Message from the Division Chair
Welcome to the NASPA Public Policy Division (PPD). Given the thrust of the PPD’s mission to “provide leadership in higher education through policy development and advocacy for students on important national issues,” the relevance and significance of our focus cannot be understated. There are myriad higher education policy issues with which our federal, state, and local leaders are grappling, and it is critical that NASPA members be informed and use our voices to help shape policy in ways that positively influence the student experience.
Members of the PPD Leadership Team meet once per month to review and discuss policy updates via a robust list compiled by our NASPA staff liaisons, Teri Hinds, Director of Policy Research & Advocacy, and Diana Ali, Assistant Director of Policy Research & Advocacy. Team members also share updates on policy issues from their own regions, systems, etc. As one would expect, policy issues cover a wide array of areas, but in general the topics fall within the five broad categories of the current PPD Agenda:
Student success and college completion;
Student safety and wellness, including financial and mental wellness and protections for trans students and victims of sexual assault;
Costs of higher education, student debt, and borrower protections;
Inclusive opportunities for access and success in higher education; and
Civic engagement and freedom of expression.
Related to the fifth topic on the agenda, civic engagement and freedom of expression, I am excited to be representing the PPD with a team of NASPA colleagues (viz., Diana Ali, Teri Hinds, Stephanie King, NASPA’s Director of Civic Engagement and Knowledge Community Initiatives, Erin Payseur Oeth, Project Manager for Community Engagement, University of Mississippi, and Kara Lindaman, Professor of Political Science, Winona State University) in a project centered on Free Speech and the Inclusive College Campus. Partnering with the Kettering Foundation, NASPA is working to develop materials for deliberative forums at higher education institutions around this topic, and we began by asking our Student Affairs colleagues a fundamental question: What concerns you about the topic, “free speech and the inclusive college campus?” Be on the lookout in 2020 for opportunities to access and utilize an issue guide on this topic, which will help you and your colleagues and students host deliberative forums on your own campuses.
The 2019-2024 NASPA Strategic Plan provides exciting opportunities for NASPA’s constituent groups to be involved in developing tactics to help actualize the plan’s goals. Organized around four broad categories -- Advocacy for Student Success, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice, Research and Scholarship, and Professional Development and Engagement -- the Strategic Plan holds much promise to inspire fulfillment of the promise of higher education for all students. The Public Policy Division is eager to support the plan through numerous initiatives, including but certainly not limited to annual conference sessions, blog posts, in-person and virtual town halls, podcasts, and social media engagement. In addition, we recognize and embrace potential synergies in the public policy space with other NASPA entities and events, including the Research & Policy Institute, Civic Engagement Initiatives, National Student Affairs Day of Action, NASPA Hill Days, and the work of various Constituent Groups.
Dr. Brent A. Marsh, Vice President for Student Affairs, Rogers State University