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THE VERMONT C O NVERMONT NECTION THE

CONNECTION

V

THE.STUDENT A F F A I R S JOURNAL.OF THE.UNIVERSITY O F. V E R M O N T

Vo l u m e 3 3 2012 B U R L I N G TO N , V T


EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBERS:

The Executive Board of The Vermont Connection is elected by members of the Full Board,

consisting of all students in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (HESA) graduate program at the University of Vermont (UVM). The Executive Board is responsible for coordinating all editorial functions for the journal and ensuring the continuity of future publications, as well as serving as a link between current students, alumni/ae, and faculty. Executive Editor Managing Editor Co-Content Editors

Alumni/ae Public Relations Chair Membership Chair Social & Professional Development Co-Chairs

Kristin Lang Betsy Crouch Jilliene M. Johnson mae stephenson Beth R. Walsh Heather C. Lou Ashley N. Gunn Mathew J. L. Shepard

FULL BOARD MEMBERS: Laura Birdsall ‘13 Sara Lilien Blair ‘13 Devan Carrington ‘13 Betsy Crouch ‘12 Kristine A. Din ‘12 Jude Paul Matias Dizon ‘12 Christine V. Dolan ‘13 Jesenia Gervacio ‘12 Michael Griffith ‘12 Ashley N. Gunn ‘13 Queena Hoang ‘13

Benjamin Z. Huelskamp ‘13 Miracle R. Husband ‘13 Ana Cristina Jaramillo ‘13 Jilliene M. Johnson ‘12 Kristin Lang ‘12 Danielle L’Esperance ‘12 Heather C. Lou ‘12 Ray Mattila ‘12 Julie Oberts ‘13 Nicole Palmer ‘12 Barbara Perlman ‘13

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Women’s Center Department of Student Life Development & Alumni Relations Division of Student & Campus Life Queen City Printers

Diana Dubuque Jean Evans Jackie M. Gribbons Deborah E. Hunter Kathleen Manning Dorian L. McCoy Robert J. Nash

Dirk Jonathan Rodricks ‘13 Mathew J. L. Shepard ‘13 Macki Snyder ‘13 Kim Stabile ‘12 mae stephenson ‘12 Samantha A. Stocksdale ‘13 Beth R. Walsh ‘12 Cornell F. Woodson ‘13

Jill M. Tarule Cover Design: Lester J. Manzano ‘99 Advisors: Deborah E. Hunter Nick Negrete ‘06 Tricia Rascon ‘06

The Vermont Connection welcomes manuscripts addressing concerns of common interest among higher education and student affairs professionals. Of particular interest are articles exploring current issues, suggesting creative programming, and presenting original research. The opinions and attitudes expressed within this journal do not necessarily reflect those of the Full Board. The Vermont Connection acknowledges that scholarship is ever-changing; we include both traditional and non-traditional scholarly works in this volume. Copyright © 2012 by The Vermont Connection The Vermont Connection The University of Vermont 208 Mann Hall, 208 Colchester Ave. Burlington, VT 05405 USA http://www.uvm.edu/~vtconn

Higher Education & Student Affairs Administration The University of Vermont 208 Mann Hall, 208 Colchester Ave. Burlington, VT 05405 USA Printed at Queen City Printers, Inc.


THE.VERMONT CONNECTION

VOLUME.33 2 0 1 2

TA B L E O F C O NT E NT S

5

Editor’s Note Kristin Lang Articles

8

A Foot on Either Side: Student Affairs and Transracial Adoptees Sara Blair

16

Finding a Voice in the Academy: The History of Women’s Studies in Higher Education Betsy Crouch

24

Asian Pacific Islander Americans and Affirmative Negative Action Kristine A. Din

32

“Lift As You Climb”: A Narrative on Self-Empowerment and Student-Initiated Retention Jude Paul Matias Dizon

41

Harvesting Identities: A Migrant’s Journey from the Fields to the Green Mountains Amanda Flores

51

A Comparative Review of Cass’s and Fassinger’s Sexual Orientation Identity Development Models Jesenia Gervacio

60

Ethnic Studies: The Cyclical Fight, Conquer, and Struggle Queena Hoang

67

Graduate Colleague Mentorship: Meaningful Connections for Emerging Women in Student Affairs Sarah E. Hoffert, Kailee Brickner-McDonald, Cait Bjellquist, & Kristin Lang


4 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33

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Mattering, Marginality, and Black Feminism: Moving to Empower Black Women Jilliene M. Johnson

86

Womyn of Color Leadership: Utilizing Differential Consciousness to Navigate Workspaces Heather C. Lou

96

A Fish Out of Water? Unpacking Access and Privilege Through the Lens of International Intersectionality Dirk Jonathan Rodricks

105

Listening to Their Voices: Career Development for Nontraditional Students mae stephenson Reflections

115

Beyond Access to Success Pamela K. Gardner

119

The Writing on the Wall: Equity, Access, and Liberation in Higher Education Garrett Naiman

125

The Kennenth P. Saurman Award Our Work According to Mister Rogers: Reflections from a New Neighbor Jimmy Doan

131

The Final Word Jill Mattuck Tarule

135

New Connections

144

Acknowledgements Nick Negrete & Tricia Rascon

146

Donors

150

Guidelines for Authors


Editor’s Note • 5

EDITOR’S NOTE

V

As I sit down to write this note, surrounded by my TVC family during Production Week, I am reminded as to why we chose this year’s theme of The Vermont Connection in the first place. “Liberating the Learner: Unpacking Access and Privilege in Higher Education” was decided over ice cream— creemees, to be exact— last summer after a group brainstorm. Access, privilege, and liberation were key ideas that stuck with my cohort after we read Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed in our second week of HESA. Thinking about education as the practice of freedom is directly tied to our individual journeys into higher education. We all took different paths to Burlington, Vermont, and all had help along the way to increase our access to education, whether it was through mentorship, a bridge program, or unearned privilege. These journeys enriched our classroom discussions and helped me reflect on what it means to be a graduate student in higher education and student affairs. We are pulled in many directions as HESA students and are forced to reevaluate our values throughout the two or more years we spend in 211 Mann Hall. I am reminded of the importance in knowing oneself through challenging situations in theory (the classroom) and practice (practica and/or assistantships). I felt affirmed by my newly formed community while going through my racial identity development and understanding what it means for me to be a White woman in student affairs. I think about a specific experience in my assistantship in Greek Life this past semester and the support I received while navigating my role as a student advocate with a deep commitment to dismantling rape culture. Knowing what and who brought me to HESA and sustained me throughout my time here has allowed me to know myself better. This knowledge and awareness motivated me to continue in these difficult moments. “Liberating the Learner: Unpacking Access and Privilege in Higher Education.” What does this all mean for student affairs practice? The articles included in the 33rd volume speak to liberation, learning, access, and privilege in unique and provoking ways. In order to transform our student affairs worlds, we should actively participate with students in their journeys of liberation. We encourage our students to find balance between their school, work, and co-curricular commitments, and we also must make time for ourselves to reflect in the moments


6 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 between. The 2011 Kenneth P. Saurman Award winner, Jimmy Doan, eloquently stresses the importance of taking time to pause and listen with students, especially as new student affairs practitioners. As students and practitioners, we are all learners with the power to liberate one another. Invited author and 2007 HESA alumnus, Garrett Naiman, highlights the privileged responsibility student affairs practitioners have to our students to increase access to higher education as well. I feel honored to be a part of this all— this introduction, this Production Week, this volume of The Vermont Connection. The creation and production of this journal was a community effort through and through. The 2012 and 2013 cohorts tirelessly read abstracts, drafts, and final “dot” reads. This journal would not exist without the commitment of these amazing and talented people. I thank the members of the Eboard for their energy and willingness to make this experience their own. I especially want to thank our advisors, Tricia Rascon (‘06) and Nick Negrete (‘06), who became mentors to many of us throughout our HESA journeys. I thank Tricia and Nick for their insight, knowledge, sass, and senses of humor through productive and challenging times. I thank our faculty advisor, Deb Hunter, for her continued support of The Vermont Connection. Last, but certainly not least, I thank our committed HESA alumni/ae that engage us throughout the year from Phone-a-Thon to conferences to times together in Burlington. Thank you for modeling what The Vermont Connection is all about so that as we enter the field as new practitioners we are prepared to serve as valuable resources to current and future HESA students. I hope you enjoy the 33rd volume of The Vermont Connection. Kristin Lang


•7

ARTICLES

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8 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33

A Foot on Either Side: Student Affairs and Transracial Adoptees  

Sara Blair Transracial adoptees (TRAs) are a growing population within higher education. As the population grows, it is important for student affairs practitioners to provide support and space for TRA identified students to connect in their campus communities. The purpose of this paper is to explore important areas of focus for student affairs and higher education pertaining to the TRA community. The points discussed at the end of this paper are important for student affairs and higher education practitioners in the quest to serve multiple student communities on college campuses. My personal story is the lens through which these focus areas will be explored.

