Proposal for NASPA Student Voting in ACPA/NASPA Consolidation Submitted

(I will write more in a little while expressing my conflicting emotions regarding this proposal but I want to keep my personal emotions separate from the more interesting and important material below.)

A few weeks ago, I described how NASPA will not allow student members to vote on the issue of ACPA/NASPA consolidation if the issue is put to a vote by the NASPA membership.  Last night, I sent the following message to Dr. Elizabeth Griego, president of NASPA, and Ms. Gwen Dungy, Executive Director of NASPA.


Please find attached a proposed resolution for the NASPA Board of Directors to consider at its next meeting.  We trust that you and the Board will act on the spirit and merits of this proposed resolution, smoothing over any technical flaws or procedural missteps we may have made.

As previously discussed with both of you, this proposal requests that Student Affiliates be allowed full participation in any vote of the NASPA membership on the issue of ACPA/NASPA consolidation.  The signatories of this proposal are experienced, dedicated members of NASPA who firmly believe that our voices must be heard on this issue and given equal consideration.  We care deeply about NASPA and student affairs and we believe it unjust and unethical that our voices will be silenced on this important issue merely because we are currently pursuing further education.

We understand that some interpret the association’s bylaws as prohibiting Student Affiliates from voting on this matter.  We disagree with that interpretation.  However, even if we concede that the current bylaws prohibit Student Affiliates from voting on this issue, we assert that the bylaws are unjust and must be changed or overridden; bylaws that deny a voice to dedicated members in this critical issue are contrary to our professional and ethical values.

Finally, we hope that whatever the outcome of this resolution the Board understands and remembers that there are groups within NASPA that historically have been denied the right to vote, including Student and Associate Affiliates.  Even if circumstances do not permit the Board or the voting membership the ability to grant these groups voting rights, these groups must be allowed and encouraged to meaningfully participate in determining the future of this organization and our profession.

On behalf of my colleagues,

Kevin R. Guidry

PhD Student, Higher Education & Student Affairs Indiana University

I have privately thanked them many times but I once again offer my sincere thanks to everyone involved in putting forth this proposal.  Elizabeth Griego and Jan Walbert were extraordinarily gracious with their time in helping us put together this proposal with the full benefit of their experience, knowledge, and support.  The signatories of the proposal were wonderful in their moral and material support.  And, most importantly, my behind-the-scenes team of Dan Bureau, Nick Grainger, Chris Medrano, and Nolan Yaws were there every step of the way to keep me on the right path and ensure that this proposal expressed our emotions in a professional and respectful manner.

Current and Upcoming Projects

(I started to write an e-mail to some colleagues outlining my current and upcoming projects and the e-mail was getting a bit long.  So I’m writing it all out here as perhaps some of you will be interested in one or more of these projects.)

Here are my current and upcoming projects, listed in no particular order…

  • Continue editing and submit for publication (EDUCAUSE Quarterly?) the paper (A Comparison of Student and Faculty Academic Technology Use Across Disciplines) I just presented with Allison BrckaLorenz at the AIR Forum.
  • Finish preparing for my ResNet 2010 assessment preconference session.
  • Continue working with the ResNet 2010 hosts to schedule and conduct attendee focus groups to supplement the survey data we recently collected regarding the current state and future direction of the ResNet organization.
  • Two potential AERA proposals:
    • Discourse analysis of #sachat.  I wrote a solid paper for the discourse analysis class I took in the spring but Rey Junco will be helping me to redo some of the analysis and edit the paper.
    • Historical analysis of student affairs and technology.  I have a solid draft of this paper already done (another class paper) but it’s very long and needs to be edited down to a more manageable, readable length.  Additionally, I’ve recently discovered that we have in the library stacks at Indiana University proceedings from NASPA and ACPA meetings held during the first half of the twentieth century.  I need to spend time in the library with those proceedings as I haven’t yet incorporated them into my study (I didn’t know where I could find them; I certainly didn’t expect to find them at my home institution!).
  • Begin a new project analyzing the demographics of student affairs professionals.  I wanted to use these data in my Twitter research but no one has done this work in 15 years so I’ll have to do it (I hope that I’m wrong and that I simply haven’t found a current or recent source!).
  • Wait to hear back from ASHE to know if our Wikipedia proposal has been accepted.  If so, then we need to do more work on it to update it and get it into shape for the conference later this year.

