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We need to share information on FLSA changes at our institutions: Take the Survey

[click here to complete survey] 

I hear often that folks in student affairs (and education, and social work, and nonprofits…) say “Well, I don’t do this for the money!”

That’s rather a sad reflection of our society, that we accept how society devalues the contributions we make in society. It is a reality, yes. But I think the Obama Administration’s implemented changes to support fair salaries is the perfect time for us to speak more openly.

The U.S. Department of Labor initiated a new rule for the Fair Labor & Standards Act (FLSA) named the “Overtime Final Rule” (OFR) to raise the salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476 for the exempt employee classification. It was supposed to start today, December 1st. Instead, a federal judge in Texas granted an injunction and the FLSA OFR has been paused. Indeed, with an incoming Trump administration it may end before it began.

Many folks in student affairs, online and offline, have been reporting mixed responses by their institutions. Some are positive, some are neutral, and some are rather unethical.

With that, I ask that full-time professionals in higher education (student affairs and related areas like enrollment management) to take time to complete a survey. All data will be shared in hopes of providing employees with a more full picture of how institutions are responding to FLSA changes and better preparing employees on how to advocate for themselves and others in the workplace.

Please note: There are many optional questions so you can anonymize yourself quite a bit if you worry about a response getting tracked back to you. There are open-ended questions, so it is up to you to on how much detail you want to provide.

[click here to complete survey] 

An overview is provided at the top of the survey; but I have also copied it below:


Higher Education/Student Affairs Report Form for FLSA Changes

Purpose of Survey:
The U.S. Department of Labor initiated a new rule for the Fair Labor & Standards Act (FLSA) named the “Overtime Final Rule” (OFR) to raise the salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476 for the exempt employee classification. Full-time employees working 40 or more hours per week and paid less than $47,476 would have to be paid overtime or granted comp time. Institutions of higher education have worked over the last few months to either raise salary levels to the new threshold change an employee’s status – often to clock in and out daily.

December 1st was when the new Overtime Final Rule (OFR) was meant to take effect. However, on November 22nd U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant granted an Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction and thereby enjoined the Department of Labor from implementing and enforcing the OFR on December 1, 2016.

Institutions of higher education, as well as all businesses, no longer have to implement the OFR – for now. This is a delay and does not equate that OFR will never occur, although there is that possibility with a new administration in January.

Already I have seen student affairs professionals post on Facebook that their institutions are halting the changes – some have chosen to renege on salary changes. There are also many different ways that institutions have chosen to accommodate the OFR – some which benefit both institution and employee or some that benefit only the institution.

Therefore, in the intention of enhancing worker’s rights within the field of higher education and student affairs, I have constructed this survey. Data will be shared publicly. Professionals can utilize the data to better advocate for their needs, resources, and work/life balance.

Survey Respondent Criteria:
1. Work at an institution of higher education in student affairs or related administrative areas (such as enrollment management).
2. Work full-time.

Survey Overview:
1. Purpose: Gather data on FLSA changes in higher education so that employees can share about their respective changes and learn how FLSA changes are being processed at other institutions. Currently, there is no comprehensive collection of data on FLSA changes at universities, so I hope this fills a data gap.This data is intended to help employees advocate for themselves in the workplace. This survey seeks information on the employee and the institution in order to provide fair comparison as needed. Questions can be directed to Niki Messmore at notesbynix@gmail.com

2. Information submitted will be public and unedited. Please anonymize yourself (and there are options to name your institution or just use your institution classification) as we want to minimize backlash that someone could experience. There are many identifying options that you can skip in order to feel more comfortable sharing information.

3. You may add as much personalized information as you like; questions that could more easily identify respondents have been made optional.

Survey Results Publication:
A summary will be posted on my blog, Dances with Dissonance. The raw data will be uploaded onto a public GoogleDoc excel spreadsheet.
———————————————-
Further Readings:
1. I have written about FLSA changes before and include resources at the end of my blog post if you would like to read more about the new overtime rule:

2.  Direct updates on the new FLSA Overtime rule are posted by the Department of Labor
———————————————-
About Me:
My name is Niki Messmore and I am undertaking this survey because I feel strongly that professionals should share openly about salary and benefits in order to better advocate for themselves, others, and their institutions. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Bowling Green State University in 2007 and proceeded to work in both higher education and nonprofits for 5 years. Following this, I earned my master’s degree in Higher Education & Student Affairs from Indiana University in 2014. For the past two years I have worked as the Coordinator for Civic Engagement at an urban 4-year institution in Indiana.
[LinkedIn Profile]

An Open Letter to the Open Letter

I admit I can be a bit sardonic at times, which is where the title of this blog post comes from. I’m not quite a happy or whole person – and never have been –  but I am always trying.

Speaking of trying, I get where Dr. Ann Marie Klotz is coming from with her blog post on Nov 29th titled “An Open Letter to the Student Affairs Professionals Page Members”. I have many critiques of the group and do acknowledge the place is toxic. But as an active participant of the group for around 2 years, I do feel compelled to respond.

First, I acknowledge I am a Moderator for the group. This blog post is from Niki the Human and SA Professional, not Niki the Mod, but I know this may influence the lens in which people read this blog post.

That’s understandable. The world is nuanced and complicated, and we all perceive the world through the lens of our identities and our experiences. I would expect you, Gentle Reader, to read my words through your own lens, which will lead you to likely both agree and disagree on what I write.

Much like when I read Dr. Klotz’s post, I read it recognizing that I was reading the words of someone who has never strongly participated in The Group™ before and, based on her blogs and public talks, I know is someone who was a first generation college student that grew up in poverty in Detroit as a White woman, and now works in upper-administration at a university in New York City and is a speaker and blogger on higher education issues. I know her identity made an impact in how and what she wrote – because our identities & experiences always influence how we write; and I know my identities make an impact in how I interpreted her words.

I appreciate Dr. Klotz and many of her past writings, but am compelled to write a strong critique. I do not judge her as a person (at all! It is important to separate the person from the writing sometimes and I truly have appreciated other works of hers) and I am sure she has good intentions, but I do judge the predominant ideas in her writing.

You may judge my ideas as well. Here they are, addressing the post point-by-point in order to address both what I liked and did not:

“Happy, whole, people. That’s who I want to be around.”
Definitely your preference! I personally enjoy ‘broken people who are trying’. That stems from my identities and personal experience; I am not open to writing publicly about them in detail but the root issue is poverty and the many issues that stem from it. Speaking of, Dr. Klotz’s #ACPA14 Pecha Kucha on her experiences as a first-gen low income student gave me LIFE that year. I just connect better with people who have ‘seen some shit’ as my people would say, than people who “live in little boxes on the hillside”.

“Happy, whole, people are positive.  They work hard on behalf of students.” 
Truly very few humans are happy and whole. Especially in a field like education (and specifically student affairs) where there’s always complaints of work/life balance, low pay, and other grievances. I mean, how is it I have a master’s degree and make around $35,000 annually?

There are many unhappy or sometimes happy and maybe not quite whole people who work hard on behalf of students as well! So, this was a bit offensive to me – even if I get where Dr. Klotz was coming from.

