2020’s challenges have stretched student affairs professionals in ways that we’re prepared to take on professionally, but still taxed us mentally and emotionally. Normally, the Socioeconomic and Class Issues in Higher Education (SCIHE) Knowledge Community focuses primarily on students, but this year we recognized that many in the field are also working class, and that their issues, concerns, and things to be celebrated were also important to highlight and support. This effort bore out in two ways: disseminating research and articles for members to bolster their knowledge of how socioeconomic and class identities intersect with others, and we also hosted programming to support professionals who have lost their jobs or been furloughed due to COVID-19.
Our research coordinator, Dr. Tiffany Cresswell-Yeager, used our intersectional framework to exploring class identities to create our inaugural “Research Spotlights.” Those spotlights can be found attached below. In September of 2019 the spotlight examined COVID-19 and class, in October the spotlight focused on racial injustice and class, and in November, student affairs professionals and class. Please save January 11th for our book discussion of Dr. Anthony Abraham Jack’s “The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students.” Tiffany’s work fits our strategic plan goals to “strengthen capacity in all professional roles to recognize, challenge, and dismantle systemic barriers to improve postsecondary access and achievement” and “Open pathways throughout the Association and the student affairs profession for equity-seeking, historically minoritized, and marginalized communities.” We thank Tiffany for her hard work on these.
The KC also partnered with the Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Division NASPActs Committee to host “Untenured: Tools for Student Affairs Professionals in Crisis” which was a webinar to support student affairs professionals who have been laid off, furloughed, or wanted to learn more about how to be an activist for change as a staff member, while maintaining their position. The link for the webinar can be found here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/recording/855703030747419907 Thank you to Ayanna Jackson, career coach and human resources professional, Latisha Johnson, a human resources professional, and Dawna Jones, a student affairs professional and president of the Carolina Black Caucus. Also, thank you to Angela Clark and Kristeena LaRoue of the NASPActs committee for your partnership.
In addition to this work, the Dr. Shirley Konneh worked to facilitate our elections process, and Amanda Morales, and Shawntae Harris Mintline, our conference co-coordinators achieved our goal of having a rubric for KC awards, and then facilitating our awards process. Those awards will be presented at the annual conference. Thank you to each of them.
Lauren Loper has been working with the KC to help us understand how our students and professionals are impacted by public policy. Lauren also worked to bring the Co-Chairs’ desire to highlight promising practices and collect Basic Needs’ initiatives to fruition by creating a document that helps us track them. The Basic Needs effort fits into our “Center student learning, development, and success as core outcomes of higher education” goal from the strategic plan. Additionally, Lauren worked with the co-chairs to put together and share Mutual Aid information for those in need due to COVID-19. This effort falls into our strategic plan in the “collaborate with local, state, national, and global partners to champion and support legislation, policies, and practices that advance student learning and success” section. Thank you, Lauren.
The Community on Homelessness and Foster Care has been spending time gathering information on how to best serve the unhoused and those in the foster care system. They are taking the survey results they have garnered and planning activities to best serve their members. Thank you to Dr. Kizzy Lopez and David Meyers.
The Professionals of the Poor and Working Class conducted a webinar on COVID-19 and being a student affairs professional early on during the pandemic. Thank you to Kareem Watts and Diana Sims.
Our regional team has fluctuated quite a bit, and we are currently recruiting for several positions. Nevertheless, those that are in regional positions have worked to hold sessions in their regional conferences to get the word out about the KC, partner with their region, and seek out what needs exist in their regions. Thank you to all of our Regional Representatives, Dr. Matt Newlin, Dr. Tiffany Cresswell-Yeager, Jasmine Zenn, Dr. Mario Garibay and Saniesa Thomas. We also welcomed two new Regional Representatives to our team and look forward to working with Laura Harris and Susan Zarnowski in the upcoming year.
In addition to our programmatic initiatives, our former chair of the KC has stayed on to support fundraising for the KC. This year, instead of asking for money, Steve Jenks spent time talking with NASPA about ways we can support professionals through COVID - 19. Thank you, Steve, for keeping us informed about the reduced costs membership for those in transition and the lower cost of the annual conference.
Finally, we would like to thank our partner at NASPA, Monica Nixon, who has worked with the KC to facilitate our work at the division level. We would also like to welcome David Arnold as our new division liaison, and look forward to getting to know them as we proceed into the new year.
We look forward to continuing to support low-income student success and working class staff persons in 2021. We will continue exploring the intersection of class identity with other oppressed identities including race, gender, those in the foster care system, sexuality, ability status, and other topics throughout the year. We plan to continue to align our work around the strategic plan outlined in 2019, extend our collaborations with other entities within NASPA, and educate the student affairs community about low-income people in higher education. Finally, we also have volunteer opportunities currently open if you would like to join us in this important work.
Thank you everyone for supporting the SCIHE KC. We hope you have a restful winter break, and see you in 2021.
Shonda and Mitchell
SCIHE KC Co-Chairs 2020-2022