harm, obscene gestures or other expressions, or events leading to incitement or imminent harm that is likely to occur?  What recourse might you have to maintain order?  Are there any opportunities to educate the audience and the hecklers?
  • Examine what the speaker is expressing that may create harm.  Ask yourself the same questions as the hecklers, but keep in mind that you should avoid rewarding the Heckler’s Veto.
  • Consider the rights of the audience such as the graduates and their guests.  How might you articulate their rights to gather for the event and be present to hear the speech as well as engage in the commencement ceremony?


[1] For instance, California has law, known as the Leonard Law, which states in pertinent part: “No private postsecondary educational institution shall make or enforce a rule subjecting a student to disciplinary sanctions solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside the campus or facility of a private postsecondary institution, is protected from governmental restriction by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution.” Cal. Educ. Code § 94367 (2014).  This provision does not apply to religious postsecondary institutions when its application is not consistent with the religious tenets of the institution.


Anonymous (2014, May 20). A field guide to this spring’s commencement-speaker outrage. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Daniel, P. T. K., Gee, E. G., Sun, J. C., & Pauken, P. D. (2012).  Law, policy, and higher education: Cases and materials. New Providence, NJ: LexisNexis.

Glasson v. City of Louisville, 518 F.2d 899 (6th Cir. 1975).

June, A. W. (2014, May 7). The perils of picking a commencement speaker. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Rock for Life – UMBC v. Hrabowski, 411 Fed. App’x 541 (4th Cir. 2010).

About the Author

Jeffrey C. Sun, J.D., Ph.D. is Professor of Higher Education and Assistant Chair in the Department of Leadership, Foundations, & Human Resource Education at the University of Louisville.

Please e-mail inquiries to Jeffrey C. Sun.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

How to Support the GLBTQIA Community as an Open Christian

Jonathan Ross, Lyndon State College

Higher education professionals who identify as Christian often face a difficult crossroads between two seemingly opposed viewpoints.  Traditionally, Christian values have been touted as anti-GLBTQIA (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and Allies).  As a new professional and “Open Christian” (someone who is open about their faith), there were doubts and assumptions made about me that I would not be an advocate for GLBTQIA individuals when joining my campus community.  There were several things I needed to learn in order to overcome the predisposition of what being an open Christian meant, especially as it related to my ability to advocate and support the GLBTQIA community.  The purpose of this article is to share my perspective in a way that will give other Christian professionals insight into this topic and provide space for personal reflection.

Christianity has long been seen as opposing the GLBTQIA community (Heermann, Wiggins, & Rutter, 2007).  This perception hinders the ability of student affairs professionals who are open Christians to advocate for GLBTQIA students.  Pastors and theologians have focused mainly on early Christian biblical literature about homosexuality and, perhaps, narrow interpretations of the Bible when forming their viewpoints.  They have demonstrated little awareness of constructive proposals by lesbian/gay and queer theologians (Lowe, 2009).

Reverends Hagler and Clark (2010) have reviewed the common arguments against GLBTQIA ordination and Church inclusion.  They make the argument that homosexuality is not an abomination, not the sin of Sodom, not like incest, not pedophilia or bestiality, or even dangerous, unhealthy or unnatural.  They argue that male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or free, how we are born, who we are politically, socially organized, or our economic status: these factors do not have any influence on our status as children of God in Christ (Hagler & Clark, 2010).  This notion of all being children of God also extends to GLBTQIA individuals.  Regardless of how one views the texts that make up the base of Christianity, criticism from gay and lesbian theologians has been insightful in explaining the complex relationships between Christianity and GLBTQIA individuals.  Such criticism draws attention to potential marginalization in Christianity toward students based on sexual biases (Jones, 2009).

Overcoming this marginalization, by seeing everyone as a creation of their spiritual deity, is a challenge all religious and spiritual student affairs practitioners need to face.  Refusal to view all other people, especially marginalized people, as created in the image of God results in severe negative consequences.  Advocating for these marginalized students presents an opportunity for Christians to delve deeper into religious literacy to find the inner meaning of religion.  Jones (2009) states that such a philosophy promises to help bridge destructive divisions, bridging them not by eliding or ignoring the real differences that do exist, but by working to situate those differences in a more productive narrative frame.

Perhaps Christians have more in common with the GLBTQIA community than not.  Christianity and GLBTQIA traditions are similar in the way that they both invoke narratives as a foundation of their identity (Jones, 2009).  Christians and GLBTQIA individuals both have a symbolic example of their identity in the conversion stories of their respective societies.  The coming out story is that symbolic example, whether it is coming to God or coming out about one’s sexuality (Jones, 2009).  Christian theology is narratively shaped with an emphasis on personal conversion. Christian individuals see their converted life as having its source and pattern in the life of Christ.  Similarly, in gay and lesbian communities, coming out stories have long functioned in epistemologically and ethically foundational ways (Jones, 2009).  In this light, higher education professionals have a commonality with GLBTQIA individuals, which can be used to build relationships.  One’s coming-to-Jesus moments are a lot like coming out for the first time.  The self-actualization of one’s true beliefs and feelings can be similarly conceptualized.