Also – did anyone else read this sentence and immediately think of the film Legally Blond?

legally-blonde-kill-people

“Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands”

“Which is why I simply do not understand what is happening on the Student Affairs Professionals Facebook page. While impressive in members (over 25,000!)…”
Girl, yessss. There are so many people! And that’s what makes The Group™ so dang difficult. Let’s recognize that the happiest country in the world is Denmark – unsurprisingly it is only 5.5 million people, 90% White and 80% Lutheran. There’s little diversity and almost all people have the same majority identities, so no wonder they are so dang happy! (except for the minorities – read up on racism in Denmark, y’all). When you add numbers and diversity, you get multiple experiences and viewpoints, so deciding on “one way of life” is pretty difficult!

“It has become a place for unhappy, broken, people to showcase their brokenness.”
Yeah. I was annoyed before, but this judgmental statement made me clutch my fake pearls from JC Penney. As I said, I embrace my brokenness and my broken people! But this statement is so disconnected from the reality of what goes on in The Group™ that it’s jarring.

I will acknowledge that people are broken and unhappy. And you can definitely see how the unhappiness and hurt shines through in certain posts and comments in The Group™.

But…of course people are unhappy! See, this is why I – as someone who worked in social services before entering grad school for SA – cannot take Student Affairs very seriously when it comes to social justice. YES, there is great SJ work that occurs but then there’s moments like this where I feel there is a disconnect between the SJ values we preach and linking them to action and philosophies – and as we can see from the many positive reactions to Dr. Klotz’s piece, there are many people who either are not viewing the post through a critical lens and/or are unbothered by the silencing tone of the piece.

We live in a system of oppression and everyone has different privileged and marginalized identities (PS: I need people to stop saying they are a “marginalized person” because it just erases their privileged identity(ies) – which almost everyone has one).

It can be difficult to be happy when you are trying to survive in a career (student affairs) and a society (especially the U.S.) that was not.made.for.you. It was made for so few of us. Depending on the identities one holds, it is sometimes just enough to “survive” and hope one day we get to the “thrive” part.

The next time you see someone being bitter in The Group™ please recognize that yes, maybe they are unhappy and broken. Whether it is the “social justice warrior” lambasting someone or the “privileged jerk” who vehemently thinks you are mean for yelling at them – remember that we are all unhappy and broken in different ways and the ways in which we engage on the internet might stem from this brokeneness. Sometimes just recognizing it helps us get a step forward in understanding.

– Also – Let’s acknowledge that Student Affairs regularly emphasizes “authenticity” but I guess only when that person is happy and whole and life is awesome. And…also it seems authenticity is only okay when that person has no mental illness, because let’s be real: saying someone is “broken” is a long held discriminatory way to speak about people with mental illness. Again, I’m sure not the intent, but ‘broken’ was a terrible word choice.

“One criticism I have heard from group members is that more seasoned practitioners don’t often comment or contribute.” 
I totally get this. It is a public Facebook group and the higher your profile is, the more careful you have to be in your wording so you do not risk your job. Screenshots, and all that (which, btw, I disagree with intensely). Y’all have a lot more at risk and usually report up to conservative folks since traditionally old white men tend to be university presidents and chancellors.

Personally, I think that is a nice distinction of #sachat on Twitter – the ability to engage with seasoned professionals.

“It has become a place where people like to attack and judge each other.” 
I agree and disagree.

The issue with Dr. Klotz’s post is the lack of nuance in discerning the root of the issue in The Group™. Where is it that we see argument? Is something trivial like whether one should order pizza or subs for a program? No, it is almost always rooted in identity and social justice. The “attacks” often stem from someone with a marginalized perspective or speaking for a marginalized group to critique a post or comment that perpetuates oppression. OR, it occurs when a privileged person says something oppressive, someone gently calls them on it, and they react very defensively and go on the attack.

However, I do acknowledge the toxicity of the group and how the responses can be. There’s a lot of anger and most of it is righteous. When someone is triggered emotionally by content because their oppressed identity is targeted, they basically have 3 options: 1. Educate them. 2. Hold them accountable, 3. Ignore it.

The first two options are sometimes done at the same time and can be done in many different tones: mild, irritated, sarcastic, angry, etc. It can be difficult when one feels triggered emotionally to pull a Michelle Obama “when they go low, we go high” and speak all pleasant-like. Sometimes I believe the anger is righteous and the offending party should feel that anger – that is one way of becoming educated that what they did was not okay and they should not do it again.

There are limits, in my perspective, based on the intensity of the incident (from mistake to vicious ignorance to intentional) and the person who committed it (I hold seasoned professionals to a much different standard than grad students, for example).

BUT – overall, the people I see who usually gripe about being ‘attacked’? They are almost always coming from the privileged perspective on the matter.  So by making this statement, I immediately get the sense that Dr. Klotz’s perspective stems from a very white experience as traditionally most of the social justice debates/discussions/fights center around race (not always, but predominantly).

I completely believe The Group™ needs critique, but it needs it through a critical theory lens.

“The large number of members has created a mob-like mentality where people can feel safe to literally say anything (publicly criticizing their boss, institution, etc.) and know that they will be supported by hundreds of people.”     
Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…………Yes AND No.

Anyone who spends time in the group knows that there have been many posts calling out that silly memes and stories get hundreds of posts but when people call out negative things like oppression, there usually is not a large response. I also don’t usually see people criticize their boss and institution that often (although it happens) but that’s their choice – and at the same time they don’t get hundreds of likes/comments.

However! It is possible that Dr. Klotz is here calling out the White, Straight, Cis, Able-Bodied identity groups. After all, so many folks with one or more of these identities have written truly tasteless and horrific things that I am appalled that people approve of it in a field that ‘values’ social justice. As it is completely true that in terms of “silent support” i.e. post and comment “Facebook Likes”, the privileged perspectives tend to get much more of this. Not always of course, as I see our marginalized folks holding it down and supporting each other often – shout out to how amazing many of our Queer, Black, Latinx, AAPI, Indigenous, & Trans colleagues are. And I’m seeing even more colleagues with mental illness and disabilities calling attention to these issues as well.

“I have heard of employers checking that Facebook group before they offer a candidate a position simply to ensure that they aren’t one of the people that have been contributing to this issue of attacking others”
Yep. That’s pretty scary. Again, there’s the whole idea of how are we defining “attacking others”. I think it is code for standing up for oneself and others of marginalized identities.

But again, it could also be referring to all the privileged and oppressive interactions. I mean, do I want to hire someone who openly discriminates?

It is also true that sometimes people on the ‘social justice side’ do take it a step farther than I agree with – but it’s also hard because often it’s in cases where I do not share that marginalized identity so…do I get to call something “too much” when from their perspective, it is deserved?

And also – if you are an employer and you actually don’t consider a candidate because they call out racism, sexism, transphobia, etc in a Facebook group of professionals who interact with students of different identities every day? Please reconsider. Your department could benefit from a strong supporter of marginalized students who are willing to take time to call out discrimination in a public arena.

Nuance. Is. Required.

“Happy, whole, people. That’s who I want to serve students.”
Agree to disagree. Again, this feels like coded language that is biased against oppressed identities, like we must be seen but not heard – like children at a Victorian dinner table.

“I get the most nervous for these aspiring student leaders, the excited undergrads, the NUFP kids, and anyone else who is considering entering our field and sees these posts.” 
Me too! Sure, I had 5 years of professional experience prior to graduate school, but I’ve only been in the field 2.5 years post-master’s…and I cannot believe the amount of prejudice and ignorance that exists in the field. When I applied for graduate school I thought that Student Affairs professionals were highly educated on issues of social justice. And…they are more than some professions (I will give us that). But it has been an exhausting and frustrating experience to see so many SA professionals at all levels make racist, sexist, classist, and other ‘ist’ statements. I have lost a lot of respect for the field. And I know many aspiring SA folks – especially students of color – who see these types of ignorant posts and reconsider their career.

