Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Social Justice & Inclusion Competency, VC Student Svcs Vince Loffredo blog post

KUMC Vice Chancellor for Student Services Vince Loffredo, Ed.D., shared this recent blog post on the NASPA: Students Affairs Administrators in Higher Education website.


The recently completed work of the Joint Task Force on Professional Competencies and Standards could not have come at a better time. There is one competency that has gained a tremendous amount of attention in higher education today, and rightfully so. Reflecting on the evolution of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion competency, we have a new and updated name inSocial Justice and Inclusion. Social justice, as stated in the Joint ACPA/NASPA task force report, “was aimed to align this competency with research, practice and commonly utilized definition of social justice.” Bell (2013)It went on to define social justice as “full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs.” By using Bell’s definition, the task force was able to integrate the concepts of equity, diversity, and inclusion with the constructs and framework of social justice.
The last three editions of the 50th year of The Chronicle of Higher Education had lead in articles on the front page centered around diversity. Campus social justice activists are pushing college administrators and their institutions to adopt new policies and require classes that promote cultural awareness (Chronicle, January 15th 2016 edition, pg A6). The NIH is even getting involved by building a national database to connect minority students with informal advisors from outside their universities (Chronicle, January 22nd 2016 edition, pg A10). All of the print media and social media attention given to social justice only affirms the changes made to the competency made by the task force. It was only this past spring that the competency’s change was ratified and adopted by ACPA and NASPA. The social justice competency is defined “as both a process and a goal which includes the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to create learning environments that foster equitable participation of all groups while seeking to address and acknowledge issues of oppression, privilege, and power. This competency involves student affairs educators who have a sense of their own agency and social responsibility that includes others in their community and the larger global context.”
As professionals, we must understand this definition, the impact, and what it means. Have you truly understood the social justice and inclusion competency and taken a moment to self reflect on the definition of social justice and what it means to you as a student affairs practitioner? Do you as a student affairs professional incorporate the social justice and inclusion competency into your everyday practice? Do you have unconscious bias? Do you meet the needs of all groups, equitably distributing resources, raising social consciousness, and repair past and current harms of campus communities? This competency gets at the core of who we are as student affairs professionals and what our students, faculty, staff, and administrators expect from us when dealing with our diversified student body on our campuses today. Like it or not, it’s an expectation. An expectation that sometimes challenges us to be leaders on campus, especially when we are facing historical injustice and those on campus opposed to change.
Professional development in this competency should never end and should always be ongoing. We need to better understand oppression, privilege, and power before we can understand social justice. We need to better understand what students are faced with on our campuses today in order to better serve them. As the task force has laid out for us in the comprehensive presentation of the competency areas, there are outcomes in social justice and inclusion that are foundational, intermediate, and advanced. If we look at the unrest that is popping up on college campuses today, we see that if we approach social justice and inclusion by going through each outcome one by one, we can begin to better understand and better serve our students. We are able to be proactive in our approach, and take responsibility for our institution’s role in perpetuating discrimination or oppression. In doing so, we can work with our students to foster and promote and institutional culture that supports the free and open expression of ideas and beliefs without inflecting bias. We can create ongoing strategic plans for the continued development of an inclusive campus. As we all know, evaluation is always a big part of what we do. So we must implement appropriate measures to assess the campus climate for students, staff, and faculty.
You owe it to yourself, your students, and your campus community to better understand the social justice and inclusion competency. In doing so, you can advance your level of competence in this area and better serve your campus community.
So ask yourself: How are you using the social justice and inclusion competency on your campus? How can you relate it to the events and climate on your campus today? If you can take the competency and incorporate it into your campus climate, you will advance your level of competence in this area and better serve your campus community. Finally, we in the Professional Standards Division of NASPA want to know – how can we help? What resources can we provide to you to increase your use and understanding of the social justice and inclusion competency?
I hope this will encourage you to dig in to the social justice and inclusion competency and advance your skill set as your campus and the higher education community are counting on you. If you have a moment, please connect with me to talk more, or to let me know how you are using the competency on your campus. You can contact me
Vince Loffredo
Professional Standards Coordinator