Higher education professionals should be aware of the emotional and psychological challenges they may need to overcome regarding GLBTQIA issues in order to be effective campus leaders.  Equality and inclusion are central tenets of all student affairs professionals, regardless of religious or other personal beliefs (Bresciani & Todd, 2010).  Roper (2005) believes that personal awareness and openness are key characteristics of positive leadership on the part of student affairs administrators. He states that awareness is improved by exploring the attitudes and values that have shaped one’s worldview.  Personal awareness and openness allow us to be cognizant of how our worldview influences how we act toward others.  Student affairs leaders should first explore the backgrounds of their lives to identify incidents and episodes that enhance or impair their ability to lead in a manner that is supportive of GLBTQIA students (Roper, 2005).  As professionals dedicated to building community at our institutions, those in student affairs should fully participate in the GLBTQIA community—in celebration, reflection, and grieving experiences—as opportunities arise on our campuses.  Students count on these professionals for support.  Therefore, GLBTQIA students should be able to count on student affairs administrators to be present at the events in which their growth and development is critical.

Student affairs professionals must be aware of the consequences of discrimination, including threats/harm, mental health symptoms, academic implications, and health risks of GLBTQIA students.  Not knowing the risks and harm that can potentially come to these students may leave professionals incapable of helping this particularly vulnerable campus constituency.  Sexual minority youth are significantly more likely than their heterosexual peers to miss school because of fear: to be threatened with a weapon at school, to have property damaged at school, and to have forced sexual contact against their will (Wolff & Himes, 2010).  While bullying and harassment are serious concerns regardless of the victim, students who identify as GLBTQIA may feel especially isolated and unable to seek help.  The dangers that GLBTQIA students face are serious and real.  They may feel pressured to keep struggles secret from their communities and are more likely to seek out social and romantic relationships through discreet and accessible venues such as GLBTQIA bars, clubs, and Web sites (Wolff & Himes, 2010), which can be dangerous.  Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that sexual minority youth in states that have constitutional amendments against same-sex unions are more likely to experience depressive symptoms and generalized anxiety (Wolff & Himes, 2010).  In order for higher education professionals to be effective leaders, we must recognize and react to these potential dangers.

There are numerous opportunities for Christians at institutions of higher education to begin to offer love and support to GLBTQIA students.  As Christians, it is within our faiths to stand against persecution and advocate for those who have been discriminated against.  It is also important to begin to make the necessary changes that will foster a campus climate of grace and compassion for our GLBTQIA brothers and sisters.  One particular way to create this type of environment is to make offices safe spaces for all students.  Taking steps such as using symbols of GLBTQIA support, can help professionals create an atmosphere of support.  Staff visibility at GLBTQIA pride events, social events, meetings, and training programs can show students that higher education professionals support them.  Further, sharing religious narratives with students, as they relate to their own stories, is another step towards supporting GLBTQIA students.

In conclusion, compassion and understanding are the most effective instruments in supporting GLBTQIA students and in combating perceived Christian prejudice.  Upholding the Christian values of unconditional love and renunciation of violence can help professionals overcome personal biases and advocate for equality and inclusion in the campus community.  Both Christians and GLBTIQIA students have a shared story on coming out to our faith and true selves.  Student affairs administrators need to be aware of the hardships that all students may face and to help them through those hardships.  There are ways that Christians can support others, even if they are not fully accepting of their differences.  If beliefs are contradictory to a Christian’s lifestyle, it is not for professionals to persecute those beliefs, but rather to befriend the individuals and advocate for them.  If Christians can accomplish this, then the field of student affairs will be more progressive in helping GLBTQIA students lead safer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.

Discussion Questions

1.How does the GLBTQIA community view open Christians on your campus?  To what extent does that view impact their relationship with student affairs leaders?

2.What partnerships can you build upon to strengthen the relationships between the non-GLBTQIA Christian, non-Christian GLBTQIA, and Christian GLBTQIA communities?

3.How can we engage participants to find mutual ground for compassion and advocacy?


Bresciani, M., & Todd, M. (2010). Professional competency areas for student affairs practitioners. Retrieved from

Hagler, D., & Clark, A. (2010). A Resource on GLBTQ Ordination. Network News, 30(4), 9-15.

Heermann, M., Wiggins, M., & Rutter, P. (2007). Creating a space for spiritual practice: Pastoral possibilities with sexual minorities. Pastoral Psychology, 55, 711-721.

Jones, N. W. (2009). The challenge of Christianity for gay and lesbian criticism—and vice versa. Christianity & Literature, 58(2), 238-243.

Lowe, M. (2009). Gay, lesbian, and queer theologies: origins, contributions, and challenges. Dialog: A Journal of Theology, 48(1), 49-61.