So yes, I am nervous.

“It is our job to role model how to engage in online spaces so that students can learn about respectful dialogue and how to have tough conversations.  Instead, it has often become a place where folks are sharing their pain in destructive ways.”
Yes, I will agree with some of this. ‘Civil dialogue’ is a real concept that one can read about and learn, and it would be great if all members read up on this. There is actually a way to speak about critical topics and disagree.

But of course, this can be difficult in practice. Like last year there was a certain ‘CEO’ who posted many disgusting things before being banned from The Group™ and once posted something quite sexist and would not respond authentically to my critique – this made me so damn angry and had no issue being “a bitch” (because you know people think that when women get angry and disagree) in my next responses.

Was that civil dialogue? Nope. But sometimes you have to cut someone with words in order to carve through the bullshit and get into an authentic space.

“Happy, whole, people. That’s who I want to call on in the middle of a crisis.”
I…still don’t really know what is meant by happy, whole, people.

And in the middle of a crisis I want people who can get shit done – broken people are sometimes the best at this.

“Reclaim the page.”
…from who?

I’m sorry, I know this is meant with likely good intention but it is coming from an upper-level White female administrator who has not really posted a lot about social justice or critical theory and who does not engage in the The Group™. So naturally I have concerns.

As someone commented in the group, this really sounds like Trump’s anthem of “Make America Great Again” (with the resounding question of “great for who?”). I know from Dr. Klotz’s Twitter that she supported Hillary so I’m sure this was not her vision but it is my interpretation – and many others.

Jameelah Jones did a lot of labor in quickly analyzing the types of post in the group and the majority of it is asking for advice, job postings, and stories. It truly seems like the issue people have with the group is social justice conversations, so if you want to “reclaim the page” I can’t help but think this is a bunch of White, Straight, Middle-Class, Christian, Cis, Able-Bodied etc folks coming in to sweep others out.

I imagine this critique may sound harsh because this field does not truly value a critical lens and has a lot of fragility (white or otherwise) around privilege, so just me calling it out as I see it will sound harsh, I am sure.

And yet…I can interpret this statement no other way than to whitewash the group and turn us into robotic versions of ourselves.

“Make it a space for empowerment and grace.” 
I love this statement on its own, but connected to the other statements I am not sure who you want to empower…

However, I do think we could do a better job of giving each other (especially young professionals) some grace on mistakes made.

“Use it as less of a therapy session and more of a place where we can brainstorm how to help our students—and each other—when engaging with the tough work on our college campuses.” 
I am actively disappointed in this statement and frown every time I read it.

First, I’m not sure what “therapy session” means. Is it alluding to the comments where people speak openly about their marginalized identities and advocate for their right to live without oppression? Or does it mean when people complain about having to serve Midnight Breakfast? I have no idea but I assume the former due to the tone of this blog post.

What some people consider “therapy”, others consider “building community”.

“Let’s use this page as a space where victories are shared, staff successes are celebrated and resources are given.” 
I think all this is great! It sounds like a nice message board on a 1995 Geocities page – very basic and dry.

While these are all great to include, this idea excludes having engaging conversations around social justice and other issues. It also excludes the idea that we cannot as workers gather to discuss issues in higher education like low pay, ineffective graduate school programs, bias in the workplace, and others. In this day and age, it is important that we share our struggles so it is no longer ‘me’ but ‘we’. This will help us better advocate for ourselves and one another.

Again, I like the positive aspects but we need to be critical minded professionals as well. I am worried by only emphasizing the positive the end goal of this blog post is to cancel out authentic and challenging conversations among diverse folks.

“In the quest for this group to be inclusive, it has backfired to become divisive (young, edgy, pros vs. old curmudgeons) and let’s live up to the title of the group—Student Affairs Professionals.”
Does what makes the young professionals edgy are their commitment to social justice?

“All professional interaction and engagement with one another.” 
The term “professional” was defined by White, Straight, Cis-Men. It’s an exclusive concept that strips us often of our humanity – especially if you don’t have all those privileged identities. “You Call it Professionalism; I Call it Oppression in a Three-Piece Suit” is a great piece by Carmen Rios on Everyday Feminism that people need to read.

“That being said, “I volunteer as tribute!” to help whoever is interested to give this page a face-lift, a re-do, an upgrade.”
As both a Member and a Moderator, I just want folks to engage in the group critically with an open-mind, and participate as often as they can.

As someone who low-key likes research on these topics, it is very difficult to change the structure of a large and diverse organization (especially in a desensitized virtual space). I am not quite sure how to go about fixing things, but I know no matter what, people will leave. So, it comes down to values and what voices we value when we are upgrading a space.

“There is enough hate, anger, and pain in our country right now.  Let’s compassionately lead our campuses and be kind to each other.”
I wholeheartedly agree. I just think this is a “both/and” situation. We can be compassionate by also recognizing the unhappy and broken pieces within each of us and fighting for all of us.

Conclusion
What does this all boil down to – in my opinion?

Privilege and oppression.

And mostly – White fragility and systemic racism. While not all social justice posts in the group are about race (trans and queer issues are also frequent) it usually does come down to race. Which does lead me to believe that all this hand wringing about the tone of the group and a desire to return to the old model of mostly job postings stems from racism.

Which is honestly just sad. I hope we can be more open-minded, utilize a critical lens, and do better as we move forward.

Finally, let it be known that while Dr. Klotz wrote a rather viral blog post calling attention to issues in the group, she has the privilege of being rather high profile in the SA blogging/social media world. Remember: People of color – especially Black Student Affairs Professionals via #blksapblackout – have been calling out issues for a very long time. Many queer and trans voices as well, and many other marginalized voices. Please recognize this as the discussions about The Group™ continue online and offline.

***

Feedback can be left in the comments or tweet me at @NikiMessmore.

Facilitating Dialogue: 8 Steps to Supporting People in a Post-Trump Era

Do you understand what this country has done in electing Donald Trump as President of the United States of America?

I do.

Donald Trump employed divisive fear mongering tactics to engage millions of people who are not happy with their lives by scapegoating minorities – women, people of color (especially Black and Latinx folks), people with disabilities, queer folks and trans folks (LGBTQ+), undocumented people, immigrants, Muslims, Jews…the list goes on.

So naturally in the aftermath of the election college students (and many folks overall) are scared for the safety and civil rights.

Fox News and other media outlets (and humans I know – SIGH) have made a mockery of how universities have worked to support students after the election results & in general mocked the “whining of liberals”. This is rude and unnecessary – they lack compassion.

This blog post is focused on talking to people one-on-one and in groups who feel upset and fearful by Trump’s victory and his looming presidency.

For those of you working in Higher Education/Student Affairs and wondering how best to support your students, here’s my recommendations. I spent all day Wednesday, November 9th meeting in small groups or facilitating large group discussions with students + colleagues and have engaged in dialogue since then – and I am sure will continue to do so for quite some time. These are my observations and hopefully they are helpful in aiding discussion.

