Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Price of a Good Waffle Fry

If your Facebook is like mine, it is full of insightful comments about the recent announcement by the Chick-fil-A President regarding the corporate donations to anti-gay causes.  While I believe they should be giving their money to literacy groups that teach people to spell correctly instead, let me add another wrinkle to this developing saga that impacts student affairs professionals.

We have a Chick-fil-A in our Student Union on campus.  It’s quite popular with our students, and I confess to enjoying an order of waffle fries every now and then.  The presence of this store has always been controversial with our LGBTQ students, faculty and staff – and now more so than ever.

Let me make it more complex.  I am the highest ranking out LGBTQ administrator at my university.  Our LGBTQ students look to me to take leadership around issues of equity and discrimination like these.  As Dean of Students, managing issues of bias, equity and discrimination are part of my responsibility, but the challenge is both personal and professional.  How far do I take my personal beliefs when they may not fully align with my university’s?

Now, no one at my university has asked me to not do anything, nor do I think anyone will.  The value of equity and inclusion is strong here.  I also believe that we would have never contracted to have this restaurant on our campus knowing what we know now.  The complexity of contracts that our institutions engage in are often beyond the scope of most in student affairs, but is this an opportunity for student affairs to engage campus in a broader discussion about economics, social responsibility and how we hold both at the same time?

This presents a quandary that I highlighted in my Presidential Address at the 2012 ACPA Annual Convention in Louisville.  As a senior administrator with aspirations beyond my current position, do I have to shelf key aspects of my identity to support my institution that is now in a difficult place?  These are the struggles that those of us from marginalized populations deal with on a daily basis at work.

ACPA is here to help.  We will launch a new symposium this February designed to help aspiring SSAO’s navigate the complexities that come with bringing your identity to work.  Keep your eyes on your email for more announcements, and I hope you plan to join us in Orlando for this institute.

And from now on, I’m bringing my lunch from home.

Dr. Keith Humphrey
ACPA President, 2012-2013

Friday, July 20, 2012

No Gamble with ACPA Leaders

OK, so I finally gave in and used a gambling reference in homage to our profession's upcoming convention in Las Vegas (March 4-7, 2013).  Don't hate me forever.  It's just reflective of the environment I have been in this week.

I'm sitting in the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas reflecting on the successful ACPA Summer Leadership Meeting this week.  Leaders from the State and International Divisions, Standing Committees, Commissions, Governing Board and Convention 2013 Planning Team came together to advance the leadership that ACPA offers the profession.  I have never been with a group of ACPA leaders when we didn't over-achieve for our members, and this week was no different.  We were even joined by the leadership of our Convention 2013 co-location partners, NIRSA, to enhance plans for our groundbreaking partnership.

Your ACPA leadership discussed the upcoming ACPA Strategic Plan, reviewed the fantastic results from our recent member survey, visioned for the future, outlined upcoming professional development experiences and publications, and toured the facilities that will host all of student affairs at the 2013 Convention. I can tell you this....the coming years will be major ones for ACPA, and you will be proud to be a member. 

We enjoyed being in Las Vegas; it's hard not to in a city like this.  They truly try to create an experience that is unique, memorable and inclusive of all who come to visit.  Wait, that sounds like the work we do on our campuses.  We just don't have all-you-can-eat buffets.  Wait, we do too! 

State Presidents, Standing Committee and Commission Chairs, and all other leaders are leaving energized and ready to transform student affairs and higher education.  If you are not a member of one of these groups, now would be a great time to log in to your online member profile to ensure you are getting these group's communications.  I know when you leave Las Vegas after the convention in March you will leave with the same sense of energy that only ACPA can provide.

And, for the record, I didn't even put one nickel into a slot machine.

Dr. Keith Humphrey
ACPA President

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What I learned on my summer vacation

I just returned from a week’s vacation with my family.  We went to our usual spot, the family cattle ranch near Shonkin, Montana that my partner’s great, great grandfather settled as part of the Homestead Act.  It’s a place where there are no televisions, no computers, and you have to hike up to the top of the mountain to get any cell signal (two bars). 

For someone like me, it’s very hard to unplug that much.  And I did my best (only hiked to the top of that mountain two or three, okay, three times to check my email).

I didn’t realize how much being that removed from technology would challenge me to rethink how I parent and how I do my job.

I couldn’t sit my kids down for a video when I needed a half-hour of peace.  I had to talk to them and put on my hall director hat to occupy their time when the ranch’s residents were being anything but productive.

A rattlesnake came close to the house on the fourth day, and we needed to alert everyone.  No emergency text messages or tweets were sent out.  Just a lot of yelling.  We took care of the emergency and removed the snake from the yard in a way that would make any campus crisis manager proud.

We read.  Books.  Not emails or websites.  But the actual paper things instead of our e-readers.  I do confess that for a few of the children’s books we read my kid’s exclaimed “Daddy, we have that movie.” I never knew how different 101 Dalmatians was in print from either movie version.

My partner’s brother came with his family.  And the number of kids doubled.  Suddenly the single rooms my kids had were doubled overnight like a campus experiencing an unplanned, yet welcome enrollment surge.  Roommate conflicts were had, mediated, and re-negotiated.  And had again.

We did it all without the help of any piece of technology. 

I’m not arguing that we don’t need technology to do our work.  I am arguing that we need to make sure that we are using it in the right way, so that we don’t lose touch with the human beings that we work with and educate.

That’s what I learned on my summer vacation.

Dr. Keith Humphrey
ACPA President