ACUI Region VII Vol 1 Issue 4 Newsletter

Page 1

April–May 2017


In This Issue

By Vinny Jackson, University of Delaware Welcome to the end of the academic year! It has been a doozy of a year but I am grateful to be on the other side with more friends and colleagues like yourselves. In this issue, we’ll take a look at Kristen Mruk’s volunteer experience while at the annual conference, spoiler alert, we won the Battle of the Regions. Speaking of volunteers, we spotlight a current volunteer Anthony Otero in one of several Regional Leadership Team positions that are currently open for the next year. For those of you that missed out on the TweetChat in May, there is a recap by Kim Celano of Temple University. New communications team member, Jamie Dresher of SUNY–Old Westbury, provides us with some background on the inaugural Joseph H. Benedict Jr. Social Change Award for Racial Justice and the recipient program Black Lives Matter Week! As always, we’ve included some photos from the professional imposter, Hayden Greene, highlighting the 2017 annual conference in Philadelphia. Right before the continuing regional adventures in #OtherDutiesAsAssigned, we have a thoughtful reflection on the annual conference and what it means to be a part of the ACUI community by Kerry Spicer of the University at Buffalo. We are always looking for new contributions to the newseltter, email with suggestions and you could be featured in the next issue!

Greetings from the Regional Director By Neela Patel, Rutgers University–New Brunswick

What an amazing conference experience this past March in our region! The work of the host institutions, the local volunteers, and our Region VII delegation made our time together exactly what many of us needed--community! Thank you to everyone that helped to make the annual conference memorable. By the way, we took home the Battle of the Regions. From our Story Slammer Luke Haumesser of the University at Buffalo, to our “Debate Team,” to the FUNd Run/Walk/Roll participants, and to the mountain of shoes donated to Back on My Feet, as well as all of delegates ACUI Region VII 2

who showed up with pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, Region VII showed up to be present and active throughout the conference! Since the last newsletter, there have been a few announcements to share with all of you. We have a complete Conference Planning Team for our region that is diligently working to finalize details for when we next meet at the University of Maryland–Baltimore County in November. Registration will be going live in July but end of fiscal year funds can be set aside now by purchasing an ACUI voucher to go toward regional conference registration. For more information, you can call the ACUI Central Office 812.245.2284 and ask to purchase a voucher for the conference. Hopefully everyone’s graduation and commencement events are going smoothly. As we have rounded out another academic year, we begin the process of reviewing what worked and what can be improved on our college campus. The Regional Leadership Team will be doing the same. We are planning our joint Regional Leadership Team and Conference Planning Team meeting in Bloomsburg, Pa. in June. At that meeting we will review the past year and look to next year. By having both teams together, we hope to capitalize on our time and move forward with a variety of plans for both the conference and our engagement within our region such as the TweetChat held at the beginning of May. I’m looking forward to the next one on June 6! The 17th annual CUPSI was held at the University of Illinois–Chicago from April 12–15. While I’m happy to announce that all of the finalists were from Region VII, there was student protest due to poems recited by Marc Smith that the students felt created an unsafe space that evening. This resulted in the students coming together as a CUPSI community to take back the stage. The finalist teams— Montclair State University, New York University, Pennsylvania State University–University Park, and Temple University—agreed to share the 2017 title and showcase their stories without formally competing. ACUI has collected responses from poets and coaches with the plan to make the 2018 CUPSI program stronger and safer.

-Neela Patel Regional Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 4 3


By Kristen Mruk, Genessee Community College Beyond giving back to ACUI, volunteering provides opportunities to develop new skills beyond current responsibilities on campus, to build a network of colleagues to call on for advice, and to learn more about trends in the profession. One of the best times to volunteer is at the annual conference; not only is it a chance to give back, but the networking opportunities are limitless! In Philadelphia, there were hundreds of volunteer spots in areas of the conference ranging from conference greeter to human arrow. I had the opportunity to volunteer twice for two different activities within the Battle of the Regions: Story Slam and the Around the Hearth debate event. In both areas, I was fortunate enough to have met a number of great people. During Story Slam on Monday night, I was sitting next to a fellow judge who was also from a community college! It isn’t always easy to find other community college workers so this was a pleasant surprise. We got to talking between performances and it turns out that he and his partner were planning to move to Region VII within the next year. From that one interaction, I had a community college confidante and he had a connection to his new region. During the Around the Hearth debate, I met Emily who I was surprised and excited to learn was from Region VII. Emily, another volunteer, and I were responsible for tabulating the debate scores from the student judges. Calculators in hand, we ensured the scores were accurate so the winning regions could move on to the next round. Emily and I were two of the first people to know Region VII took the crown so when the placement was made public, we shared a moment in our region’s history that I will never forget! While being “judgy” and adept with a calculator seem trivial on their own, in the context of the conference experience, I found tremendous value in the connections made and fun shared, as well as both Region VII victories!

