Final Semester Reflection

Key Understandings

One of the key takeaways for me during this class was the knowledge gained from different perspectives in the room. For myself, I am continuously thinking about social justice and equity in the frame of higher education, non-profit, or education in general. With this class, it was interesting to learn from a variety of academic disciplines on how equity manifests within in their work. Whether it be a lack of access to transportation or lack of representation of various genders in STEM fields, it was valuable to learn from different academic backgrounds on how equity might look different. Though, as we discussed more it seemed like the majority of the issues that our fields are facing are just small subsets of larger social and power structures that impact all of our fields. My biggest insights were class discussions were we looked at the intersections of those power structures and how they impact and manifest in all of our disciplines and lives, just in different ways.

Another key takeaway that I have learned from the class would have to be the knowledge gained from the global higher education presentations. From the differences in entrance exams, to the price of higher education, to immigration processes, it was eyeopening to learn about the different processes in higher education throughout the world. As someone who wants to go into higher education as a profession, these presentations expanded my view and knowledge of the paths that my students take into higher education. This also prompts me to even reexamine that processes that are present within my current department and how they might be supportive (or not) of international students interacting with our office. I truly enjoyed learning more about how higher education looks like around the world as I know I take on a very United States centered lens of higher education and these presentations expanded that knowledge and depth of understanding of what higher education is and the pathways to it.

Moving Forward

As a result of this class and class discussions, I have learned a great deal about higher education in a global context. Through the presentations and class discussions over a breadth of topics surrounding higher education and equity, I have learned that the power structures within our society impact each of our academic disciplines just in a slightly different way. Whether that be access or lack of diversity representation, these issues need to be addressed across the board. This knowledge will help me better understand the perspective of my future students who will be pursuing multiple career paths and disciplines different from my own. This knowledge will allow me to learn from them what equity looks like in their field and be able to have conversations around the greater societal impact of power structures in and outside of higher education institutions.

I thoroughly enjoyed this class and learning alongside many scholars in the room. I wish everyone a great winter break and spring semester if they are not graduating this winter. I hope that we can all use the conversations and skills that we learned as a result of this class to fight for a more equitable and just world. Have a great break and finals season everyone!

Class in Higher Education

Social class in higher education is frequently an overlooked topic within the academy. This might be due to the complexity behind the definition of social class. When discussing social class, typically the conversation is centered around economic class. This is class based on the availability of assets or wealth that a person has access to. This could also mean the amount of resources and knowledge that a person has access to. This manifests into large discrepancies between economic classes, like we have seen over the past years with the top 1% becoming increasingly wealthier while most are seeing shrinking wages.

Economic class is not something that most student affairs professionals talk about when examining the profession. One way that economic class manifests within student affairs professionals is the idea of professionalism. This can be examined through language, attire, and expectation of attendance at university sponsored events. In terms of language, professionals can come from a variety of educational backgrounds and may not have the same exposure to terms commonly used with higher education spaces. Not having the knowledge of this style of language within the academy can alienate people and create further barriers for professionals within the field. Another way that class identity can be examined in higher education is attire. Whether this is the expectation that staff pay for school branded clothing, which can be pricey, or adhere to office dress code policies. These policies can disproportionately impact professionals and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who may not have the resources to adhere to such policies. Finally, many student affairs professionals are expected to attend various university sponsored events. These events are not always free for attendance, which means the professional must use their own money to attend these events. Many professionals may not have the resources to attend these events.

Awareness of social and economic class within higher education is critical for the success of the profession of student affairs. Professionals come from all economic classes, and the practices within the profession should reflect this diversity within the profession. Thus, dress and attendance at university events should take into account that not all student affairs professionals have the resources to devote to these unspoken rules within the profession. Before offices have these policies and expectations of staff, they should look at how these practices and policies may impact the staff in which they are intended to include.

One example of how economic class can show up within students is the practice of internship requirements. Many students are required to have an internship as a part of their degree requirement. Numerous internships that are available for students are unpaid. This creates a scenario where students are not being compensated for their work and are unable to devote this time to paid opportunities. This disproportionate disadvantages students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Higher education, in general, needs to recognize the diversity of economic not only within administration, but also faculty and students within the academy.