Roper, L. D. (2005). The role of senior student affairs officers in supporting LGBT students: Exploring the landscape of one’s life. New Directions For Student Services, 111, 81-88.

Wolff, J. R., & Himes, H. L. (2010). Purposeful exclusion of sexual minority youth in Christian higher education: The implications of discrimination. Christian Higher Education, 9(5), 439-460.

About the Author

Jonathan Ross is a Residence Hall Director/Programming and Community Service Coordinator at Lyndon State College.  Previously, he was a Graduate Hall Director at New England College, where he received his Master’s in Higher Education Administration.  He received his Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Music Business from Plymouth State University.  Currently, his responsibilities at Lyndon consist of residential programming, the Community Service Learning program, as well as direct responsibility for four co-ed housing facilities.  Jonathan’s research interests include equity and inclusion, specifically on supporting ethnic diversity at small schools. 

Please e-mail inquiries to Jonathan Ross.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Perspectives on an Ethic of Care: Reflecting on the Jon C. Dalton Institute 2014

In February of 2014, Louisiana State University (LSU) Department of Residential Life granted the funds for a delegation of two entry-level staff, a first year graduate assistant, and three undergraduate resident assistants to attend the 2014 Dalton Institute at Florida State University.  The title of the institute was Promoting an Ethic of Care: Student Well-Being as a Priority in Higher Education.  The delegation focused on the goal of developing a more holistic understanding of student well-being and bringing that learning back to the department.  The delegation was intentionally diverse in life and career experience so that we could share different perspectives of an ethic of care as we each actualized the concept differently.

As we returned and reflected upon our experience we identified three specific areas where we felt an ethic of care impacted our professional practice.  The first way was in caring for students and how we relate to them and create safe emotional spaces for growth.  The second was creating an environment to manage both the personal and professional functions of an ethic of self-care.  The third was in redefining expectations and reflecting on a new model for mentoring.  As we each experienced the conference differently, each staff member chose one area to reflect upon in depth.  Our perspectives collectively represent our holistic conception of an ethic of care and how that applies to work in the field of student affairs.

Students: Zach Mills, First Year Graduate Assistant

As a first year graduate assistant, an ethic of care is a concept that I only recently became familiar with.  As I have discovered it though, I realized that in many ways it is the essence of what drew me to the field: a deep caring for students’ well-being, growth, and a desire to see them thrive.  The Dalton Institute 2014 was a very formative experience in that it challenged me to understand an ethic of care at a deeper level and what that looks like in interacting with and serving students.  Although much could be said about the myriad aspects of caring, one way I want to specifically reflect upon is how emotional intelligence and managing emotions (to draw upon the language/vector of keynote speaker Arthur Chickering) affects our ability to connect with and care for students.

“When emotions are mentionable, they are manageable.” Presenter Tyler Bradshaw of Miami University, in his presentation about emotional intelligence and how emotion permeates the college experience, used this quote from the beloved Mr.  Rogers.  To understand and care for college students we need to be both aware of their emotions and understand how those affect their actions, and also help them to be aware of the same thing.  One concept that Bradshaw expanded upon was the idea of vulnerability and creating a space for students where they can share their emotions and express their ‘authentic self.’ In creating this safe space we create an environment for development and well-being where students can express themselves, learn about themselves, and develop self-esteem (Bradshaw & Rusbosin, 2014).

In reflecting on this presentation, I began to think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how when we create a safe place where students can explore their emotions we allow them to explore the higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy and develop self-esteem, confidence, and eventually self-actualization (Maslow, 1954).  In sharing her experience of the conference, one of the RAs we brought, Jacque Hoeft, shared this: “I learned the impact of talking about a situation or even crying and how much that relief may mean to someone when he or she has someone there listening to them” (personal communication, March 4, 2013).  This quote and her discussion around it was powerful to me in that it showed both that she felt sufficiently cared about and comfortable sharing this, but also that she was self-actualizing enough to be able to turn around and then create that same space of vulnerability with her residents.

Emotion does not exist in a vacuum separate from the other factors in students’ lives (as evidenced by the fact that Chickering has six other vectors).  Emotion is a powerful mitigating factor in the development of other vectors.  A student who is upset or angry is a lot less likely to share productively than a student at ease.  In his keynote address, Chickering raised this point for thought: what if instead of viewing conflict as boxing match, we viewed it as a barn raising?  In contrast to the zero sum game of boxing, a barn raising is a deeply communal event requiring trust and understanding.  Each person must understand the intentions and actions of each other person for the walls to be raised and for the barn to have structural integrity.  This sentiment expressing an ethic of care is what I believe we need to strive for in interactions with students.  Only when we understand and value our students’ emotional well-being can we begin to understand and support them holistically.

