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Session 1

New Professionals and Social Justice

Paul Gorelick

A growing area of concern for new professionals is the ability to work with students around social justice issues when they are addressing the same issues in our own field. Being able to advocate for oneself and for change in student affairs is vital in order to support students who want to address social justice issues.

This session is a tabletop discussion/presentation directed at graduate students and new professionals to dissect current issues they are seeing in the field and find effective solutions for these issues.

The presentation will include:

  • an overview of the issue
  • a look at how stages of change function in higher education

Discussion topics will include:

  • your role in social justice issues in higher education
  • how to address social justice issues with those in charge
  • strategizing ways to make change happen

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Subconscious Hate: Exploring Implicit Bias, Microaggressions, and Bystander Intervention

Dr. Jessica Guzman-Rea and Dr. Sasha Eloi-Evans

As we become a more global society, becoming more aware of our automatic reactions and stereotypes placed upon others is vital to being able to create deeper appreciation and understanding of others. This interactive and engaging workshop will explore the concepts of implicit bias and microaggressions with regard to the impact it may have on others. Participants will be empowered to notice their own biases and how to advocate on behalf of others with bystander intervention strategies.

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The Power of Empathy: The First Step on the Road to Equity and Inclusivity

Justin Neretich

College campuses are ideal places for conversations, presentations and programs on diversity that offer both information and ways to get involved in building more inclusive and equitable communities; but how can we learn from these connections unless we utilize empathy? Empathy goes beyond being sympathetic, it calls one to recognize the humanity in others and acknowledge and respect their emotions. With empathy, people of all walks of life can come together and recognize the web of lived experiences that actually tie us all together. This presentation will show examples of how we can make communities more inclusive by having conversations that allow people to let down the walls that privilege, judgement and bias build within them, and really understand the thoughts, ideas and experiences of others.

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Power & Influence in Digital Communities

Reginald Gardner

This conference focuses on digital spaces and communities and intervening in them without full knowledge of their mechanisms, intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, the varieties and quirks of different communities, how thoughts are perpetuated (not only through algorithm), anonymity, disinhibition, trust and other very human behaviors. My session seeks to disseminate that knowledge in a way what might help Student Affairs professionals utilize it. The session will address about 7 topics that I find necessary to understanding how digital spaces and communities work, as well as how to intervene in those that professionals may already be a part of. The topics are as follows:

  • Digital spaces as communities: This section will discuss digital spaces as specific types of communities, providing an overview of the differences and similarities that they have to physical spaces.
  • Varieties of communities: This section will discuss the numerous types of communities that predominantly exist in digital spaces, why they can thrive there, and how they help people understand themselves and their values
  • Algorithmic perpetuation of thought: This section will discuss how algorithms have the potential to perpetuate thought, how they are used to advantage some people, and question if these uses were intended by their creators.
  • Hierarchical perpetuation of thought: This section will discuss how hierarchies are created and maintained in digital communities, and how those with power perpetuate their world view through unseen influence.
  • Rewards systems, social notoriety and participatory knowledge: This section will discuss motivations for sharing and lurking in online communities and how both types of community members contribute to social standing and the development of knowledge within.
  • Anonymity & asynchronisity, & the online disinhibition effect: This section will discuss how communities disseminate knowledge, values, and understanding through anonymous and asynchronous interaction. This section will also discuss mimetic influences on reality. This section will also discuss why humans can and do post far more cruel and critical things online that they would normally do so in public. This portion will refer to societal panopticons and address anonymous communities.
  • Norms, trust, intervention, and education: This section will discuss how different digital communities establish and change their norms over time, how trust is learned and earned, ways in which professionals may seek to intervene when either is used to negatively impact another group, and ways in which practitioners and students may learn more.

When folks talk about "fake news" they are not only alluding to the dissemination of false information, but also the willingness for certain communities to accept it as fact, the manipulation of algorithms and mimetics to support their documents, support from trusted sources who might not challenge them, rewards systems, and the effects of anonymity and asynchronous communication. Through developing a more thorough understanding of the ways in which digital communities form and exist and treating them as unique entities, Student Affairs practitioners will be far more equipped to tackle issues that may arise within and around them.

