Last month, I shared The Student Affairs State of Affairs as the introduction to my blog. Since that time, over 4,000 people have visited my site! Honestly, I’m astonished… and profoundly humbled. I could have never imagined that so many people would care to read my thoughts about the field of Student Affairs. Thank you, all, for your incredible display of love and support.
I was inspired to create my blog, which I’m calling Higher Education Meditations, because I feel immensely grateful to the field of Student Affairs. So many of the good things in my life have come to me because of my career in Student Affairs. I am wholeheartedly committed to the future of this profession because I have felt the life-changing power of being a part of genuine communities that were intentionally built to foster development, learning, and leadership.
"I am wholeheartedly committed to the future of this profession because I have felt the life-changing power of being a part of genuine communities that were intentionally built to foster development, learning, and leadership."
Over the past fifteen years, I have seen the field grow and change a lot. I describe some of those changes, and their implications for educators, in The Student Affairs State of Affairs. I believe many of these changes are threatening the core values of the field, including student-centeredness, holistic-learning, and community-development. Worst of all, I see the amazing leaders who have dedicated their lives to this profession suffering on a daily basis, sacrificing their health and well-being in order to keep the lights on and continue providing the essential support services that college students need.
Just the other day, I read that a Student Affairs professional had a co-worker report them for spending too much time away from work by sharing a screen shot of their Facebook posts on the Student Affairs Professionals page with a supervisor. Not only is this type of behavior representative of the ways that the current culture of higher education is so remarkably counter to the values that our field holds dear, it also feels eerily similar to an Orwellian novel where we are all being watched by Big Brother.
I am worried.
And, I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I have the time, experience, knowledge and motivation to try and do something about it. I feel a responsibility to do what I can, where I can. In addition to working as a full-time stay-at-home-dad, this blog is how I am choosing to spend my precious spare time. It is my attempt to turn the tide in higher education.
This is my love letter to the field of student affairs.
My hope is that everything I write on this blog ignites some critical dialogue that might shed light on some of the most important, though often hidden, trends shaping the profession. Truthfully, I can’t think of a more worthy cause.
"My hope is that everything I write on this blog ignites some critical dialogue that might shed light on some of the most important, though often hidden, trends shaping the profession."
Here are just a few of the issues I’d like to tackle over the next few months…
- Collective Bargaining and Labor Unions in Student Affairs
- The Legalization of Cannabis and What It Means for Higher Education
- The Future of Student Affairs: Activists or Educators?
- Bullying in Student Affairs
- The Rise of the Side Hustle in Student Affairs
- Tenure for Student Affairs Professionals
To anyone who supports me and this work, I promise to always approach these topics with sincerity, depth, and fairness. I am committed to amplifying the voices of actual Student Affairs professionals - those doing the work on the front lines. I welcome feedback and discussion, in order to expand the conversation and take it to places where it may spark the changes that are needed to revive the liberatory and loving practices that have come to define the field of Student Affairs over the last century.
"I am committed to amplifying the voices of actual Student Affairs professionals - those doing the work on the front lines."
Soon, I will be sharing the next essay from my blog titled, Mindful Resistance: Student Affairs Educators Challenging Neoliberalism by Doing More with Less. As a follow-up to the Student Affairs State of Affairs, this essay delves deeper into strategies that may help Student Affairs educators push back against the dehumanizing effects of neoliberalism in higher education. In this post, I will provide an overview of the model, including the practices of Rest, Reflection, and Recovery as tools for promoting humanity and liberation in higher education.
If you haven’t yet read my blog, I invite you to join me in my effort to unearth the trends shaping the field of Student Affairs, reflect on what those changes might mean for educators, and take action to support the values of the profession. Please, share my work with anyone you think might be interested and sign up for the free monthly digest. Finally, if you have an idea for a topic that you think would add to the conversation happening on my blog, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to hear from you.
Stay tuned and stay mindful.
Kyle C. Ashlee