Global Citizenship and Higher Education’s Responsibility

Global Citizenship and Higher Education’s Responsibility

Anne M. Hornak
Central Michigan University

International travel can be a powerful transformative experience. Colleges and universities all over the United States and internationally are seeking out opportunities to sponsor study abroad programs, partner with institutions across the globe, and expose students to other parts of the world through an educational experience. Student affairs professionals work closely with faculty, students, administrators, and many other college and university personnel to make sure these experiences are educationally valuable. Putting the experience into context in professional settings, classrooms, and everyday life is one of the most critical pieces to making these programs successful. As I sat down to write this article I was struggling with the question: is it our ethical responsibility in higher education to prepare students to be global citizens?

I am going to present reasons why higher education professionals may want to think about their responsibility in this domain. I want to begin with a story I recently heard that really resonated with my focus on cross cultural experiences and dialogue.

Joe’s Narrative

My friend Pam was flying home from Poland and she sat next to a middle aged man named Joe. She began talking to Joe and realized he was heading home to a small town in the Midwest where he was a machinist. He was talking about how excited he was to get home and see his family. Pam asked him what he was doing in Poland and he said he had been there for a year working on helping them set up some specialized machinery for a new production facility. He was asked to go because he is one of the only machinists qualified and specially trained to work with these machines. Pam was quite intrigued and asked about his time in Poland. Joe said originally he was only supposed not have spent 2 months in country to get the machines up and running. He ended up being there for a whole year. His family did not have the financial resources to visit. He has been home twice in the 12-month period.

Joe went on to talk about how incredibly unprepared he was to live and work in Poland. He did not speak the language, nor did he really have any clue about Polish culture. The company helped set up travel and accommodations for Joe, but little else was done to prepare him to live and work in this new culture.  He went on to tell Pam that when he first arrived he found it exciting and new. There were a couple of other individuals from the same company finishing up assignments, so he was able to gather some information and assistance in getting set up. After the first month his colleagues left and he felt he was pretty much on his own. Language was the biggest barrier. Navigating around the city to meet basics needs – groceries, transportation, communications with home were among a few of the issues Joe faced in the first few months. The next issues Joe faced were long bouts of depression related to having few friends and acquaintances. The language barrier was difficult to overcome to have any meaningful interactions with the native Polish people.

Joe discussed his community college experience and how having a certificate did not prepare him for his international experience. He told Pam how he never really anticipated doing much traveling and that he preferred to drive to locations in the United States, rather than living abroad for a year. It was difficult not having his basic needs met as well as being so far away and lonely. He now has a new appreciation for the idea of a global workforce. He stated it is critical for everyone to have some idea of how to live and work and in another culture. The community college he attended never even discussed this concept. He also noted that it should have been the responsibility of the company he worked for to help prepare him for this time abroad.

Preparing Students for Global Work

Joe’s situation and story is not at all uncommon in the global world we live in. In thinking about Joe’s story, what is the responsibility of higher education to prepare students to work and potentially live in a foreign land? Do we have an ethical and social responsibility to prepare every student for these opportunities? I would argue yes and that it is not that difficult even in the brief amount of time we have as we work to certificate students. Clearly some institutions have a stronger international footprint than others. For example, many four-year colleges or universities have the infrastructure to support international education as part of the organization.  However, helping students understand that importance of international and cross-cultural experiences does not have to include a trip abroad.

There are many avenues to help students understand the importance of what it means to be a global citizen without ever leaving campus. Here are two ideas for on campus programming to increase student understanding of global citizenship. Ideally the student affairs divisions should work collaboratively with the international affairs and study abroad offices to maximize the reach and impact.

Global Competency Workshop

This workshop would be designed to explore the idea of what it means to be a global citizen. The United Nations has a series of goals, named The Global Goals, that cut across disciplines. The goals are international challenges that require action and impact. The workshop could be designed around these goals with the objectives designed to help participants understand and begin to appreciate that being a global citizen requires a shared responsibility in solving problems.

Global Communications Workshop

This workshop would be designed to look at issues of communication across cultures. The objectives could be designed to offer students tools they need to be successful in engaging with people of diverse backgrounds and outlooks. The workshop would include three elements to effective intercultural communication. The first is awareness. If we want students to change anything about their own communication styles, they need to be aware of the nuances of how they communicate with others. The second step would be self-analysis. During this step, students spend time reflecting on their own communication styles in order to understand how to best interact with others. The final step is to expand ones repertoire. This includes offering students multiple communication tools to use and experiment with. When one technique is not working, try another tactic.

Partnerships and Collaborations

Many colleges and universities struggle to connect students to the resources they need to experience study internationally. Offering workshops on campus provides the opportunities for students to explore and exchange ideas about global citizenship. It provides a venue that is accessible for all students and if done effectively could build powerful partnerships across campus with international and domestic partners. Additionally, given our perpetual engagement with social media platforms, colleges and universities could easily connect with international partners to help facilitate and engage with participants without being on site.

Joe would have benefitted greatly from attending a workshop when he was a student at his community college. If he was given the opportunity to explore how to engage and communicate across cultures his comfort level may have increased during his time in Poland. Navigating across cultures can be exciting, but also difficult. The fear of making a mistake is ever present, as well as the threat of offending someone because of one’s own ignorance regarding differences. As student affairs professionals and educators, part of our responsibility should be to provide students the tools they need to be successful global citizens. We have both an ethical responsibility to the students earning an education, and an ethical responsibility to the employers who are hiring our students.

Going back to Joe, I do believe that his company also failed in helping prepare him to live and work in Poland. The company had an ethical responsibility in making sure Joe was ready for that experience and they failed in doing so. While this is a shortcoming of his company, this is also an opportunity for corporate America and colleges and universities to partner to meet this challenge. The focus on career readiness is ever present across higher education; preparing someone to work across borders is critical. Leveraging the skills and talents available on college campuses with the needs of corporate America should begin to meet the ethical responsibilities I argue are important for global citizenship.

Within higher education we strive to address big questions and give students the tools to solve complex problems. As we think about Joe and our responsibility to educate and prepare students to live within this complex global world, I reflect on the question I posed at the beginning of this article: is it our ethical responsibility in higher education to prepare students to be global citizens? I have offered some ideas to begin to ponder this question and challenge those reading this article to think about other ways to give students to the tools they need to be responsible global citizens.

Discussion Questions

  1. The term global citizen can be defined in many ways. How do you define global citizen within the work you do?
  2. We often talk about shared responsibilities on our campuses regarding personal and professional development. Think about ways to work collaboratively on your campus to create global conversations about skill development. What offices will you partner with to create these programs?
  3. What is the ethical responsibility of student affairs professionals to facilitate global engagement on their campuses? Whose responsibility is this on your campus?

About the Author

Anne M. Hornak is an Associate Professor and Chairperson of Educational Leadership at Central Michigan University. She teaches courses in student affairs and higher education administration, ethics, and social justice. Her research interests include ethical decision-making, transformational learning and international education, and community college students. She has been involved with ACPA as a Directorate member of the Professional Preparation Commission, where she coordinated with the ethics committee. Her most recent book is entitled, “A Day in the Life of a Student Affairs Educator: Competencies and Case Studies for Early Career Professionals” [Stylus, 2014] co-authored with Sarah Marshall.

Please e-mail inquiries to Anne M. Hornak.


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 Open Door to All: Can Community College’s Student Cohorts Truly Co-Exist?

The Open Door to All: Can Community College’s Student Cohorts Truly Co-Exist?

Marisa Vernon
Cuyahoga Community College

Open Access: A Melting Pot of Age, Experience, and Personal History

Within the state of Ohio, community colleges are busy welcoming an increased number of high school dual-enrolled students to our campuses. While community colleges have often served as the institutions of choice for high school partnership programs, recent changes to the former Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) program have nudged many community colleges to revamp these relationships in order to adhere to new statewide standards.

The Ohio Department of Education has made strides in standardizing the state’s previously widely varied dual enrollment programs, thus extending the higher education experience to increased numbers of high school students. This standardization benefits students, colleges, and school districts by establishing guidelines for program delivery, structure, and funding formulas throughout the state.

Perhaps one of the most profound details within Ohio’s new College Credit Plus program (hereafter referred to as CCP) refers to the population eligible to take advantage of the program. Where the former PSEO program cast a net reaching mostly students in the latter portion of their high school experience, Ohio’s new CCP model opens this opportunity to any college-ready student in grades 7-12.

While students still need to verify college readiness through placement testing, college admission standards, or other criteria set forth by the institution, communication of this opportunity alone has increased the number of middle- and early- high school students seeking entrance into Ohio’s colleges to earn post-secondary credits while remaining in the K-12 system. For some of the state’s largest community colleges, this year’s College Credit Plus enrollment is akin to the number of students attending a small liberal arts college. Given the numbers and an expected increase over the next several years, this cohort has changed the landscape of many Ohio college campuses.

Given the community college access mission, diversity of class offerings, as well as low tuition costs and ease of transfer, community colleges are often desirable partners for school districts seeking to expand CCP opportunities for their students. However, as community colleges begin to see an increase in minor students attending classes, campus events, and utilizing services, college administrators struggle to find a balance between minor populations and other student cohorts also utilizing the institution to achieve educational and career goals.

As mentioned in previous articles within this column, community colleges’ doors swing wide open, often providing a second chance to individuals who carry a criminal background. As one may assume, this sub population of the community college profile includes those whose offenses were of sexual nature, many of whom are required to adhere to state sex offender registry laws. While attendance at a community college can be an accessible route to rebuilding one’s life after incarceration, co-enrollment with an increased population of minor students may present a conflict with one’s probation, parole, or a long-term sex offender registry requirement.

As the average age of those attending college, and more specifically, community colleges, begins to drop due to increased partnerships with K-12 education systems, campus administrators are faced with complex questions that, in many cases, challenge the access mission on which community colleges were originally built.

Perhaps the most glaring campus safety question facing administrators at open access colleges is how to integrate an increasingly younger population into a learning environment that currently includes registered sex offenders.

In July 2015, one Ohio two-year college restricted a previous offender’s utilization of on-campus housing, based on the college’s existing housing policy. Hocking College admitted the student and permitted his participation on the college’s football team, thus allowing the student to pursue his education, but with limitations (Community College Week, 2015).

While some colleges can bar sexual offenders from utilizing on-campus residential services, many other community colleges lack on-campus housing. Given the absence of this service, community colleges may find themselves without options for restricting interactions between sexual offenders and the general student population. This scenario can present challenges for community colleges that seek to fulfill the role of community educator, while balancing the safety and risks associated with supporting the educational needs of a diverse student body. Which services, if any, present the largest risks and therefore should be limited? How can colleges identify these areas and plan policies accordingly?

The Court of Public Opinion

As community colleges, once open to all, grapple with the ethical challenge to both educate and protect such a vast array of students, the focus has fallen on the offenses that are primarily sexual in nature. Many colleges have been asked to further examine their admission and monitoring stance on the sexual offender population, however, other groups with criminal background do not appear under the same scrutiny. Why, then, has this particular cohort of the restored citizen population been under close review?

As mentioned above, one can make the connection between the increased number of minors attending community colleges and concerns about the safety of the college environment. As K-12 partnerships expand to bring more middle- and high-school aged students into the community college classroom, these partnerships have nudged student affairs professionals to re-examine existing policies designed to ensure student safety. Likewise, parent groups, community stakeholders, and dually enrolled students also apply increased concern, thus challenging the openness of the community college’s doors.

The debate over sexual offender admission and enrollment restrictions runs parallel to public opinion surrounding sex offender registries, sentences, and the permanent “label” associated with this subgroup of previously incarcerated individuals. As stated by Pickett, Mancini, and Mears (2013), “with the possible exception of terrorists, sex offenders in the United States experience a greater degree of punishment and restriction than any other offender group. Members of the public overwhelmingly support “get tough” sex crime policies and display an intense hostility toward persons labeled ‘sex criminals’.” Given this pattern, it seems logical that campuses may experience unique pressure from the community regarding the issue of sex offenders within the college environment.