I have a foot on either side of the privilege line. Being Multiracial, I have the privilege of racial flexibility on the outside and the privilege of understanding both the point of view of People of Color and the point of view of White people on the inside. My Multiracial story has the added layer of Transracial Adoption (TRA) into a White upper middle class family. While I may consider my multiraciality a privilege, the color of my skin signifies to others a lack of privilege compared with my White family members. My color may signal lower status on the one hand, but my actual economic class standing as a member of my adopted family is very privileged. The particular configuration of belonging to both privileged and nonprivileged groups underpins what Viktor Frankl calls existential frustration: my concern over the worth of this life (Frankl, 2006). I confront this dilemma daily in interactions with People of Color, White people, and in educational settings. My efforts to reconcile these two sides of my existence, my economic-class identity and racial identity, are sometimes frustrating, infuriating, funny, or all three at once. Navigating this dilemma is a challenge, but more importantly a remarkable opportunity to find meaning living a life with a foot on either side. This is my story.

Sara Blair is a first-year HESA student who received a B.A. in Sociology, emphasizing in Inter-ethnic Relations, with a minor in Education and Applied Psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2009. Her identities as a Multiracial, Transracially Adopted woman combined with her passion for working with students of underrepresented groups greatly influence her research interests. Sara enjoys learning with her students and hopes one day to be a Dean of Students.


Blair • 9 The Beginning I was born on July 22, 1987. The delivery room held my birth mother, the doctor, the nurses, and my adoptive parents. My birth mother was White and just 19 years old. About a month before my birth she reached out to a counselor to discuss her options. Young, pregnant, and estranged from her own adoptive parents, my birth mother was not ready to be a parent. Although I am told she had very mixed feelings, ultimately she knew she was not ready. Through a series of rather far-fetched connections beginning with the counselor, my birth mother and adoptive parents found each other. They met, got along, and decided to go forward with the adoption. Not being able to have children of their own, this was the best hope for my adoptive parents. Knowing that my birth mother had a good head on her shoulders and the decision she was making was in my best interest was all that mattered for my adoptive parents. They thought they knew all they needed to know, so it was a surprise when I came out shades darker than everyone in the delivery room. My adoptive parents realized that love was not going to be able to shield me from racism in the future, but they were in it for the long haul. There was no turning back. They had made a commitment to a mother and child and they were going to keep it. Reflecting back on what life could have been, I am eternally thankful for the sacrifice my birth mother made in placing me up for adoption. While I know that she could have raised me, it may not have been with the adequate resources. Furthermore, at the age of 22 she passed away from brain cancer, leaving me behind. Even though I do not have a conscious memory of her, I still feel a constant sense of loss because she is gone and I have just a few pictures and hearsay memories of her. Although I have never heard my birth mother say “I love you,â€? I know that she did. Viktor Frankl (2006) said: Love goes far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases some how to be of importance. (p. 38) The love my birth mother had for me goes far beyond her physical existence; her act of finding a better life for me is a testament. Her love surrounds me and keeps me whole. Wearing the Transracially Adopted Shoes Sometimes the shoes fit and sometimes they do not. For years I was confused and angry with my adoptive parents for putting me in a situation that made me feel so different when all I wanted was to be the same. I have clear memories


10 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 of uncomfortable moments. I imagined what it would have been like to wear a different pair of shoes—a pair that was the same as everyone else in my family. For me, that would have never been the case. As my birth mother was White and my birth father was not in the picture, I would have been raised in a White environment whether adopted or not. Over time I have come to terms with the shoes that I wear despite the challenges they bring. The challenges of being a TRA were, and still are, unique. My confusion manifested itself in subtly rebelling against my parents and building homogenous make-believe families during elementary school. I remember one day I lied to my mother about who was going to be at my friend’s house. I told her that only my friend’s mother would be home, but I knew this was not true. When we got to the house, my friend’s mother was there with her male friends, all of whom were African American. I felt right at home. When my mother picked me up she was upset that I had been dishonest and that I had been in a house with so many men. For my mother it had nothing to do with the color of their skin, but for me that was everything. I remember being confused about why my mother was so upset. In my mind the men were not going to hurt me, we were the same. Through elementary school I found myself drawn to the students of Color. I played family with my Black friends and I was the mother with Black children that looked just like me. I felt complete with my make-believe family. We understood each other in ways only children of Color could. We spoke stereotypical Ebonics and sat together during recess and lunch. We laughed at the White kids who tried to double-dutch and wore brightly colored plastic balls in our hair. I even got into a fight with a White boy in honor of my Black make-believe son. No one asked how I could be a part of my make-believe family. It was not until second grade that I started to become comfortable with my identity as a Multiracial TRA. My White sister attended the same school, which pushed me to begin accepting that I was the Multiracial child of Color in an all-White family. I had a real sister to look out for regardless of skin color. Now the fights were with anyone who made fun of her or asked, “Is that your real sister?” one too many times. In fourth grade, I asked my teacher if I could have a circle where I explained what it meant to be adopted. That was my first experience educating others on how it felt to be a TRA. Shortly thereafter, my mother pulled my sister and me out of public school and began home-schooling us. Those were the comfortable years when no one, not even I, questioned my identity. High school presented another set of challenges that I was not prepared to face. I was not ready to negotiate my identity as a Multiracial Person of Color. As one of thirty-five students of Color at my predominantly White high school, I found myself in limbo between the students of Color and the White students. This


Blair • 11 was the first moment that I found myself with a foot on either side. I identified with both. I had friends in both communities and I opted not to be a part of any student union that was ethnically or culturally based in order to stay neutral. I was more comfortable being in a group with my all-White friends than with the Black students who saw me as “not Black enough.” I was simultaneously exoticizing and denying my People of Color identity with my all White friends, and feeling invalidated by my fellow students of Color. In response to these feelings I acted out in high school and became severely depressed during my sophomore year as the search for my identity became too challenging. While my friends of Color were comfortable in their own skin, I was tearing out of mine, wishing that it would change colors, get lighter, so that I did not have to feel this way. While I was torn between White and Black, I was also stuck in the middle between the wealthy and the not so wealthy. High school was the first place I had to face the reality that my skin color did not match the economic class status that I was socially expected to have. Privilege and Non-Privilege in Being TRA My class status has always been a tough subject for me to discuss without guilt. Graduating college debt-free is uncomfortable in the presence of People of Color carrying substantial educational debt. The guilt comes from knowing that I could have been part of the lower class; that my privilege came with being adopted. By birth, I would have been raised by a young, unemployed single mother who died when I was just three years old. Chances are I would have ended up in foster care or would have been raised by my grandparents when my mother passed away. Instead, I find myself on the other end of the spectrum with two loving adoptive parents who make enough to send my sister and me to college without loans. The existential dilemma (Frankl, 2006) that I go through is trying to reconcile my skin color with my economic class status while also figuring out what it all means for me in this life. Society tells me People of Color are on welfare, are low-income, have low graduation rates, and have large amounts of educational debt. It does not help that many of my friends of Color have the same story and live the same experience. I know the majority of those under the poverty line are White (US Census Bureau, 2010), yet it is the People of Color under the poverty line that are most visible, reinforcing the stereotypes that fuel the existential dilemma. I try to fit into the stereotypes of being lower class by keeping my distance from class related conversations, working my way through school, paying for my own things, and not asking for any money. However, at the end of the day I am still the “Black” girl with a wealthy White family and no loans to pay. This is the privilege of being a TRA and the non-privilege of being a TRA. On


