The note that follows is a response to a very thoughtful post by an IU student affairs graduate student regarding her quest to understand folks engaged in IU on Strike (which can be found here). This post got me thinking about the role of professionals in higher ed in joining with strikers in various ways, especially since I have beloved and valued friends and colleagues among the ranks of college student services staff, which then prompted me to respond to her post. And I thought I’d share that response, below, to maybe connect with more student affairs folks:
I appreciate your comments and your attention to democratic political action—It is so important to consider that this action itself is an education, the type of education that can only make our democracy, and our “imagined community” at IU, stronger. As a fellow graduate student in a very different field than yours, one that was born from the very type of activism you are seeing here with IU on Strike, I absolutely see the fundamental efficacy of this work, this particular type of collective political action. In fact, my field of study would not exist without the fact that students demanded it. And, since you mentioned the BGSU Women’s Center as a place where you did activism—I wonder, what do students do about a university like ours, IU, which has *no* Women’s Center? …To me, the issues that folks are striking for is inherent in that very problematic itself. Working within the system can be very effective—and that is a great thing to do, but we also must have the infrastructure available to us to do that work. So when the strikers demand that the university commit to issues of diversity, must they also brainstorm the *means*? That, I would assert, is where student affairs professionals can join in conversations with students/strikers to figure out how to make demands “happen” and manifest, however that may look. For me, that would look like: funding a Women’s & Gender Resource Center, creating a Black Cultural Center, and empowering our current cultural centers to actually do great programming. Also, starting a tenure-faculty diversity initiative to hire diverse faculty in mentorship “clusters,” and also showing commitment to diversity by putting real resources into marginalized programs on campus, such as Latino studies. There are so many ways that Admin/Student Affairs could “see the ideas” behind the tactics and demands and make those ideas into reality.
P.S. These thoughts are MY OWN & are not endorsed by strikers, etc.
In solidarity with IU on Strike!!!