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Join the Regional Leadership Team! Current volunteer opportunities can be found at including these Regional Leadership Team positions due June 23: • 2019 Regional Conference Coordinator • Business Manager • Communications Coordinator • Corporate Partnerships Coordinator • Educational Programs Coordinator • Inclusivity Coordinator • Web and Social Media Coordinator

Welcome Institutional Members Membership Coordinator Adriane Reilly

New: Cheyney University of Pennsylvania Rejoined: SUNY–Old Westbury Regional Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 4 5

Region VII Volunteer Spotlight By Volunteer Coordinator Katie Junot

Inclusivity Coordinator Anthony Otero “I started my professional career in 2001 as a box office manager in the Schine Student Center at Syracuse University. Soon after I became an assistant director in charge of the events scheduling. After 11 years at SU, I took my talents to Barnard College where I am the associate director scheduling and reservations.” In the year 2000, what were you doing? “I was trying to find myself --and it didn’t happen that year. lol” What is your favorite social media platform and why? “Twitter - I love the community feeling.” How do you say hello? “Fist-bump.” You have 15 minutes to make dinner, what is it? “Fish on the grill - with lemon.”

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Connecting Between Conferences: By Kim Celano, Temple University

Introducing #RVIIChat! We all love ACUI conferences. Whether it’s regional or annual, it is so much fun to see our colleagues from around the world. In between sessions, the time spent chatting with others is golden. Clients moving furniture? Ahh! Training frustrations? Argg! We “get” each other! These are our people! But then we travel home to our institutions, get back into our regular routines, and it can be challenging to keep those new lines of communication open. Not for lack of want or good intention, it just tends to happen that way. At this past annual conference in Philadelphia, I saw how active ACUI members were on Twitter. People were tweeting quotes from keynotes, sending out ideas and suggestions, and really engaging with each other. Why not use this platform to keep us connected between conferences? And so the idea of #RVIIChat was born. A monthly Twitter chat held on the first Tuesday of each month, with a designated theme and questions to guide the conversation. On May 2, Region VII held it’s first chat, themed “What a Mess”! From glitter to pie contests, décor issues, and more; we all face the same issues, but how do our various institutions deal with them? Here are some highlights if you missed it… Glitter – Friend or Foe? Regarding glitter, some institutions did not have a specific policy about its use or presence in the building. However, after a particularly sparkly recruitment weekend, Student Center Operations at Temple University drew a hard line and created a policy that glitter is not allowed in the building under any circumstances. Melissa Masone Ulmer (@melissa_masone) from Rowan University concurred, “Similar to Kim - we have a strict no glitter policy. It can’t be used at all in decorations or as part of a show.” Regional Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 4 7

Unions Heart Tarps When it comes to messier events, like “pie in the face,” or groups that want to paint, everyone seemed to agree on the solution. “Tarp is our best friend,” tweeted Neela Patel (@Neelz_onWheelz). Vinny Jackson (@vincee) agreed, “Paint night events get tarps placed over carpet with gaff tape.” Ashley Wallace (@aann1010) from American University lets Mother Nature take care of the clean up. “We have a fraternity that does a pie in the face event, and that is STRICTLY outside. Let the rain wash it away!” The Fate of Food Contests Student organizations frequently fundraise in student unions, and food contests can be a popular mode of philanthropy–eating contests, throw a pie or other food items, etc. However, growing concerns of liability are bringing an end to these types of programs. “We banned food eating contests several years ago,” tweeted Julie Fleming (@FlemingJulie) from Montclair State University. In addition to the risk of harm or injury to student participants, the effects of food waste can extend beyond campus. “TU recently prohibited eating contests. For liability reasons & also thinking of our local community and food insecurity,” Adriane Reilly (@AdrianeReilly) with Temple University. “I think talking with students about food insecurity and privilege is an engaging way to make change.” University Center at American has taken it one step further. “We also only allow pre-packaged items for any fundraiser/Bake sales on campus. Again trying to cut down on risk and liability,” posted Ashley Wallace (@aann1010) Resource Sharing In addition to sharing ideas, resources were also exchanged, on the topic of how we inform guests about building policies. “We have a rather large document called Program Planning Guide,” tweeted Dave Timmann (@ dtimmann), West Chester University. “Most everything goes into this doc which links to our campus student handbook.” ( Inspired by University of Pittsburgh Unions website, Student Center Operations at Temple Unviersity created a Policy Page on our website ( Having it online has not only helped our guests, but our Building Managers as well, giving them “back up” when enforcing policies.