Self: Colby Kinder Englund, Third Year Entry Level Professional

Working in residential life as a 3rd year professional, the idea of caring for the self is sometimes a daunting topic to ponder.  I have surpassed the learning curves of year one and two, but still am learning about integrating my daily life into my daily live-on expectations.  Living in your working environment can dictate decisions and create different expectations and perspectives for students and staff.  Managing the personal self and the professional self is frequently viewed as this balancing act, but describing what a balanced life would look like is almost undefinable.  Channeling stress and harnessing the simplistic level of happiness can create environments that can produce productive emotions and actions.  These assist in your level of self-care that you are able to operate with even in times of grief and negativity.

This thought transcends through all levels of higher education from Chief Executive Officers to Resident Assistants.  Sidney Brinson, a 1st year Resident Assistant made a profound statement after his experiences during the institute.  He stated “As a student leader you are going to face stress, but it is important to find time for yourself and simply be happy.  People nowadays try to complicate happiness when being happy is truly simple in itself” (personal communication, March 10, 2013).  Even though the student leaders from LSU were the only undergraduate members in attendance, they were still able to take tangible experiences and profound knowledge from the institute.   Arthur Chickering spoke to identity development and operating under an ethic of care.   His vectors, as developed in his theory, tie in direct correlation with the ongoing need to focus on self-care.  The vector entitled “Developing Purpose” is defined as

[when] an individual develops commitment to the future and becomes more competent at making and following through on decisions, even when they may be contested.  It involves developing a sense of life vocation.  It may involve the creation of goals, and is influenced by the family and lifestyle of the individual.  (Evans, Forney, Guido, Patton, & Renn, 2011, p.  36)

It was an inspiring moment to have the creator of this theory and his wealth of knowledge standing in front of the room.  His development of this vector was easily weaved within the constructs of the institute and the world of higher education as we work to develop the holistic self which has a large emphasis on self-care.  As we become more comfortable, that self-care has a unique definition for every individual.  What successful self-care may look like could be vastly different in each individual and we are each able to chart our own vision of what it looks like.

Their own direction, their own purpose, and their own mission for themselves define the ethic of care that individuals operate with on a daily basis.  The Dalton Institute focused heavily on various topics deriving from self-care.  Self-care is the first step as it is just as important for the individual to practice self-care as it is for those they interact with.  To-do lists, busyness, and competing priorities can lead to gaps in personal well-being.  We are only able to sustainably battle the constant priority shifts, busy moments, and constant need to care for others by understanding how to center our thoughts and make ourselves a priority.  If we don’t take care of ourselves, who will?

Coaching Over Mentoring: Scott Lundgren, Second Year Entry-Level Professional            

One of the most impactful things that I took away from the 2014 Dalton Institute is the concept of Mosaic Leadership when it comes to helping students have a successful collegiate career.  One of the things that I have learned in my previous experiences is the model of mentoring students, but during Tina Erzen’s presentation on Mosaic Leadership I learned about the idea of coaching students.  This change of an approach of how to interact with my students was an approach that I never really thought about or learned in my involvements in leadership and residential life.  Before the institute I was a strong advocate of the concept of mentoring and believed it was the best approach to student interactions.  The fault that I always saw in mentoring though was the time commitment that went along with it.  With mentoring, the dedication of time with the amount of students you are mentoring can play a huge impact on the success of the role (Erzen, 2014).   This was not a big deal in my past since I was a mentor to a maximum of five students.  Now in my current role, and overseeing approximately 730 students and 25 Resident Assistants, I am unable to give the amount of time needed to be a true mentor.  This leads me to what I learned about coaching at the institute.

Coaching is a more direct approach to being a mentor to students.  It is asking students direct questions of their success and allowing them to create their own action plan through self-reflected questions.  What coaching also does is gives the student the opportunity to talk through their problems or issues, while just giving them an ear to listen.  What I learned from Erzen about coaching is that it truly empowers students and those students then have a stronger grasp on what they need to be successful.  Also, coaching takes a lot less time but is just as effective as a typical mentor role (Erzen, 2014).  This is especially effective in my role as Residence Life Coordinator as I oversee a large staff and student population.  With everything I learned during the Mosaic Leadership presentation, I now feel that coaching could have a huge impact on student development and it strongly related to the main theme of the 2014 Dalton Institute: Promoting an Ethic of Care: Student Well-Being as a Priority in Higher Education.  Effectively coaching students will lead to students’ ability to create their own ethic of care.


An ethic of care is a very broad and expansive term and it can look many different ways, but these collective perspectives represent a window into our conception of an ethic of care and its implementation.  First, a view of students that holistically considers emotional well-being and creates safe spaces for growth fosters an environment for student development to emerge.  Second, a greater self-awareness of personal well-being allows for greater self-care and in turn a more healthy relationship to professional responsibilities.  Finally, reconsidering our expectations allows us to see new ways of doing things, such as the Mosaic Leadership style of coaching over mentoring, allowing for better entry into the ethic of care conversation.  Overall, the Dalton Institute was a formational experience and one that comes highly recommend by us.  Our experiences shaped our conception of an ethic of care and we hope our perspectives and invitation to attend Dalton Institute 2015 will provide a similar experience to that of resident assistant Carrie Williams who reflected: “Gaining information from various student affairs employees from all over the nation expanded how I viewed my role as a [resident assistant].  I hope other [resident assistants] in the future will get a chance to experience The Dalton Institute” (personal communication, March 8, 2014).