12 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 the one hand there is no one to talk to in the family setting who will understand what it means to be a Person of Color. On the other hand, few of my Multiracial community come from or understand my privileged background. That being said, my friends understand the everyday challenge of being a Person of Color in a White-dominated society and my family members feel the pain of being powerless against racism. Having strong friendships and family support creates a safe environment that will cradle and sustain me in my journey through TRA life. My Meaning in Being a TRA Trying to move through the existential dilemma (Frankl, 2006) of figuring out what it means to be a TRA has convinced me that I will always be straddling the privilege line. This is where I find the most meaning in being a TRA. This identity means that I will always be different, and at some point I need to accept that I will always struggle with being economically advantaged while racially disadvantaged. However, that struggle “ceases to be a struggle at the moment that it finds meaning” (Frankl, 2006, p. 113). There is meaning in the fluid movement between one paradigm and another. My comfort comes from living a privileged and unprivileged existence freely. There is a joy in accepting a fate that placed me in my circumstances. Being a TRA is frustrating, exciting, challenging, developmental, and above all the single most salient identity I have. It is what defines the way I view the world and the way I view myself. The challenge of reconciling my race and class status has pushed me to explore the intersections of both identities. As a TRA I am a mediator, negotiator and middle-woman when it comes to race and class conversations. My identity of being in-between helps bring people together. When there is conflict, I am able to see both sides of the story. There is a curiosity that comes with being a TRA, one that keeps driving me to find the answers to questions about who I am and who I am going to become. Identifying as a TRA has taught me to be comfortable with the thought that I may never know where I came from; I am comfortable because I am sure of where I am going. Though it may be hard, I am okay with never being able to connect with my family members on issues of race the way I wish I could. Challenges like this make me stronger and make me seek out people to connect with who will understand. I also find it challenging to find new words to express how I am feeling to those I love so they may start to understand what it means to be me. Being a TRA is one of the main reasons why I chose to enter into student affairs. It is the ability to see both sides and to understand what it means to travel the middle road, like so many of my students do, that makes me grateful for being a TRA. It means being challenged by my own identity so that I am better able to


Blair • 13 understand the challenges faced by those around me. It means searching for new words to better express myself and being comfortable in the shoes that I have been given. Now, I cannot imagine wearing a different pair of shoes. My story has given me power. It is in these shoes that I proudly stand with a foot on either side. Implications for Student Affairs Based on my personal experience, I recommend three main areas that student affairs practitioners can focus on to better assist TRAs as they navigate their identity within the collegiate setting. They are: conducting assessment, providing training for practitioners, and providing space for identity exploration. Each area is important in the quest to develop a better understanding of what it means to be a TRA. Assessment According to the most recent estimate of transracial adoptions by the National Health Interview Survey in 1987, only 8% of all domestic and international adoptions were transracial adoptions (Stolley, 1993). Although a national report on the percentage of transracial adoptions has not occurred since 1987, state reports make it clear that TRAs are a growing population inside and outside higher education that need specific attention (Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 2002). Due to the lack of institutional assessment about the TRA community, it is self-disclosure that identifies TRAs on higher education campuses. TRAs are a population not included in conversations about identity unless a self-identified TRA enters the dialogue. As the TRA population grows in higher educational settings, it will be necessary to look closely at the presence of TRA students and their graduation rates for practitioners to become more aware of TRA population needs. Assessment will help to create visibility, determine ways to motivate TRA identified students, increase retention, and train practitioners (Adams, Thomas, & King, 2000). While assessment techniques will vary across institutions, it will prove useful in gaining a better understanding of how TRAs navigate identity within their respective institutions and how practitioners can better serve the community as a whole. Training and Theory TRAs encounter challenges around being in-limbo between identities (Trenka, Oparah, & Shin, 2006). It is for this reason that practitioners should be provided with training that discusses the challenges TRAs may face when attending institutions of higher education. The two main challenges I faced were coming to terms with my lack of knowledge about cultural background or heritage and my inability to identify or fit in with monoracial student groups.


14 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 Multiracial students also face similar challenges throughout their college experiences as explored by Renn’s (2000) theory on patterns of experience among Multiracial college students. However, it is important to provide an identity development theory solely framed around the TRA community. This would provide practitioners with the competencies to better serve TRAs through counseling, guided identity exploration, programming, and conversation. An identity development model, which does not yet exist, in combination with training will provide practitioners with TRA specific language to create more inclusive spaces during conversations with students who identify as TRAs. Space Space to connect and explore a common identity with others who identify the same way is an important part of identity development (Renn, 2000). In my personal experience, space for TRAs is difficult to find. There is no space where TRAs can navigate the identity of being in-between, and I found it difficult to connect with fellow TRAs in higher education because I did not know where to start. I found my connections outside of school through an agency specializing in transracial adoptions. To this day I have found fellow adoptees but only one fellow TRA in the school setting. Though there are adoption agencies that can connect TRAs outside the field of higher education, it is important for institutions to provide a space, defined by TRAs, to connect. With the help of trainings and institutional assessment, practitioners should have the information and skill set to connect members of the TRA community in a safe space where identity can be explored. Not only will these spaces create more visibility for the TRA community, it will also provide much needed support for individuals who identify as TRAs. As a TRA I wish that there had been a way for me to connect with fellow TRAs in college. I know that there are others out there, yet they are hard to find. If I had a group to turn to I suspect that I would not have felt as isolated in the dilemma I still face negotiating my privileged self and unprivileged self. I believe that institutional assessment, practitioner training, and creation of space will provide TRAs with the opportunity to find each other and explore their identities. Now more than ever, with celebrities like Madonna and Angelina Jolie making transracial adoption more visible, TRAs need space to educate themselves and others about the challenges we face. As practitioners we have an opportunity to find ways to educate ourselves on a growing community of students who will influence conversations on identity development, family, culture, and race. There has never been a better time to explore what it means to have a foot on either side.


Blair • 15 References Adams, C., Thomas, R., & King, K. (2000). Business students’ ranking of reasons for assessment: Gender differences. Innovations in Education & Training International, 37(3), 234-243. doi:10.1080/13558000050138470 Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. (2002). Overview of adoption in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/Fac tOverview.html Frankl, V. (2006). Man’s search for meaning. Boston: Beacon Press. Renn, K. (2000). Patterns of situational identity among biracial and multiracial college students. The Review of Higher Education, 23(4), 399-420. Stolley, K.S. (1993). Statistics on adoption in the United States. The Future of Children, 3(1). 26-42. Trenka, J., Oparah, J., & Shin, S. (2006). Outsiders within: Writing on transracial adop- tion. Cambridge: South End Press. US Census Bureau, (2010). Income, poverty, and health insurance in the United States: 2010 US tables and statistics. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/incpovhlth/2010/ tables.html


16 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33

Finding a Voice in the Academy: The History of Women’s Studies in Higher Education  

Betsy Crouch The introduction of Women’s Studies programs into the academy has been one of American higher education’s greatest success stories of the last 40 years. These programs’ foundation in political activism, focus on diversity and social justice, and collaborative learning environments have created academic communities for women to share their unique perspectives and connect their personal experiences with traditional scholarship. Despite internal debates about how the programs should be structured, what they should teach, and whom they should represent, the efforts of Women’s Studies faculty and students have transformed higher education’s traditional male-dominated curriculum. By examining the history, key characteristics, and overall impact of Women’s Studies programs on the academy, this article will demonstrate that these programs are still relevant and must continue to exist and evolve in order to fulfill their mission of giving a voice to people with oppressed identities.

Women have struggled to find their place in higher education and its curriculum since they gained admittance in the mid-19th century. For the earliest women in higher education, coursework focused on preparing them for their primary role as caregiver of their families. After the success of the suffrage movement in the early 20th century, women assumed that they would make progress toward equality in all areas of their lives and began to demand access to the traditional higher education curriculum. As the proportion of female undergraduates steadily grew, women in the academy could no longer tolerate the lack of women faculty, lack of scholarship written by or about women, and lack of resources available to women on college and university campuses. By the late 1960s, women in higher education shifted their focus from attaining access to the standard curriculum to challenging its male-dominated nature (Boxer, 1988). These efforts led to the founding of Women’s Studies programs on college and university campuses across the counBetsy Crouch is a second-year HESA student who receieved her B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia in 2006 (and who wishes she had taken some Women’s Studies courses while attending UVA!). Her prior work experience in strategy consulting inspired her interest in researching female business students’ perceptions about gender dynamics in Corporate America. She currently works as the Graduate Assistant for New Student Orientation at UVM and has also spent many hours working with students in Career Services. She is looking forward to returning to her family, friends, and fiancé in Atlanta after graduation.