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What Did You Think of the Chat? “That was cool – thank you everyone! Looking forward to the next one,” posted Darcy Frailey, American University, and TweetChat host (@ACUIRegionVII). “I enjoyed the TweetChat. Another way to be involved in a topic of interest without the phone call. The lesson of the day for me was to be sure your FB and Twitter accounts aren’t connected. All of my tweets on the subjects of decorations and glitter flooded my FB page,” tweeted Dave Timmann, West Chester University Adriane Reilly of Temple University exclaimed, “I had fun exchanging ideas in a more causal environment than a traditional webinar. I’m looking forward to our next one and hope more and more Region VII members will join us over time!” Join Us Next Time! Date: Tuesday, June 6 Time: Noon – 1 p.m. Topic: Student Staff Training & Development

Regional Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 4 9

Social Change Award for Racial Justice

By Jamie Dresher, SUNY–Old Westbury Joseph H. Benedict, Jr. has been a leader in higher education administration and

ACUI for nearly 50 years, most recently serving as executive director of the Student Center at CUNY–Brooklyn College prior to his retirement in 2008. He served as regional director, chair for various committees, vice president for regional affairs, and on the Board of Trustees for ACUI before becoming President in 1986. Benedict received the ACUI Butts-Whiting Award in 1994. And most recently, he is the namesake, and gave a generous gift, to ACUI for the Joseph H. Benedict Jr. Social Change Award for Racial Justice. The inaugural award was given to my institution, SUNY–Old Westbury, at the ACUI Annual Conference in Philadelphia for Black Lives Matter Week, held in September 2016.

As we all know, working in student affairs comes with unexpected challenges at virtually any time. Some challenges are easy to maneuver and other times programs are cut, money is moved, and it is time to get creative. When I began at SUNY–Old Westbury, I inherited an initiative called BRIDGE, Building Respect, Intercultural Diversity, Group Enrichment. Prior to my tenure, BRIDGE was a one-day conference with a service component and a paper due after the event. The turnout was low and the completion rate of the paper was even lower, typically around four students. I worked my first semester to restructure BRIDGE and incentivize the program with lunch and a certificate. Instead of a daylong conference, sessions were scheduled throughout the semester on different topics, all of which had to do with a controversial headline from 2014. Sessions included ‘What is the 1%?,’ ‘Conversion Therapy,’ and ‘Being a Black Police Officer.’ The paper component was removed and attendance skyrocketed. Eighty students completed the BRIDGE certificate, which meant they attended at least four workshops. ACUI Region VII 10

But things in student affairs change and a new program was started during fall 2015 by a different department which felt too similar in structure, included similar topics, and a number of the faculty who had led the BRIDGE workshops were a part of this new program. My department spent the next two semesters working on finding a new niche. It felt important to dedicate former BRIDGE money towards a program that still met its values of intercultural diversity and social and racial justice. Something that would make an impact and keep controversial topics at the forefront, in an educational aspect, and something that mattered. On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was fatally shot in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. There are countless senseless deaths of people of color at the hands of law enforcement and too many instances of gun violence in general, but this one hit differently, this one felt close to home. My first professional job was at Macalester College, only 5 miles from Larpenteur and Fry. I immediately felt that this could have been one of my students from Macalester and then I thought about my current students at SUNY–Old Westbury. Old Westbury’s student population is 28% Black or African American and 24.5% Hispanic. It is the most diverse campus in the SUNY system. This senseless death could have easily been one of my fraternity men or the student government president. A week and a half later that thought came true and SUNY–Old Westbury lost a student to gun violence. A 23-year-old black man finishing his degree in health and society. His sister is also an Old Westbury student. Although not at the hands of law enforcement, it stung just as badly. That week, I reached out to my supervisor and requested permission to hold Black Lives Matter Week. A week, not just a vigil. This needed to be timely and it needed to do more. Black Lives Matter Week needed to dive into the difficult conversations and push people to think and do. The administration at SUNY–Old Westbury needed to show that our students matter to us. I work at an institution where social justice is in the mission and we truly mean it. Requesting funds for this week was probably the easiest ‘yes’ I’ve ever received. Faculty were eager to hold educational sessions, University Police and the president of SUNY–Old Westbury, Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, were on board as well. Student organizations and clubs requested to introduce speakers and came out in droves to present their personal poetry and songs. Regional Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 4 11

