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Constructing a new community: ACPA and NASPA
April 5, 2011 - 4:30am

Are you tired? Has the conversation surrounding the proposed consolidation between ACPA and NASPA (#NASPACPA) fatigued your otherwise resilient spirit? While I must admit that the journey to get to this point has been contentious, I am also filled with hope. Hope that change is coming...and that we have been building something worthwhile. Change is never easy. We all know this to be true and yet it almost always surprises us when we are "in" it. The future of student affairs, and our largest associations, is at a crossroads. Will we combine our communities into a single association? I sure hope so. If historical precedent has taught me anything, separate is rarely equal. Two associations with rich histories, with amazing members, bound together by our profession and those who we serve on a daily basis. Unity only exists when we join together, into an "us," instead of a polarized "them."

Voting has begun. Concluding on April 15th, we will know later in the year if we have a new consolidated association. I've written a rather stern rebuttal of some of the anti-consolidation arguments. The reasons for consolidation reside solidly outside of the boundaries of inflammatory rhetoric. We are more whole when we are together.

Having attended both ACPA and NASPA's annual gatherings this year, I can say that I am worried that the rhetoric has splintered us. Our communal bonds have bent, however, they are surely not broken. Deep down I firmly believe that the differences of both associations will make a unified organization ever more effective. Our differences make us stronger. We question and learn from one another. The majority of anti-consolidation folks at NASPA's annual conference were wearing suits (and were seemingly older than this blogger)...while it seemed that the anti crowd at ACPA was a bit younger and less "suity." It's ironic when both sides are saying the same thing: Don't take away our power, our voice, our place at the table. If only we all had been in a room together. A room that surely would have been challenging to moderate and yet, what a wondrous opportunity to model our professional values.

I'm having a very special guest on Student Affairs Live on Wednesday at 1:00PM PT. Tom Jackson, past president of ACPA and Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Louisville, will be on the show to discuss consolidation. While I've been quite vocal on my view of the matter, Tom, with a vast amount of history/context, will be on hand to provide balance.

One thing is certain. This is a pivotal moment in our profession. If you haven't yet read it, I would highly recommend that you peruse this document from ACPA: 2010 Consolidation FAQs. There is so much content on the web that things can get a bit confusing. The FAQ document from ACPA lays out the most pressing issues of consolidation.

A member at ACPA asked if there was an option to abstain. They were effectively asking if there was an official way to unofficially vote no. If you are an eligible voter for either association, please vote. If you don't want us to consolidate, that's your choice, but at least exercise it.

One of my favorite books is Teaching Community by bell hooks. I think that the consolidation of ACPA and NASPA will truly showcase how we teach community. Will we have a few twists and turns to overcome? Absolutely. Because that's what we do. Our profession is resilient. We teach, preach, and need unity because we know that that is how you lead. Let's be courageous. Allow the dissonance of the unknown to drift away as we come together to become an "us."

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