Discussion Questions

  1. In considering an ethic of care and integrating that concept into practice, what does it look like in your position to create a safe emotional space for students? What intentional things do you do to better understand your students’ emotional well-being and how does that impact your actions or even your role? Are your students aware of your actions to create emotional well-being?
  2. What do you do to take care of yourself? How do you integrate work and life commitments and create a space for yourself to explore your own needs? Do you model self-care to students and would a student be able to articulate how you engage in self-care? What happens when you neglect self-care?
  3. Does the distinction of coaching over mentoring resonate with your personal practice? How do you balance to the need to supervise many students with the desire to invest in each one individually? Is mentorship a reasonable model in your role with students? If not, how can you explore coaching in your practice?


Bradshaw, T., Rusbosin, B.  (2014, February).  Won’t you be my neighbor? The Rogers model & student affairs practice.  Jon C.  Dalton Institute on College Student Values.  Lecture conducted from Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.

Chickering, A.  (2014, February).  Untitled keynote address.  Jon C.  Dalton Institute on College Student Values. Lecture conducted from Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.

Erzen, T.  (2014, February).  Mosaic coaching.  Jon C.  Dalton Institute on College Student Values.  Lecture conducted from Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.

Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M. Patton, L. D., & Renn, K. A. (2010). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice (2nd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Maslow, A.  (1954).  Motivation and personality.  New York, NY: Harper.

About the Authors

Colby Kinder Englund is originally from Winston Salem, NC where she received her Bachelor’s Degree from Western Carolina University in 2009.  Colby went on to receive her Masters of Education in College Student Personnel Administration at the University of West Florida. Her background originates in student involvement and student activities, leadership and Greek life but has moved towards residential life as she has developed a more grounded understanding and appreciation for working with on-campus students.   Colby started her professional career at Louisiana State University with a three-year stint as a Residence Life Coordinator. Colby currently works as a Residence Coordinator at UNC Charlotte. As Colby has progressed through her entry level career, she has found a deeper meaning and appreciation for supervision focusing individual and group development.  Her passions extend from these topics and have developed into a stronger understanding of what it means to operate under an ethic of care.   

Please e-mail inquiries to Colby Kinder Englund

Scott William Lundgren Jr. is currently working as a third year Residence Life Coordinator at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA where he oversees an all-Freshman Residential College Complex. He earned both his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Marketing and Master’s degree in Higher Education from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC.  Scott’s background stems from leadership programs, residential life and Greek life, while his research interests and passions include student success and leadership development. In his spare time Scott enjoys playing with his 2 year old Scottish Terrier puppy, “Scottie.”

Please e-mail inquiries to Scott William Lundgren Jr.

Zach Mills is now a second year graduate student at Louisiana State University, working as a graduate assistant in the Department of Residential Life.  His title is the Graduate Assistant for Front Desk Operations and he oversees, schedules, and staffs the 13 front desks in the residential halls, comprising approximately 165 student employees (Desk Assistants and Lead Desk Assistants).  He is pursuing a master’s degree in Higher Education and Administration and holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Grove City College.  His research interests are still developing, but he has a strong interest in student well-being and a budding understanding of an ethic of care.  He would like to pursue a career in housing.

Please e-mail inquires to Zach Mills


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

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Who Let the Gays Out? (Apologies to the Baha Men)

by Gretchen J. Metzelaarsm Ohio State University

ACPA’s Standing Committee for LGBT Awareness began from a collaborative idea at the 1983 convention. More than 30 years later, SCLGBTA is thriving in its commitment to mobilize members of ACPA – College Student Educators International to build community, empower advocacy, and advance knowledge with people of all genders and sexualities. This Developments series celebrates 30 years of LGBTQ issues and identities in student affairs from three perspectives: administration, research, and association. Each essay explores the history and current status of LGBTQ individuals in higher education, providing insights into current and future advocacy.

When we choose to live authentically we chip away at others’ prisons of pretend and create an opportunity for them to walk out of darkness into freedom.
― Anthony Venn-BrownA Life of Unlearning

I carefully scanned the room to see into the eyes of my compatriots. Were they nervous? Frightened?  Guilty?  Relieved?  Thankful?  We were huddled in the basement of the university’s theater, hiding from the world.  We were “out” to each other and some to our friends, but we were hiding from our institutional colleagues and students.  We were, after all, “the gays.”  It was the year 1989, but the world was beginning to change.  We did introductions: a chemistry professor, a theater associate professor, an education professor, two from the library, several staff members, a grounds person and me, the assistant director of the student union.  We were an assortment of races, an assortment of ages, an assortment of intellect, and an assortment of commitment to making the university a better place for the gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) community.