Of course, I have other things going on and coming up: quals in 2 months, ongoing projects at work, and beginning data collection for my dissertation.  I thought that summer – especially the summer after you finish coursework – was supposed to be quiet and relaxing?

NASPA Will Not Allow Student Members to Vote on ACPA/NASPA Consolidation

If the issue of ACPA/NASPA consolidation is put to a vote by the membership of the two organizations this fall, Student Affiliate members will not be able to vote.  As a Student Affiliate and dedicated member of NASPA, I believe this is wrong and I am working to change this.  In early June, I will submit to the NASPA Board of Directors a proposal that requests that Student Affiliates be allowed to vote on the issue of consolidation. I urge you to review the draft of this proposal and share your thoughts and support.

In brief, the proposal argues that Student Affiliates:

  • Are the future of NASPA and have a significant stake in the future of NASPA and the broader student affairs profession
  • Include in their ranks members who are experienced student affairs professionals dedicated to NASPA and those who have proven their dedication to NASPA deserve a voice in its future
  • Likely represent the most diverse group of NASPA members and are not proportionately represented by Voting Delegates or Professional Affiliates

If you are a Student Affiliate of NASPA, please:

  1. Add your name to the proposal by editing it directly, leaving a comment below, or sending me an e-mail at  Please include your name, current institution, degree status (i.e. Master’s student, Doctoral student, or Doctoral candidate), and any current or former leadership positions you’ve held in NASPA.
  2. Spread the word to your colleagues and fellow students by sending them a link to this blog post ( or

If you are not a Student Affiliate of NASPA, please share this with students by sending them a link to this blog post ( or

If you have any questions or suggestions about this topic, the proposal, or how we should proceed from here, please share them by leaving a comment or e-mailing me directly.

We are the future of NASPA and student affairs.  Let’s ensure we have a voice in that future.

2010 NASPA Conference: Day One – Doc Student Seminar and social media

Although I arrived in Chicago on Saturday, yesterday (Sunday) was my first day at NASPA.  I spent most of the day at the Doctoral Student Seminar, an event hosted annually by NASPA members to help doctoral students connect with one another and experienced faculty members.  There was not any technology focus for this event so I won’t write much about it here.

During this event, my primary technology-related thoughts were about how students could use technology to remain connected to one another to network and provide support.  Several students expressed frustrations about how (dis)connected they feel at their institution, particularly those from small programs or in unique situations like those who commute or take primarily distance ed courses.  It seems that we could find ways for those who attended this seminar to remain connected to provide that support for those students and open up new opportunities for one another.  Maybe it’s as simple as a Facebook group?  I don’t know if such an effort is sustainable or would be used by many participants but it might be worth a shot…

Unrelated to the doc student seminar: NASPA is making a big push to get attendees and members to use tools like Twitter and blogs.  NASPA has a blog set up for the conference and they are pushing – hard – for people to use the #NASPA10 hashtag for their Twitter posts.  And the #sachat folks are very active, too, with a demo planned for tonight at 6:00 Central followed by a physical meetup (a “tweetup”).

Current Student Affairs Technology Events: Twitter & NASPA

From my vantage point as someone who is deeply interested in student affairs and technology but not currently immersed in them (my classwork, research, and assistantship keep me quite busy!), here are some “current events” that are on my radar:

  1. The Twitter group using the #sachat hashtag continues to grow in size and popularity.  What began as a once-weekly discussion among a few dozen folks has now expanded to two weekly discussions among over a hundred folks and significant activity outside of the scheduled hours.  They’re a very friendly and resourceful group and even if you don’t actively participate you should check in on them periodically to learn from them.  I am not participating in these discussions as I am formally analyzing the group’s discussions and I don’t want to “contaminate” the data by actively participating.  But you should jump in and join the discussions!  The group has even provided an introduction and instructions if you’re new to Twitter.
  2. NASPA’s Technology Knowledge Community has put together a list of all of the technology-related programs at the upcoming NASPA Annual Conference.  There are many interesting sessions on the program and it’s unfortunate that so many are scheduled at the same time forcing us to choose between them.  I’ll be at many of the programs so please say hello if you see me!
  3. On Sunday, March 9, NASPA’s Technology Knowledge Community and Administrators in Graduate and Professional Student Services Knowledge Community are presenting a pre-conference session entitled “Tweet: Point-Click-Connect to Graduate Student and Adult Learners.”  The program description:

    This full day workshop at Northwestern University will focus on the ways student affairs professionals can communicate with graduate students and adult learners using technology.Workshop attendees will review the various social networking sites students are utilizing, learn more about the impact of these communication tools on adult learners, and discuss ways to maintain a personal connection in light of automation.Participants will also have the opportunity to discuss hot topics and share best practices from their own campuses.