Crouch • 17 try. Although Women’s Studies programs have had both internal and external controversy throughout their development, they have given women a voice and a community in American higher education and its curriculum. The 1970s: Introducing Feminist Activism to the Academy The political climate of the late 1960s had a profound effect on female faculty and students in the academy, which formed the basis for the introduction of Women’s Studies into the curriculum. As these women observed and participated in activism on behalf of the women’s liberation movement, the Civil Rights movement, the antiwar movement, the antipoverty movement, and the movement for gay and lesbian equality, they became passionate about transferring this positive momentum from their communities into their classrooms. The political roots of Women’s Studies inspired its mission: “from the beginning, the goal of Women’s Studies was not merely to study women’s position in the world but to change it” (Boxer, 1998, p. 13). Women no longer wanted to limit their studies to existing knowledge. Instead, they wanted to use their experiences of discrimination and oppression to create new knowledge that would lead to positive change for women (Ginsberg, 2008). The founders of the first Women’s Studies programs were part-time or assistant professors with little administrative influence. Even after the first official program began at San Diego State University in 1970, professors taught Women’s Studies courses in addition to their already overloaded course schedules and usually without additional payment. Because the original Women’s Studies instructors held degrees in more traditional academic disciplines, they spent many additional hours preparing to teach material outside of their specialized areas of knowledge. The presence and popularity of these introductory courses flourished across the country despite their grassroots nature; by the mid-1970s, a study of 15 campuses showed that between 10- 33% of all female undergraduates were enrolled in at least one Women’s Studies course (Buhle, 2000). By the end of the decade there were over 300 Women’s Studies programs and over 30,000 available courses (Boxer, 1988). Although each Women’s Studies program had unique beginnings and components, several key characteristics defined the programs as they developed throughout the 1970s. The most important distinctive feature of Women’s Studies programs was the equal focus on scholarship and political action. Both faculty and students in the early years of the programs spent as much time working on women’s issues and with women’s organizations in their communities as they did inside the classroom (Buhle, 2000). Some prevalent features in the early Women’s Studies classrooms that have continued throughout the last 40 years include a circular arrangement of chairs, small group discussions, cooperative projects, student participation in teaching, journal or reflection writing assignments, and the use of first names for


18 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 professors (Boxer, 1988). The women’s liberation slogan “the personal is political” carried over into Women’s Studies classrooms, where professors placed the highest importance on students’ personal experiences as the basis for new knowledge and advancement (Buhle, 2000, p. xix). Key Debates Within Women’s Studies Programs in the 1970s The most important debate within Women’s Studies began with the founding of the first programs and continues to be unresolved: should Women’s Studies be considered its own discipline and therefore exist as a separate department, or should it be considered an interdisciplinary program? Throughout the last 40 years, Women’s Studies has been referred to as “multidisciplinary, intradisciplinary, nondisciplinary, antidisciplinary, neo-disciplinary, transdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, critical interdisciplinary, intersectional, intertextual, and pluri-disciplinary” (Ginsberg, 2008, p. 13). Proponents of defining Women’s Studies as a discipline highlight the benefits associated with departmental status, including financial resources, tenured faculty positions, and scholarly legitimacy within the institution (Boxer, 1998). These proponents also argue that Women’s Studies programs will never receive the time or resources they deserve if faculty members have a primary obligation to serve another department and if program directors must constantly negotiate for consistent degree requirements and sufficient funding (Schmitz, Butler, Rosenfelt, & Guy-Sheftall, 1995). Those who argue for an interdisciplinary status for Women’s Studies believe that the creation of a separate department poses a threat to the impact of feminist scholarship across the academy. They express concern that the business operations accompanying departmental status could weaken the collaborations with other disciplines and that departmental hierarchies could distract scholars from their critical work inside and outside of the classroom (Thorne, 2000). A second debate that shaped the evolution of Women’s Studies involved differing opinions about the primary goal of women’s efforts in changing the higher education curriculum. Some argued that the ultimate goal should be transformative curriculum change and that women should focus on revising the traditional male-dominated curriculum. The early proponents of building Women’s Studies into the traditional curriculum used terms such as “mainstreaming, curriculum integration, curriculum transformation, curriculum expansion, balancing the curriculum, and gender balancing the curriculum” (Sullivan, 1995, p. 48) to describe their efforts. Others argued that the ultimate goal should be developmental curriculum change and that women should focus on creating new scholarship and knowledge. Anderson (1987) stated that “women cannot be simply included in a curriculum already structured, organized, and conceived through the experience of men” (p. 229), and that “what is wrong with the dominant curriculum cannot be fixed by simple addition, inclusion, and minor revision” (p. 230). Because the


Crouch • 19 founders of Women’s Studies sought to radically change the existing systems of oppression and discrimination, some worried that the movement would lose its political mission if it had to conform to the preexisting patriarchal structure of higher education. The 1980s: Growing Pains and Identity Crises By the early 1980s, Women’s Studies programs were firmly entrenched in the higher education curriculum on several hundred campuses and continued to experience rapid growth throughout the country. Faculty and students maintained a dual focus on academics and political activism, and the new scholarship produced during the 1970s ensured that research by and about women was accessible across the academy. Efforts toward transforming the curriculum of the traditional disciplines progressed slowly, with some increase in women’s scholarship in the humanities but little to no change in social or hard sciences (Boxer, 1988). As the political climate in the 1980s shifted to conservatism, critics began to voice their concerns about how feminist scholarship and Women’s Studies programs were damaging the higher education curriculum. One significant result of the increasingly hostile criticism was the loss of Women’s Studies programs’ already scarce funding. Key Debates Within Women’s Studies Programs in the 1980s In addition to criticism from outside the academy, the 1980s also brought tensions within the Women’s Studies ranks. As different types of practitioners with conflicting ideologies and goals gained influence within Women’s Studies programs, the clashes among them produced conflict over what should be studied, who should teach, and how the programs should be structured. At times, the possibility of destruction from within the ranks of Women’s Studies posed a more serious threat than the external critics (Boxer, 1988). A central focus of the internal discord was the question of what the prevailing definition of feminist theory should be within Women’s Studies programs. Ginsberg (2008) listed, “liberal feminism, radical feminism, psychoanalytic feminism, cultural feminism, Marxist feminism/socialist feminism, standpoint epistemology, modern and postmodern feminism, and postcolonial feminism” (p. 18), as just a few of the dominant theories from different points throughout the last 40 years. To add to the stress of these competing viewpoints, some Women’s Studies practitioners did not believe in using any theory. They argued that the use of theory in general is a hallmark of the traditional male curriculum and that many feminist theories can be difficult to translate into practice, therefore alienating women outside the academy. Whether a practitioner supported a particular feminist theory or no theory at all, the prominent publications and academic tensions of the 1980s focused on “the overall question of what unites and defines the category of women…can we


20 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 talk about ‘women’ as if they are a cohesive category?” (Ginsberg, 2008, p. 19). The Turning Point: Whom Does Women’s Studies Represent? Throughout the extensive internal and external debates of the 1980s, one question within Women’s Studies garnered more attention and debate than any other: what is the definition of women? Based on the initial Women’s Studies curricula and scholarship of the 1970s, “the concept of ‘women’…had largely been defined as white, middle-class, heterosexual, Christian, educated women of privilege” (Ginsberg, 2008, p. 16). Despite the roots of Women’s Studies within the larger movement for equality for all marginalized groups, hierarchies of power among women were embedded in the developing Women’s Studies programs. As women from underrepresented identities realized that the Women’s Studies programs of the 1970s and early 1980s did not adequately reflect their opinions, they developed their own movements and fields of study to give a voice to their experiences. Black Women’s Studies programs began with the intention of placing women of Color in the center of Women’s Studies and changing the curricula to include research from Black female authors and Black feminist literary criticism. The success of Black Women’s Studies inspired the development of several other fields of study that contributed to the transformation of Women’s Studies, including American Indian Women’s Studies, Asian Pacific American Women’s Studies, Chicana/Latina Studies, Jewish Women’s Studies, and Lesbian Studies (Schmitz et al., 1995). The introduction of these perspectives “changed the face of feminist scholarship, making it intellectually irresponsible to talk about ‘woman’ as an undifferentiated universal category” (Kennedy & Beins, 2005, p. 4). The 1990s and New Millennium: Maintaining Impact and Preparing for the Future As Women’s Studies entered the 1990s and the new millennium, it had “developed into an integral part of American higher education and of the network of private and public institutions that support it. Like no other educational movement in recent history, it had begun to change human consciousness” (Boxer, 1998, p. 49). Despite this success, Women’s Studies practitioners continued to struggle with the debates from previous decades, such as what the primary agenda of Women’s Studies programs should be, how to define women, and where Women’s Studies belonged in relation to the overall higher education curriculum. Key Question: Is Women’s Studies Still Relevant? A new debate began in the 1990s and early 21st century on whether the programs should still have Women’s Studies as a title. Some within the field have proposed