To cap the week, with the collaboration and support from numerous departments, we were about to bring Touré, journalist and culture critic, to campus to present a newly created keynote based on a Rolling Stone article he had been working on following the Black Lives Matter movement and the women who founded it. Touré is a former NBC contributor and MSNBC regular, co-host of The Cycle, host of The Hip-Hop Show and On the Record for Fuse TV. He is a columnist for and contributor to Vice. Touré is the author of Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What It Means to Be Black Now. Having Touré as the keynote seemed the perfect mix of youth and experience, the perfect amount of activist and journalist, to breathe life into the movement that is taking place inside and outside of our campus. More than just a week of programs, I felt that Black Lives Matter Week should also be an awareness campaign. Posters were up as students arrived back to campus at the beginning of September with names of the fallen, and there was much talk about what “the administration” was trying to do. Generally, the feedback was positive and conversations started popping up in every corner of campus. There was a small contingent on Facebook who spoke of having “All Lives Matter” shirts made, but nothing came to fruition. A few spoke out during the educational discussions, which actually drove the conversations to deeper and more impactful places. Firsthand accounts of gun violence were disclosed in moving poetry or during discussions. Our University Police and the Nassau County Police both sat on a panel where students could ask hard questions and receive genuine answers. Students, staff, and faculty were taking the conversation into the classroom and back to their offices. ACUI Region VII 12

In some regards, the week brought many closer together. Some students of color expressed feeling supported and important. At the same time, there are students that have expressed that they no longer feel comfortable on this increasingly liberal campus as a conservative student. Trying to challenge the uncomfortableness while still being the supportive student affairs professional is an everyday occurrence. The Joseph H. Benedict Jr. Social Change Award for Racial Justice was created to combat the ongoing polarization that currently exists on campus and the ongoing blatant and subtle racial injustices toward people of color. Ideally, Benedict hoped the social justice program receiving this award would mobilize campus students, faculty, and administrators to have conversations that will help address acts of bigotry. I’m very proud to report that since the week was held, there have been numerous educational sessions put on by various departments as a continuation of the week. Black History Month and a two-day teach-in both focused on social and racial justice. There is talk from above of focusing more heavily on cultural months, such as Hispanic Heritage and Native American Heritage Month to further the discussion. It is anticipated that 2017-2018 will see an uptick in this type of programming based on the facility requests that have already been submitted. While somedays my colleagues and I are exhausted with explaining the rationale behind social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, the purpose of the week has been fulfilled. We are talking. Regional Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 4 13

Region VII Navigates Philadelphia Photo Credit: Hayden Greene, Manhattan College

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Regional Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 4 15

Poetry of Spaces

By Kerry Spicer, University at Buffalo Aren’t spaces a funny thing? Take banquet rooms for instance. If you walk into a banquet room with no event, you’ll find a generic carpet smelling faintly of chicken, beige walls, and terrible overhead lighting. Nothing remarkable. When I first stepped my business pumps onto the burnt orange and brown carpet of the Marriott, I thought “This carpet is terrible.” I have this thing about brown. It’s fine, I just don’t love it. I like bright, bold, grabyou-by-the-seat-of-your-pants colors. This often leads me to wearing all of the colors and not matching, but I digress. The ceiling was low, the temperature a little too cool, and I kept getting lost. This brought me to my crossroads; to your crossroads. We have choices at conferences. Which educational session to go to, whether to fill out an evaluation, where we want to have dinner, etc.? Most importantly, we can choose whether or not to gain anything from our experience. Me? I choose it all: every session, every new friend, every keynote, every activity, every tour. This is where the poetry comes in. While I am standing in the empty room, I can close my eyes and see it all. I can sit on a scratchy, Marriott chair and feel the tears running down my face when 2017 annual conference keynote, Alex Sheen, talks about his father and promises. I can stand in the front of a generic meeting room and feel eyes on me. Eyes asking me for wisdom when all I’ve got is honesty. I can communicate with my colleagues, using only my eyes while we scribble down our ideas to change the world. Passing them frantically back and forth. Adding to each thought until it becomes a rambling wall of text that we hope will build community. This is not beige walls, burnt orange and brown carpeting, and scratchy seats. This is revolutionary! This is a collective that has been brought together to change the world. ACUI Region VII 16