1. Don’t Assume

Remember that long list of demographic groups I listed in the opening statement? Don’t assume people from these groups are against Trump. Out of the people who voted, exit polls say that 52% of White women voted for Trump. About 19% of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) and Latinx folks voted for Trump. Some (in much smaller numbers) Black folks voted for Trump too. No numbers for other groups, but I am sure some voted for Trump.

Likewise, people who don’t seem at risk for losing their civil liberties and/or the majority of the demographic voted Trump (rural folks, cis-men, straight people, white people), didn’t all vote for Trump and also disapprove of the election outcome.

Therefore, don’t assume anything when discussing the election.

2. Listen

This should go without saying but not necessarily a natural trait for some people. Even if you have the same/similar identities as the person talking, you may not have the same fears/hopes/experiences that they hold. If you hold privilege in an area that they speak of (i.e., a disabled person speaking to a non-disabled person), be very careful of how much “space” you take up. I have seen people with privilege taking up space in these post-election conversation; the more privilege they have the more they tend to talk. This is a time where we need to let marginalized folk say what is on their mind because they may not have other spaces where they can speak about these things. (follow-up with Everyday Feminism Article “The Importance of Listening as a Privileged Person Fighting for Justice” by Jamie Utt)

3. Allow People to Discuss Their Fears

Fear is natural in this situation. This is not a normal election. It has been a long time since a candidate for the top office in a country has been outspoken against multiple minority groups and made heinous statements. This goes not just for Donald Trump and all the slurs and harassing statements he’s made but also for his VP Mike Pence. Throughout his political career, Pence was intensely anti-LGBTQ and pushes for conversion therapy and the right of people to refuse service to queer folks.

International students are afraid their VISAs will be revoked and they’ll have to leave the country before finishing their education. Women and survivors of sexual assault know that Title IX protection is in danger with a president with a long history of sexual harassment and alleged assault. Undocumented Undocumented Undocumented students and recent immigrants fear being deported and/or losing family members to deportation. Black students wonder how much less their lives will matter with a president who has made many racist statements. Muslims fear being placed on a registry. Jewish folks know what a leader with these sorts of attitudes can do and recognize from history & present-day events that they are targets (and have been grieving at synagogues this week). Disabled folks/people with disabilities know their health is at risk with a president who wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act; without their medication they will be in pain and may even die. All these groups of people knew there was discrimination in this country and now know that millions of American citizens voted for a man with racist, sexist, xenophobic, ableist, transphobic, homophobic, Anti-Semitic views….so how honestly can they expect to be safe here?

Not to mention – in the three days since the election over 200 hate crimes and acts of harassment and intimidation have been reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center (very similar to the aftermath of Brexit in the United Kingdom). People of color, LGBTQ folks, and women have been impacted the most – from elementary school children to adults. Bigots have been emboldened by Trump – a bigot who made it to the highest office in the land.

So yes. People’s fears are real. Acknowledge them. Validate them. Let them talk about them.

4. Beware the Oppression Olympics

This has not occurred in any discussions I’ve hosted yet but I have seen a lot of it on social media.

Many groups of people have been targeted by Trump’s rhetoric and his supporters. Many are in fear of his stated policies that will eradicate their civil rights.

Not every group will be equally affected and that should be understood. Intersectionality of identity is critical to understanding how we will be affected. A lower-middle class & disabled cis-white woman in a relationship with a man will experience the Trump Administration differently than a middle-class & able-bodied cis-Latino man married to another cis-man.

It’s like Mad Libs – you can insert all these different identities and the story is the same: the majority of the American populace will be affected. The only demographic unaffected will be those who hold all the majority identities (a very small number of Americans). And of course, then there are the folks who have marginalized identities but still support the Trump Administration and do not expect to be affected.

Either way, cut this shit out – STOP erasing marginalized groups from the conversation on who will feel the impact of the Trump Administration. If it comes up in discussion, guide the conversation out of this loop of Oppression Olympics.

5. Don’t Be Optimistic/Try to Lighten the Mood (Without Reading the Room)

Some people are uncomfortable with conflict, negative energy, and sad/angering news (especially when they feel helpless to change the situation and/or don’t think they can change the situation). Their coping strategy is to “look on the bright side” and may make statements that they hope are meaningful and inspirational but actually are meaningless in practice at that moment. Sometimes, you just have to let people grieve. False platitudes don’t protect someone from being attacked for wearing a hijab, someone losing their Driver’s License when Trump revokes DACA, or when a disabled person’s monthly medication increases from $45 monthly to $1,000.

Of course – it depends on the relationships you have with the person/people talking, number of folks in the room, how the conversation has been going, and so on. This takes some finesse, so please be observant of what that space needs in that time.

6. Bring Hope into the Conversation

I know – I just lectured on how we don’t need to thrust optimism into every conversation.

What I asked my students was: “Do you feel hopeless? Or do you feel hope? And if so, what does hope look like for you?” – or some variation of this.

It’s important to note that not everyone feels hope right now and that’s okay – so bring up that hopelessness is an option. Yes, we want people to move through that feeling to find hope but this is when you need to “ meet students where they are” and just let them be humans for a second.

But this question is critical and should come after everyone has discussed their fears. Hope is instrumental in overcoming whatever policies and laws that may come at us as a nation in Trump’s presidency.

And there is a LOT to give us hope: Many people are beginning to mobilize and vow to do the work to protect the most vulnerable of us. And Tuesday night may have elected someone who openly boasts of harassing women, but also gave us the first Somali Muslim woman in the House, first Latina senator, first openly queer governor (also a woman), and so much more. Overall, many women of color won Congressional seats!

One of my favorite proverbs has been shared by many of my Latinx friends this week and it feels appropriate in this period of fear and hope for the future:

“They tried to bury us; they did not know we were seeds”. (Mexican proverb, attributed to the Zapatistas but it’s hard to find an exact source).

7. Move into an Action-Oriented Phase

A smaller number of the electorate (eligible voters) cast ballots this year than the last two presidential elections. According to Five Thirty Eight about 1.4 million more Americans voted in 2016 than 2012 but the number of eligible voters had grown, diminishing this appearance of victory. Around 45.4% of eligible voters did not show up.

WE NEED TO SHOW UP.

So after discussing fears and then hope – ask folks what changes they will take in their life to become more civically engaged. This includes daily acts of radical self-care and caring for others – and it also includes engaging in community-based organizations. The only way we can progress the civil liberties of this country is to get organized. Have the group discuss ideas and work together to create a list.

Plus – making a plan of action is often helpful when managing fear and anger in the wake of the election.

8. Self Care

Black lesbian womanist writer and activist Audre Lorde (February 18, 1932-November 17, 1992) said “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” I recognize this is said from her perspective as a black queer woman and I know this quote recognizes the unique stress experienced by black queer woman. I am not sure if Audre Lorde intended this quote to be colonized by people outside of her identities as she was the daughter of Caribbean immigrants from Barbados and Carriacou who focused on the intersectionality of black women and lesbian identity. However, I will say that Audre Lorde inspires me to care for myself and has inspired many others who do not share her identities.

Therefore, please take care of yourself. You yourself may be experiencing the same/similar fears as your students and here you are listening to them speaking their truths. Even if you hold many privileged identities, you may fear for your students and other people in your life. This can be taxing. Take breaks when you need to, refer students to others when you need to, and do what you need to relax and replenish your soul.

For me, Wednesday night I cuddled with a cat, ate ice cream, and watched one of my favorite light-hearted shows “Jane the Virgin”. It helped – and then a solid 8 hours of sleep helped even further.