This is the story of an evolution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals through the eyes of an administrator who bore witness.  As the country matured and university communities came to understand they had LGBTQ friends, roommates, colleagues, faculty members, family, and others; the evolution/revolution on the campus began to mirror what was happening in the country.

These were the days when we were not strong enough to accept or even acknowledge that our sisters and brothers in the transgender community shared our fight.  They were different:  some were invisible and some were trying to make their way alone.  We were hesitant to add a community that might put our possible “acceptance” by the mainstream at peril.  Just another symptom of the fearful place in which we lived.  Years earlier, we had logged many hours discussing and arguing about our bisexual brothers and sisters.  “If we include them will our argument be lost?”  For years many straight people postulated that gays and lesbians “practiced” our sexual orientation and our “practice” was akin to bestiality, child abuse, and mental illness. The Fred Phelps of the 21st century may have been an anomaly to some, but in the late 20th century people like Phelps were everywhere; including in our government, our workplaces and often in our homes.  No wonder we were frightened.

As advisor to the queer student association (variously named GLB, LGB, LGBA, LGBTQA), I worked with about 40 students who ranged from being incredibly closeted and fearful to those who were ready to fight “out loud” for the benefits that straight people took for granted.  Experience and research told me that it was important for our students to have positive role models.  Role models are described in the literature as “a person you respect, follow, look up to or want to be like” (Bricheno & Thornton, 2007, p.385).  The students were looking for role models, for compatriots in the fight, and for confirmation that their identities were “normal.”  I consistently encouraged my theater basement colleagues to meet the students and to get to know them.  Each one of my colleagues was terrified—terrified of being exposed, terrified of being accused, terrified of being fired.

It was the “Stone Age” of gay rights, the time of Stonewall, defending ourselves against the AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) epidemic and panic, GLB patriots being thrown out of the military, and physical and verbal abuse by strangers.  Additionally, we were fighting in the courts to be able to care for our partners as Karen Thompson was forced to do in custody battle in order to care for Sharon Kowalski.  We had made some progress in the 1970s and early 1980s, but our community was dealt a reeling blow when AIDS struck down many of our brothers.  This not only decimated us emotionally and physically, but it provided more ammunition for those who hated us.  And the haters took every opportunity to build fear of the GLB community into the populace.  As I worked with our student organization, I knew they would benefit profoundly from positive faculty and staff role models, but what would it take to get my colleagues out of our basement closet and into the light of our growing student community?  It would take the 1993 March on Washington, the impact of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and George (and Barbara) Bush to get us out of our basement closet.

Are you surprised to see the name of George H. W. (and Barbara) in this essay about emerging from the cloud of fear?  President Bush was the first President to invite openly gay people into the White House when he signed landmark legislation calling for a study of hate crimes motivated by prejudice based on race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.  Barbara Bush responded to a letter from the president of PFLAG with these words: “I firmly believe that we cannot tolerate discrimination against any individuals and groups in our country” (Marcus, 2002, p. 333).

“Two, four, six, eight, God does not discriminate.”
Chant during March on Washington

We gathered on a beautiful sunny morning at the base of the Washington Monument to march with our brothers and sisters.  Faculty, staff, and students FINALLY united together.  Many of us were in tears when told we would have to wait at least two hours to begin the march as there were tens of thousands of people who would start before us.  The tears flowed not because of the delay but because we realized that there were so many people marching.  It was a celebration long in the making.  We all sported our pins:

Replica Pin March on Washington GLBT Rights

As we tried to move forward, there were many trying to push us back.  Some members of Congress were in the midst of creating a gay backlash by passing the Defense of Marriage Act, attacking a gay man nominated for the position of ambassador to Luxemburg and publicly calling gays “weak, morally sick wretches.”As we walked the two-mile route toward the Capitol, I was amazed at the diversity of our community – all shapes, sizes, ages, appearance:  Dykes on Bikes marching/roaring along beside a group of Drag Queens.  We were happy, screaming and shouting:  “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”  Then we saw the protesters; they called themselves Christians.  We called them hate-filled reactionaries.  Their signs said, “Homosexuality is a sin,” “God Hates You,” “You Will Burn in Hell.”  Once again the fear began to overtake us, but our students would not let us retreat. Under the students’ leadership, the hate-filled language actually steeled our resolve.  If we could march on Washington with hundreds of thousands of our community members and look into faces of hate and survive, we were officially “out.” Who let the gays out?  Those who hated us did.

We had our champions; the media had begun showing palatable gays in movies such as Philadelphia (thank you Tom Hanks) and on television shows such as Melrose Place, Friends, and Roseanne.  Ellen DeGeneres was and is our superstar.  She took a major risk and a major stance when her character came out on her show Ellen.  Five of us sat holding hands in front of the TV when, during the coming out episode, Ellen said; “I’m gay;” and her seemingly quiet personal announcement was inadvertently broadcast over the airport’s public address system.  Our reaction was cheering and sheer joy.  Unfortunately for Ellen, she was vilified and attacked by the press and hated by much of the public, eventually losing her show.