Pickett et al. (2013) outline models that seek to explain the public’s negative response to sexual offenders when compared to offenders of other crimes. One such model indicates a strong form of solidarity between the general public and victims of sexual crimes, leading to protection of possible victims regardless of extent. Likewise, the other two models outline a public opinion of sexual offenders as “monsters” and thus any actions unforgivable, as well as a perception that sex crimes are prevalent and thus require risk management. The article, however, also points out that further research is needed to identify whether or not public opinion is justified when connected to recidivism rates and the outcomes associated with various sex offender rehabilitation methods.

An Ethical Challenge

Given the status of current public opinion regarding the perceived threat of past sexual offenders, community colleges may struggle to respond to increased pressure to restrict enrollment while also advocating for a marginalized cohort of individuals who may benefit greatly from open access to education.

As open access institutions, community colleges offer opportunity to restored citizens, and are viewed by community partners as an education pathway for those exiting the criminal justice system. This mission presents ethical and moral challenges for colleges drafting policies that maintain open access while attempting to diminish the risk of sexual violence on and connected to the campus environment. Review and creation of such policies requires multiple perspectives and vantage points, including those represented by Legal Counsel, community stakeholders, student affairs, administration, and, of course, the student body voice. While restrictions and admission review policies have begun to take shape around this issue, the voice of law enforcement, community agencies, and registered sex offenders themselves has, presumably, yet to be heard.

As community colleges work to negotiate these concerns and craft responses to minimize risk to other students, additional ethical challenges often arise. While some colleges may seek to fully deny the most violent offenders admission, other students with lower registration status may still be admitted. Likewise, with a current focus on sexual offenders, previously incarcerated individuals whose crimes involved non-sexual violence, drug trafficking, or theft may be admitted without review. In these cases, as with many student cohorts pursuing degrees, student services staff and faculty will be presented with ethical challenges associated with the advisement and career planning process for those with criminal pasts.

This challenge, not unique to the open access environment, demands that staff, faculty, and administrators learn as much as they can about the individual goals, motivation, and personal story associated with nearly every student occupying a seat. As educators, we play a role in helping students to identify educational options and choices, while respectfully helping those with potentially limiting backgrounds to identify alternative routes to meaningful employment. This perspective is critical when developing policies that limit access for some students, but also when identifying other cohorts who can be granted admission but may be barred from certain career fields, academic programs, and internships due to criminal background. Likewise, administrators, Legal Counsel, and other student support teams may need to examine which components of the student experience, such as student life opportunities, intramural or organized athletics, and clubs can or should be restricted due to perceived risk. Data and research presented outside of higher education, such as recent work in the areas of sociology, criminology, psychology, and other disciplines, may need to be consulted in order to inform strategies that protect some students while restricting the access of others.


As with many issues facing higher education, and specifically, community colleges, strategies to bar admission to registered sex offenders presents moral, ethical, and legal implications. As stated above, public opinion, increased community support for higher education, and closer partnerships between K-12 and college campuses have brought concerns about student safety to the surface. Administrators faced with these decisions should be encouraged to reflect on the mission of the American community college, seek consultation with Legal Counsel, and maintain communication with community partners in order to support those who may be barred access to the institution.

In the spirit of the community college mission, which provides access for anyone to improve his or her living, contribution, or obtain employment, creating links for those who cannot attend will prove a commitment to serving our communities. If our campuses cannot support those with certain criminal backgrounds, it will be important to provide an alternative pathway to meaningful education, employment, and a livable wage. After all, this is the core value of campuses that truly serve their communities.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is your personal stance on admitting sexual offenders to community colleges to pursue degrees and other educational experiences?
  2. Does your view shift when considering those with non-sexual criminal history? Why or why not?
  3. How can community colleges continue to offer open access to education while still maintaining the safety of minors who attend college classes through K-12 partnership programs?
  4. What do you believe is the role of a college and its administration as it relates to student safety? Does this change when considering minors versus the safety of others over the age of 18? Why or why not?


College Credit Plus FAQ (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2016, from Ohio college will allow participation but will bar man from living in dormitory. (2015). Community College Week, 28. Retrieved from;see 2015/07/27;c-2566151

Pickett, J. T., Mancini, C., & Mears, D. P. (2013). Vulnerable victims, monstrous offenders, and unmanageable risk: Explaining public opinion on the social control of sex crime. Criminology, 51(3), 729-759.

About the Author

Marisa Vernon is Assistant Dean – Access and Completion, at Cuyahoga Community College – Westshore Campus. Opened in 1963, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) is Ohio’s first community college and now the state’s largest, serving 50,000 students each year. The college offers two-year associate degrees, certificate programs, and the first two years of a baccalaureate degree.  The curriculum includes 1,600 credit courses in more than 140 career, certificate and university transfer programs. Courses are offered at four campus locations, two Corporate College® facilities, online, hybrid courses, and many off-campus sites.

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.

Guidelines for Positive Experiential Learning Experiences for Students and Supervisors


Guidelines for Positive Experiential Learning Experiences for Students and Supervisors

Amber Fallucca
University of South Carolina

Overview – Assessment Practicums and Internships

Many higher education and student affairs (HESA) graduate programs promote engagement in first-hand experiential learning experiences for students to learn about the varied types of positions and professional duties existing in the field. Often referred to as practicums, internships, or experiential learning opportunities, HESA programs may require this field experience in a half-semester, full semester, or summer term, and they may or may not be credit-bearing. For the field-based supervisors, the additional “hands-on support” in the office or program can be perceived as both a blessing and minor challenge as finding the correct amount and appropriate types of activities to shape a comprehensive view of their unit, or expertise area, can be daunting. For the student, the exposure gained from the experience and developing skillset can be difficult to articulate if not pinpointed early as part of the internship design. For example, can supervisors articulate what skills or knowledge the field students will be gaining from the personalized experience? Is there a roadmap to help ensure the student and supervisor will have a quality and engaged learning opportunity benefitting both parties?

In my professional role as a director of assessment in a university housing department, I provide leadership across assessment design of residential engagement outcomes and staff satisfaction, summative program evaluation, and documentation of departmental strategic planning. I regularly supervise 1-3 practicum students across varied lengths, including the half-semester, full semester, and summer-long internship. The following account demonstrates how supervisors and student participants can promote quality practicum experiences, regardless of the length or area of expertise involved.

In terms of participants, my institution’s HESA program requires a combination of practicum experiences to complement the theoretical foundation provided through the academic curriculum. While these experiential learning opportunities are considered a program requisite, students are able to self-select from a number of offices providing practicum opportunities each semester. Interested supervisors are asked to submit available opportunities via a listserv, and no obligation exists to participate from the offices themselves.

My decision to write this article stems from the many positive experiences I personally have encountered with providing practicum experiences to graduate students and the positive feedback I receive from participants completing the specific structured experience. Former practicum and internship participants responded to my request to share their respective experiences through three posed questions as part of the development of this article. The following themes emerged from the respondents.


Reasons for Selecting the Assessment Practicum/Internship

Participants noted the importance of facilitating assessment in our student affairs field, as well as the perceived value placed on developing an assessment skillset. One respondent stated

Assessment is a ‘buzz’ word we use in higher education but is something critical in positions. I knew that in these tough economic times professionals were being asked to do more with less, and what we are doing needs to be backed by facts and numbers to give validity to how and why we help students.

Another respondent noted his interest emerged “because assessment is a hot-button topic. I had some limited experience, but they [previous supervisors] assured me that this skillset would help as an emerging leader in student affairs.”


Skills Gained Carried into Professional Career

When asked about the skills gained through the experience, respondents described specific technical skills that continue to support their professional role. For example, one respondent developed “a strong respect for writing learning outcomes as probably the strongest asset.” A respondent provided an example of a learned skill that continues to resonate: “My ability to create an executive summary is spectacular-and I often am tasked with making data ‘pretty’ and ‘presentable’ to various constituencies.” From an analysis standpoint, one participant found it “a benefit to learn about equations, filters, everything. I use it with ease now and watch as many professional struggle just how to organize properly in an Excel sheet.”


Approaches to Ensure a Successful Experience

Emerging themes centered on the use of informed strategies focused on meaningful outcomes and realistic expectations:

Something foundational for me was the usage of the NASPA/ACPA Competencies for Student Affairs Practitioners. This seems something so practical in terms of developing goals and outcomes for a position, yet is something overlooked … This is something that I can and definitely will use with future student affairs practitioners that I supervise!

Furthermore, the idea of a project-based practicum, as opposed to limited exposure office elements, proved to be beneficial:
The most valuable part of this practicum was taking ownership over a project and gaining the hands-on experience while I completed it…The practicum should extend beyond                “shadowing” and general office work, because neither of those tasks are helpful beyond the practicum experience.

In addition, the availability of the supervisor was deemed valuable.  One respondent noted a positive experience was associated with “consistent meetings and an open door.  I constantly had questions and wanted to clarify things – eventually I learned this is how the data/process works, but it was intimidating at first.”

Supervising Experiential Learning Opportunities

While learning student affairs assessment is the focus of my field experience, please note the following practices can be included across many varied student affairs professional areas and implementation methods. For example, 10 competency-based areas exist as part of the Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners (ACPA & NASPA, 2010). Your department might not fit easily into one area as mine focuses mainly on Assessment, Evaluation, and Research (AER); however, there is opportunity to focus on multiple criteria across numerous competencies. I have framed the potential advantages of this experience into two categories: supportive practices and supervisor gains.


Supportive Practices

Many practices support a positive experience for the student. I present three specific areas here.

  • Competency-based education. The Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners (ACPA & NASPA, 2010) guide the experiences I provide; however, there is potential with the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I) competencies, and other professional guidelines to provide direction for the skillset or goals achieved by completing the practicum experience. The focus becomes less on the time-on-task requirement, (i.e., “butt in chair” thinking), but more so on the proficiencies gained through the practicum. Participating students will rise to the challenge of project development and completion once foundational knowledge is provided. Furthermore, because they are using common terminology and competencies likely to be well-known across multiple institutions and programs, they walk away with a familiar language in which to articulate their work to future employers.
  • Syllabus “roadmap” to guide the experience. A very important discussion should occur very early on in the practicum, ideally even before its initiation. This conversation should focus on an overview of the unit functions, as well as exploring what the student wants to learn from the experience. A supervisor should also review expectations, usually specific to individual supervision style, communication expectations, overview of anticipated project ideas, etc. The follow-up meeting should include a review of the competencies, or guiding professional framework. Furthermore, an explanation for how these activities will align with the expected competencies should be included. Timelines are important; however, be sure the syllabus is flexible enough to allow for a change of course based upon project completion or individual student interest. The mid-experience “check-in” is designed to provide updates regarding student progress and also creates an opportunity to inquire about ongoing uncertainties or anticipated future roadblocks. Lastly, it is essential to require a culminating project for students to demonstrate what was learned via the practicum experience. This capstone event is significant so the learned skillset can be utilized as part of a job interview or as means of articulating what was gained through the experience. For example, how would the student articulate this experience on his/her resume? What tangible evidence could they present to describe what was gained?
  • Goal-setting: Early stages through “Closing the loop”. Revisit the competencies as part of the final evaluation. As homework, I ask students to review the AER competency criteria (ACPA & NASPA, 2010) prior to the last meeting. Students should determine if they gained expertise across the list of criteria and be able to describe what activities shaped this decision (see Figure 1). Examples are key! As supervisors, our job is to ensure the review is comprehensive (e.g., did they see that web-based training or oral report contributing to their competency development as much as you did?), but also realistic. For example, I sometimes have to remind the students that I am not at the level of “expert” on every assessment skill, so it is more likely they are not either. The competency self-evaluation helps to remind the supervisor of the key projects and skills gained, which will then inform the documented practicum evaluation the student (and likely graduate program or affiliated course) will receive for academic credit. Best of all, this exercise requires students to reflect on their experiential learning and presents a visible understanding of the practicum’s cumulative effect leading to their growing professional skillset. As a supervisor, I find this to be a highlight as the students articulate what they learned as part of the collaborative effort.
ACPA Assessment, Evaluation and Research (AER) Rubric

*NOTE: throughout this rubric AER is used to refer to Assessment, Evaluation and Research.  Institutions and individuals are encouraged to choose the term that best fits their situation/focus.

  Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Define Terms and Concepts Has trouble differentiating among assessment, program review, evaluation, planning and research in methodologies and approach Utilizes the appropriate assessment, program review, evaluation, planning and research methodology/approach in data collection and review.

Completed online exercise matching examples with definitions

Teaches others the differences between assessment, program review, evaluation, planning and research.
Value May see value in AER, but has difficulty translating into action through active participation, use and practice. Actively participates in AER activities and effectively uses AER in daily practice.

Utilization of Assessment Practices, including SPSS usage for RM Survey, EBI Analysis, and Excel Usage for year-end-reports

Creates the climate at the unit level that AER is central to the unit’s work and encourages others to use AER in daily practice through training and allocation of resources.

Presentations in RLC Training & during RM Focus Group about Assessment strategies/techniques.

Figure 1

Example of Matching Exercise from Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners


Supervisor Gains

Now, what do you get out of it? There can be much for you to gain so the experience can be mutually beneficial.

  • Work efficiency and new skills. In terms of my office, the practicum student’s development of an assessment skillset likely means one less report, or summary for me to complete—a lighter workload, but more noticeably a significant contribution from the student, not just an “add on” component. Ideally, this is what a practicum experience should entail. Ask yourself and your office, “what meaningful opportunities for work contributions can be made available for a practicum student? Program facilitation? Meeting with students? Executive summary of findings from a focus group?”


Furthermore, listening to the comments from this “external consultant” lens is a continuous reminder of whether I am articulating concepts in a clear manner, or if certain procedures should be revisited for practical consideration. If they have questions about the initiative I am describing, chances are so would the outside audience. In addition, the supervisor will learn new skills. Students show me new tricks with software, or varied formats of sharing data across social media. I am continually looking for new ways to advance my work and often innovation originates with the practicum students. Lastly, I know they are walking away “giving assessment a good name”. The better our new professionals are with designing and facilitating strong assessment, the better our student affairs profession will be. Imagine how a quality experience in your office will continue to resonate across the participant, his/her peers, graduate program, and ongoing development within the profession. Who knows—these students may be your colleagues one day, or even someone you hire. The time invested early will pay off dividends later.

Discussion Questions

  1. Can the practicum and internship supervisors in your unit articulate what skills or knowledge the field students will be gaining from your personalized experience? For example, how would the student articulate this experience on his/her resume? What tangible evidence could they present to describe what was gained?
  2. Ask yourself and your office, what meaningful opportunities for work contributions can be made available for a practicum student?
  3. How would the supervisor describe the experience of managing the practicum student and experience? What components would you maintain and what elements would you change based upon what was gleaned through participating students’ reflections?



ACPA & NASPA. (2010). Professional competency areas for student affairs practitioners. Washington,

DC: Author. Retrieved from

About the Author

Amber Fallucca leads assessment and research efforts for six functional units across the University Housing department and provides support for student affairs and institutional assessment initiatives. She has published on student affairs assessment and directs the program receiving a 2014 National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Excellence Bronze Award on the topic of developing a culture of assessment in student affairs. She also received the Outstanding Experienced Professional, 4-9 Years by ACPA – College Student Educators International and the Commission for Housing & Residence Life in 2014. Amber currently serves as a member of the editorial board for the Journal of College and University Student Housing, provides practicum and internship opportunities as part of the Higher Education & Student Affairs (HESA) graduate program at the University of South Carolina, and regularly serves as a thesis committee member. Related research interests include: student affairs assessment, intercollegiate athletics and student-athletes, professional training programs.  She has a bachelor of science degree in psychology from the College of Charleston, a master’s degree in exercise and sport psychology from the University of Florida, and holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of South Carolina.

Please e-mail inquiries to Amber Fallucca.


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.

Innovation in Action: The Ability Exhibit

Innovation in Action: The Ability Exhibit

Karen A. Myers
Maureen A. Wikete Lee
Saint Louis University


I learn from allies every day.

Allies teach me.

These allies are my students.



As the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 approached (July 26, 2015), I reflected on the 25 years I have been a disability educator and ability ally. Casey-Powell and Souma (2009) describe an ally within the student affairs community as “someone who acts to change policies, procedures, and attitudes on campus and to educate other dominant group members, in this case people without disabilities, about individuals with disabilities” (p. 150). I witness the innovative ideas and actions of allies each day on the campus of Saint Louis University (SLU), a Jesuit institution where I am a faculty member. Graduate students and student affairs practitioners work together to broaden our campus community’s awareness and understanding of individuals with disabilities, as well as provide opportunities for the development of allies within our university and in the St. Louis community. Examination of, and reflection on, personal awareness and attitudes regarding disability and disability issues occur in coursework and through the continued growth of the student project Allies for Inclusion: The Ability Exhibit.

Within the graduate course I teach, Disability in Higher Education and Society, students are challenged to unpack their multifaceted roles as allies within the university and community. This process is individualized, nudging each student forward in developing self-awareness and advocacy skills. Casey-Powell and Souma (2009) make recommendations for actions regarding graduate students and student affairs professionals. One suggestion includes:

Student affairs units should facilitate programs and workshops that promote and appreciate diversity while challenging some individuals to learn more about themselves and encouraging others to promote an understanding of individuals with disabilities. Diversity challenges stereotypes and allows others to communicate more effectively with individuals of various backgrounds. (p. 165)

The faculty of the School of Education at Saint Louis University has supported graduate students in such innovative work in the development of the Allies for Inclusion project.

Allies for Inclusion Overview

In 2010, graduate student Anne Marie Carroll conceived the idea for Allies for Inclusion: The Ability Exhibit. The project has evolved each semester as new groups of students enroll in the disability course. The student project has now become a national traveling exhibit hosted by over 40 institutions. The exhibit promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities while demonstrating and supporting the values of social justice, inclusion, and ally development. We are the proud recipients of the ACPA’s 2013 Student Involvement Program of the Year 2013 and the Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ 2012 Ignatian Medal for Outstanding Campus Program.

Through generous donations and grants, the exhibit’s concept has expanded to include an Ability Allies K-1 edition for kindergarten through first grade students. Also, through a United Way student grant, an Ability Allies Committee is conducting Ability Ally workshops similar to the Safe Zone program model, which provides lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer awareness and ally training workshops. As part of the Saint Louis University School of Education’s strategic plan, disability education was identified as a priority. Evidence of this commitment to disability education is the development of an Ability Institute, which will include degree programs, disability research and assessment, and Allies for Inclusion projects.

With service and reflection as central to Jesuit values, the Allies for Inclusion exhibit clearly is connected with the Jesuit objective to develop men and women for others. For a service-learning project in my Disability in Higher Education and Society graduate class, students set up, participated in, and dismantled the 400-pound, 10-station exhibit on our campus in order to create a promotional video. The value of the service-learning project was its connection to the themes of social justice, inclusion, and ally development, along with the opportunity for students to actively engage in service and share their reflections. Such reflection is demonstrated through a colorfully descriptive account from a student in my Disability in Higher Education and Society course, Maureen A. Wikete Lee. Her words encompass the true meaning of Allies for Inclusion through a social justice lens.

Reflections from Maureen A. Wikete Lee, Graduate Student

As an early childhood educator, I most often considered inclusion in terms of creating a learning environment in which all preschool students and staff are ensured access, participation, and support (DEC/NAEYC, 2009). My personal lens regarding inclusion has expanded throughout our course. I now think about adults, especially university students and personnel, as I develop course assignments, facilitate discussions, and navigate our campus. Our work to set up the Ability Exhibit for the creation of the promotional video has provided me with an incredible opportunity for personal learning and reflection. The following describes my thoughts on the inclusive nature of Allies for Inclusion: The Ability Exhibit.

As we gathered to set up the exhibit, I was eager to get to work. I looked forward to experiencing the exhibit for the first time and being part of a campus-wide program to promote awareness of persons with disabilities, disability issues, and what it means to be an ally. The project leaders had a clear vision for the events of the day, and I wanted to contribute to keep us on schedule. Our class formed a strong sense of community throughout the semester; this was evident as we worked together trying to figure out the best way to set up the exhibit stations. The group was productive and worked with a light and fun sense of exploration as each station was unpacked and assembled. Teams worked together to set up laptops and projectors and create appealing visual displays. I was pleased to participate in a variety of ways, including moving furniture, steaming the camera backdrop, setting up stations, posing for promotional photographs, and recruiting student participants to view the exhibit and share testimonials of their experience for the video.

We worked on set-up until the moment visitors arrived. Mary Bruemmer, former Saint Louis University Dean of Students, longstanding member of the Saint Louis University Women’s Council, and founder of the Saint Louis University Women’s Commission, made an immediate impression as our first visitor. Ms. Bruemmer graduated from Saint Louis University in 1942 and has continued to be a part of the community following her retirement. I assumed the visitors would be undergraduate students. Perhaps I thought this because of my invitation to students in my undergraduate course or because of our invitation to campus organizations. I expected the exhibit to be an experience focused on education to enlighten young university students about a history they may have never studied. Instead, Ms. Bruemmer’s attendance made me recognize the exhibit’s wide audience and varied purposes.

The exhibit is a reflection on where we have been as a country and where we should be headed. It can be seen as a collection of past artifacts, present statistics, and future goals for our work as allies for inclusion. The undergraduate student visitors who followed Ms. Bruemmer learned about the history of the disability movement and gained a new sense of understanding about disability, as well as the continued call for inclusion in today’s society based on the displayed data, facts, and videos. My personal growth and increased understanding of inclusion goes hand in hand with my evolving social justice perspective.

Social Justice

I was introduced to Bishop’s (2002) model of ally development in our Disability in Higher Education and Society course. The model, rooted in the development of social justice allies, was introduced in course readings as also appropriate for the development of disability allies (Casey-Powell & Souma, 2009). The first step includes understanding oppression (Bishop, 2002); our work as allies begins here. We must challenge ourselves to deepen our understanding of oppression related to disability and in turn, as allies we must encourage others to join us on the journey as well. Our individual coursework and group discussions had led us to the moment in which we would engage the campus community and invite Saint Louis University students and personnel to deepen their understanding of oppression and continue to grow as allies for inclusion. What I had not anticipated was the impact of the exhibit on my understanding.

After I finished setting up the exhibit stations, talked with students, and posed for promotional pictures, it was my turn to experience the exhibit. I was surprised at the profound impact the exhibit had on me. By this time, I had seen the stations being set-up and was familiar with much of the information from course readings and class discussions. The quiet opportunities to see, hear, and read all of the displays at once were powerful. I was challenged to acknowledge the oppression people with disabilities in our own country faced and gained a deeper understanding of the surprisingly recent disability movement and resulting legislation in the United States. The testimonials and personal experiences shared, the staggering statistics, and the very personal “Do You Know Someone with a Disability?” and “Ally Pledge” stations brought the information and experience full circle. This experience brought the realization that disability issues not only affect persons with disabilities as a group and as individuals, but disability issues also impact me. I wondered what others were feeling and was eager to hear the responses recorded as part of the video testimonials.

Saint Louis University is an excellent sponsor for this exhibit as it fits with the university’s mission regarding social justice. Goodman (2001) suggests one motivation for becoming an ally is moral and spiritual values.  The network of Jesuit institutions at the high school and university level would be an excellent target audience for the exhibit as the students are likely to be motivated to become allies due to the institutions’ strong missions. I left feeling excited that we are increasing the likelihood others will have the opportunity to visit the exhibit in the future. We each bring our own perspective and view the exhibit through our personal lens. The exhibit may mean different things to different people, but I believe it is meaningful for everyone who views it. The exhibit offers an invitation to all who view it to engage in personal development with a pledge to be allies for inclusion.

