The exploits and flaws of student affairs at the center of the webinar discussion
Professors gathered at Friends Hall on October 27 for Part 2 of a Zoom webinar that focused on the state of student affairs on all college campuses. Center for Student Engagement Director Rick Brown moderated a discussion afterwards, allowing faculty members to talk about their own experiences with the viewing.
Board Chair Dr Julie Payne-Kirchmeier and President Dr Kevin Kruger of NASPA – an association focused on members of student affairs administrators in higher education – organized the call, which was screened on a bigger screen for everyone inside Friends Hall to see. The talking points focused more on the student affairs perspective, criticizing potential areas for improvement within the division as a work industry and an integral resource for students and faculty.
One of the most important conversations between Payne-Kirchmeier and Kruger has been about expanding equitable opportunities within educational institutions. “This whole problem of people working from home has never happened before,” Kruger said. “I was just on a campus last week and they were running a way to have their catering staff and supervisory staff work remotely.”
This opened up some dialogue among the participants present, which consisted of staff working within student affairs. The concept of remote flexibility appeared more necessary than preferred.
“I remember going to a conference a few years ago and one of the presenters was a nursing counselor and she was working virtually,” said Diana Benavides, counselor at the Center for Student Success. “Here we are, doing this. I see the increased need for flexibility.
Brown explained that some staff members benefit from remote working days, which Benavides described as important to his personal life outside of Ramapo. Others in the room said students have shown their appreciation for blended learning as they transitioned from college to in-person teaching.
At the same time, however, David Nast, director of the Office of Specialized Services (OSS), points out that there are “unintended consequences” of working remotely. “Yesterday was my first remote day in a long time, and I was there at 6:00 am, still working, which I did, but would be gone by 4:30 pm.”
Those in the room described the standard in-person workweek as healthier than a remote week, explaining that a separation between work and home is important. On a larger scale, this has been identified by researchers as one of the main causes of The exhaustion of the Covid.
The webinar also highlighted the role that some staff members play within colleges as mentors and resources for students. In maintaining a safe and socially conscious environment on campus, Payne-Kirchmeier and Kruger emphasize that responsibility is just as important as recovery.
“Institutions are not perfect,” Payne-Kirchmeier said after stressing the primacy of inquiry over the cultural and social atmosphere of an organization. “How are they getting over it? How do they appropriate the error? How do they talk about it? What thoughtful and lasting changes have they put in place and how is this reflected in their priorities? “
As the job description for student affairs staff continues to evolve in response to societal issues and concerns, potential applicants are encouraged to understand in detail the current state of the field.
Nast explained that the position and its duties are often limited in scope when discussed. Because these staff only work with college students, the extent to which others understand what it means to work in student affairs is often two-dimensional. This perception of the field therefore inherently underestimates the more nuanced ways in which staff members contribute to the health of the campus and its students.
“There is no linear path in student affairs,” said Jack Nesmith, coordinator of student activities, reflecting on the webinar. “The honesty of deciding if the field is right for you, and exploring that, and encouraging potential students to really think – in any career – if it’s something they really want to do. . ”
Another segment of this event will be hosted by Brown in the near future, which will provide all students interested in the field with relevant information and exposure to student affairs.