Crouch • 21 adding Gender Studies to the title or changing the name from Women’s Studies to Gender Studies. By broadening the title, the field could appear more inclusive to different gender and sexual identities. Also, proponents of a broader title argue that a title focused solely on women will perpetuate the idea that men are the norm and that women can only be the focus of study in special programs. Opponents feel that altering the title could weaken the impact of feminist scholarship in the academy and Women Studies’ link to the women’s movement. They argue that, “gender studies might or might not be feminist…but women’s studies must be feminist or it is not women’s studies” (Zimmerman, 2005, p. 37). As evidenced by the variety of program titles currently existing on American campuses, Women’s Studies practitioners have not yet resolved this debate. Beyond the question of what to name Women’s Studies programs lies the deeper question of whether the programs should continue to exist in American higher education. One side of this argument believes that Women’s Studies programs are no longer necessary because they have already achieved their goal of increasing attention to the study of women throughout the academy. Some believe that, from a political standpoint, women today are no longer facing oppression. They argue that Women’s Studies programs cannot maintain their activist component and therefore should no longer exist in their current form (Patai & Koertge, 2003). Proponents of the continuation of Women’s Studies programs focus on their impact on students. In addition to providing the critical analysis and problemsolving skills that are central outcomes of a liberal arts education, Women’s Studies programs encourage students to merge their classroom learning experiences with their personal experiences and therefore develop the tools to facilitate lifelong learning. The focus on activism inspires students to “move from voice to selfempowerment to social responsibility…to improve things for others as well as themselves…[and to] translate these desires into citizen action” (Schmitz et al., 1995, p. 716). Most importantly, Women’s Studies programs teach students to appreciate the differences of others and allow students to develop an understanding of systems of privilege and how they affect people of various identities. Conclusion Although the debate over the appropriate placement of Women’s Studies programs within the structure of higher education continues, the academy’s ultimate focus should be ensuring that these programs exist in the future. Students of all genders should have a community within their academic institution that encourages them to reflect on their personal experiences, values their individual perspectives, fosters an understanding of diversity and social justice issues, and introduces them to scholarship from authors that traditionally have not had a voice in the curriculum. Women’s Studies programs’ most important contribution to American higher education is the creation of that community for many students. Both


22 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 academic and student affairs practitioners should encourage students to seek out the unique learning environment that Women’s Studies programs provide. They should join in the programs’ efforts to empower students of all identities and build connections within the community. Women’s Studies programs have given women a voice in the academy, and until all forms of oppression have ended, it is essential for that voice to be heard.


Crouch • 23

References Anderson, M. L. (1987). Changing the curriculum in higher education. Signs, 12, 222-254. Boxer, M. J. (1988). For and about women: The theory and practice of women’s studies in the United States. In E. Minnich, J. O’Barr, & R. Rosenfeld (Eds.), Reconstructing the academy: Women’s education and women’s studies (pp. 69-103). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. Boxer, M. J. (1998). When women ask the questions: Creating women’s studies in America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Buhle, M. J. (2000). Introduction. In F. Howe (Ed.), The politics of women’s studies: Testimony from 30 founding mothers (pp. xv-xxvi). New York, NY: The Feminist Press at The City University of New York. Ginsberg, A. E. (Ed.). (2008). The evolution of American women’s studies: Reflections on triumphs, controversies, and change. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Kennedy, E. L. & Beins, A. (Eds.). (2005). Women’s studies for the future: Founda- tions, interrogations, politics. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Patai, D. & Koertge, N. (2003). Professing feminism: Education and indoctrination in women’s studies. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Schmitz, B., Butler, J. E., Rosenfelt, D., & Guy-Sheftall, B. (1995). Women’s studies and curriculum transformation. In J. A. Banks, C. A. McGee Banks (Eds.), Handbook of research on multicultural education (pp. 708- 728). New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing USA. Sullivan, A. V. S. (1995). Realizing the vision: Transforming the curriculum through women’s studies. The Journal of General Education, 44, 45-57. Thorne, B. (2000). A telling time for women’s studies. Signs, 25, 1183-1187. Zimmerman, B. (2005). Beyond dualisms: Some thoughts about the future of women’s studies. In E. L. Kennedy, A. Beins (Eds.), Women’s studies for the future: Foundations, interrogations, politics (pp. 31-39). New Bruns- wick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.


24 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33

Asian Pacific Islander Americans and Affirmative Negative Action Kristine A. Din With a focus on the Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) community, I begin by defining affirmative action and tracing its history and metamorphosis over the past 50 years. What once was a policy to support marginalized groups like the APIA community is now evolving into negative action – a tool to prevent mobility and access to higher education. Negative action, which stretches back to the 1980s, is a way for institutions of higher education to prevent the admission of candidates of Asian or Pacific Islander descent because of their rising numbers in enrollment and their accompanying perceived success. This paper spotlights the University of California, Los Angeles and Berkeley campuses, and how the Board of Regents has modified both eligibility and admission policies that may seem to promote equality and equity for all candidates, but actually support the practice of negative action. Grounded in the model minority myth, negative action maintains the status quo of White dominance. This paper will address the existence and consequences of negative action, its connection with the model minority myth, and its potential future impacts. I have often found myself floating in the middle of spectrums, feeling isolated from conversations, and being excluded from literature that surround the topics of race, ethnicity, equality, and affirmative action. My identity as a Filipina American categorizes me as an Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) – but what does that even mean? I am considered a person of Color by perception and on paper, yet I feel as though I cannot belong within the People of Color community, nor can I be classified as White. These feelings of ambiguity, exclusion, and oppression must stem from somewhere, but where and how? In this paper, I will trace the history of affirmative action, its metamorphosis, and Kristine A. Din is a second-year HESA student who received a B.S. in Molecular and Cell Biology with a minor in Sociology from the University of Connecticut in 2009. Before entering the HESA program, she co-coordinated a K-8 afterschool enrichment program and was also a community organizer with Public Allies-Connecticut. She currently serves as an Assistant Residence Director but has also spent much time collaborating with the Women’s Center staff and their initiatives. Kristine is a Filipina-American whose mission is to serve and advocate for both her fellow Asian Pacific Islanders and women.


Din • 25 its impact on fellow APIA students and myself. Over the course of 40 years, the definition of affirmative action and the way it has been implemented has shifted. Many are still naïve as to how the policy emerged and how it continues to change and affect APIA students. I also address the “model minority” myth. The myth, its history, and its implications will be presented and their affect on how APIA students are seen and treated in terms of the educational and political system will be discussed. Extrapolating from the model minority myth and the policy of affirmative action is negative action. Negative action counteracts affirmative action, and the education system continues to transition from supporting underrepresented groups like APIA to working against them. The perpetuation of the model minority myth must be stopped and negative action must be reversed if the education and political systems are to create the equality that they first set out to attain (Li & Wang, 2008). Affirmative Action –What is It? To understand what affirmative action is and how it affects society and its citizens, it is first important to know its many definitions. According to Spann (2000), affirmative action (from the racial perspective) is the race-conscious allocation of resources like jobs and educational opportunities with the intent to benefit historically underrepresented racial groups. Psychologist Dr. Beverly D. Tatum (1997) defined affirmative action as the attempt to make progress toward equality of opportunity for groups that are currently underrepresented in significant positions in society by explicitly taking into account different defining characteristics, like race, that have long been the basis of discrimination. In a broader sense, affirmative action is a policy favoring women, People of Color, and/or economically disadvantaged candidates over economically advantaged White men. The purpose is to remedy discrimination, achieve diversity, and ultimately attain equality and social justice (Sterba, 2009). The History of Affirmative Action Understanding affirmative action is not simply a matter of learning its definitions and interpretations. Although the ever-changing world has morphed the way affirmative action is understood and implemented, its definitions are rooted in history. Stretching back to the 1800s, the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified on July 9, 1868, and serves as the foundation of affirmative action. The Equal Protection Clause (within the amendment) requires that all citizens born or naturalized in the United States be subject to and not be deprived of jurisdiction and equal protection. Roughly 100 years after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, the Civil Rights Movement emerged. During this time, the case and decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954) took place and changed education in the U.S. (Robles, 2006).