Ally Development 

Essential to inclusion is the ongoing work of allies to challenge themselves personally, and to work for social change. Ally development is an ongoing process (Myers, Lindburg, & Nied, 2014), and our class continues to challenge ourselves to develop a deeper awareness of the perspectives of people with disabilities and an understanding of the harm in making assumptions regarding other’s perspectives and experiences. We are ready and eager to take action and engage the community in similar learning experiences. The opportunity to contribute to the viewing of Allies for Inclusion: The Ability Exhibit is our next step in the process. Our work will result in the creation of a promotional video and updated exhibit website to better share the message of inclusion to other universities, institutions, and corporations. During the service learning experience focused on promoting the exhibit, I progressed in my personal development as an ally.

As the time came to take the exhibit down and to pack it into containers, I thought of all the places the exhibit has traveled and of all the possibilities for future travel. I felt excited to think the K-1 edition might be starting on a similar path to promote respect toward people with disabilities, comfort in interactions with people with disabilities, and awareness of disability issues among young children. I was very excited to be a part of the development of the K-1 edition, which has since been piloted in six elementary school classrooms. I left the exhibit feeling a renewed sense of confidence in my work with the Allies for Inclusion K-1 edition and a sense of purpose toward our goal of promoting respect, comfort, and awareness. I strongly believe talking about similarities and differences with very young children is a developmentally appropriate way to start conversations that will lay the foundation for these ideas. It will be empowering for young children to have opportunities to share their perspectives and experiences, and powerful when they are encouraged to take into consideration the perspectives of others.

The graduate students’ sense of teamwork was apparent as we worked to pack the exhibit and prepare it for the next destination. Our Disability in Higher Education and Society class has become a community; our work began as one student’s project and now continues as the work of a growing number of allies for inclusion. I was eager for the promotional video to be completed along with the updated website and hopeful they would be effective tools to promote the exhibit.

Reflecting on the service learning experience, I realize my service has the potential to make a difference in the promotion of the exhibit. Although the volunteers relied heavily on those most familiar with the exhibit materials for instruction, we worked together to get the job done faster. We were allies together in an unconventional way; we were working to promote future awareness and education. The video will be essential in sharing the exhibit’s message to the public, so our work was not limited to the handful of visitors on that particular Sunday. The video will promote respect, comfort, and awareness each time someone views it on the website and at each future exhibit host site. The Ability Exhibit has now expanded into a variety of innovative programs designed by faculty and graduate students each semester, all promoting the development of allies for inclusion in our community.


Allies for Inclusion: The Ability Exhibit is an innovative project that has grown into a multifaceted program involving the work of faculty, graduate students, and university personnel. The exhibit is shown regularly at Saint Louis University to promote awareness within the community and has traveled to campuses, conferences, and corporations throughout the country. Last year, in celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 25th Anniversary, it was hosted by the ACPA Convention in Tampa, FL, and at the NASPA Convention in New Orleans, LA, in addition to several corporations in St. Louis, MO. Since its inception, more than 50 United States colleges and universities have hosted the exhibit. Taking on a global perspective, the Ability Ally Initiative has been facilitated in Africa and India and was presented in Spain at Saint Louis University in Madrid, the University of Girona, and the Autonomous University of Barcelona in March 2015. Young children are now benefitting from the program through the piloting of a K-1 edition, and plans for developing an edition for medical professionals is underway. This innovative program has grown from graduate students’ active engagement in coursework. The Disability in Higher Education and Society course is just the beginning of students’ development as allies yet their work has already impacted ally development on Saint Louis University’s campus and beyond.

This promotional video is the result of the students’ work.

The Ability Exhibit can be reserved online at

Discussion Questions

  1. Is disability education essential for college students? If so, how can you promote disability education at your institution?
  2. What does being an ally mean to you? How will you be an ally for inclusion?
  3. Words matter. Attitudes matter. Behaviors matter. Common terminology used in discussing people with disabilities assigns a deficit identity to the disability population and obstructs societal change. Attitudinal barriers and negative language can impede change. Based on what you have learned about The Ability Exhibit, inclusion of people with disabilities, and ally development, discuss how you will be a change agent in the social construction of disability.


Bishop, A. (2002). Becoming an ally: Breaking the cycle of oppression in people (2nd ed.). Halifax, Nova Scotia: Fernwood.

Casey-Powell, D. & Souma, A. (2009).  Allies in our midst. In J. L. Higbee & A. A. Mitchell (Eds.), Making good on the promise (pp. 149-170). Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc.

DEC/NAEYC. (2009). Early childhood inclusion: A joint position statement of the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, FPG Child Development Institute.

Goodman, D.J. (2001). Promoting diversity and social justice: Educating people from privileged groups. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Myers, K., Lindburg, J., & Nied, D. (2014). Allies for inclusion: Students with disabilities. ASHE Higher Education Report, 39.5. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

About the Authors
Karen A. Myers, Ph.D., is Associate Professor and Director of the Higher Education Administration graduate program at Saint Louis University and Director of the award-winning international disability education project, Allies for Inclusion: The Ability Exhibit and of Saint Louis University’s Ability Institute.  She has been a college teacher and administrator since 1979, is a national disability consultant and trainer, teaches her self-designed graduate course, Disability in Higher Education and Society, and is co-author of the recently released ASHE monograph, Allies for Inclusion: Disability and Equity in Higher Education.

Maureen A. Wikete Lee, Ph.D. completed her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction at Saint Louis University in May 2015. She is certified in early childhood and early childhood special education and taught in inclusive preschool, kindergarten, and first grade classrooms for 12 years.

Please e-mail inquiries to Karen A. Myers or Maureen Wikete Lee.


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 Environmental Justice

Perspectives on Environmental Justice

Andrew M. Wells
University of Georgia

Jessica Belue Buckley
University of Louisville

Dillon Kimmel
University of Delaware


Student affairs administrators consider both sustainability and social justice to be important considerations in our work (ACPA & NASPA, 2010; ACPA, 2008).  While these priorities are clear and often inform student affairs practice, the language used to advance these issues separates them.  Social justice is understood as a process of addressing systems of power and privilege; social justice advocates work to dismantle oppressive institutions while advancing equity for historically marginalized communities (Bell, 2010).  Conversely, sustainability is focused on environmental issues and often falls short of critiquing the socially unjust institutions that create environmental problems (Agyeman, 2005).  We propose the perspective that environmental issues and social justice are connected to one another and that a philosophy of environmental justice (Agyeman, Bullard, & Evans, 2002) can inform and enhance student affairs practice.

As institutions that not only educate citizens and leaders, but also provide vision and research for contemporary problems, colleges and universities have a role to play in alleviating environmental degradation.  Global environmental degradation is contributing to poverty, growing divides between the rich and poor, issues of hunger and malnutrition, as well as threats to cultural vitality of communities in vulnerable parts of the world (Brainard, Jones, & Purvis, 2009).  Postsecondary institutions must work to address these kinds of issues and focus on studying not just subjects for their own sake, but also to ensure college students are adequately equipped to respond to the causes and outcomes of environmental degradation (Cullingford, 2010).  In 2003 Anthony Cortese, founder of Second Nature and a leading advocate of sustainability in higher education, argued that postsecondary institutions have a moral obligation to create a just and sustainable future.  As institutions have a responsibility to address global issues, student affairs administrators have a role in engaging colleagues and students in understanding and developing skills to mitigate issues of environmental and social injustice.  As student affairs administrators prepare students for life in an increasingly globalized world, we should embrace environmental justice as a priority in students’ learning and development (Agyeman, Bullard, & Evans, 2002).

In this article, we hope to demonstrate the importance of incorporating environmental justice into student affairs administrators’ practice.  First, we examine common definitions of sustainability, social justice, and environmental justice, as well as demonstrate how these concepts are related.  Next, we explore how and why these concepts are important for student affairs practice.  Finally, we discuss examples of environmental justice in practice in a myriad of functional areas from across the country through interviews we conducted with student affairs practitioners at campuses noted for their connection of environmental and social justice issues.

Social Justice, Sustainability, and Environmental Justice

To better understand how social and environmental justice intersect, it is important to establish a common understanding of the terms “social justice,” “sustainability,” and “environmental justice.” One of the “Basic” foundational competencies in the field is to be able to “articulate a foundational understanding of social justice and the role of higher education…in furthering its goals” (ACPA & NASPA, 2010, p. 12).  Student affairs associations, such as the ACPA – College Student Educators International and the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), host multicultural and social justice institutes to foster continued learning and action around issues of social justice.  Across North America, student affairs personnel embrace social justice as a core principle of good practice, and indeed, an area of professional competency (ACPA – College Student Educators International & NASPA – Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education, 2015).

Social Justice

The core principle of social justice is rooted in common definitions, which we argue are directly related to environmental sustainability and justice.  Bell (2010) suggested that “social justice is both a process and a goal” (p. 21) with “the goal of social justice [being] full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs” (p. 21).  Social justice is not a process or a goal that is without challenges; advocates of social justice recognize the many intersecting and interacting structures of power that must be addressed.  North (2006) suggested that social justice education has three “spheres” that necessitate a balance of (a) knowledge and action, (b) micro and macro levels of consideration, and (c) redistribution of goods and recognition of individuals or communities (p. 509).  She suggested that the work of social justice seeks to address and consider each of the tensions of her framework.  On campus, the work of social justice often seeks to disrupt systemic marginalization of groups based on social identities, such as race, class, or gender.  These efforts are not limited to the campus community or even state or national borders. Bell (2010) and North’s (2006) concepts of social justice transcend geopolitical boundaries and are relevant for the entire planet’s population.  The pursuit of social justice on college campuses connects us to a global movement toward social justice, and if the pursuit of social justice includes and addresses environmental issues, practitioners may be brought closer to advancing global environmental justice.

To better align campus social justice efforts with global environmental issues, student affairs educators might apply North’s (2006) framework of social justice to examine issues of sustainability, such as climate change.  Brainard, Jones, and Purvis (2009) argued that climate change is a social justice issue when considering the ways in which changes in rainfall, agricultural yield, desertification, and the scope of natural disasters have disproportionately affected the most vulnerable persons and communities around the globe.  The examination of climate change through North’s framework might help educators realize the need to balance (a) knowledge about climate change and tangible work to mitigate it; (b) individual actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and organized, structural actions; and, (c) attention to increased access to material (and other) goods for those most affected by climate change.  Using North’s framework as a lens, educators realize the need to recognize that not only equitable distribution of goods, but also cultural vitality of diverse communities is an important consideration of socially just responses to climate change.  Student affairs practitioners in North America cannot overlook the social justice implications of our behavior.  The decisions we make about consumption of energy, goods, and natural resources have significant consequences for people and communities around the globe.  As we acknowledge these consequences, student affairs practitioners assume responsibility for addressing these issues as a part of social justice advocacy.


Although less broadly discussed than social justice, the concept of sustainability is familiar for many student affairs administrators.  One of the first and most cited definitions of sustainability rises from the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED).  The commission’s 1987 publication, Our Common Future, articulates a definition of sustainable development that balances the needs of current generations with those of future generations. Student affairs documents acknowledge the WCED definition.  For example, in 2008, ACPA sponsored the publication of a monograph that explored the role of sustainability in student affairs administration, and in 2010, the joint ACPA-NASPA statement of professional competencies articulated the importance of both sustainability and social justice in our work.  However, the history of the sustainability movement significantly predated these documents.  The environmental movement, a precursor to sustainability, largely began in the 1970s (Agyeman, 2005; Ferris & Hahn-Baker, 1995) in response to issues of industrial pollution, air and water contamination, and urban waste disposal (Anguelovski, 2013; United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, 1987).  Scholars often attribute the modern environmental movement to the preservation of ecology for recreational and aesthetic reasons (Gould, Schnaiberg, & Weinberg, 1996; Postma, 2006); we have argued in this article that the social justice implications of environmental issues should inform our pursuit of social justice.

