NASPA eagerly announces new Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Division

Inclusion has long been one the foundational guiding principles of NASPA. In recognition of that focus, six years ago, a group of NASPA leaders from each of the identity-based knowledge communities came together to form the Commission on Equity and Inclusion. Since that time, this group has provided thoughtful leadership to NASPA and guided the Association on important social justice issues. This year, the NASPA Board is pleased to announce that the Commission is transitioning to become the new Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Division. With this new structure, the work of this group will be elevated, including representation on the NASPA Board. NASPA is grateful to the incredible dedication of the outgoing Commission chair, Bobby Kuntsman, and warmly welcomes the incoming director of the new Division, Ajay Nair.

As this transition occurs, it is important to note the accomplishments of the Commission since its inception. In the past year alone, the Commission on Equity and Inclusion assisted the NASPA Executive Team with developing a new bias incident protocol for members to use in notifying the Association if an incident occurs. The group also revised the Association’s diversity statement. The new Commitment to Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice is an important and powerful articulation of NASPA’s efforts to center social justice within the work of the organization. The Commission also began work on developing an Association-wide climate survey to better guide the Association in ensuring that all of its programs and services achieve inclusive excellence. Finally, prior to the 2016 NASPA Annual Conference in Indianapolis, the Commission developed the NASPActs initiative which provided conference attendees with an opportunity take a stand against discriminatory legislation in Indiana. That effort continued at the 2017 conference in San Antonio with the NASPActs booth in the exhibit hall. NASPA members came together with the NASPActs committee to sign letters opposing discriminatory trans bathroom bills in 14 states, and to learn from one another about ways to support transgender students, DACA-mented and undocumented students and students impacted by the immigration ban. This incredible visual representation of the hard work that NASPA members do every day to support our students facing discrimination was an important reminder of the power of social justice work in our profession. Finally, on Tuesday evening, the NASPActs committee hosted a call to action vigil during which several identity-based knowledge community leaders spoke to the importance of uniting across identities to support our colleagues, our students, and social justice efforts on campus. 

The new Division will continue to consist of members from each of the identity-based knowledge communities and regions at NASPA, providing a broad range of perspectives to guide the Association in providing inclusive advocacy, leadership, scholarship and professional development for our members. In addition, the Division will provide comprehensive expertise to members on social justice and equity issues occurring at the national, state and local levels. The charge of the new Division is similar to that of the Commission, in that it will work closely with the NASPA Board of Directors, volunteer leadership, and the NASPA staff to ensure inclusive programming, membership and leadership for the Association. Among those efforts, the Division will:

  • Ensure that contributors to NASPA publications, workshops, and conferences represent a variety of backgrounds and perspectives;
  • Provide ongoing professional development opportunities focused on equity, inclusion, and social justice at all NASPA-hosted workshops and conferences;
  • Regularly engage with the Association’s Knowledge Communities, Divisions, and Commissions in order to increase awareness of and provide voice to current trends on equity, inclusion, and social justice in the field;
  • Commit to educating NASPA members about equity, inclusion, and social justice by providing timely, evidence-informed resources on issues of social justice, equity and inclusion, including encouraging members to submit conferences proposals, journal articles, publications, and online learning options centered on social justice;
  • Commit to providing opportunities for community support, education, and advocacy for NASPA members who want to engage with equity, inclusion, and social justice in student affairs; and,
  • Increase the diversity of NASPA membership to reflect the diversity of the field in alignment with our mission to equity, inclusion, and social justice.

The important work of NASPActs will also continue under the new Division, and we hope you will join us as the initiative expands to provide year-round opportunities for social justice activism. We hope you are excited about the new Division as we are, and that you will find ways to engage with the Division moving forward. Social justice work in our profession has always been important, but never more so than now during this turbulent time in our country. The members of the Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Division look forward to working with you to advance NASPA’s commitment to social justice, and to supporting you, our colleagues, in this work on campuses across the country and around the world.