 

References:

Ardoin, S. & martinez, b. (2019). No, I Can’t Meet You for an $8 Coffee: How Class Shows Up in Workplaces. In Reece, B. J., Tran V.T., DeVore, E. N., & Porcaro, G. (Eds.), Debunking the Myth of Job Fit in Higher Education and Student Affairs (p. 1-26). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Faculty Diversity in Higher Education

One prevalent issue within higher education is the rate in which faculty are hired and retained within the academy. Predominately white institutions (PWI’s) especially have lower percentages of faculty from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. In addition, the rate in which all genders outside of males is disproportion to the rate in which male faculty members are hired. Higher education was founded for wealthy white males to gain access to education to ensure their own upward mobility and retaining their wealth. However, as higher education aims to address its own oppressive structures, the access to higher education must be addressed.

The article that I chose to discuss for this blog post was an article shared on Inside Higher Education. The article focused on  federal data on the rate of diversity within tenure track faculty within varying institutions. What their data analysis uncovered was that research and doctoral status institutions were especially lacking in racial and gender diversity within the hiring of faculty members. The number of Black and Hispanic faculty only accounted for less than 6%. This is with Black faculty representation only increasing by 0.1% and Hispanic faculty increasing by only 0.65%. These rates were marginally larger at master status institutions, but again the rate in which tenure track faculty is not increasing. In addition, the rate in which women from the years 2013-2017  increased by only 1.7%. The majority of tenure track faculty hires are held by white males.

This article is critical for the conversation of faculty within higher education. The federal data was calculated during the years 2013-2017, a time in higher education where conscious efforts were made to make critical examinations into hiring practices. It comes back into a theme of higher education that I have seen where institutions state they value one thing, but the data shows otherwise. In this case, institutions claimed that their espoused values were having diversity within teaching faculty, though the theories in use within the academy were the exact opposite. Values are not concrete unless they are actually manifesting what they are saying that they value. In addition to hiring faculty, the retention of faculty remains to be critical part of addressing the structural issues in higher education. Faculty can be recruited and hired to an institutions that still oppress the people they are hiring. Thus, the rate in which faculty are retained is going to be significantly lower. These data points only further illustrate the lack of diversity and equity within higher education. Without intentional and critical changes made to hiring practices, campus climates, and overall structures within higher education, these studies on diversity within higher education will continue to reveal the same trend in education.

References:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/07/02/little-progress-diversifying-faculty-ranks-study-finds-particularly-research

Introduction Blog Post

Hello everyone, my name is Kaylynn Hill (pronouns are currently: she/her)

I am a second year masters student in the higher education and student affairs program. I got interested in student affairs through my undergraduate studies at a community college. I saw the inaccessibility of higher education, but the impactful opportunities it brought. At Lakeland Community College and Cleveland State University (my undergraduate institutions), I studied psychology. While studying psychology, I worked at Lakeland in a variety of capacities. The departments that I worked for include: recruitment, student activities, service-learning, orientation, student organizations, presidents office, women’s center, and mental health task force. This allowed me to gather a wider scope of higher education before I began my masters. Currently, my role on campus is the Graduate Assistant for Leadership and Civic Engagement within VT Engage. I predominately work on the ACC Student Leadership Symposium, alternative spring breaks, student leadership teams, and assessment for the office. I also work for a non-profit called Promote Care & Prevent Harm where we translate research into community and school specific programming to promote caring actions and prevent harmful incidents. As far as student affairs aspirations, I would love to be a Dean of Students one day. Right now, I am focused on college access, service-learning, leadership development, and advising.

Keeping with my ice cream theme and my slight obsession with Jenis ice cream, I actually met the founder of Jenis herself. Every year she hosts a Strawberry Jam festival to kick off the strawberry season in Ohio. My friend, who is also a Jenis enthusiast, drove all the way from Washington D.C. to Columbus, Ohio to be at the festival. My friend direct messaged Jeni on instagram that we wanted to meet her at the festival and they coordinated a time that we could meet. If you are ever in DC or Nashville or Ohio, I highly recommend checking out Jenis ice cream!