On the heels of the environmental movement, the sustainability movement sought to bridge environmental issues with economic issues, largely in the landscape of international development.  For many, sustainability was understood in terms of the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit (Elkington, 1999).  While sustainability has been described in many ways by many organizations and individuals, the consensus is that environmental sustainability addresses pollution, moderate consumption of natural resources, and the importance of human behavior on non-human species and systems.

The evolution of the environmental and sustainability movements has moved issues of environmental degradation into some common practice areas in student affairs work.  Student affairs administrators often include energy and water conservation in social and educational programming; we also highlight food scarcity in low-income populations by educating students about food waste and sustainable agriculture.  Sustainability is particularly prominent in housing and dining services, where administrators benefit both from the efficiency and popularity of environmentally sustainable buildings and construction (Pursehouse, 2012).  Environmental sustainability is no longer a philosophy exclusive to a political fringe group; it is a common expectation among many college students.

The work of sustainability in student affairs is typically limited to efforts that can be easily incorporated into existing structures and processes.  In a more aggressive approach to sustainability, student affairs practitioners would challenge unsustainable systems akin to the social justice critique of systematic power and privilege.  Newport (2012) argued that higher education uses sustainability to advance conservation efforts that save money, but fall short of fully integrating the movement’s strategic vision or social justice ideals.  He suggested that postsecondary institutions focus on the economic and environmental aspects of sustainability’s triple bottom line, while overlooking the aspect of social justice.  We believe that by applying a social justice ethic to environmental sustainability, we can synthesize two similar values and embrace a unifying ethic of environmental justice that centers environmental issues on a social justice framework.

Environmental Justice

We use the term “environmental justice” to describe the intersection of social justice and sustainability (Agyeman, Bullard, & Evans, 2002).  An environmental justice approach couples issues of environmental degradation with social justice and promotes action on environmental issues that affect historically marginalized communities.  The concept of environmental justice bridges the gap between social justice and environmentalism by naming the long history of the intersections of race, class, and abuses of the natural environment in the United States.  Environmental justice is closely aligned to the values and priorities of student affairs administrators who work to foster students’ attention to issues of equity and personal moral development.

Environmental Justice in Student Affairs

Student affairs administrators have long taken responsibility for students’ learning and development through co-curricular educational experiences (Creamer, Winston, & Miller, 2001).  In the context of an increasingly globalized planet threatened by climate change and persistent issues of environmental and social justice, student affairs administrators may consider how environmental justice is related to social justice, and how it can enhance students’ learning and development.  In the following section, we address the implications of environmental justice for student affairs practice such as equity and inclusion, student learning, and student development.

Equity and Inclusion

Equity and inclusion are at the heart of student affairs values.  An entire section of the Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners articulates standards for social justice and inclusion (ACPA & NASPA, 2010/2015).  The standards describe the need for professionals to work toward individual competence in equitable practice, competence in fostering students’ attention to issues of social justice, and competence in fostering institutional practices that are equitable (ACPA & NASPA, 2010/2015).  In an increasingly globalized world, college students and university administrators must reframe the perspective on social justice to incorporate an awareness of our place within and impact upon the global community.

We have argued that there is a significant connection between student affairs practitioners’ pursuit of social justice and environmental justice.  We present two examples of structural inequity steeped in environmental degradation to demonstrate the connection between student affairs and social and environmental justice issues.  First, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, hundreds of thousands of farm workers suffer pesticide-related illnesses each year; race is the most significant factor in differentiating where disposal facilities of hazardous wastes are sited (2003).  Second, climate change is resulting in agricultural shifts that are impoverishing small farmers globally; this contributes to malnutrition poverty in the most economically depressed communities in developing nations that have little control over the factors that contribute to climate change (Brainard, Jones, Purvis, 2009).  While these issues may at first seem disconnected from daily life on a campus, it is important to consider where campuses attain their food, dispose of their wastes, how they invest their financial holdings, and what policies govern the environmental and just labor implications of purchasing.  Answers to these questions may reveal direct links to environmental injustice.  By educating our students about the importance of our carbon footprints, consumption of locally-produced resources, and engagement in local and national discussions about sustainability, we can achieve progress toward environmental justice.

Student Learning & Development

Student affairs administrators have a responsibility to help curb institutional practices that maintain environmental injustice and educate students who can make individual and collective decisions that promote environmental justice.  This role in facilitating students’ ability to mitigate global concerns is rooted in the very foundation of the field of student affairs. The Student Personnel Point of View reminded administrators of the need to foster “development of more citizens able to assume responsibilities in matters of social concern” (ACE, 1949, p. 4).  The document’s authors claim postsecondary education must “[provide] experiences which develop in its students a firm and enlightened belief in democracy, a matured understanding of its problems and methods, and a deep sense of responsibility for individual and collective action” (p. 4). Today’s students live in a society that will only become increasingly globalized, and we must ensure their collegiate experiences prepare them to understand the global implications of their daily decisions.

By supporting students’ learning and development through the co-curriculum, student affairs administrators are ideally situated to incorporate a perspective of environmental justice in programming and educational interventions.  Service-learning, study abroad, and educational programming in residence halls are all examples of opportunities for environmental justice to enhance student learning. Service-learning opportunities help students apply theories and classroom learning in “new situations” (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005, p. 129) and in their communities (Keen & Baldwin, 2004).  Study abroad provides students with experiences in other developed and developing countries and enhances students’ capacity for perspective-taking in a global community (Tarrant & Lyons, 2011; Tarrant, Rubin, & Stoner, 2013).  Pascarella and Terenzini (1991, 2005) found that educational programming and formalized Living-Learning Communities contribute positively to student success and learning in university residence halls. Blimling (2015) notes that the more engaging the program and the more involved faculty and student affairs professionals are in the community, the more engaged and the more students learn.  We have argued that the research on student learning and development strongly supports the development of programs that integrate environmental justice and social justice learning in applied settings.  In the subsequent section, we describe examples of environmental justice in practice at six postsecondary institutions in the United States; these examples demonstrate the connection between environmental justice and student affairs work.

Environmental Justice in Practice

Today, at least one organization offers a designation to assist institutions in developing more environmentally just practices.  Similar to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS; a system supported by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education), Fair Trade Campaigns offers a fair trade institution designation for colleges and universities who demonstrate a pledge to five commitments outlined by Fair Trade Colleges and Universities (2014).  According to Fair Trade Campaigns, a fair trade commitment “ensures consumers that the products they purchase were grown, harvested, crafted, and traded in ways that improve lives and protect the environment” (Fair Trade Campaigns, 2014).  In 2008, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh became the first fair trade institution by developing a fair trade resolution for their campus community that included a commitment to fair trade education and building partnerships across campus.

Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa followed suit and signed their fair trade declaration in 2012, and has created an eight-person committee charged with peer education and outreach.  Some of Loras’ efforts included (a) offering fair trade coffee at a weekly coffee hour; (b) informing the campus community of the origin of food and highlighting when products are locally produced; and (c) connecting with local community organizations such as solid waste management and local farmers (A. McDermott, personal communication, October 20, 2014). By embracing fair trade as a priority for purchasing and education, the institution developed an economically feasible strategy to enact environmental justice even in a retail operation.

Like Loras College, Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida mobilized different units such as the campus bookstore to purchase fair trade clothing, and athletics to purchase fairly traded sports equipment.  Additionally, students were exposed to education about the migrant farmers who produce many of the state’s citrus fruits and learn about aspects of environmental justice through their coursework (A. Francis, personal communication, October 20, 2014).  These examples demonstrate the value of leadership within divisions and departments on campus, and how this leadership can demonstrate to senior campus administrators that environmental justice is a relevant pursuit that can be advanced campus-wide.

Integration of these concepts into the institutional academic missions is important to the advancement of environmental justice initiatives.  At Seattle University, the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability leans on the institutional mission and Jesuit tradition to communicate its message.  The mission of the institution includes “…empowering leaders for a just and humane world,” and the Jesuit tradition of “seeing God in all things” (K. Price, personal communication, September 26, 2014).  Administrators at Seattle University have embraced the natural connection between sustainability and social justice that yields environmental justice.  Beyond institutional mission and values lies the importance of collaboration and partnership between individuals and units on campus.

Partnership within and across academic divisions is an important contributor in the pursuit of environmental justice.  At Elon University, a Sustainability Master Plan was created in 2007 as an effort to create an all-campus commitment to sustainability.  Later, a more succinct Sustainability Policy was written and disseminated throughout the campus.  Elon’s Leadership and Multicultural Office and the Office of Sustainability frequently partner to create educational opportunities on campus.  This includes a yearly Intersect Conference that seeks to bring together various perspectives related to social justice and inclusion.  “When you sit down and share with [social justice educators] your thoughts, you get a positive response.  There really are common interests and goals” (E. Durr, personal communication, October 10, 2014).  Collaboration across the institution yields enhanced results for sustainability.

In addition to staff collaboration, involvement of students in teaching one another about sustainability is a common, successful practice.  The influence of peer education has long been recognized as one of the most significant factors in an undergraduate’s growth and development while in college (Astin, 1993; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005).  Institutions that have adopted environmental justice principles recognize the power of peer education to reach the larger campus community. Student leadership groups such as Eco-Reps at Seattle University have been duplicated at many other universities nationwide and can be enhanced to incorporate social justice principles and training.  At the University of Colorado-Boulder, students in a Climate Justice Leadership Program are trained on sustainability and social justice principles; in addition to group projects, each student completes a capstone designed to educate the campus community (M. Gabrieloff, personal communication, October 16, 2014).  The examples provided in this section demonstrate not only the importance of leadership at the top level of campus administration, but also the value of embracing students’ passion, energy, and willingness to partner with campus leadership to advance environmental justice.


While traditionally viewed as separate issues, sustainability and social justice are inherently related.  Our hope is that by embracing environmental justice as the natural extension of our values regarding social justice and sustainability (ACPA & NASPA, 2010/2015), student affairs practitioners can begin to realize the local and global implications of their practice in developing students and promoting equity.  Environmental justice empowers us to address the challenges of environmental degradation and social justice.

Reflection Questions

  1. How can we incorporate environmental justice into the the strategic goals of my department?
  2. How can we incorporate environmental justice into the learning outcomes in my department or functional area?
  3. How can I communicate the importance of environmental justice to my students? Colleagues? Senior administration?
  4. How can environmental justice inform my personal life as well as my professional role?
  5. How can I foster an environmentally just mindset on campus, encouraging students and colleagues to consider broad and long-term implications of decisions such as purchasing (i.e., thinking “single-purchase” instead of “single-use”)?
  6. What are the “facts” of environmental justice on my campus? For example, where does our waste go? What are procurement policies? Where do we invest? What is our relationship with the local community?


ACPA – College Student Educators International, & NASPA – Student Affairs Professionals in Higher

Education (2010). Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners. Washington, DC: ACPA – College Student Educations International, & NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

ACPA – College Student Educators International, & NASPA – Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education. (2015). Professional competency areas for student affairs educators. Washington, DC: Author.

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Anguelovski, I. (2013). New directions in urban environmental justice: Rebuilding community, addressing trauma, and remaking place. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 33, 160-177. DOI: 10.1177/0739456X13478019.

Astin, A. (1993). What matters in college: Four critical years revisited. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Bell, L. A. (2010). Theoretical foundations: What is social justice? In Adams, M., Blumenfeld, W.J., Castañeda, R., Hackman, H.W., Peters, M.L., & Zuñiga, X. (Eds.), Readings for diversity and social justice: An anthology on racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism and classism (pp. 21-26). New York/London: Routledge.

Blimling, G. (2015). Student learning in college residence halls. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Brainard, L., Jones, A., & Purvis, N. E. (2009). Climate change and global poverty: A billion lives in the balance? Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

Cortese, A. D. (2003, March-May). The critical role of higher eduction in planning a sustainable future. Planning for Higher Education, 15-22.