26 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 The Brown decision supported the momentum of the Civil Rights Movement by ending legalized segregation in schools. With the passing of the Brown decision, the Court rejected the prior decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which originally endorsed the constitutionality of “separate but equal” facilities (Spann, 2000). Under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, governmental use of racial classifications was declared unconstitutional (Spann, 2000). Regardless of the significance of the decision, its passing was greeted with acceptance and resistance. Racial discrimination still existed rampantly despite desegregation being mandated by law. The first use of the actual phrase “affirmative action” in the U.S. appeared in Executive Order 10925, issued by President John F. Kennedy on March 6, 1961. The order created the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and mandated that projects financed with federal funds have hiring and employment practices free of racial bias (Sterba, 2009). Despite legislative parameters, subsequent conflicts continued to shape affirmative action such as the landmark Bakke decision. Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) One of the most well-known cases surrounding affirmative action is Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978). Allan Bakke applied for admission to the University of California at Davis Medical School and was rejected twice. Bakke, a White man, claimed reverse discrimination. At the time of the case, UC Davis’ program set aside 16 of the 100 spots in its entering class for underrepresented students. The majority vote in the Supreme Court found that the use of quotas in the affirmative action program of the medical school, coupled with the goal of remedying the effects of discrimination, was unconstitutional. Having reserved seats specifically for students of Color was deemed illegal. The decision held in Bakke still allowed for affirmative action, however it became more limited. Having quotas in place was found to be in violation of the Civil Rights Act and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (Sterba, 2009). The Model Minority Myth and Affirmative Action The Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s and its legislative and social results have been rooted in the belief of remedying past discrimination targeted towards Blacks and African Americans – the most predominant non-White racial group at the time. Moving further into the 21st century, it is essential to move away from a dualistic Black and White model which excludes several racial and ethnic groups also affected by discrimination (Ramirez, 1995). The Black/White paradigm was evident in the 1960s when 96% of People of Color were Black


Din • 27 and only 0.5% were APIA (Kim, 1999). However, the percentages have shifted dramatically, and the increasing presence of APIAs (and other racial and ethnic groups) challenges the Black/White paradigm. The Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) reports that the APIA population increased at a faster rate than any other racial group between 2000 and 2010, and college enrollment is likely to increase by 30% between 2010 and 2019 (Asian Pacific Islander Fund, 2011). APIAs comprise only 5% of the United States population, yet the 48 different subgroups speak volumes about the diversity of their experiences (Chu & Sue, 2011). The differences between the sub-groups remain invisible in many higher education policy discussions (Asian Pacific Islander Fund, 2011). The false and detrimental idea that all APIAs, especially students, have the same experiences of success and esteem is continuously perpetuated by the “Model Minority” Myth. The term “model minority” was first coined by William Peterson in 1966 when he praised the “self-attained success” of Chinese Americans (Li & Wang, 2008). Though the term can be applied in a variety of ways, I focus here on its application to APIA students and their presumed academic success. The myth generalizes that APIA students are more successful than other underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. They are falsely stereotyped as “whiz kids and overachievers” who can succeed on their own and do not require any or extra assistance (Li & Wang, 2008). Though the label was originally used to describe only Chinese Americans, it soon extended to include other East Asian ethnicities and became an umbrella term to encompass all Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic subgroups. Most studies have been focused on the unprecedented success of APIA students, disregarding students who struggle. Researchers and/or policymakers rarely notice these students’ stories because they are considered anomalies and do not fit the “model minority” myth. The myth is used to hide the reality of underachieving APIA students and it is a misrepresentation of APIA students and the entire population as a whole. In the 1990s, 54.9% of Hmong, 40.7% Cambodian, and 33.9% Laotian children had not completed the fifth grade (Olsen, 1997). These statistics strongly suggest that the “model minority” myth is a haunting generalization that is destructive to APIA students. The myth that all APIA students are successful causes policymakers to overlook the different types of issues they face and the services required to address them. Public perceptions and policy decisions often fail to distinguish between APIA subgroups. Discrimination towards “too many Chinese” often translates into a backlash against all APIA individuals and into policies that ignore the special needs of APIA ethnic subgroups (Dong, 1995). This trickles down to teachers and educators who further perpetuate the idea that affirmative action, programs,


28 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 and services to support APIA students are not necessary because they can “make it on their own.” If APIA students fail, the blame is placed on them because according to the model minority myth, they are supposed to achieve and “be a role model” to all other underrepresented groups. This obscures the accountability of schools, institutions, educators, and policymakers (Li & Wang, 2008). Ultimately, the responsibility falsely lies with the students, the support (or lack thereof) of a family, and cultural values – not the role of institutions or society. The model minority myth is toxic. APIA students are caught in a strange kind of limbo of wanting to achieve, being afraid to fail, and wanting to be seen and treated as People of Color who struggle with the similar racial barriers. Where do they fit? When included in discussions about educational policy and services, are they considered to be more White than other racial and ethnic groups? Affirmative action has turned to negative action. The Future of Affirmative Action and Asian Pacific Islander Americans There is a growing national trend to abolish affirmative action and other race-conscious policies. Several bills have been proposed to Congress to make affirmative action illegal, and California has been a pioneer in implementing anti-affirmative action initiatives (Spann, 2000). In the 1980s, two University of California (UC) campuses, Los Angeles and Berkeley, were discovered to be discriminating against APIA applicants in their admissions processes. Facts from research showed that discreet quotas do exist against APIA applicants and in turn favor White applicants (Robles, 2006). The two UC campuses noted have been practicing “negative action” – the practice of denying admission to APIA applicants who would have been otherwise admitted if they had been White (Kang, 1996). In the 1990s, the UC Regents passed Standing Policy-1 (SP-1) and Standing Policy-2 (SP-2), which banned the consideration of race in admissions and hiring systemwide. In 1996, voters passed a citizen-initiated referendum – Proposition 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative, which prohibited the statewide consideration of race in public employment, contracting, and education (Robles, 2006). In 2001, the UC Regents rescinded both SP-1 and SP-2, and the UC system has continuously revised its admission policies to increase fairness and inclusivity. Nonetheless, the implementation of Proposition 209 still governs the university. After two years of research, data collection, and analysis, the UC Regents Study Group created and approved a new University eligibility policy that is set to begin in the fall of 2012. The New UC Eligibility Policy There are a few major changes in the new UC eligibility policy. First, applicants are no longer required to take SAT subject tests (SAT-S). Scores can still be


Din • 29 submitted but will only be included as additional information for consideration. Second, unlike the former policy, not all Entitled to Review (ETR) students will be guaranteed admission. To be considered an ETR applicant, all students must have maintained a minimum 3.0 GPA, completed all required coursework, and provided scores from the SAT Reasoning Test (SAT-R) or ACT writing test. The applicants who rank in the top 9% of all California high school graduates or are in the top 9% of their graduating class, are placed in the “guaranteed” admission pool. Estimates show that the guaranteed pool will compose 10.1% of the state’s high school graduates. A rough total of 21.7% of California high schools students will be ETR. This means that 11.6% (of the 21.7%) of ETR applicants will have their files reviewed and assessed, but are not guaranteed a spot in the incoming class. From that group, about half (of the 11.6%) will be offered admission, while the other half will be categorized as “non-guaranteed.” Lastly, the actual incoming class will be composed of approximately 80.8% from the “guaranteed” applicant pool and 19.2% from the other pool (Poon, 2009). Implications With the University’s new eligibility policy, are racial opportunity and equality at its core? Are White and APIA applicants evaluated equally? Negative action still occurs beneath the language of the new eligibility policy. Removing the SAT-S requirement significantly increases the number of ETR students, which translates to a higher number of APIA applicants. Despite the increase in numbers, it is projected that the new policy will result in a decrease in the APIA proportion of UC eligible applicants. Consequently, there will be a 29% drop of APIA applicants in the “guaranteed” pool. Leaders have also turned their attention to the change in the racial landscape of the eligibility. The proportion of APIA ETR applicants decreases relative to the overall increase of the entire ETR pool of about 76,000 applicants (Poon, 2009). Meanwhile, the proportion of eligible White applicants increases. The University of California is not the only institution that has exhibited and practiced negative action. Admissions policies at other elite institutions such as Brown, Stanford, and Princeton have also been questioned. During the 1980s, Brown proposed to exclude APIA applicants from affirmative action during the admissions process. Administrators at Harvard have discussed only considering APIA applicants who come from a working-class background (Takagi, 1992). The continuous battle against negative action is a testament to the trend that places APIA students on the periphery of racial politics and affirmative action in higher education (Takagi, 1992). The increase in racial discrimination against APIA students in higher education institutions often creates unsafe and unsupportive environments. APIA students are more likely to be greeted with hostility


