Senior Scholar Blog

How to Start a Revolution

Sherry K. Watt
Professor, Higher Education and Student Affairs Program
University of Iowa
ACPA Senior Scholar

The Revolution has started. Many are pushing back against our systems of traditional dominant-culture values, White supremacy, gender binary, heterosexism and patriarchy. Movements such as Black Lives Matter and advocacy for LGBT rights are all calls for complete change. What can the higher education and student affairs professionals do to support students and advocate for inclusion on an institutional-level? How do we answer the calls for transformations of structural oppression? How can we advocate more effectively for students? 

Revolution (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/revolution) is defined as the usually violent attempt by many people to end the rule of one government and start a new one. The definition I lean toward is a sudden, extreme or complete changes in the way people live, work, and exist.  There are many ways to start a revolution. 

ACPA’s Senior and Emerging Scholars are inviting you to think about how you can actively engage through scholarly practice ways to inform our institutions during protests and campus unrest. We invite you to think about how you might use the research and years of professional practice in higher education and student affairs to question and transform the structures that impose dominance, patriarchy, the gender binary and other forms of limitation.

The first phase of this series includes four blogs.  Vasti Torres challenges student affairs professionals to be good consumers of research and find ways to use it to inform daily practice in the field.  Donald Mitchell discusses how the concept of intersectionality can disrupt structural oppression, such as racism, and how practitioners can contribute to student success. Cassie Barnhardt calls for deeper thought into the role of race plays in the field of higher education and how campus administrators can ready themselves in light of the coming decision on the Fisher II Supreme Court of the United States case regarding affirmative action. And finally, Tracy Davis invites the profession to reflect on tentacles of social media in revolution and how everyone in the campus community needs to turn inward to reflect on their positionality as it relates to activism.

Each of these opening blogs brings together scholarship and practice. It is our hope that you will find these reflections useful as you work with students and lead our college campuses through these current times of campus unrest.