Creamer, D. G., Winston, R. B. Jr., & Miller, T. K. (2001). The professional student affairs administrator: Roles and functions. In R.B. Winston, Jr., D. G. Creamer, & T.K. Miller (Eds.), The professional student affairs administrator: Educator, leader, and manager (pp. 3-38). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group.

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About the Authors

Andrew M. Wells is a Ph.D. candidate in College Student Affairs Administration at the University of Georiga.  His current research focus is on college students’ attitudes toward the environment and student affairs practitioners’ incorporation of environmental justice in practice and pedagogy.  Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, he worked in student affairs at the University of California, Davis.

Please e-mail inquiries to Andrew M. Wells.

Jessica Belue Buckley holds a B.A from the University of Virginia, an M.Ed. from the University of Vermont, and a Ph.D. in College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland.  She is currently the Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Project Director, Cadre & Faculty Development course at University of Louisville.

Please e-mail inquiries to Jessica Belue Buckley.

Dillon Kimmel holds a B.A. from Ball State University an M. Ed. from the University of South Carolina.  He currently serves as a Complex Coordinator at the University of Delaware.

Please e-mail inquiries to Dillon Kimmel.


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.

The Role of Open Access on the Function of Community Colleges


The Role of Open Access on the Function of Community Colleges

Lorrie Budd
Community College of Baltimore County

The Commission on Student Development in the 2 Year College is sponsoring this series to expose readers to the past, present, and future of open access institutions. Open access institutions are colleges that are nonselective in their admission standards. Primarily two-year or community colleges provide open access to students.    For many at-risk students with low academic performance, open access institutions are the only gateway for pursuing higher education.  With the pressure to meet new standards for graduation rates set forth by the American Graduation Initiative, the mission of open access is at risk.  Admitting students with little to no academic resources while dealing with external pressure to increase graduation rates could force some institutions to movewhile dealing with external pressure to increase graduation rates ents with the en access I away from their traditional mission and create academic standards that would bolster graduation rates and meet the demands of the Federal government.


With over half of public community colleges offering open access, higher education has become attainable for many who seek postsecondary credentials.  However, the concept of selectivity or lack thereof has created hurdles for community colleges.  Consequently, open access affects the function of community colleges in terms of student support services, and institutions must be prepared to provide assistance in a different manner than selective institutions.  The following analysis describes how open access shapes community college services, explores strategies colleges are using to balance the effectiveness of their services, and discusses the role open access plays in how community colleges address the academic, social, and emotional development of their students.

Open Access and College Services

The impact of open access on college services is evident from the very beginning of a student’s career at an institution.  During peak registration times, community college enrollment staff find their offices handling long lines, extending business hours, and even opening their doors when the offices are typically closed.  In order to accommodate students who are late registrants, many institutions have developed the trend of opening on weekend days prior to the first day of classes.  Additionally, many institutions continue to offer late registration periods that allow students to enroll even though classes have already begun.

The way open access enrollment is structured creates a domino effect for other services, such as new student orientation.  For example, because selective institutions, mainly four-year institutions, follow a traditional academic calendar, their admitted students register for fall classes by the summer months.  Therefore, they offer new student orientation initiatives in June or July before the students arrive in late August to experience additional orientation, such as “Welcome Weeks,” and begin their coursework.

Open access institutions, on the other hand, enroll students throughout the summer months.  Although some community colleges do offer new student orientation sessions throughout the summer, many operate on a schedule that sponsors orientation just before classes start.  Unfortunately, this does not always allow for proper preparation time for students, as they are receiving pertinent information only days before their classes begin.  In addition, for some students who late register during the first week of classes, their institutions may not offer orientation at that time, so they miss out on the success tips that their peers received just days before them.

Strategies for Balancing Open Access and Services

Because of information overload for some students and lack of information delivery for others, open access institutions have brainstormed strategies to ensure students receive pertinent information.  Some institutions offer “crash” orientation sessions during the first week of classes.  Other colleges have contemplated and even implemented measures that could jeopardize their commitment to open access yet foster student success, such as eliminating late registration, adopting priorities for enrollment, and implementing selective recruitment practices, as explained below.

Advocates for late registration explain that the extended enrollment timeline is a key component of the open access agenda.  However, late registration critics are quick to point out that this method is detrimental to student success.  Smith, Street, and Olivarez (2002) conducted a study that revealed registration time as a factor of persistence.  They indicated that 80 percent of new students persisted from one semester to the next if they registered on time, whereas only 35 percent of new students persisted if they registered late.  With such discrepancies in persistence rates, community colleges are beginning to debate the effectiveness of late registration policies.  In fact, some colleges have eliminated late registration and have seen favorable results.  Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, reported significant increases in fall semester success rates and fall-to-spring persistence rates (O’Banion, 2012).  Specifically, Valencia College boasts a 90 percent persistence rate for new, college-ready students and an 84 percent persistence rate for new students who are required to take developmental education.

In addition, Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, has experienced improved rates of semester-to-semester persistence for all students (O’Banion, 2012).  Sinclair Community College has also found that eliminating late registration has improved efficiency in other areas: the scheduling of courses and classrooms ran more smoothly; registration, financial aid, and enrollment services staff members did not encounter as many urgent situations; and faculty members were able to begin their classes with accurate rosters.  Such results are instrumental in the debate regarding the effect of late registration on open access, student success, and completion.

In an attempt to further increase completion rates, colleges are considering priority enrollment procedures and targeted marketing strategies.  For example, the California community college system suggested giving priority registration to students who have taken their placement tests, participated in orientation, and developed educational plans (Gonzalez, 2012).  While California is focusing on priority enrollment measures, North Carolina is focusing on the selective marketing and recruiting strategies of specific demographic groups.  Despite the fact that approximately half of North Carolina community colleges practice targeted marketing and recruitment, Morris (2012) found that these strategies have little impact on access to higher education or the demographic composition of their student bodies.

Academic, Social, and Emotional Development

Regardless of enrollment practices, community colleges still attract a diverse group of students.  In particular, as a result of open access, academically underprepared students are given the opportunity to pursue higher education.  Thus, this demographic represents a large portion of the community college population.  In fact, approximately 60 percent of first-time community college students are referred to at least one developmental course (Bailey & Cho, 2010).  Because admission is guaranteed to all individuals, including underprepared degree seekers, open access institutions must provide effective developmental programs.  Consequently, community colleges are paramount in promoting educational access and equity goals by fostering the success of students who may need to build their skills for credit-bearing, college coursework.

If institutions plan to continue implementing developmental programs, they must include other crucial components in addition to the various levels and sequences of academic courses.  But what components are likely to produce higher rates of student persistence and satisfaction?  The answer is simple yet can be difficult for open access institutions to implement: effective programs not only target academic skills but social and emotional development as well.  By facilitating connections to support services, community colleges can increase the probability that their students will see rewarding results and their graduation rates will meet the standards set forth by the American Graduation Initiative (American Association of Community Colleges, 2009; Astin, 1999; Levin, Hernandez, & Cerven, 2010; Summers, 2003; Willet, 2002).

Connecting students to the college and to one another can be a successful tool for student completion.  Studies have shown that students are more likely to persist if they are involved in the academic and social life of the college (Tinto, 1998).  Although some students volunteer their time with clubs and service opportunities, the majority of community college students are not involved in college life.  According to the Center for Community College Student Engagement (2013), 80 percent of community college students reported that they did not spend any of their time participating in college-sponsored activities.  This could simply be a result of the open access mission, as many students tend to choose community colleges for the flexibility that allows them to devote more time to employment and family obligations.

As a result, community colleges must find ways to ensure that meaningful involvement is incorporated into the lives of all students, not just the ones who choose to get involved.  Tinto (1998) suggested learning communities as a potential solution.  Learning communities, which consist of linked courses, are more likely to incorporate additional support and have faculty who encourage the use of and connection to college services.

In addition to learning communities, Tinto (1998) proposed another promising practice: localizing the needs of students through targeted and varying degrees of coursework.  If higher education can enhance student assessment tools to more accurately identify student development needs, then community colleges could offer different degrees of coursework.  For instance, some students might need to enroll in full-semester or half-semester developmental courses, whereas others might be referred to take one or two specific modules, meet with tutors, or participate in group workshops to refine their skills.  Of course, such options require student affairs staff to build up their support services.

Regardless of how individual institutions address developmental education, strong student success centers are essential.  Support services that focus on tutoring, supplemental instruction, and technology assistance must be well staffed, provide proper training to employees, and be open at convenient times for students.  Like many other institutions, the Community College of Baltimore County in Baltimore, Maryland, attempts to meet the needs of their students by offering in-person and online tutoring appointments during the mornings, afternoons, and evenings throughout the week, and hours on the weekends as well.  Furthermore, in response to the high demand for math assistance, the Community College of Baltimore County makes math tutoring available on a walk-in basis so that students may visit with math tutors without having scheduled appointments.


With open admissions, community colleges allow for the attainment of academic degrees, certificates, workforce development, specific skill sets, and personal enrichment.  Because community colleges make upward mobility possible for many, open access institutions must operate in a different manner in order to meet the needs of their students and preserve access to higher education.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the pros and cons of late registration at open access institutions? How would eliminating late registration affect the operations at your institution?
  2. Some critics of open access institutions argue that open enrollment policies often perpetuate the cooling out function, which Clark (2006) explains as the process by which ill-prepared students pursue non-transfer tracks, earn degrees in areas that will pay less, or even fail out of college. Therefore, critics maintain that open access increases educational disparities and hinders social and economic mobility rather than achieving equity goals.  Choose a side of this debate and support your perspective.
  3. Many two-year colleges do not have residential facilities, which often assist in easy access to co-curricular activities and learning. How can community colleges engage their commuter populations in co-curricular activities when they have so many competing priorities (coursework, employment, family, etc.)?


American Association of Community Colleges. (2009). The American graduation initiative:  Stronger American skills through community colleges. Retrieved from

Astin, A. W. (1999). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Development, 40(5), 518-529.

Bailey, T., & Cho, S. (2010). Issue brief: Developmental education in community colleges (Prepared for The White House Summit on Community Colleges). Retrieved from Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University website:

Center for Community College Student Engagement. (2013). Standard reports for all students – 2013 cohort. Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin, Community College Leadership Program.

Clark, B. R. (2006). The “cooling-out” function in higher education. In B. Townsend & D. Bragg (Eds.), ASHE Reader on Community Colleges (pp. 55-61). Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing.

Community College of Baltimore County. (2014). Retrieved from

Gonzalez, J. (2012). Education for all? 2-year colleges struggle to preserve their mission. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Levin, J. S., Hernandez, V. M., & Cerven, C. (2010). Succeeding in community college: Advancing the educational progress of working students. Policy Matters, 4(2), 1-11. Retrieved from

Morris, D. B. (2012). Community college selective enrollment and the challenge to open access. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from

O’Banion, T. (2012). Late registration: May it rest in peace. Community College Journal, 83(1), 26-31.

Perin, D., & Charron, K. (2006). “Lights just click on every day.” In T. Bailey and V. S. Morest (Eds.), Defending the community college equity agenda (pp. 155-194). Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Smith, A. B., Street, M. A., & Olivarez, A. (2002). Early, regular, and late registration and community college student success: A case study. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 26(3), 261-271.

Summers, M. D. (2003). ERIC review: Attrition research at community colleges. Community College Review, 30(4), 64-84.

Tinto, V. (1998). Learning communities and the reconstruction of remedial education in higher education. Paper presented at the Conference on Replacing Remediation in Higher Education, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

Willett, T. (2002). Impact of follow up counseling on academic performance and persistence. Retrieved from Gavilan College website: /FUEVALD2.PDF

About the Author

Lorrie Budd received her Bachelor of Science degree in family and community services and her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Stevenson University in 2005.  She graduated with her Master of Science degree in counseling with a concentration in college student personnel services from Shippensburg University, where she was a residence director for three years.  For three years post-graduate school, she continued her residence life experience and served as an Assistant Director of Student Life at Loyola University Maryland.  Currently, Lorrie is the Assistant Director of Student Life for First-Year Experience at the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland and is a student at Morgan State University, where she plans to earn her Doctor of Education.  Her interest in open access and student services stems from her current experience working with first-year students and her doctoral studies in community college leadership.