30 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 because there are already “too many Asians” in institutions of higher education (Dong, 1995). The unprecedented success of certain APIA ethnic subgroups in America has rarely been praised. Rather, the perceived success fuels oppression, the “model minority” myth, and the digressive idea of negative action. Conclusion Nearly 50 years after the coining of the model minority myth, it continues to be a destructive force and propels negative action forward. APIA students compose the fastest-growing population in higher education, yet since they are believed to “have made it,” they are not treated as a historically underrepresented group (Asian Pacific Islander Fund, 2011). APIAs are now facing new barriers in accessing higher education in addition to the model minority myth. What impact is this having on APIA students nationwide? Knowing that negative action exists, future research is needed to gain insights into how students are approaching the application process to certain institutions, the struggles they encounter, and what support they need. APIA students will play a significant role in the progress of our nation’s future, so it is vital to attend to their unique needs and the issues they face. In order to attain the equity affirmative action was first created to achieve, negative action must be dismantled.


Din • 31 References Asian Pacific Islander Fund. (2011). Growing Asian American and Pacific Islander student population dramatically changing the “face” of America’s higher education system [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.apiasf.org/press_2011_06_27_care.html Chu, J., & Sue, S. (2011). Asian American mental health: What we know and what we don’t know. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 1-18. Dong, S. (1995). “Too many Asians”: The challenge of fighting discrimination against Asian-Americans and preserving affirmative action. Stanford Law Review, 47, 1027-1057. Li, G., & Wang, L. (Eds.). (2008). Model minority myth revisited: An interdisciplinary approach to demystifying Asian American educational experiences. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. Kang, J. (1996) Negative action against Asian Americans: The internal instabil- ity of Dworkin’s defense of affirmative action. Harvard Civil Rights- Civil Liberties Law Review, 31(1), 1-32. Kim, J.Y. (1999). Are Asians Black? The Asian-American civil rights agenda and the contemporary significance of the Black/White paradigm. Yale Law Journal, 108, 2385-2412. Olsen, L. (1997) An invisible crisis: The educational needs of Asian Pacific American youth. Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, 2-53. Poon, O. (2009). Haunted by negative action: Asian Americans, admissions, and race in the “color-blind era.” Asian American Policy Review – Harvard University, 28, 81-90. Ramirez, D. (1995). Multicultural empowerment: It’s not just Black and White anymore. Stanford Law Review, 47, 957- 992. Robles, R. A. (2006). Asian Americans and the shifting politics of race: The dismantling of affirmative action at an elite public high school. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis Group. Spann, G. A. (2000). The law of affirmative action. New York, NY: New York University Press. Sterba, J.P. (2009). Affirmative action for the future. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Takagi, D.Y. (1992). The retreat from race: Asian Americans admissions and racial politics. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Tatum, B. D. (1997). Why are all the Black kids sitting in together in the cafeteria? And other conversations about race. New York, NY: Basic Books.


32 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33

“Lift As You Climb”: A Narrative on Self-Empowerment and Student-Initiated Retention  

Jude Paul Matias Dizon Through a study on student-initiated retention projects, Maldonado, Buenavista, and Rhoads (2005) focused on the role of student agency and group empowerment and offered insight into how retention theory, policy, and practice may be reconsidered. This critical race counterstory will explore how my undergraduate experience was shaped by a student-initiated retention project in a way that contributed to my self-empowerment. I conclude with a discussion on empowerment’s relationship to retention and share suggestions for how student affairs educators may engage in student-centered and student–initiated programming to foster critical knowledge construction, community and identity formation, and leadership.

“Lift as you climb” was an often-repeated phrase throughout my undergraduate years. My peers involved in the Pilipino Academic Student Services (PASS) recognized the privilege we had as university students and the accompanying responsibility. We had to continue clearing a path for others to come after us just as previous students had done before we began college. Much of my undergraduate experience was shaped by mentoring relationships I formed within the Pilipin@1 student community. Since my first moment at the University of California (UC) at Berkeley, other students helped me navigate the campus; they lifted me with them as they progressed through their higher education journeys. For as much as I attribute my success to my peers, I owe my parents significantly more. In May 2009, I had the opportunity to stand on stage and thank them during the 23rd Pilipino Graduation. While not the official, university-sponsored commencement, the student-organized Pilipino Graduation has been a way for graduates to celebrate the integral role family and community have played in their successful retention. 1 Note on “Pilipin@”: This term is used rather than “Filipino” by students at UC Berkeley for self-identification. In the original Tagalog language, the “F” sound does not exist, but was introduced by Spanish colonizers. “Pilipin@” is a gender-inclusive term used by Pilipin@ students at UC Berkeley, referring to Pilipinos (males), Pilipinas (females), and those who identify beyond the standard gender binary. When referring to a mix-gendered group, I will use “Pilipin@.” Regarding formal organizations and events, I will use their official names.

Jude Paul Matias Dizon is a second-year HESA student. He would not be pursuing a career in higher education and student affairs were it not for the Pilipin@ student community and the Bridges coalition at UC Berkeley. Jude Paul would like to especially thank the Pilipino Academic Student Services for creating a bridge to his higher learning endeavors.


Dizon • 33 Through this narrative, I seek to answer the question “How did I graduate from college?” According to a major retention theory developed by Tinto (1993), students successfully persist when they have separated from their local culture and fully integrate into the academic and social domains of the university. This social integrationist perspective does not describe how I was able to persist through college. To find an answer to how I successfully navigated higher education, I reflect on college through the lens of Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT allows me to analyze the influence of race and racism in my college journey. As a Pilipino male and member of the larger Asian American community, popular perception and scholarship historically renders my experiences invisible against a broader racist image of a model minority’s merit-based success. Buenavista, Jayakumar, and Misa-Escalante (2009) suggest educational researchers use CRT to “analyze the actual experiences of diverse individuals and subgroups within the Asian American population” (p. 79). CRT also provides researchers a theoretical framework from which to advocate for social justice. In a qualitative study of Chinese and Pilipin@ youth, Teranishi (2011) employed CRT to uncover “susceptibility and vulnerability of supposed resilient model minorities to inequality and oppression in school contexts” (p. 152). Lastly, CRT values experiential knowledge and offers counter-storytelling as a valid methodological tool (Solórzano, 1997). Kiang (2002) found that Asian American immigrant and refugee students drew on reference points outside of the university for motivation to persist through college. For these students, the stories of refugee flight, family life, and racial and gender discrimination were key to their efforts to complete higher education. I graduated from college by relying on my heritage, family, and peers of Color for support, yet Tinto’s (1993) retention model excludes these factors. Through this narrative, I challenge this dominant paradigm and offer my counter-story. Student-Initiated Retention Pilipino Academic Student Services (PASS) was founded in 1985 as a studentinitiated and student-run recruitment and retention center. Its mission is to recruit and retain Pilipin@s in higher education. PASS and other student-initiated recruitment and retention centers (collectively known as bridges) were studied as part of a larger project on student-initiated retention (Maldonado, Rhoads, & Buenavista, 2005). The study found that student-initiated retention projects (SIRPs) represented a “unified effort among student organizations to develop programs and support structures that are, in significant ways, student organized, student run, and student funded and that primarily serve students of color” (Maldonado et al, 2005, p. 606).


