A few days ago, I submitted a proposal to the NASPA Board of Directors requesting that student members be allowed to fully participate should the issue of ACPA/NASPA consolidation come to a vote before the NASPA membership. As things stand right now, the Board interprets the NASPA bylaws as not permitting students to participate in any votes. This blog post is about some of my personal emotions regarding this situation, emotions that purposely and prudently are not fully reflected in the proposal and related professional communications.
Although I did my very best to keep my emotions in check as I worked on this proposal, this proposal was primarily motivated by emotions: Incredulity. Frustration. Anger. Disbelief.
First and foremost, I am appalled that NASPA denies me the right of full participation in this and other issues while never hesitating to ask for my time and money. I am furious that my right to vote in this and many other matters was stripped from me when I made the audacious decision to return to school for my doctorate. This anger is driven not only by the fact that my voice is being silenced but that it is being silenced by educators who not only purport to value education but also profess to have a deep concern for students and the future. I don’t know how to reconcile those professional values with a set of bylaws that explicitly denies student members – including students who have many years of professional service within NASPA and many students whom NASPA has worked very hard to recruit – a voice in the most important decisions affecting the organization.
Moreover, unless I’ve made a mistake or missed something, student members are not even represented in any of the Divisions or the Board of Directors. Not even one student member is listed in these groups on the NASPA website! This complete lack of representation in these powerful groups is so out of line with our professional values that it beggars belief and I sincerely hope that I’ve made a mistake or looked in the wrong places on the website. Not only does this lack of representation present a profound problem with respect to representation and diversity in these groups but it also denies student members incredibly valuable opportunities for professional development and education.
My tremendous disappointment in NASPA is tempered by the personal actions of the senior members who have guided me and my colleagues in putting together our proposal. This is a terribly political issue so I will not write their names here (I’ve already thanked them in private) but I am tremendously grateful for their time and the knowledge and experience they shared with us. Although I am profoundly confused and frustrated, I retain some hope that NASPA will correct its course and align its actions with its values because I have some trust in the influential and experienced people who provided us with guidance. NASPA must learn to practice what its members preach.