But we were finally ready to move forward.  The faculty, staff, and students gathered together to develop a strategy to create a campus that treated the queer community with dignity.  Through discussions, study, and the understanding and belief of the university president; we moved forward.  We embraced the notion that without our advocacy and leadership, the university community would sit stagnate and would never move to be a true educational institution.  We believed the university imperative should be to both educate and engage in a community conversation about and with the GLB community, and most importantly, that in order to educate our students as active and good citizens; they must participate in the discussion.  Within the next five years, we had an incredibly strong student organization, an LGBT Equity Center, a full-time staff member championing our community, a LGBT Studies Program, and a LGBT alumni association.

Though universities did not lead (and actually barely followed) the evolution/revolution, our students did.  Basoc and Howe (1979) stated that “Role models have been defined as people whose lives and activities influence another person in some way” (Quimby & DeSantis, 2006, p. 297).  The students taught us how and when to protest, that we need not be afraid, and the meaning of “leading a cultural revolution.”  In the end, the students were our role models.

When the dust settles and the pages of history are written, it will not be the angry defenders of intolerance who have made the difference.  That reward will go to those who dared to step outside the safety of their privacy in order to expose and rout the prevailing prejudices.
― Bishop John Shelby Spong

Discussion Questions

  1. What international and/or national events contribute or contributed to your personal and professional identity?
  2. Are there instances when you would partner with your students to protest a perceived injustice?  If so, what would be the risk?  How much of a risk to your livelihood and health would you be willing to take?
  3. What are your parameters when working with students?  Will you have contact with them personally as well as a professionally?  What are the risks?


Basoc, S. A., & Howe, K. G. (1979). Model influence on career choices of college students. The Vocational Guidance Quarterly, 27, 239-245.

Bricheno, P. & Thornton, M. (2007). Role model, hero or champion?  Children’s views concerning role models.  Educational Research, 49(4), 383-396.

Marcus, E. (2002).  Making gay history: The half-century fight for lesbian and gay equal rights. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Quimby, J. L. & DeSantis, A. M.  (2006). The influence of role models on women’s career choices. The Career Development Quarterly, 54, 297-306.

Venn-Brown, A. (2007). A life of unlearning: One man’s journey to find the truth (2nd Ed.). New Holland Publishing Australia.

About the Author

Gretchen J. Metzelaars is currently the Senior Associate Vice President of Student Life at The Ohio State University, a position she has held since June 2010.  In this position she provides the Office of Student Life with strategic direction for dining services, housing administration, the Ohio Union, orientation, residence life and student activities.  Additionally, she is the faculty advisor to the Muslim Student Association.  Dr. Metzelaars has been involved in several national organizations including ACPA, ACU-I and NACAS. Currently, she was chair of the ACPA 2014 Convention. She was selected to be the ACPA Standing Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Awareness’ Senior Practitioner and was recently honored with selection as a senior member of Annuit Coeptis.  She was chosen as an ACPA Diamond Honoree in 2008.  She has spoken nationally on a variety of topics including leadership; multiculturalism; homosexuality and the Bible; gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual students. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Tech in 1975, her Master of Science of Recreation from Indiana University in 1979, and her Ph.D. in Recreation from the University of Maryland in 1995.

Please e-mail inquiries to Gretchen J. Metzelaars.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

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From the President

From the President

Kent PorterfieldI have no idea where the time has gone as I enter this final quarter of my term as ACPA – College Student Educators International President, but I am amazed at how much has happened over the last several months. Without question, I can tell you that ACPA is making some great strides forward. Dr. Cindi Love is doing a terrific job in her first year as ACPA’s Executive Director. I cannot say enough good things about her leadership and stewardship. I commend the entire ACPA staff for embracing the changes that Cindi has introduced. They are working in new ways and building a strong team that more effectively serves the needs and interests of association members.

Welcome to Cara Thunder, Carlos Chavez, and Tim Arth, who recently joined the ACPA International Office staff.  Congratulations as well to ACPA member Melvin Monette, who was recently inducted as National Indian Education Association president-elect!

Earlier this year, a review of ACPA’s strategic plan was completed through a process that we have referred to as ‘Project Sieve.’  The result is an updated plan that, for all of ACPA’s strategic initiatives, emphasizes roles of leading, amplifying, mobilizing and partnering (LAMP). The following updates are just a few examples of the great work that is being accomplished in our association.

