Foundations of Student Affairs

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My introduction to College Student Affairs began with the foundational course, Introduction to Student Affairs, CSA 501.  The course content was designed to broadly share the history and philosophy of the field.  I was introduced to the functional areas of Student Affairs and pillars of the profession.  Readings for the course such as The Student Personnel Point of View (1949) and Learning Reconsidered:  A Campus Wide Focus on the Student Experience (2004) solidified my hunch that I had found a home in higher education.  The emphasis on the holistic learning of students and transformative learning were philosophical matches to the way I had approached my previous work in K-12 education. I was thrilled to find an aspect of higher education that was devoted to challenging and supporting the growth and development of students both in and out of the classroom. 

Throughout my learning in the College Student Affairs program I was continually taken back to the pillars of the profession that had been introduced in CSA 501.  I was especially drawn to the work of Sylvia Hurtado et al. on the educational benefits of diversity in the classroom especially when faculty intentionally use pedagogical methods that encourage collaboration and discourse across the participants.  Another favorite was Mary Howard Hamilton and the interventions she recommended for creating genuine multicultural campus environments.  The work of these leaders in the field was inspirational in a few ways.  It drove home the importance of intentionality in creating and designing programs whether in the classroom or co curricular areas.  It also helped me to recognize how scholarly inquiry and discourse advance the profession. 

CSA 501 also introduced me to the functional areas and the importance of understanding the organizational structures of each.  This information was helpful in my graduate assistant ship and internships.  Knowledge of the chain of command is critical when seeking and reporting information.  My practical experiences reinforced the collaboration that occurs among functional areas.  Through my orientation and advising work at the First Year Testing, Consulting and Advising Program I saw how Student Activities, the University Health Center and the Division of Undergraduate Studies collaborated to present an informative student presentation to incoming students.  My internship in Student Conduct informed the necessity of working closely with Residence Life, and the University Police to deliver their mission of providing an educational conduct conference for student violations of the Code of Conduct.  I have a solid understanding that units in Student Affairs are not silos and missions often require the collaborative planning and support among units.  Current issues in Student Affairs work such as: sustainability, learning outcomes and assessment, campus safety, financial concerns, and alcohol and drug abuse require that units come together to implement supportive programs and practices.

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