    Not only does the content sound exciting but the format is also exciting as this program will be offered simultaneously online.  I think this is the first time that NASPA has done this and it’s wonderful to see their willingness to try something new that will give non-attendees a chance to participate and learn.  More information, including the costs and registration instructions, are on the Technology KC’s website.

I wish that:

  1. There were a listing of technology-related sessions at ACPA.  (I really wish we would get this unification started and over with so I could stop splitting my attention and money between two nearly-identical organizations but that’s off-topic.)  I know, I know – I could put together such a listing myself.  But I’m not going to ACPA this year and I’m not terribly keen on diving that deeply into the program of a conference I’m not attending.  It would be very depressing to read about all of the really cool things that will occur that I can not attend. :)
  2. NASPA’s Technology Knowledge Community and the #sachat folks would link up.  It would give them both some excellent resources and energy.  It would give #sachat an immediate formal link to NASPA and access to some its resources.  And it would give the Technology KC access to a group of very excited, experienced, and knowledgeable student affairs professionals who are actively using technology in an exciting and innovative way.  This seems like a very obvious and easy connection to make and I am a bit confused why it hasn’t already occurred.

Beginning New Research: #sachat

I just received IRB approval to begin conducting research on the weekly student affairs-related discussions being held on Twitter.  The initial round of research is being conducted for Susan Herring‘s Computer-Mediated Discourse Analysis class but I plan to expand the research and present and publish it more broadly once I’m done with the class.

For those who are unfamiliar with #sachat, here is how I described it in my first paper for this class:

Beginning in the fall of 2009, a group of American higher education administrators began using the micro-blogging tool Twitter to communicate, collaborate, and connect with one another.  Each week for at least one hour, these professionals employ Twitter as a public synchronous mass communication medium by marking each of their messages with the #sachat hashtag and discussing a predetermined topic of professional interest.

Each Wednesday, student affairs professionals use Twitter to vote on a topic of discussion.  On Thursday, these same professionals discuss this topic (and others) for at least one hour.  These discussions are loosely coordinated and moderated by one user associated with the website.  Although the participants are highly-educated professionals and many of the topics are related to their professional interests, the tone of the discussions is informal and often playful.

Using Twitter for these conversations imposes particular properties and restrictions.  First, Twitter is nominally an asynchronous medium; by collectively participating at a prearranged time, these users are effectively using Twitter as if it were synchronous.  Second, to coordinate all of their discussions, including the voting and discussion outside of the established hours, participants must include in their messages the phrase “#sachat.”  This phrase – a Twitter “hashtag” – allows Twitter users to search for and categorize these messages.  Third, Twitter restricts messages to 140 characters.  Finally, although Twitter users can address particular users in their messages there is no threading or other advanced addressing functionality.

Since this class is focused on computer-mediated discourse, I’ll be analyzing patterns in these online conversations in terms of features such as participation, message complexity, speech acts, topic development, and politeness. I’m initially focusing on the discussion that occurred on January 21 so I can learn and begin to understand these methods used in discourse analysis.  Later in the semester, I’ll expand my analysis to also include January 14 and January 28 (daytime only; I can’t seem to locate an archive of the evening conversation) for my final paper in this class.  Eventually I would like to expand the analysis to include more discussions and to include content analysis in addition to discourse analysis so I can write a fully-formed paper for publication or presentation (I’m thinking maybe AERA 2011 if I can meet their submission deadline in late summer).

I am interested in conducting this research not because it focuses on Twitter but because it focuses on a grassroots community that has found a unique way to connect and communicate with one another.  It’s especially interesting because their method of communication is free and this is a time of financial stress with reductions to or eliminations of professional development budgets prominent at many institutions.