The “Other Side”

While this blog post is dedicated to supporting the folks who feel fear in seeing Trump elected by the U.S., I know that many people are happy and many are indifferent. These aren’t necessarily bad people (note: people who are committing hate crimes are bad people imo, but redemption is a possibility) and as a nation we need to work with these folks together. That doesn’t mean you specifically have to, but overall we do as a society. I would never ask someone who feels under attack in this period to work with their oppressors – so if you have privilege in an area, work with the people who hold that same privilege.

Conclusion

Take care of yourselves and each other.

 

The Hamilton Guide to Quality Community Service! (Part I)

Hamilton _titlefor blog post.jpg

I’m a bit late to the party, but in advance of my vacation I downloaded the Hamilton soundtrack from Amazon Prime (yay #Amazon) and have been listening to it nonstop for almost 2 weeks. After presenting at the Indiana Campus Compact Networking meeting, I couldn’t help but take notice of all the different ways we can link the Hamilton musical to service-learning! While my perspective comes from someone who works professionally in higher education service-learning, this can apply to anyone who is planning to volunteer/plan service projects!

The “Hamilton Guide to Quality Community Service” will be a short series of several blog posts. This is the first one. Be sure to check the end for recommended readings based on concepts mentioned!

Let’s get to it:

1. “Talk less, smile more” – from the song “Aaron Burr, Sir”

Concept link: community voice; relationship building

As the nervous and young Alexander Hamilton approaches Aaron Burr to discuss his university education (and “punching the bursar, sir” – something I’m sure we have all imagined as students but really would be uncool in reality because the bursar is just working for their paycheck!). As Hamilton rambles more than Willow in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Burr offers some free advice: “Talk less, smile more”.

Burr’s words have a different intention in the musical, but I urge staff, faculty, and students engaged in service-learning to talk less. Historically, S-L programs tend to focus more-so on the needs of universities rather than communities. We have these ‘educated’ folks who come into communities and tell the community members what they will do ‘for you’.

This is where the value of ‘community voice’ enters the planning process. We must work with community members/organizations to ask what their community needs are, and then establish service projects that fit these needs. For example, if your group wants to do a food drive they must contact a food pantry first to make sure that the pantry wants/needs donations and, if so, what types of donations they need. It wouldn’t be helpful if the students collected 200 cans of green beans when the pantry does not have the space to store these items and/or have zero need for more green beans.

As for the smiling? That’s about being friendly and working to establish + build relationships with community members and organizations. Listen to their stories, learn about the daily lives of the community members, and work to develop an authentic relationship.

2. “Why do you assume that you’re the smartest in your room? Soon that attitude may be your doom” – from the song “Non-Stop”

Concept link: cultural humility, open-mindedness

Before, during, and after a service project there can be an issue of ego on behalf of service participants.

Prior to a service project, students (and staff + faculty!!) may assume they know everything about this issue. This may be because they have obtained an academic education on the topic. For example, if the service project supports an after-school program in a low-income neighborhood, perhaps the student is an education major who knows a good deal about children and education issues. Or a student took a sociology class and believes they understand a lot about poverty. But, academic knowledge is not the same as experiential knowledge. It’s important that students humble themselves before entering service to understand that they still have a lot to learn.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are students who may consider themselves an expert on the social issue(s) of the project because they personally experienced the issue. They certainly have a degree of insight, but must embrace humility as well. For example, as a person who grew up in poverty I once assumed I understood poverty. But the experiences of poverty differ according to region (urban, rural), race and ethnicity, immigrant status, sexuality, disability, and other intersecting identities that complicate the experience of poverty. Even if I, as a rural impoverished person, went to a different part of the country on an alternative break to support people experiencing rural poverty, my experience will never be just like someone else’s experience.

Following the service project, some students may consider themselves “the smartest person in the room” on the topic of the social issue at hand. Yet, they have only gained a brief insight into that one social issue in that one specific community. Coupled with the always complicated issues of social issues, there is always so much more to learn. The self-education of social issues and quality community service is a lifelong process.

Recommended readings:

Cruz, N. I., & Giles, D. E. (2000). Where’s the community in service-learning research. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 7(1), 28-34.

Miron, D., & Moely, B. E. (2006). Community agency voice and benefit in service-learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 12(2).

Nduna, N. J. (2007). The community voice on service-learning: A good practice guide for higher education. Education as Change, 11(3), 69-78.
Sandy, M., & Holland, B. A. (2006). Different worlds and common ground: Community partner perspectives on campus-community partnerships. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 13(1).

Why Student Affairs Needs to Support FLSA Changes -or- The FLSA Fairy Tale

Image result for once upon a time letter once upon a time there was an entire profession that claimed to value social justice.

The people of this profession also commonly derided their lack of work/life balance. Many years ago, their ancestors received the right of a 40-hour work week, but alas! Their positions required an excess of 40 hours for many of these fine folk, as the task to support students required much time and effort.

They were highly educated but vastly underappreciated in terms of gold coins. Caught in a quandary, their professional values included both doing whatever it took to care for their students but to also value personal well-being.

Woe unto them!

But then one day, a heroic Knight of Dol came unto their leaders and spake unto the leaders of the land: “Ho! Thou hast gone many years of underpaying and overworking these fine citizens! Beginning the 1st of December, thou must pay overtime for all thy workers, unless thee pay $47,476 for a salary!”

Previously the law of the land allowed overtime for only those citizens earning less than $23,660. This was a drastic change and the leaders of the land were outraged!

However…

The professional organizations spake unto their people at sunrise: “Social justice is a value and we desire equity for all”.

Yet at sunset they spake unto the Knight of Dol: “The new law of the land is unfair! For we benefit greatly from working the people in excess of 40 hours without raising their wages. We do not have enough gold coins for this change!”

The Knight of Dol spake unto the leaders of the land: “Hast thou not considered working thy citizens only 40 hours per week? Thou wouldst not have to then pay overtime. Or perhaps thee can pay thy workers $47,476  of gold coins if thee desires long hours?”

The leaders of the land laughed at the concept of such a thing. Their banner was that of a dragon, for they held a fondness for shiny things, which including hoarding gold coins sometimes and other times building shiny new buildings for the gladiators.

The people of the profession were divided. For those in the upper-echelons, they had a self-interest in agreeing with the leaders of the land. Some of them were leaders or very nearly there and had an aversion to budget issues. For them, the spirit of the dragon resided within and they had a fondness for hoarding gold coins from the masses. Others had were hesitant to supervise their entry and mid-level employees as hourly workers. And for others, they sat in seats with plump cushions and had forgotten the hardships of low wages and long hours.

Those paid under the new salary threshold as dictated by the Knight of Dol were divided as well. Some felt a distaste for a seemingly lowered status of ‘hourly employee’ and the idea of hitting thy clock on the way in and thy clock on the way out. Others felt a loss of freedom with this and yearned to maintain the ability to flit around the land as they pleased without tracking thy hours.

And yet others were pleased with the Knight of Dol and their proclamation. The people were highly education, yet worked many hours and recieved fewer gold coins compared to their counterparts in other professions. The values of social justice lit their path; to them the proclamation protected thee rights of workers to be paid fairly.

‘Twas difficult to work long hours and receive a small bag of gold coins in exchange. Many of the people had to battle goblins on the weekends just to earn enough money to provide offerings to the greedy dragon Naavíent who granted gifts to youth in exchange for gold coins and/or first born children over a twenty year period.

