One of the competency areas that NASPA and ACPA recommend Student Affairs Professionals be well versed in to be effective practitioners is law, policy, and governance. Some may find this to be one of the boring competencies. But luckily for our profession there are many geeks out there such as myself. We are excited about policy changes, legal updates and following these trends.
Oddly enough, when I reflect back on my time, even in my undergraduate career, I was drawn to policy. Back then, I oversaw my sorority’s judicial committee and held my sorority sisters accountable for their actions through our judicial process. I think many SA pros find that we had experiences in our undergrad careers that we later realized helped shape our professional path. So it’s important for students, whether undergraduate or graduate, to try to get involved in areas that may be different than what they usually volunteer for.
After working in Student Affairs for a couple years, I had the opportunity to work in Student Conduct. My experiences in Student Conduct were at an exciting time in the field for policy geeks, such as myself. New Title IX policy changes and regulations were implemented. Many Offices of Student Conduct were making policy modifications to meet these policy updates. This is when I also increased my involvement with the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA). During my involvement with ASCA, I was able to follow legal updates on both a national and state level. I also attended various Title IX trainings and workshops.
Involvement in a professional association is key to growth in our field.
It allows for networking, collaboration and training. In my opinion, and most importantly, it also encourages us to see what other institutions are doing. Involvement challenges us to improve and review our policies on our own campuses, and within our own states.
While working in Student Affairs I had the chance to further my education. I’m currently in the final stages of my doctoral program. Returning to the classroom was incredible for me because I could take classes regarding policy, higher education law, and governance. This classwork confirmed what I was doing as a practitioner by allowing me to read cases, court decisions and policies. The opportunity to be a doctoral student was necessary for me to gain further knowledge concerning the competency of law, policy, and governance. Working on a college campus requires that we be lifelong learners in some capacity or another. Whether formally entering a graduate or doctoral program, or taking classes that interest us, we must always learn. It’s important that we stay relevant in our field and continue to pursue further education.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that the competency of law, policy, and governance assists us in enacting change on our campuses.
If you’re hoping to some day make a change on your campus, small or big, this is how you make the change. So I encourage everyone to join me in being geeky, following legal updates, policy changes, and case law. I encourage challenging yourself to see how these changes impact you on a micro and macro level.
This post is part of our #SAcompetencies series for February. Ever wish you knew then what you know now? #SApros pay it forward to #SAgrads looking for advice on soft skills and professional competencies before they job search this spring! For more info, please see Kim Irland’s intro post. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series too!