Many of the methods I’ll be using have been pioneered or extensively used by Susan Herring.  It’s terribly exciting to learn from and with her as she is probably the world’s foremost expert in these methods!  This is the second class I’ve taken with her and it’s a lot of fun to learn from someone who not only intimately knows the topic but is also still really excited about it and super supportive of new, young researchers.

If any #sachat participants have questions, concerns, or suggestions, please share them with me!  Although the data are all publicly-available, I will be using pseudonyms in all of my public presentations and papers so hopefully that will allay any privacy concerns.  Additionally, I imagine that I’ll eventually file an IRB amendment so I can officially talk to you about your experiences and opinions (because a study on this topic seems incomplete without actually talking to the participants).  But in the meantime I’m definitely open to informal discussion, especially if you have concerns about this research.

(And can someone throw a link to this post out there in Twitter and tag it with #sachat?  I would do so myself but I am trying to retain some distance as I study this phenomenon.  More importantly, I just don’t have time right now to jump into Twitter, at least not this month as I prepare for quals and begin preliminary work on my dissertation.  There are only so many hours in the day…)

Reflections from NASPA Region IV-E Regional Conference

A few weeks ago, I spent a few days just outside of Chicago attending the NASPA Region IV-E Regional Conference. I was there primarily as the regional representative of the Technology Knowledge Community.  As the regional representative, I had two primary duties:

  1. Attend the Knowledge Community Gala before the opening dinner.  At this event, each KC has a table where he or she places information about the KC, augmented by a poster, candy, giveaways, or whatever else he or she deems necessary (a determination that seems to widely vary from KC to KC).  The KC rep then hangs out near the table to answer questions, encourage new members to join, etc.  I thought that I had a decent spread this year with much of it focusing on our new website (go check it out; it’s pretty snazzy).
  2. (Co-)Host a table at Monday morning’s breakfast.  Many tables were specifically designated as being focused on topical discussions and most (all?) of the topics were germane to two or more KCs.  Each table therefore had one or more KC representatives to help run the discussions.  I was partnered with our representative from the Sustainability KC and our topic was “Economy – sustainability and technology.”

My table at the Gala was sparsely attended and my breakfast table even less so.  Nationally, the Technology KC is a niche KC that only appeals to a small percentage of NASPA members.  When you get down to the regional level, the number of NASPA members interested in the KC and its topics is even smaller.  When you go all the way down to the number of people who attend regional conferences, that number is very small indeed.  And when you factor in the type of people likely to attend the regional conferences (i.e. it’s not a random sample of the regional membership), the number appears to virtually disappear altogether.  So it’s not surprising (although it is disappointing) that very, very few people indicated an interest in the KC and its topics at this year’s Region IV-E conference.

I’m not particularly bothered by the lack of interest in the Technology KC at this conference.  But I am very bothered by the lack of full-time faculty members and researchers at the regional conference.  I am bothered by the fact that the practitioners and scholars inhabit such radically different worlds that they have completely separate conferences (e.g. I can’t imagine there is much overlap between the attendees of NASPA and ACPA conferences on the one hand and ASHE and AERA on the other).  At this particular conference, the attendees seemed to be predominantly Master’s students, entry-level practitioners, and some mid- and senior-level practitioners.  I am particularly bothered by the fact that so many younger practitioners were being professionalized and implicitly and explicitly taught the norms of the profession at this conference, norms that now include the absence of “serious scholarship” (I place that in quotes out of deference to the quality research carried out by many dedicated practitioners but I think you get my point).

I don’t want to to go to this conference next year.  I don’t think there is much I can get out of it given the lack of overlap with the topics and approaches that interest me.  But I also feel guilty, knowing that I have a lot that I could contribute to the conference and its attendees; I only attended two sessions but I was honest-to-God complimented on and thanked for the comments I made and the insights I shared.  In this instance, I don’t know how to marry my interest in linking practice with research and my need for professional growth, particularly on my very limited (financial and temporal) budget.  And that tears at me and challenges me in a way that I don’t quite know how to match.

Economy – sustainability and technology

EDUCAUSE and NASPA Continue Leading Into the 21st Century

Several of our professional organizations are continuing to innovate, spurred in part by the economy.