Indeed, this latter group was quite puzzled as to why the leaders of the land spake to them at sunrise of their values of equity and spake unto the Knight of Dol at sunset about why it ’twas appropriate to maintain an inequitable system.

***

The Knight of Dol was powerful but the leaders of the land found their own knight to challenge Dol: Knight Walberg of Michigan. Knight Walberg was a lesser knight, whose notoriety grew from his many failed attempts to vanquish the great creature known as Aca (a rather helpful creature who had healing powers, so it is quite good Knight Walberg repeatedly failed). Knight Walberg challenged the Knight of Dol to a duel this week and is utilizing a new weapon he named HR 6094.

Granted, this was not a clever name but rather bulky much like the weapon itself.

The leaders of the land began to dedicate their banners to Knight Walberg of Michigan. He was not the first knight they supported on this matter yet only the most recent.

Alas. The leaders’ choice to rally their banners for the lesser knight included abandoning their espoused values in lieu of favoring gold coins.

The day to the duel between the Knight of Dol and the lesser Knight Walberg draws nearer. While the odds favor the Knight of Dol, the people of the profession now must harbor distrust towards many of the leaders of the land for now they know what lies within thy hearts.

To Be Continued…

***

Author’s Note:

I believe that FLSA will protect worker’s rights and raise the standard of living for people who work in Student Affairs. I am bothered by the the lobbying behind organizations like the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources and the higher level SA professionals who I have read or heard their thoughts on how FLSA will be bad for universities and student affairs.

To learn more about the new FLSA overtime law (as well as what folks think about it):

  1. Why Student Affairs Needs to Support FLSA Overtime Changes (Storify, by me): https://storify.com/NikiMessmore/why-student-affairs-needs-to-support-flsa-overtime
  2. HR 6090: http://edworkforce.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=401057
  3. Colleges Brace for Overtime Overhaul – http://www.wsj.com/articles/colleges-brace-for-overtime-overhaul-1458674488
  4. HE becomes poster child for FLSA concerns: http://www.bna.com/higher-education-becomes-n73014445162/
  5. DOL Overtime ruling: https://www.dol.gov/WHD/overtime/final2016/
  6. DOL guide to HE for FLSA changes: https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/final2016/highered-guidance.pdf
  7. ACUHO-I What Campuses Think about FLSA: https://www.naspa.org/images/uploads/main/infographic-campushousing-flsa-link_ACUHOI.PDF
  8. FLSA Overtime Rule Changes: Guide for Student Affairs (NASPA): https://www.naspa.org/rpi/reports/final-overtime-rule-resource-guide-student-affairs
  9. FLSA Overtime Final Rule to Change the Way Student Affairs Operates (NASPA): https://www.naspa.org/about/blog/flsa-overtime-final-rule-to-change-the-way-student-affairs-operates
  10. Strategies for Managing the New FLSA Overtime Rules in Student Affairs: https://olc.naspa.org/catalog/strategies-for-managing-the-new-flsa-overtime-rules-in-student-affairs
  11. Managing FSLA (NAPSA Leadership Exchange): http://www.leadershipexchange-digital.com/lexmail/2016fall?folio=32&pg=34#pg34

 

Niki’s Guide to Indy: Dining at #NASPA16

Hello folks! I’m excited for my first ever NASPA Conference (after 3 years, I had to miss ACPA this year due to alternative break conflicts) and I’m thrilled that it’s in Indianapolis! After working in NW Ohio for five years, I moved to Indiana almost four years ago for my graduate program and have been working in Indianapolis since June 2014. It’s a great city and I’d love to share some local tips!

Today’s focus: Food! At preferably inexpensive and local restaurants! Or if it requires two money signs ($$) or more, I’ll recommend your mid-level/SSAO-type mentor take you here! (and if you, Gentle Reader, are a mid-level/SSAO-type and are looking to feed mentor a nice new-ish #SApro, please say hello!).

new girl - eating - winston

As a Yelp Elite I’m quite the foodie and love to give my opinion! 🙂 The list will be ordered from closet to the Convention Center (100 S. Capital St) to farthest; it will likely be raining during most of #NASPA *womp*womp* Note that distances is in minutes walked; I use this term because I can’t think of a better term although I know not all folks are able to walk/walk at the speed GoogleMaps uses, and may move across distances in other ways.

Downtown Restaurants (Less than 1 Mile from Convention/20 minutes walking/traveling via sidewalk)

  • Giorgio’s Pizza: Dudes. You have to go here. Only 11 minute walk and it’s right off of Monument Circle (aka the most beautiful part of downtown Indy), it’s been open for 26 years, and more than likely Giorgio is working (and singing in Italian). Get slices of pizza (try the stuffed pizza!), the AMAZING MARINA SAUCE, and get a cannoli. Then, if it’s not raining, I want you to walk the two minutes to the Monument and (if you’re able) go up the steps, sit down, snack, and revel in the city sights around you.
  • Ali Baba’s Cafe: First, the food is GOOD and inexpensive. Second, go here because during a #BlackLivesMatter march (in the wake of Ferguson) from Monument Circle to the Capital, the employees cheered on the protesters, Now my friend and I always hit them up when we’re around. #solidarity #solidaritywithhummus #butforrealyouneedtogetthishummus
  • Indianapolis City Market: Walk north 15 minutes to Market/Deleware to find a larger building with at least two dozen different shops inside. A meal is generally around $10; less if you are just getting a couple items. There’s Three Carrots for my veg friends, Spice Box if you want some quick Indian, and many other places. See a map of shops on their website.
  • Subito: A 12-minute walk NE is a fairly new sub/soup spot open 10am-3pm. Already pretty popular. There are $8 sandwiches and fairly cheap add-ons like soup and salad on the menu.
  • Pearings Cafe & Frozen Yogurt: One of my favorite places! At only 8 minutes away, this is a great destination for froyo, CREPES, and tasty paninis. Most of the paninis use meat from a local place and they are only $6 – a bit small but tend to make for happy tummies. There’s also ice water set up by the door if you need many refills from all the walking! The froyo is expensive, but what do you expect downtown and across from the mall?
  • BARcelona: Are you feelin’ fancy? This Spanish restaurant is two money signs ($$) and 16-minutes away, but can be a fun adventure with friends (small plates = try all the things). Check out the drink specials, eat some of the goat cheese in marina, and pretend you’re an SSAO for a day!
  • Bangkok Restaurant & Jazz Bar: Same with BARcelona – GREAT food but two money signs ($$). Perfect place for your mid-level/SSAO mentor to take you! Plus, jazz! Only a 17-minute walk!
  • The center city mall is also nearby and a swell of chain and local restaurants. There are plenty of options – the ones above are just some of my favs!

Mass Ave Restaurants (1-1.8 miles away/20-38 minutes away) – check out one of Indy’s popular cultural districts! This is where the Indy Pride Parade starts every year and after RFRA the businesses all had rainbow flags in their windows. It’s a bit bougie (all two money signs here, folks) and definitely is popular with the ‘young professional/hipster crowd that loves pay $10 for trendy tacos’ crowd. If that’s you, woohoo! If not, (like me!) there are lots of other cool spots.