Please e-mail inquiries to Lorrie Budd.


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.

Positioning Privileged White Men in Social Justice: Exploring Barriers and Strategies for Privileged White Men and Those who Work with Them


Positioning Privileged White Men in Social Justice: Exploring Barriers and Strategies for Privileged White Men and Those who Work with Them

Kyle C. Ashlee
Aeriel A. Ashlee
Miami University of Ohio

In recognition of the recent 30th anniversary of the Standing Committee on Men & Masculinities (SCMM), the SCMM has launched a series exploring the concept of intersectionality as it relates to collegiate men.  Contributing authors will explore how dimensions of race, religion, gender, and other social identities converge and shape the experiences of college men and how higher education professionals can best assist these students. 

Introduction and Overview

With increasingly diverse college student populations, exploring intersections of identity has become a central programmatic and developmental focal point within student affairs in higher education. Often this means educators pay particular attention to student communities who experience multiple points of marginalization. In this article, the authors assert that exploring intersectionality for those with privileged and dominant identities is also necessary to engage in transformative social justice work.

Consider the intersectionality of three privileged identities, heterosexual, cisgender, white men. This demographic has access to more institutional power and privilege than many other intersectional identity groups (McIntosh, 2003). While these advantages are inherently problematic, they also provide this college student population with unique opportunities to significantly impact systems of oppression. For the duration of this article, the authors will refer to this demographic, acknowledging their multiple points of privilege, as “privileged white men.” This thought piece will highlight helpful strategies and approaches for privileged white men looking to become more effective social justice advocates. Specifically, this article will:

  • Examine the six stages of Bishop’s Ally Development Model (2002)
  • Identify challenges and barriers of engaging privileged white men in social justice work
  • Explore strategies for privileged white men and those who work with them in navigating challenges and barriers to social justice work

The social identities of the authors for this piece are important to consider in terms of positionality and potential bias in perspective. Kyle Ashlee identifies as a white, cisgender, heterosexual man. These identities afford him numerous unearned privileges. As a result, he believes it is his responsibility to do his own work around power, privilege and oppression in addition to engaging other folks with privileged identities in social justice work. Aeriel A. Ashlee identifies as a heterosexual, cisgender, transracial adoptee, womxn of color. These identities in conjunction with her marriage to Kyle, make the topic of this article particularly relevant for her both personally and professionally. Additionally, Kyle and Aeriel both identify as mid-level professionals, highly educated, and temporarily able-bodied. They are positioned in a way that may influence their ability to understand the lived experiences of identity communities to which they do not belong.

Before delving into the core tenets of this article, a few acknowledgements are worth noting. First, this article will focus specifically on race and gender as two acute social identities. While identity is extremely complex and all dimensions influence each other (Jones & McEwen, 2000), the authors have chosen to focus the scope of this article on the intersection of race and gender. Second, some of the language used in this piece, such as “men,” “male,” and “masculinity,” is limited in its false characterization of gender as a binary. The word choice used in this article is intended to reflect the dominant/subordinate power dynamics of our patriarchal society. Lastly, the discussion is framed in a pro-feminist and male-positive lens, calling the dominant group (i.e., heterosexual cisgender, white men) to action in social justice work.

Bishop’s Ally Development Theory

Anne Bishop’s 2002 framework for understanding the development of social justice allies, which she outlines in her book Becoming An Ally: Breaking the Cycle of Oppression in People, combines both cognitive and behavioral components. Originally written about interracial social justice allies in particular, Bishop contextualizes power and privilege more broadly and thus the authors of this article have applied the model to the engagement of privileged white men as social justice allies. At the core of Bishop’s approach to allyship is the understanding that allies recognize the unearned privilege they receive from society and take responsibility for changing these patterns.

According to Bishop (2002), ally development begins with understanding oppression; how it began, how it is maintained, and how its cyclical nature entraps individuals and institutions. The second step involved in becoming an ally is to recognize and understand the interactions among oppressions. Bishop (2002) compares oppression to an interconnecting web, each strand reinforcing one another. She calls upon allies to recognize the similarities among oppressed groups and to collectively confront oppression, thereby rejecting the notion that there is a hierarchy of oppression. Step three of Bishop’s (2002) model acknowledges the pain that accompanies an increased understanding of one’s role in the cycle of oppression. In this step, Bishop (2002) conveys that healing this pain is essential to breaking the cycle and to growing as a social justice ally.

Bishop (2002) makes the political personal by calling upon allies to become workers for their own liberation. Bishop (2002) requires allies to examine their previous role within cycles of oppression as a way to learn new skills in dismantling oppression. This fifth step encourages allies to focus on listening to and supporting others rather than leading or co-opting the movement of a oppressed group. Bishop (2002) directs allies to center their work within the dominant group(s) to which they belong, educating their dominant group peers. The sixth and final step to Bishop’s (2002) ally development model emphasizes the importance of maintaining hope while working for social change. Bishop (2002) asserts that being an active social justice ally can be difficult and encourages allies to remember that a social movement is a long-term journey. Therefore, they must hold onto the sincere belief that what has been learned (i.e., racism, sexism, homophobia) can also be unlearned.

Challenges of Allyship

The concept of allyship is complex and requires both intentionality and reflection for privileged white men. Bishop’s (2002) Ally Development model demonstrates that allyship is a process of awareness, healing, and action. This process is not always seamless and many challenges come along with the development of privileged white men as effective social justice allies.

Even the most well-intended allies can sometimes cause unintentional harm. In his work, Keith Edwards (2006) discusses the contentious tug-of-war between intentions and impacts of ally behavior. Edwards (2006) notes that:

[F]or those who are the direct targets of oppression, underlying motivations may

appear to be irrelevant; only the outcome of the behavior matters… as educators seeking to be effective allies and to develop effective ally behavior in others, understanding underlying motivations can be a tool to develop more consistently effective ally behavior. (p. 53)

In other words, effective allyship must consider both intent and impact of anti-oppressive behavior.

Another consideration for effective allyship is the notion of ally as a labeled identity. While identification is important, both for allies and for those with whom they are working, the title of “ally” can sometimes lead to a problematic sense of accomplishment or enlightenment for the person of privilege. Instead, effective allies must constantly strive toward a better understanding of their own privilege and how their identities impact others. Allyship should be viewed as a verb rather than a noun, determined by action and commitment. For privileged white men doing social justice work, mistakes will be made in their ally development and that behavior may not be congruent with allyship. Therefore, for the purpose of this article, the authors call upon Brod, Terhaar, Thao, Laker, & Voth (2005) who indicated that the most reliable and authentic naming of social justice allies is done by members of the oppressed groups.

Finally, allyship for privileged white men is complicated by the uncertainty of when and how to show up within a social justice movement. While allies have their place in working toward social justice, they should not be the ones leading the way. Much of the work necessary to make positive social change requires people from dominant identity groups to do their own work in understanding systems of power and privilege. This includes amplifying the voices of those who are marginalized and disrupting oppressive behavior in spaces occupied solely by those with dominant identities. However, it is imperative that allyship be informed by those experiencing oppression so as not to co-opt their efforts. If allies do not collaborate with and listen to those from marginalized communities, their work runs the risk of reinforcing systems of oppression and perpetuating harm.

Barriers for Privileged White Men

Privileged white men can experience significant barriers that impede their development as effective social justice allies. From his professional work with men’s programming as well as his own lived experiences, Kyle believes that many of these barriers result from personal fears and insecurities about making mistakes and the personal shame associated with being held responsible for these learning moments in allyship. Fear and shame can be strong motivators for action (Brown, 2012), and these feelings can be enough to deter many aspiring allies from social justice work altogether.

Specifically, the barriers for many privileged white men in doing social justice work include silence and pluralistic ignorance. In traditional hegemonic masculinity, men are taught to be silent and fiercely independent (Kimmel, 2009). This means that many men struggle with expressing their authentic feelings for fear that they will be judged and criticized by other men. Men’s socialized silence can create a barrier in challenging others around oppressive language and behavior. Additionally, some men believe they are alone in their efforts toward social justice. Research around the concept of pluralistic ignorance illustrates that college men often believe more men participate in harmful behavior (i.e. high-risk drinking, victim blaming, sexism, homophobia) than really do (Berkowitz, 2011).

Strategies for Working With Privileged White Men

While fear and insecurity can significantly deter some privileged white men from becoming effective social justice allies, Kyle believes there are strategies which can help these men work through these feelings, feelings that can lead to inaction. From his professional experience advising and mentoring college men at multiple colleges and universities, Kyle has found that the challenges and barriers for those with dominant identities doing social justice work may never be resolved completely, but having skills to navigate them can be paramount in maintaining resiliency in effective ally development.

Engaging in continued self-work is one of the most effective ways for privileged white men to overcome the challenges and barriers in doing social justice work. Self-work is the process of understanding one’s own privileged identities and identifying personal attitudes and behaviors that reinforce cycles of oppression (Ashlee & Ashlee, 2016). Self-work requires aspiring allies to be vulnerable about their own biases and areas for growth. In doing so, privileged white men can develop their capacity to be authentic and experience empathy with those who experience oppression.

In addition to self-work, allies can develop their social justice competency by conducting their own independent research. Many times allies depend on those from marginalized communities to help them understand why a specific behavior is problematic or oppressive. This unfairly places the responsibility on those who are the target of oppression. Instead, those with dominant identities must do their own work in understanding systems of privilege and oppression rather than relying on the target group to teach them. One way that privileged white men can do this independent learning is to read current social justice literature. An accessible introduction to the topic of social justice and allyship is VITAL: A Torch For Your Social Justice Journey (Ashlee & Ashlee, 2016). Additionally, a vast library of books on social justice and identity can be found on the suggested readings page of the Social Justice Training Institute.

Privileged white men can also become more effective social justice allies by building their skills for intervention. Overcoming the fear that many men feel from their socialization of hegemonic masculinity takes patience and practice. An increasing number of active bystander intervention training programs have been developed across the country and are being successfully implemented with college and university students (Banyard et al., 2007). These programs approach men from the perspective that they can be an active part of the solution and allow college men the opportunity to develop their skills of intervention with other men. Not only does this process increase their effectiveness, it deconstructs their pluralistic ignorance by revealing and normalizing other men who are willing to stand up against oppressive behavior.

Lastly, privileged white men can work through the challenges and barriers to doing social justice work by engaging in dialogue. There are two types of dialogue – intragroup and intergroup – and both are important in developing effective social justice allies. Intragroup dialogue includes creating spaces for members of dominant identity groups to be authentic and vulnerable with each other as they explore their own privilege and biased behavior. This type of caucusing develops awareness around one’s own identity and contributes to social norming around positive group attitudes and behaviors in social justice work. Conversely, privileged white men can also participate in intergroup dialogue, or shared spaces among dominant and targeted communities, as a way to develop understanding and empathy across difference. Bearing witness to the lived experiences of others through intergroup dialogue can encourage privileged white men to reflect on the impact of systemic structures of oppression in a space uniquely safe space.

Barriers for Those Working with Privileged White Men

Similar to the importance of identifying barriers for privileged white men to show up as social justice allies, it is equally important to identify barriers for those working with aspiring social justice allies. Drawing upon her own experience as a social justice educator, co-author Aeriel Ashlee identifies three barriers to working with privileged white men in social justice work.

First, confronting individual microaggressions and navigating systemic macroaggressions on a daily basis is exhausting. Even the most well-intended ally has the privilege of “turning on or off” their social justice lens, whereas for those with targeted identities (i.e., people of color, women/trans-people) showing up to a patriarchal work environment every day or living in a racially segregating neighborhood, is not a choice one can opt in or out of.