EDUCAUSE, the 900 pound gorilla of higher education technology organizations, has created an online component of their annual conference to be held in November in Denver.  Not only are several events in Denver being simulcast online but they’ve created several events exclusive to the online conference.  This is a wonderful option for those whose travel budgets have been adversely impacted by the economy.  I wish that many other organizations would make similar offerings but I also recognize the infrastructure and expertise necessary to put this together, resources that EDUCAUSE has but many other organizations do not.  However, many of the necessary technical resources are cheap and easily available so hopefully other smaller and less-technically-inclined organizations will pursue similar creative options.

NASPA is changing its official journal from the NASPA Journal to the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice.  I’m not privy to all of the details of the change and the reasons for it.  But one of the changes is that they are broadening the scope of the review section to include resources other than just books.  Specifically:

Media Reviews summarize and analyze the full range of resources (e.g., blogs, websites, video, books, reports) available to student affairs educators. Media Review manuscripts, informative and critical, allow student affairs educators to learn of media useful to their work. Media reviews, invited and solicited by the Editor, should not exceed 1,200 words, and are to be discussed with the Associate Editor for Media Reviews in advance of submission. NASPA members are invited to suggest cutting edge and novel media to be reviewed in JSARP.

The new editors are actively soliciting reviews so feel free to submit one.

Finally, ACUHO-I is also changing its journal.  As with the change at NASPA, I’m not privy to all of the details but I’m excited about what I know.  The changes being made by ACUHO-I, however, are not near as big the changes made by NASPA.  The Journal of College and University Student Housing has previously been published twice a year but beginning next year it will only be published once a year.  Content won’t be reduced, however, so each issue will be twice as large as previous issues.  Most interesting is that the editors will be including a “study guide” aimed at helping practitioners make use of each article.  Research conducted by my colleagues in the ResNet Applied Research Group should be included in the next issue of this journal.

Diversity Among Student Affairs Technology Collaboration Experiences

Next year’s NASPA conference is in Chicago which is only a few hours away. For that conference, I have proposed a panel discussion of student affairs and IT collaborations.  One of the (self-imposed) primary requirements for this panel is that the panelists should have a diverse set of experiences.  But how does one define that?  To put it another way, what am I looking for in these panelists when I say that they should be “diverse?”

When discussing diversity between institutions, several common measures or characteristics often arise (at my research shop we call these and other common characteristics “the usual suspects” since we use them in so many of our analyses): the various Carnegie Classifications, governance/sector (public or private), geographic region, urbanicity, and selectivity.  We could view our panel as diverse if they have experiences from a broad number of different categories listed above.  It stands to reason that many or all of those characteristics may have an impact on how student affairs staff collaborate with technology professionals.  For example, many of those characteristics are related to institutional wealth which surely affects how units on campus collaborate.  It may be easier for wealthier campuses to employ more specialized personnel (e.g. hire more technical staff in the student affairs units rather than depend on or collaborate with other technology units).

It might also be valuable to judge the diversity of the panel by their experiences.  This, of course, brings us further down the rabbit hole because now we have to define what we mean by “diverse experiences.”  One approach that seems to have been useful and practical was to ask what kind of collaborations potential panelists had experienced and categorize those experiences.  Some had experienced a collaboration focused on a single large project.  Others had regularly collaborated with technology professionals on projects large and small as part of their regular, assigned job responsibilities.  And others have experienced collaborations primarily as ad hoc adventures as the department’s most technology-savvy employee.

Similarly, it may also be worthwhile to consider the professional roles or job responsibilities of the potential panelists.  As mentioned above, some have little or no technology component in their formal job responsibilities.  Some have technology management, oversight, or planning as part of their job portfolio.  Finally, some are technology professionals with IT project management or implementation in their position description.

Finally, we might look at the technology professionals with whom the collaboration(s) occurred.  Collaborations with departmental colleagues, student affairs technology professionals, and central IT professionals likely differ in many interesting and important ways.

