On Tuesday, January 13 at 4:30 pm EST, we will gather for the fifth Community Conversation: Confronting Reality & Doing What Matters to Get Things Right.
Dr. Terrell Strayhorn was with us for the 4th Conversation.
Dr. Terrell L. Strayhorn is Professor and Director of the Center for Higher Education Enterprise at The Ohio State University, where he also serves as senior research affiliate in the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity, Todd Bell National Resource Center for Black Males, and Criminal Justice Research Center.
One resource he recommended was From Talk 2 Action.
More than 60 people joined the dialogue from colleges and universities throughout the United States. We have consolidated some of their thoughts below for your reflection and response.
In addition to the 5th Conversation on January 13, ACPA will be the sponsoring host of Student Affairs Live, part of the HigherEd Live network. On January 14, 2015, go to www.higheredlive.com at 1:00 pm EST to talk about our role as student affairs educators and faculty in leading and engaging students as well as the campus responses, activism by students and racial justice work that is on-going.
And, on January 19, 2015, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, you are invited to bring your classes, colleagues, friends and family to the St. Louis University and Ferguson communities via our new ACPA broadcasting platform at www.myacpa.org. We were in Missouri last week for two days with a film crew recording the stories, reflections and recommendations of community organizers, student activists, faculty, administrators and student affairs professionals.
Today’s guiding topics for the Confronting Reality conversation were:
*identification of resources that have helped professionals navigate the recent events of the post-non-indictment(s) and Ferguson
*discussion of barriers and needs on campuses
Participants talked about the challenges of navigating the personal, professional and political as a student affairs employee on a campus and how ironic it is to be expected to create safe space and have intense dialogue with students but not with colleagues in other departments or divisions.
One person shared that it is expected that the SA team knows how to and willdeescalate emotion, and therefore conversation. This "institutionalizes" the movement, rather than empowering and following student movement and direction.
Others spoke about frustration with the pervasive silence regarding recent events and encouraged everyone to speak to at least one other colleague about thoughts, feelings and ideas to improve campus climate, particularly for black male students.
Another talked about the risk of speaking in a way that was not “metered.” Another talked about an experience where a professor asked a student to explain the term “oreo” and how hurtful it was to be put on display and asked to educate.
Another talked about backlash on their campus against their president who was photographed with protesters and the perception (and reality) was that the president was “condoning” their protest.
Another talked about frustration with students who did not get involved at all because “it wasn’t their problem” or “it wasn’t convenient”
There was consensus that diffusion of responsibility is needed for engendering safe climates and human dignity--by administrators at the highest level (most particularly), by faculty, in the testing center, in athletics--everywhere. Creating campuses that eliminate racism requires investment by leadership and intentional work by everyone, not just the multicultural center or diversity center or SA team
Several talked about the lack of leadership “from the top” and the silence of campus administrators, perceived resistance to having the conversations about racism on campus throughout all divisions and personnel.
They talked about the need for training of faculty and staff in all areas.
One person recommended that higher education associations advocate for the credentialing of campus police as part of accreditation. We have heard this same recommendation for reducing sexual assault and violence on campuses.
One person talked about revision of all syllabi to incorporate understanding of racism and privilege within each context of the academy.
One person said to use an open door and proactive invitations to students, employees and neighboring institutions to talk and express feelings and ideas.
- Remember that ACPA has an open space on our web site home page “Tell Us” where you can post feelings, reactions and suggestions for this work together. In addition, we want to ask people to contribute resources that can help people with community and campus based interventions and support on a google doc form that is available here.
You are also welcome to write me directly at email@example.com.
Enjoy your winter break and I look forward to talking with you in January at one of these opportunities to confront reality on our campuses and find ways to make things better.