Passionate student affairs practitioners met on Saturday for the first of several convention consolidation discussions. A packed room of ACPA leaders/members listened to committee members as they outlined the process for consolidation. Voting is in full swing for eligible members from NASPA and ACPA. Most votes will be tallied via the web, however, a mail-in voting option is available. According to ACPA representatives, the results will not be immediately available as both associations wait for paper ballots to arrive.
The question/answer portion of Saturday's conversation was an interesting affair. Please note that I identify as a student affairs practitioner who is sans a campus (a professional choice that I made when I went into full time consulting work). Having said that, I can attest that there were several members in the room who seem to insist on living in a world that is black and white. Some folks seem constrained to polarizing consolidation issues so that critical thought and the "gray" that we all live in becomes severely obfuscated. What's at stake? In my view, how we serve our students and the future of our profession are going to be critically impacted by this vote. Consolidation will enable a single, unified community of student affairs practitioners/scholars to serve our students with greater fiscal capacity, enhanced opportunities for learning, and a singular vision of success.
I feel compelled to deconstruct one particular point that keeps coming up regarding consolidation:
- Myth - One annual conference equals too many attendees and diminishes networking opportunities: Well, I was at NASPA's annual conference, I am now at ACPA's convention, and I have been to a joint conference between both groups. Having more people at a conference does not limit networking opportunities. In fact, it increases the number of people that you can connect with. I met with scores of people in Philadelphia at NASPA. Adding several thousand more attendees to a conference doesn't limit who we can meet/see, it lets us find greater opportunities for networking.
One of the quotes that stood out for me on Saturday was that the effort to consolidate/unify ACPA and NASPA represents the most important moment in the 87 year history of ACPA. Consolidation is crucial for our profession. It is about our students, our work, our scholarship, and our very identity.
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