  • Study reveals that the Journal of College Student Development is the highest ranking journal in the field of higher education when considering inclusion of race (Mitchell, Hardley, Jordan, & Couch, 2014).
  • A new Commission for Campus Safety and Emergency Preparedness was recently approved by ACPA’s Governing Board.
  • A Mid-Level Community of Practice has also been established.
  • ACPA’s first ever Student Affairs Virtual Career Fair will be held on February 17, 2015.
  • ACPA begins the long overdue transition from MemberMax to new member management system, Salesforce, this spring.
  • A new platform is being rolled out for our mentoring program, ACPAGrow.
  • ACPA has announced new partnerships with Student Affairs Live; Partnership for a Healthier America; Agent of Change; and Erik Qualman, social media expert and thought leader.

In addition, the work of two Task Forces, Digital Technology in Higher Education and Sexual Violence in Higher Education, is progressing and the task forces will be presenting information and seeking feedback on their work at the Tampa Convention. An ACPA/NASPA Professional Competencies Task Force has been formed and charged with ensuring that definitions and descriptions of the professional competencies are up-to-date with current scholarship and practice. The joint task force had its first meeting earlier this fall and will be sharing a draft of its work for review and feedback at the 2015 ACPA Convention and 2015 NASPA Conference.

The Tampa Convention is shaping up to be a one-of-a-kind opportunity. LaVerne Cox, Eboo Patel, Stephanie Hammerman, and Jose Antonio Vargas comprise an incredible array of convention speakers. I am also excited to share that the first ever Marylu McEwen Dissertation of the Year Award will also be presented in Tampa. And because we want the convention to be as affordable as possible for all members, we are offering a payment plan for graduate students, roommate matching service, and reduced career central rate. ACPA is also offering a ‘Pay It Forward’ program for ACPA faculty members to designate another faculty colleague or graduate student to receive a free one year membership and free registration to the Tampa Convention, with the only caveat being that the faculty colleague or student must be new to ACPA and a first time convention attendee; the limit is one each.

In Tampa, we will also be rolling out MyPROfolio, a digital platform for delivering content aligned with the professional competencies and for recording and reflecting upon professional and career development experiences. MyPROfolio is currently being pilot tested and the results will be showcased at convention. Additionally, George Kuh and Jillian Kinzie will give a HED talk on Lumina’s Degree Qualifications Profile and an interview with HigherEd Live that will be live streamed and rebroadcast on our new ACPA Media channel. And finally, because ACPA has a long history of advocating for access and equality in higher education, and in light of the 50th Anniversary of the United States voting and civil rights movements, a program will be offered at the Tampa Convention to examine the role ACPA should play in furthering democratic engagement, equality, and civil rights for the next fifty years.

I could say more about the amazing things that are happening in ACPA, but I would be remiss not to take this opportunity to offer a few reflections on the events of the last three months in St. Louis. The events in Ferguson and in the Shaw neighborhood, which is close to my campus at Saint Louis University, have stirred the hearts and minds of the region, nation, and even the world. For many, the protests and demonstrations have been challenging and uncomfortable, but they have re-opened the prospect of hope and change. Many of us have been deeply impacted. No doubt, our priorities and values have been tested. At my university, we have had more meetings, town halls, dialogue sessions, and community forums than I can easily count. We have interacted almost continuously with students, parents, civic leaders, elected officials, law enforcement, federal agencies, trustees, benefactors, and our neighbors in the community. I have personally been in front of so many groups that I have lost track. At times, I think I have been adequate to the task, while at other times, I worry that I have fallen short. What I can say with confidence is that I have never worked harder or cared more, but I have also never been less sure about what it was that I needed to do. Nevertheless, I have done my best to lead, because leadership is critically needed.

A big part of my role as a senior student affairs officer (SSAO) has been to challenge institutionalized thinking, attitudes and structures, and this does not happen without ruffling some feathers. Knowing how far to ‘lean out in front of the skis’ is a judgment call, and it is something I think about almost constantly. To my SSAO colleagues, I urge you to not let this important moment in history pass by without mobilizing and engaging your respective campus communities in conversations about race and greater inclusion that are needed to address institutionalized racism and bring about systemic change. I know this is not easy work, and many of you may question whether you have the knowledge and skills necessary to do this kind of work.  Believe me when I say I understand, because I have asked these same questions of myself. Nevertheless, these are the times when we must find the courage to lead. We must be wiling to call together campus leaders for deeper dialogue about campus climate, organizational culture, and systemic practices and policies. And we cannot allow the burden of this work to fall only on the backs of faculty, staff, and students of color.

This fall, several ACPA leaders have facilitated programs on Constructing Inclusion at state CPA conferences, and in the days ahead ACPA will be inviting you to participate in more conversations about confronting racism in our communities and on our campuses. The first sessions, on December 2, 7 and 9, are set up as WebEx (online) meetings. There will be other opportunities to participate as well, so stay tuned. I urge you to join in these conversations. This is a call to action. We can do better. We simply have to.


Mitchell, D., Jr., Hardley, J., Jordan, D., & Couch, M. (2014). Journals in the field of higher education: A racial analysis. Journal of Research Initiatives1(2), 1-10.