  • Forty-Five Degrees: Do you love half-off sushi? Come here anytime on Sundays! Or, no matter what day you come, the sushi is good, the drinks are strong, and their salad dressing is thebomb.com
  • Bazbeaux Pizza: First, it sounds like a French word (even tho it’s not) so you could eat here to quell the jealousy in your heart from folks kicking it at #ACPA16 in Montreal. Second, the pizza is really, really good. Don’t get a boring pizza (like pepperoni – simple pies aren’t great here). I recommend the Mediterranean. It’s so good your tastebuds will do a dance of joy.
  • Sub-Zero Ice Cream: Do you like ice cream, SCIENCE, and an ability to have dairy-free ice cream treats? This place has all of that! Pick your ingredients and they Hogwarts it together to make your own specialized ice cream. And by Hogwarts, I mean liquid nitrogen. #science
  • AVOID: Bakersfield (‘street tacos’) and The Eagle (‘soul food/southern’). I’m not a fan of any places own by White mini-restaurant moguls who use the recipes of other cultures to make a profit (#somanymoneysigns), especially when we already got kickass latino (so.many.places!) and soul food (Kountry Kitchen!!) restaurants.
  • DO: Visit non-food places like Global Gifts (fair trade from around the world!), Silver in the City (always vote the #1 local shop!), the Small Mall, Midland Arts & Antiques Market (I bought a gavel there once. Just because), Indy Reads Bookstore (it’s a nonprofit and funds literacy programs!), and many other local shops!

Interested in a long walk and/or driving to a destination?

  • Panorama Grill: Want some awesome Dominican food? Or maybe middle eastern food? Have both! Only 1.3 miles away (26 minute walk) and right across the street from our amazing central library is this food fusion place. I wasn’t a huge fan of the hummus but the DR food is on point. The mofongo provides a party in my mouth!
  • Kountry Kitchen Soulfood Place: PRESIDENT OBAMA WAS HERE. And for $10 you can eat your little heart out on the finest fried chicken in the city + sweet tea, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, etc. Go here. You will thank me. It is only 3 miles away  on 19th/N College- 9 minute drive or 51 minute walk (actually – you might want the walk leading up to this meal!)
  • Mama Irma’s: Either a 15-minute bike ride or fairly quick drive to Fountain Square, and you can eat some AMAZING PERUVIAN FOOD. Plus owner Hilda Cano is always around and so friendly. If you’re in this area, walk around to the many other restaurants, bars, and shops, including some of my faves: comics and geekery at Hero House Comics (this is where my paychecks go!), play board games at Game Paradise, coffee and art at Funkyard, and so much more!!
  • You have to drive 20 minutes to the International Market District aka Lafayette Square area. Ethiopian, Cuban, Afro-Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Peruvian,Chinese, Greek, Vietnamese, etc. Check out the website or scan the Yelp results for this area.

Like what you read? Have a suggestion? Tweet me at @NikiMessmore! I may write up a few more recommendation lists (coffee, drinks, breakfast, outdoors, etc), so surely feel free to propose a topic.

Hope to see you at #NASPA16!

***

For more guides on Indy, check out these NASPA-related blogs + Indy resources

Student Affairs: We Need to Stop Buying So Much Damn Pizza

There are several reasons why folks may enter student affairs: they love to work with college students, they love free t-shirts, and they love free pizza.

piza1

That’s why I got my masters…

Sure, we have theories about student development, but our most popular theory on programming is: If pizza is available at programs, students will attend programs.

pizza clarrissa

Clarissa Explains It All: More factual than Chickering.

To be honest, it works. Incentives are often required in order to sway students from busy schedules to attend programs. Offices & student organizations sponsor programs because there is a need to provide educational & social programming, but without a carrot most rabbits are satisfied staying in their cozy hole in the ground.

pizza homer

[reenactment of real student lives]

But we really need to stop buying so much damn pizza.

#1: We aren’t training our RAs and other student leaders about fiscal responsibility. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a res hall program that has $60 in pizza for 5 students. In regards to pizza, higher education is often a terrible steward of student fee money.

#2: Such a tragic waste of food. I’ve seen pizza and other food from campus events get tossed because it sat out too long because no one took it. And when there is an excess of food and few students at an event, it makes me cringe to see one student taking two dozen pizzas. Sure, the food didn’t go to waste, per se, but it is really the best use of funds per student?

>Not to mention, many folks in America go hungry every day (including college students). For stats on the issue of food insecurity in your local community, head to Hunger in America.

pizza beyonce

Make like Beyoncé and make that pizza disappear!

What to do instead?

1. Train student leaders on budgeting & fiscal responsibility. We have students who have never handled a professional budget and may not see themselves as stewards of funds. A culture of fiscal responsibility must be incorporated into student leader training where information on the origin of funds  (student fees, res life fees, state tax fees) is provided so that students realize a budget is not their personal playground. Students should learn appropriate measures for spending funds and able to calculate anticipated attendance x optimal pizza consumption.

pizza DAria

Pizza can improve programs, but do the math first.

2. Train students on strategic marketing for programs. The reason why we have all these pizzas left over is because (see #1) students miscalculate how many pizzas they need in proportion of expected attendance and students do not effectively market to bring people to programs. There are multiple reasons, but it usually stems from planning something at the last minute (“Ah! I still have to do an educational program for this month!”) and/or not marketing in a strategic and effective manner (i.e., a few flyers doesn’t always cut it).

pizza2

Not bad marketing.

3. Think you may have extra food? Contact local organizations that support hunger issues in your community. Better yet, see if your campus has a Campus Kitchen program. My institution, IUPUI, recently began as the 37th program in the nation and the organization has a contract with the university dining services to pick up leftover food from events to distribute in the local community. How cool is that? 🙂

pizza jaws

Don’t deprive Jaws of pizza.

4. All those suggestions above for students? Make sure professionals at your institution understand those same concepts as well. I imagine that buying excess food is just “something that is always done” as it was when we were undergrads, grads, and now professionals. Staff buy extra pizzas, too. Sometimes it is honestly difficult to estimate how many students will attend and we often believe that “more is better” because it would look bad to run out of food, right? Or, sometimes we may be so busy making sure that students know how to handle crisis issues or know how to reserve rooms that we may not consider a more philosophical (yet business-y) discussion on fiscal responsibility.

Clearly we cannot avoid wasted food, but we can try to do our best to be better fiscal agents of the university and reduce the amount of food that is wasted on a daily basis. Thanks for reading, y’all. As always, tweet your thoughts to @NikiMessmore. And to increase your appetite after all this food talk: more pizza gifs!

pizza ellen

pizza cat ah

pizza cowboy

Grad School: In Gifs (2nd Semester)

After viewing the “Grad School: In Gifs (1st Semester)” it is time to review what the second semester of graduate school was like!

 

SPRING SEMESTER, YEAR 1

‘Wow’, you wonder, ‘I can’t believe grad school was that stressful. It is so much better now!’

happy angelina

‘Oh hey, turns out everyone in my cohort secretly hated last semester as well!’

Laughing_together

Fun is being had!

dancing - beyonce

 You’re starting to feel like you know what you’re doing with life

i got this

But…

2 min later

Because while the semester seemed easier at first, you still have 20 page papers, group projects, plus now trying to figure out what you’re doing this summer. Internship? Classes? Study Abroad? Or just sit in your underwear and watch Netflix?

frustrated new york

Not to mention, this semester you added a practicum experience to your schedule

honey boo boo

Class is a bit more of the same. Lots of group projects.

maybe gp - project obnoxious

And at every project someone says “Let’s start a GoogleDoc!”

kanye

(Even though at this point in your life, your opinion on GoogleDocs has changed.maybe.)

awww yeah

The Diversity class is always interesting

new girl - im so uncomfortable

Where everyone is in the process of learning, so of course many microaggressions

not acceptable

Where people think (or say) things like:

spn

It’s cool! People are developing and learning to talk about diversity!

awkward

Also, you are starting to connect more with folks in your program, even people maybe you misjudged previously! Yay!