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Session 2

Forgotten and Ignored: Highlighting the Experiences of College Students from Rural Areas and What Student Affairs Professionals Can Do to Avoid Urbanormativity

Elise Cain

The 2016 election highlighted many issues in the United States. One such concern included the rural and urban divide in our country. In an article in the New York Times, Dr. Kai Schafft, director of the Center for Rural Education and Communities at Penn State, commented, "all of a sudden, rural is on everyone's mind" and emphasized rural people previous to the election were "pretty systematically ignored, dismissed or passed over" (Pappano, 2017). Are we ignoring our college students from rural areas?

Rural areas cover about 97% of the land in the United States and are home to approximately 19.3% or 60 million people (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016). Adults from rural areas are much less likely to have bachelor's degrees than adults from urban areas, with only 19% of rural adults having degrees versus 29% of urban adults having degrees (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016). Rural areas are unique in their demographic and space, their political and economic, as well as their social and cultural existence. College students from these rural areas attend our universities with similar, yet different needs compared to those of suburban and urban students. Are we considering the unique needs of rural students in our work? Or, are well falling victim to "urbanormativity" and viewing the conditions of city life as normal (Thomas et al., 2011), neglecting the specific needs of rural students? These questions should be considered in all student affairs departments to maximize college attendance as well as degree completion by people from rural areas.

This session will begin with a group conversation on what "rural" means. This will be followed with a brief dynamic lecture, including video clips and images, to explore the many meanings of rural. Next, current research on the experiences of college students from rural areas will be explored through four themes: experiences relating to the rural environment, experiences relating to family and community members, experiences within the college environment, and experiences relating to future life choices. Next, participants will be divided into smaller groups to brainstorm ways to apply what they have learned during the session to their student affairs department. People will leave the session with at least one way they can improve the experiences of students from rural areas in their work. Finally, participants will be invited to share their ideas with the group to benefit all in attendance.

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Understanding and Supporting Conservative Students

Ben DeAngelis and Maureen Van Deusen

At a time when political ideologies are creating a chasm between the left and the right, college campuses are experiencing a great divide between conservative and liberal students. In an environment that is often perceived as being left-leaning, politically and ideologically conservative students are expressing feelings of marginalization that traditional programs and services might not be addressing. This workshop will detail who these students are, investigate the factors that make conservative students feel marginalized on campus and explore techniques for supporting these individuals and their efforts.

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What You See Is Not What You Get: Exploring Bias In Student Affairs Assessment

Kirsten Pagan and Miriam Bartschi

We live in a constant state of information overload, from email and social media to news feeds and public service announcements. How do you make sense of it all? Whom can you trust? Let SAASI (Student Affairs Assessment and Strategic Initiatives) be your guide!

This session will benefit both data-producers and data-consumers alike. Together we will navigate personal as well as organizational biases and their impact on Student Affairs professionals' assessment activities. The presenter will guide participants through an interactive process, during which each participant will:

  • foster an awareness of personal biases
  • identify vulnerability for bias in the assessment process
  • discuss strategies to overcome information bias
  • apply strategies to a "real world" example through a small group activity

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Ask Big Questions - Creating Community with Conversation

Courtney Woolever, Lea Webb and Jazell Johnson

The political, social and emotional climate on college campuses today is ever polarizing. Students, faculty and staff alike are being challenged now more than ever to confront contentious social and cultural issues and participate in productive and engaging conversations. It is the responsibility of University staff to create a supportive and caring culture around facilitating difficult conversations among students.

Ask Big Questions Campus Conversations Challenge is a national initiative aimed at providing college campuses with the resources to facilitate reflective conversations that build stronger communities. By engaging in these conversations, students can connect with others and discover new perspectives about themselves, each other and the world. Ask Big Questions uses seven big questions to guide conversation: Where do you feel at home, who is in your community, what do we assume, how do we listen, how do we disagree, for whom are we responsible, and what does the world need from you? Each of these "Big Questions" is then followed up by several reflective questions to help dive deeper into conversation.

This presentation will outline the Ask Big Questions program, share how it has been used on Binghamton University's campus thus far, and show how students and student affairs professionals participating in Ask Big Questions have first-hand conversations rooted in lived experiences that demonstrate the value of listening and respecting different viewpoints, and develop conversational skills with the goal of seeing similarities instead of differences and focusing on connection rather than proving someone is right or wrong. At the end of the session, attendees will participate in their own Ask Big Questions conversation.