Second, challenging and supporting those with dominant identities in their social justice journeying should not be a responsibility that falls to those who have systematically been oppressed. Existing in an oppressive society is taxing enough, the burden to “educate” dominant groups about their privilege should not fall solely on those historically marginalized. When people with targeted identities are busy taking caring of those with privilege (i.e., a woman of color holding a white woman’s hand as she cries about her white guilt), the voice and energy of the targeted identities is redirected to support the dominant narrative.

A third barrier for those working with privileged white men in social justice work is the fear of being perceived or portrayed as the “angry one.” Without a doubt confronting and owning one’s role in systems of oppression can be uncomfortable work. Unfortunately, sometimes while working through their own privilege, aspiring allies from dominant social identity groups inappropriately project their discomfort to others. For example, when a woman of color articulates her frustrations with institutional racism and is minimized with a comment about going on yet another “angry black woman rant.” The fear of this unjust characterization and trivialization may be a barrier for some folks working with privileged white men.

Strategies for Those Working with Privileged White Men

In light of these barriers to working with privileged white men as social justice allies, it is necessary to the health, wellness, and retention of those working with this dominant group to also identify strategies for working through these barriers. Again, drawing from her own experiences as a social justice educator and partner to a heterosexual white man, co-author Aeriel Ashlee shares five strategies for working with privileged white men in social justice work.

First and foremost is self-care. Dismantling oppressive systems can be arduous work. Giving oneself permission to put down the banner as needed is necessary to one’s longevity as a social justice advocate/educator.

A second and related strategy to self-care is setting boundaries. While engaging allies is important to social justice work, this should not come at the expense of one’s own wellness. It is okay, appropriate, and even sometimes necessary to say “look it up, yourself” – allowing allies to do their own work, rather than shouldering the unrealistic expectation of always being the teacher (with patience, answers, etc.).

In addition to self-care, it is important for those working with privileged white men to remember to be graceful, towards others and ourselves. A challenge with learning edges is that sometimes they cut. Whenever possible, it is best to assume good intent of aspiring allies with dominant identities. Similarly, it is important to have compassion and kindness toward oneself when working with privileged white men. Triggers are an inevitability of tackling issues of power, privilege, and oppression. It is important to acknowledge that triggers can be a reflection of our own work in addition to external conflict with others. These triggers should be respected for their authentic indication of feelings and attuned to with care. It is more important to show up authentically than perfectly.

The fourth and fifth strategies for navigating barriers to working with privileged white men are interrelated. Create and cultivate intragroup dialogue spaces, finding support and solidarity with others who are also working with dominant group(s) to vent, process, problem solve, and find hope. Relatedly, engaging in dialogue across difference, intergroup dialogue, is important for those working with privileged white men as this provides a space to build empathetic relationships, and to create opportunities to share, learn and practice vulnerability around issues of power, privilege, and oppression.


Whether you identify as a privileged white man or someone working with this population in social justice work, the authors of this article hope that this discussion has been useful. This brief reading can be shared with colleagues and networks of support, as a meaningful way to engage in important intra and inter-group conversations about working with privileged White men in social justice work.

Discussion Questions

  1. What barriers have you experienced as a privileged white man doing social justice work?
  2. What barriers have you experienced with privileged white men doing social justice work?
  3. What strategies have you used to navigate these barriers?


Abes, E. S., Jones, S. R., & McEwen, M. K. (2007). Reconceptualizing the model of multiple dimensions of identity: The role of meaning-making capacity in the construction of multiple identities. Journal of College Student Development, 48, 1-22.

Ashlee, K. C. & Ashlee, A. A. (2016). VITAL: A torch for your social justice journey. Cincinnati, OH: Brave Space Publishing.

Banyard, V. L., Moynihan, M. M., & Plante, E. G. (2007). Sexual violence prevention through bystander education: An experimental evaluation. Journal of Community Psychology. 35.463-481. doi:10.1002/jcop.20159

Berkowitz, A. D. (2011). Using how college men feel about being men and “doing the right thing” to promote men’s development. New York and London: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.

Bishop, A. (2002). Becoming an ally: Breaking the cycle of oppression in people (2nd ed.). Halifax, Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing.

Brod, H., Terhaar, J., Thao, M., Laker, J., & Voth, J. L. (2005, March). Effective strategies for engaging allies: Explaining water to fish. Pre-conference program presented at the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators National Conference, Tampa, FL.

Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, NY: Gotham Books.

Edwards, K. (2006). Aspiring social justice ally identity development: A conceptual model. NASPA Journal, 43, 39-60.

Kimmel, M. (2009). Guyland: The perilous world where boys become men. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.

McIntosh, P. (2003). White privilege and male privilege. In M. Kimmel & A. L. Ferber (Eds.), Privilege: A reader  (pp. 3–25). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

About the Authors

Kyle Ashlee and Aeriel A. Ashlee are doctoral students in the Student Affairs in Higher Education (SAHE) program at Miami University. The Ashlees are co-authors of VITAL: A Torch For Your Social Justice Journey and co-founders of Ashlee Consulting LLC. The firm focuses on building inclusive communities that value diversity and social justice through facilitator training, inspirational story sharing, and dialogue program development.

Please e-mail inquiries to Kyle Ashlee or Aeriel A. Ashlee


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.



Gavin W. Henning

On March 6, 2016, ACPA – College Student Educators International will make history. For the first time ever, the association will hold its convention outside of the United States. The 2016 ACPA Annual Convention will be significant and exemplify the mission and values of the association.

ACPA16 is a truly an international event. First, because of our host city. Montréal, originally called Ville-Marie (City of Mary) is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the center of the city. Montréal, which is actually on an island, is the largest city in Québec, the second largest in Canada (behind Toronto), and the 9th largest in North America. French is the city’s official language and 56% of the population speaks both French and English. Interestingly, Montréal is the second largest primarily French-speaking city in the world, after Paris.

There are 60 internationally-focused programs being offered. Some of the programs relate to internationalization. Other programs are facilitated by individuals from outside the United States. During ACPA16, we are also piloting a Student Leader Global Summit powered by IASAS, ACPA, and Lead365. College students from around the world will come to Montréal for three days of leadership training.

As always, we will have a number of sessions related to student learning and development – the heart of our association’s mission. There are amply opportunities to discover emergent research and scholarship through educational sessions and double the number of research papers and posters typically offered. One featured session showcases findings from the upcoming 3rd edition of How College Affects Students. In another featured session, Marilee Bresciani Ludvik will discuss the use of neuroscience to improve student success, which highlights findings from her book The Neuroscience of Learning. In addition, this year we will have a program track centered on instruction and teaching which includes nearly 30 programs.

A hallmark of ACPA is our values regarding equity and inclusion. Each opening and closing speaker lives these values and furthers them in the work they do. Speakers include Irshad Manji who is an advocate of reformist interpretation of Islam; Jack Saddleback, who is the first transgender and fourth Aboriginal individual to serve as President of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union; Martine Desjardines, former student leader of the “2012 Maple Spring” in which college students protested tuition raises; and Jay Smooth, founder of New York City’s longest running hip hop program.

In addition, there will be a program track regarding race and racism which includes over 60 sessions on topics such as support services for Native Indian and Aboriginal/First Nations students, using Critical Race Theory to support students of color, Black male identity development and engagement, and many more. There are 17 sessions as part of the Transgender and Trans Identity program track. Session topics include the intersectionality of Black Queer identity formations in college, transgender student sexual health, creating Trans* inclusive college and university campuses, and more.

An ACPA annual convention would not be complete without activities especially focused on professional development. There will be special educational sessions devoted to job search and recruitment processes. ACPA is partnering with Peter Lake to offer a certificate in Title IX compliance. There will also be certificate program tracks on the following topics: globalization with a focus on social justice and inclusion, scholarship with a focus on student learning, and technology.

Rounding out the convention experience are receptions, open meetings, and other networking events throughout the event. Take the time to get involved with a commission, coalition, community of practice, or state or international division. These smaller professional communities provide additional opportunities for connecting and learning from others.

For those not able to attend convention, we also have a number of opportunities to participate. These include live and recorded sessions, Twitter backchannel, and ACPA Video On Demand after the convention has ended on March 9th. Monitor the ACPA convention website for details.

The 2016 convention is an historic event for ACPA. I hope you will join us onsite or virtually!

Are We Creating Cultures of Advocacy or Avoidance?

Are We Creating Cultures of Advocacy or Avoidance?

Cindi Love
Executive Director

In February, 2016 I attended the 37th Annual National Conference on Law in Higher Education in Orlando, Florida.  The theme was Compliance, Consumers and the Constitution:  Managing the Law and Policy Expectations of Conflicting Constituencies in Higher Education’s Second Civil Rights Revolution.

Each year, Peter Lake, Director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law, gathers general counsels of colleges and universities with student affairs professionals working in conduct, Title IX, compliance, as well as campus police.

I was asked to provide the opening keynote.  I chose the topic Constructing Cultures of Advocacy in Which Delineated Rights Are Not Abstractions, but Realities.

The second keynote was by William Creeley, Vice President of Legal and Public Advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).  He spoke about the mission of FIRE, its Stand Up for Speech and Green Light projects.

The timing of these presentations seemed right for the attendees.  There is so much at stake right now in higher education and in our broader society.  Analysts from the Higher Education Research Institute anticipate that the level of student civil engagement, including campus protests, will be at the highest level in 50 years by the end of 2017.

I am not confident that risk-averse campuses will endure this season of discontent well.  This makes me fear for the safety of everyone within the community.  I fear that we are creating cultures of avoidance (of risk) rather than cultures of advocacy.

In our isolated efforts to minimize liability and risk (legal exposure, bad publicity and stakeholder backlash) we sometimes postpone or escalate the emergence of more serious problems by placing narrow policy standards over the individual needs and experiences of people. And, educators may fail to fulfill their responsibilities. Risk reduction lacks the conscious decision to support individual growth in moral and ethical decision-making, social identity development, and cultural competency.  Student learning and development are unintended consequences rather than an intentional outcome in these settings. (Schrage and Giacomini, 2009)

Creeley’s review of 400+ campus policies regarding protected speech suggested that we have major work to do.

FIRE has launched the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project as a large-scale national effort to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes through targeted First Amendment lawsuits. Working in rapid succession and in multiple federal circuits, the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project seeks to generate additional legal precedent, widespread media coverage, and numerous policy revisions. Ultimately, this Project is working to generate the pressure necessary to rebalance the incentives on campus in favor of free expression.  Efforts to suppress this constitutional right will predictably escalate the sense of urgency for activists.

My recommendation is to be proactive in teaching effective civic engagement, informing students of their rights and creating supportive campus environments in which no one gets hurt. Create an ethos of communication, non-violent contestation, and civility.  Chancellors and Presidents must lead this cultural transformation.

Naturally, no one wants FIRE to call them up or send a letter suggesting that the campus is going to be exposed to litigation and liability for violation of freedom of expression or assembly or abuses of academic freedom.  And, the way to avoid those calls is to avoid suppression of the constitutional rights on students on public universities.

Here are a few questions for campuses to consider.

  • Are freedom of speech and assembly addressed in your campus climate surveys?
  • Is there education for first year students on civil engagement and civil disobedience, constitutional rights, guidelines for non-violent assembly, and protest?
  • Are there clear guidelines in place for campus safety officers regarding use of force?
  • If a Memorandum of Understanding is in place with a local city police department, does it include policies and practices centered on student learning and development?
  • Is Chancellor evaluation tied directly to campus climate?

My hope is that we are better prepared for student unrest than we were in 1970.  This will only be true if we are developing cultures of advocacy rather than avoidance and part of that process means guaranteeing, at minimum, protected speech.


Schrage, J. M., & Giacomini, N. G. (2009). Reframing campus conflict: Student conduct practices through a social justice lens. Sterling, VA: Stylus.