So what did I do?  It might be fun to say that I carefully analyzed the above dimensions and came up with a panel that represents as many of these dimensions as possible and practical.  But the reality is that I graciously accepted nearly all of the Technology Knowledge Community members who volunteered to assist in any way.  As we moved through the process of broadly brainstorming ideas through drafting the format of the program and finally to drafting the program proposal, volunteers bowed out, found other programs or projects to work on, or simply disappeared.  In the end I was left with a core group of dedicated and experienced professionals who will make an incredible panel.  When I looked at all of the above dimensions of diversity I was pleasantly surprised to see that the panel named in the proposal is indeed quite diverse.

I am very hopeful that this proposal will be accepted and you will be able to benefit from the experiences of these wonderful professionals.  The process of putting together the proposal was very useful and interesting as it forced me to consider all of the ideas above (and more!) as I sought to put together a diverse panel.  Student affairs professionals often speak of diversity as a value and desirable goal and it’s always worthwhile to consider that idea in different contexts.

Reflections on 2.5 years in NASPA’s Technology Knowledge Community

NASPA Technology Knowledge CommunityThis weekend, Leslie Dare and I are stepping down as co-chairs of NASPA’s Technology Knowledge Community. It’s a relief for me as the overwhelming emotion I feel is guilt: guilt that I didn’t do more, didn’t involve more people, and didn’t give more to the community. However, we certainly did some neat things and I know that Candace and Chris, our new co-chairs, have a solid foundation upon which to build.

To the best of my knowledge, this organization is unique in its composition and focus. There have been and continue to be ad hoc groups formed to examine issues related to student affairs and technology and some of the more specialized professional organizations like ACUHO-I have an ongoing focus on technology (although their focus is changing as they recently decided to discontinue their annual IT conference and merge it into a Business Operations conference).  But this Knowledge Community appears to be the only standing organization that transcends the specialties and focuses on the student affairs community as a whole.

But that broad focus brings unique challenges. For example, there appear to be (at least) three groups of NASPA members interested in technology:

  • Technology managers and implementers: Those who are tasked with doing technology by maintaining webpages, administering databases, providing various levels of technical support, and supervising others who perform these tasks. This group is probably a small group within the entire NASPA membership but may be highly concentrated or interested in this KC.
  • Technology hobbyists: Those who are interested in technology but don’t have significant professional responsibilities related to technology. This group is certainly the largest of these three groups within the broad NASPA membership and likely the KC.
  • Technology scholars: Those who study technology in student affairs. This group is certainly the smallest of the three and likely includes faculty, practitioner-scholars, and graduate students. The majority of these persons appear to be more interested in how students use technology (with a disproportionate amount of time and energy still being spent on research related to Facebook) than in how student affairs professionals and organizations are using technology.

There’s certainly a significant amount of overlap between these groups in both their compositions and interests. The challenge for the KC is figuring out how – or if – to meet the needs of each group. In my opinion, identifying the members of these groups in the KC and figuring out how to meet their varied interests are the biggest challenges facing the KC. The previous incarnation of the KC dissolved because it couldn’t adequately address these challenges and I sincerely hope that this KC won’t follow the same path.

There’s hope. We’re on the right track with our ongoing membership assessment survey (if you’re a KC member and you haven’t participated yet, please do so!). There may be an opportunity for this KC to shine during our economic troubles as technology is perceived to be a cost-saving measure by many universities and colleges.

I must acknowledge and thank some of the wonderful people with whom I worked in and out of the KC. Leslie, before stepping into this role I didn’t know you or what I was getting myself into but I’ll jump off other cliffs with you any time. Sandra and Joey, your calmness and patience with me as I grew in this role helped immeasurably; I hoped that when I pushed back I did so without pushing you around and further I hope you know that I only did so because I know that you’re both as passionate about what we do as I am. Stephanie, Zafer, and the rest of the NASPA staff: I appreciate your forbearance as I know that occasionally strange requests made their way from our KC to you and you always bore them with grace and never failed to provide us with support and encouragement. Christina, Suzanne, Kirk, Elahe, Gail, and all of the other KC volunteers too numerous to mention: You made and continue to make the KC a community and I’m forever in your debt.

I’m ready to step down and eager to move into the background of the KC to continue working. I wish I had done more but we have intelligent, experienced, and very motivated members stepping up to lead us now. I look forward to seeing this community grow and evolve under Candace and Chris’s leadership. I know they’ll do wonderful things as they’ll have the support of many of the same people that helped Leslie and I and you can’t help but do great things with those wonderful people behind you.