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Joining the Conversation: Becoming a Student Affairs Professional

Deb Taub and Brianna King

Frequently, students who have enjoyed their para-professional roles on campus as resident assistants, orientation advisors, peer advisors, ambassadors and student leaders are surprised to learn that their work is part of a larger profession that they could enter. In this session, we will describe the role that student affairs plays as part of higher education, and how we as student affairs professionals can help our students and colleagues challenge our biases as we outline many of the functional areas in which student affairs professionals work on campuses.

Following that discussion, we will turn to how one prepares to enter the profession. The types and characteristics of graduate programs (1-year vs. 2-year, face-to-face vs. online or hybrid, counseling- or administrative-based, cohort model, and so on) will be described. Useful tools for the graduate school search, such as the NASPA directory, will be demonstrated. Presenters will also provide tips for preparing a strong application with a focus on the personal statement, the resume and letters of recommendation. Examples of what to do and what not to do will be shared.

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Session 3

1st Amendment on Campus

Brian Rose

As public colleges and universities navigate new pressures around free expression on campus, the debates often happen without a clear understanding of the boundaries of the First Amendment to which all public colleges and universities are subject. Get a quick primer on the first amendment in the context of common campus issues.

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Your Name Matters! A Simplified Approach to Pronouncing People's Names

Virginia Stever

Your Name Matters! addresses the understanding of the importance of people's names and how to better pronounce them more closely to the way people pronounce them themselves. While useful for pronunciation in most foreign languages, this workshop is focused on the pronunciation of names from Asian countries -- mainly Chinese, Japanese and Korean names. The approach is light and audience interaction and participation is critical to its success. Attendees will share about the importance of their own names and all will practice using the techniques to improve pronunciation of people's names. The goal of the workshop is to better interact across cultural and language barriers as well as build trust among students, faculty and staff. And it's fun!

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Challenging Bias within the Education System: Addressing Equal Access to Higher Education in Broome County

Lucia Pfizenmaier, Erin Marulli and Cory Rusin

BC HEARS (Broome County Higher Education Access, Retention and Success) would like to start a conversation regarding equal access to higher education for Broome County residents. Even though we live in what has been called a "university city," we are far from having an inclusively educated population. As we look around the area, we find more and more individuals falling under the poverty line and struggling to improve their life conditions through the workforce.

Why do we find certain patterns of demographics when addressing issues like dropout and unemployment rates? Are there biases within the educational system that are contributing to the exclusion of certain populations from the educational pipeline?

This presentation will present relevant data on access to higher education in Broome County and how it relates to specific populations. We will include supplementary materials and research resources that show how specific aspects of the educational system and social context in Broome County can be considered biased and are currently preventing some local residents from accessing higher education.

At the end of the session, we will have a short activity to create awareness of unconscious bias within the educational system and to promote collaborative work, as we enhance our interaction with the community and take meaningful steps toward social equity.

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Strengthening Civic Life through Engagement with Diverse Perspectives: An Innovative Community-Based Learning Experience

Alison Handy Twang and David Campbell

This session will provide an overview and explore preliminary outcomes of a unique community-based learning opportunity offered through David Campbell's Foundations of Civic Engagement course. This course introduces students to principles of civic engagement and addresses higher education's goal of preparing students for lives of active citizenship.

This community-based learning experience is designed to address increasing social and political polarization by challenging students to broaden their worldview, engage with diverse perspectives and understand the values and motivations of others. Students often have limited exposure to ideas, media, organizations and people that challenge their existing worldviews. This polarization has led to an environment in which people are sometimes viewed as representatives of their political viewpoints first and foremost, rather than as individuals with diverse experiences, backgrounds and beliefs.

Students in the course engage in activities with two organizations which represent contrasting views or differing approaches to solving community problems. Students work in groups to engage in multiple activities with two community partners, focused on developing personal connections and an understanding of the underlying values and motivations that shape the organization's work.

Specific topics covered in this session will include:

  • Overview of the goals and structure of the project
  • Process for identifying and engaging with partners
  • Strategies for preparing students for meaningful engagement with people who may hold different views, and best practices for reflection
  • Designing additional course assignments, readings, discussion etc. to support learning objectives
  • Discussion of challenges faced and lessons learned
  • Preliminary findings based on student discussions, written assignments, instructor and CCE staff observations and community partner feedback
  • There will be time for attendees to brainstorm and discuss applications of this concept to other areas

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Last Updated: 11/8/17