The people of ACUI are not just conference attendees or staff. That man there? He has created three resource centers for marginalized students in the past 10 years...outside of his facilities job. That undergraduate? She’s an international student from Ecuador, president of her programming board, and is missing one night of the conference to bring in Bill Nye to her student body and support her peers. The man quietly sitting in the tech booth with headphones? He is literally the glue that holds our work together. That person sitting next to you? She’s a former board member and dean of students leaving the conference at 3 a.m. to go pick up her son so that he can get back to school while her husband works. That person everyone is hugging? He was laid off this year. His response? To wish his school the best of luck moving forward. The people of ACUI are exceptional and we need each other. We connect on a level that most professionals do not. We understand that spaces are poetic and transformative. We can stand in a room, close our eyes, and see it all. We feel the joy of award recipients, the stress of being the experience builders, the comfort of all the hugs, the pride in seeing one of our own stand up to lead, and the pain in saying goodbye. We see the poetry in space, take a deep breath, and write it.

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By Kristen Mruk, Genesee Community College

As student affairs professionals we know that our jobs require some out of the ordinary tasks. Take a look at some moments from the past few months in which our duties exceeded beyond our written job descriptions. Share your stories with us on Instagram or Facebook using the #OtherDutiesAsAssigned and tag @ACUIRegionVII so we can highlight some of the whacky things we do for our students and institutions.

Photo Credit: Adriane Reilly

Kait Howarth of Temple University moments before cutting a lock for a student who locked the key to her commuter locker in the locker and who has a class presentation at 10 a.m.

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Photo Credit: Tina Young

Celebrating one of their last “quiet� days before Const on the Howard Gittis Student Center!

truction begins

Photo Credit: Kasia Pyzik

No one ever mentions what needs to be done after the balloon drop. Pictured Left: Kasia Pyzik and Kristen Mruk

When you need to stay extra connected #lifeofafacilityadministrator #daveinsurroundsound #srp2dayone Pictured Right: Dave Timmann Photo Credit: Toni Kampf Regional Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 4 19

Regional Leadership Team Regional Director

Patel, Neela Rutgers University (May 25, 2016 through Nov. 4, 2016)

2017 Regional Conference Coordinator

Grossman Leopard, Jennifer Pennsylvania State University– University Park (Sept. 1, 2015 through Nov. 30, 2017)

2018 Regional Conference Coordinator

Spicer, Kerry University at Buffalo (Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2018)

Awards & Scholarships Coordinator

Melton, Yakima Rutgers University (Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2018)

Business Manager Tiberi, Thomas University at Buffalo

Communications Coordinator

Jackson, Vincent University of Delaware

Online Learning Coordinator

Corporate Partnerships

(Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2018)


Student Involvement

(Sept. 1, 2015 through Nov. 30, 2017)

Sizemore, Cody University of Maryland-Baltimore (Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2017)

Educational Programs Coordinator

Williams, Michele Marist College

(Sept. 1, 2015 through Nov. 30, 2017)

Inclusivity Coordinator Otero, Anthony Barnard College

(Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2017)

Membership Coordinator Reilly, Adriane Temple University

(Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2018)

(Sept. 1, 2015 through Nov. 30, 2017)

Follow ACUI Region VII on ACUI Region VII 20

Cinelli, Kiley The College of New Jersey


Ulmer, Melissa Rowan University (Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2018)

Student Member

Marsella, Thomas Rowan University (Jan. 1, 2017 through Dec. 31, 2017)

Volunteer Coordinator

Junot, Katie University of the District of Colombia (Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2018)

Web and Social Media Coordinator Frailey, Darcy American University

(Sept. 1, 2015 through Nov. 30, 2017)

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