SPN - awkward sam hug

Eventually you lock down your summer plans, woo!

glen coco

And the good news is you are actually starting to understand all the things you’re learning. Even though when you try to describe it to other people in your life, they have no idea what you are saying.

friends - talk dirty

Yet somehow by the end of the semester you have still managed to procrastinate all your papers and assignments. Because you’ve been busy, obviously.

Procrastination - Daria

It’s fine. You got everything done on time last semester, right?

Procrastination - Ill start tomorrow

There’s the really great cohort bonding that goes on via Facebook as you lament your tasks and all submit your final papers between 3am-9am for the 9:30am class.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler - high five

Congrats! Somehow you made it through all the group projects, papers, and assistantship duties!

Scandal - Its Handled

With summer looming, you realize while at first you felt about grad school like this

Modern family - I hate it here

Now you feel like this

i-like-it-here-these-are-my-people

 

SUMMER SEMESTER

And then summer is basically like this (especially in comparison)

skipping - homer

Tumblr dance party

 

Stay Tuned for Grad School: In Gifs (Year 2)!

Please share your suggestions or favorite gifs in the comments or tweet them to @NikiMessmore!

 

 

Grad School: In Gifs (1st Semester)

I graduated with my masters in Higher Education & Student Affairs in May (woo!). Looking back at my experience and comparing it with friends/colleagues, I saw that for many folks some similar themes occur when it comes to grad school experiences.

So here’s Grad School: In Gifs!

Dedicated to Courtney Rousseau and Josh Vanbibber, who are completing their final #IUHESA classes right now, alongside their awesome fulltime #SApro positions! #CohortLove

 FALL SEMESTER, YEAR 1

Arrival to graduate school & assistantship training

so excited may vomit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting everyone during the first cohort class

 spongebob - who are you people

There’s always that one person you really click with

 best friends

And one person you can’t stand

 mean girls - so annoying

After all, we are so good at judging people

judging eye drink

The first 6 weeks are carefree & fun

 happy my little ponies

Thank Odin for planned social events, amirite?

yay new friends

(even though at all these events you feel like this)

awkward - elijah

Then you realize you’ve effectively done no research and are so far behind

 oh shit

So it’s off to research land you go

 baby studying.reading

And then there’s all the group projects

 studying group2

Meanwhile you feel like you have zero social life

Gollum2

Not to mention you are still clueless about your assistantship

no idea

And you’re debating with yourself the logic of dropping out to join the circus

modern family - can we go home

Then October happens

drinking game.depressed

But all the Second Years tell you not to worry, and it will “get better” next semester

Cool Story Bro - panda

November happens

wine tastes like love

Anytime someone from back home calls you’re like

phone life sucks

And at this point in your group projects, you want to say something to at least one team member

what the fuck cat

If you don’t, then that person is probably you

whoopsie

And, if you’re a lucky Res Lifer with a meal plan, you run out of points

eating my feelings

Oh, and if you’re not in Res Life, now’s the time you realize you need res life friends for that meal plan love

Let Me Love You_Mean Girls

Then everything is due in December and you are regretting your life choices of procrastinating 20 page papers

laptop crying

But somehow everything gets done and you get to go on winter break!!!!!!!

 girl bye - robe

 

Stay Tuned for Grad School: In Gifs (2nd Semester)!

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Are you really a Student Affairs Junkie?

 

Are you a student affairs junkie?

Parks and rec - i know it is a TRAP

Are you just, like, SUPER PASSIONATE about student affairs and higher education?

Is it all you think of?

Is it all you dream of?

Do you leave work and immediately think of how you’ll be back in the office tomorrow?

When you’re working or studying higher education, does your heart race?

Or does your body slow down, like you’re swimming through a happy pool of warm molasses?

Does the world fade away when you get your fix?

One time your boss told you to use up vacation days, but HAHAHAHA that is so funny, and you felt a sense of violence or perhaps deep sadness at this person telling you to step away from what you love.

Were you so desperate to avoid vacation that you stole money to pay off your boss?

It’s just, you love student affairs so much.

It’s all you love.

It’s all you think of.

Or…is it?

Glass Case of Emotion-me

Let’s face it: There are some peculiar practices within student affairs, especially on Twitter. The one I’d like to draw attention to today is the large number of student affairs graduate students and professionals who label themselves a “Student Affairs Junkie” or “Higher Ed Junkie” in their Twitter profiles.

There’s two issues at hand.

One, you are equating yourself with someone who has a mental illness as defined by the DSM (“substance use disorder”) and you are using a slur to refer to a group of people that are oppressed in our society.

Two, hyperbole or not, you are telling us that you are addicted to student affairs and that might warrant a work/life balance discussion.
Student affairs junkie

Regarding the former issue, HOO BOY, did my Facebook blow up when I posted the status you saw above – and I got some traction on Twitter as well.

“Words have multiple meanings.”

“You’re being sensitive.”

“It’s a slang term.”

“You’re trying to enforce censorship.”

“I just really love student affairs.”

stop-wave

I think I am a sociologist by nature. I consider the history of the word and context of the word. The historical and current use of the word ‘junkie‘ has a very specific connotation. It’s not a nice word. It is a slur denigrating a group of people.

“But people say words like ‘political junkie’!”

There are lots of words and phrases that people use that we do not use in student affairs. So if that is your argument…

This is a profession that works with people from all walks of life. A profession that claims to value social justice, creating equitable environments, and respecting the dignity of all people.

So in the context of the situation, using the word ‘junkie’ as hyperbole is reckless, irresponsible, and thoughtless. Claiming to love this profession so much that you are a junkie….really? You (not personal ‘you’, general ‘you’) are equating yourself with someone who is suffering a disease known as addiction – something that mental health professionals classify in the DSM as a mental illness.

So you are telling me that people in a profession like ours (one that values social justice) should be using a word however they damn well please, underneath that context?

It makes me angry. Not at anyone arguing the other side or using the word; understand that. But angry that we live in a society that takes words and uses them carelessly so that they are part of our general lexicon, and without critical thinking they remain there. It doesn’t matter who it hurts. It doesn’t matter that perhaps our colleagues and students may have once suffered from drug dependence, still do, or have a loved one that does or did at one time. It doesn’t matter that throwing a word around so casually diminishes the experiences of people who are fighting just to stay alive, one day at a time.

No, it doesn’t matter. For those who argue that I am being too sensitive on this issue, apparently all that matters is that people are allowed to express themselves without critical thought or consideration for others.

And that’s their right. The First Amendment allows for no censorship…by the government.

america

But while there is legally protected speech, there is no speech that is safe from being critically examined and judged within the professional community.

I guarantee you that most people who say they are a “Student Affairs junkie” have never critically examined that word or considered the true context of it. Totally understandable.  We are all growing and learning. Me as much as anyone. We use so many words that have problematic meanings and we are never aware of it until someone points it out.

Well here’s me. Pointing it out.

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