34 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 Maldonado et al. (2005) analyzed the collective strategies and actions of SIRPs to formulate an alternative way of thinking about student retention. They found that SIRPs focused on three central themes: 1) developing knowledge, skills, and networks; 2) building community ties and connections; and 3) challenging social and institutional norms. Whereas the researchers highlighted these themes in the broader picture, I will explore them through my counter-story to answer the question “How did I graduate from college?” Developing Knowledge, Skills, and Networks In my first year at Berkeley, I signed up for the PASS internship. I would get field study credits through the Asian American Studies Program for being a member of the organization. For my internship, I was assigned to two PASS staff members, Chris and Mark, who were the facilitators of the Pilipino Student Orientation class. My intern responsibilities included meeting weekly with Chris and Mark to prepare for the class by providing my input and assembling any needed materials. At the time, Chris and Mark were third-year undergraduates and my first role models of professionalism. What they taught me influences my practice today as a graduate student in a student affairs program. It was during my weekly meetings with Chris and Mark that I began learning the value of personally checking in with people at the start of a meeting. In every gathering, PASS members normalized this practice for me. Learning to intentionally provide a space for people to share how they are doing has been foundational to developing a sense of community-based leadership, which informs my work (Bordas, 2007). A capstone experience of this internship was leading a class session with my co-intern, Sarah. For this task, we had to choose and research a topic, design a curriculum, and facilitate a two-hour long class. Because the “intern-run class” was seen as a community event, Sarah and I found ourselves facilitating a session on Pilipin@ American identity for 50 people, a much larger group than the usual 10-person class. I am amazed when I think back on the elements of this task, including the advantages and challenges of working with another person, the out-of-body experience I had while facilitating a large group session for the very first time, and the debrief afterwards. All of this laid the groundwork for what I am doing now as an aspiring student affairs educator. I continued my involvement with PASS throughout college. Interning with PASS tied me to the organization and Pilipin@ community. A year of PASS meetings was like taking Pilipin@ American History 101. Although I arrived to the United States in 1988, my peers taught me that Pilipin@s have had a continuous presence on American soil, including Berkeley’s campus, since 1906. Most importantly, general meetings taught me about educational inequity and


Dizon • 35 the social obstacles Pilipin@s and other communities of Color face. Through increasing my knowledge, I understood more about why PASS was founded. The limited education I had before college did not include the history of Pilipino male laborers brought from the Philippines to Hawaii plantations, California agricultural fields, and Seattle canneries. I was not aware of the Pilipin@ American working class, even though my family was part of it. I did not connect my participation in a college outreach program to my acceptance to Berkeley until I learned about the relationship of Pilipin@s to affirmative action and PASS’ mission. Through these meetings and lessons, PASS helped me to understand who I was and where I came from. Fortunately, I have had a continuous support network from my first day of college to now, still strong two years after graduating. I quickly became aware that my PASS community was composed of current peers and alumni/ae. Because of their on-going support, I was able to actively learn from those who went before me as I engaged in PASS’ mission and my personal development. I graduated from college because of what I learned as a member of PASS. My internship experiences helped me begin to develop professional skills that I needed in order to succeed academically and acquire jobs during the school year and summer. I gained knowledge of my heritage and was able to connect my life to history for the very first time. Encouragement from my peers and alumni/ae was a significant source of motivation alongside my family’s support. In contrast to Tinto’s (1993) call for separation from the local and home culture, my Pilipino identity and the Berkeley Pilipin@ student community were necessary for me to complete college. Finding Out What Community Means Maldonado et al. (2005) found that SIRPs emphasized “developing commitments to particular ethnic/racial communities and to the broader student community of color” (p. 623). A key factor in persisting through college was immersing myself in my cultural heritage and connecting with other communities of Color. PASS was the nexus in developing my identities as a Pilipino and Person of Color. A Pilipin@ student at Berkeley is in the unique position to join one or more of the seven Pilipin@-focused organizations.2 Although I was dedicated to PASS’ mission, joining the organization meant becoming a member of the larger Pilip2 Pilipin@ student organizations at UC Berkeley include: PASS; the Pilipino American Alliance; Pilipino Association of Scientists, Architects, and Engineers; Pilipino Association for Health Careers; Partnership for PreProfessional Pilipinos; maganda Filipino American Literary Arts Magazine; and the Kapwa-InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.


36 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 in@ student community. Throughout my four years, I attended programs hosted by each of the organizations, and often there were collaborative events. One such joint project was the annual Pilipino American Student Orientation (PASO). The weekend before the first week of Fall term classes, first-year undergraduates and Fall transfer students are invited to a day-long orientation led by the student officers of the seven Pilipin@ organizations. I received a mailing before my first year and made sure to take the postcard with me when I moved into my residence hall. PASO was the first event that formally welcomed me into the Pilipin@ student community at Berkeley. Much like how I felt about the PASS network, the sense of community I felt was amplified in the context of the larger community and history of Pilipin@ students on campus. My first year in college launched a passion and curiosity to learn about my heritage, living and recorded. Becoming aware of the contemporary events and issues relevant to Pilipin@ Americans converged with learning about the histories of other communities of Color. PASS is one of five student-initiated recruitment and retention centers that constitute the bridges Multicultural Resource Center. After the passage of Proposition 209 outlawed affirmative action in 1996, bridges was formed as a representative organizing body for the race/ethnic-specific recruitment and retention centers.3 What I appreciate most about the history and significance of bridges is that through coming together in community, these five independent organizations were able to survive and continue their work during a politically-charged time. As I grew to learn more about my heritage through PASS, I began to make connections with the histories of my classmates, particularly those also involved in bridges. Seeing photos of shop signs from the 1930s that read “Positively No Filipinos Allowed” helped deepen and connect what I had learned in school about segregation to my identity. In a lecture on the U.S. conquest of the Philippines in 1898, my professor explained a perspective that linked this act of colonization to the westward expansion of American settlers, which resulted in the genocide of indigenous people. These examples illustrate similar experiences that communities of Color face with racism. In addition to forming a greater awareness of how racism affected my peers from all racial/ethnic backgrounds, I also experienced how the work of bridges reflected past examples of coalition-building. For instance, PASS meetings often ended with the “unity clap,” which was how United Farm Workers meetings would also end. This movement was led by the well-known Cesar Chávez and is cited as pivotal in the push for civil rights of 3 In addition to PASS, bridges includes the Black Recruitment and Retention Center, Raza Recruitment and Retention Center, Native American Recruitment and Retention Center, and REACH! Asian/Pacific Islander Recruitment and Retention Center. Each of these organizations came about independently, each with its own unique history. Through bridges, their work converges into a common purpose of increasing students of Color in higher education.


Dizon • 37 Latina/os. However, lesser known is that the union also included a significant membership base of Pilipin@ farm workers as well. Chávez led the movement with Philip Veracruz, the Pilipino vice president of the union. Lastly, Pilipin@ and Asian American and Pacific Islander student communities at Berkeley have long been in support of affirmative action, even when they were not in positions to directly benefit from such policies. I highlight these examples to demonstrate how becoming aware of my cultural heritage was inextricably tied to developing a consciousness of the issues and struggles that other ethnic/racial communities encounter. Just as the organizations composing bridges had to come together to ensure their existence, developing my identity as a Pilipino American was essential to building a sense of solidarity with my peers of Color. I graduated from college because I developed a deep connection with my cultural heritage and expanded my sense of belonging to a community of Color. The idea of “lift as you climb” took on even greater meaning and elevated my level of commitment to support student of Color retention. Organizing for Social Change Critical Race Theory (CRT) acknowledges that systems are inherently racist, which contributes to the disparate experiences of People of Color vis-à-vis the White majority. Maldonado et al. (2005) found that student-initiated retention projects (SIRPs) engaged students in social praxis to challenge institutional norms that limit the success of students of Color. By doing so, SIRPs help open opportunities for students of Color to actively participate in higher education systems. During my third year of college, my peers and I were put to the test to demonstrate leadership for our communities and respond to institutionalized racism. In 2005, students pushed for a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the administration and the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC, the student government) because the university had failed to fulfill a 1999 agreement to construct a multicultural center (MCC). When I began my third year in Fall 2007, no plans had been made for a permanent MCC, and the temporary space lacked funding for necessary renovations to better serve students. The MOU was set to expire in May 2008, yet the university and students seemed largely unconcerned. A few fourth-year students in bridges brought this concern to the coalition (they were first-years when the MOU was signed in 2005). I was a PASS staff member at the time, and the other bridges members and I quickly began working on the MCC issue. We organized into a group that met weekly to strategize. After a planning retreat in September, we arranged for teach-ins to occur during the rest


38 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 of the fall term in order to raise awareness and encourage other students to join our cause. Due to these actions, the administration agreed to draft a new MOU in December. With the newly appointed Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion and the Assistant Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education, four of my peers and I engaged in a series of meetings to draft and agree on a new three-year MOU. This was a challenging process, and our community responsibility was significant. After meeting with university officials, we needed to report the information at the weekly gathering of MCC organizers and gather feedback to bring to subsequent MOU drafting meetings. The feedback from our peers also informed us of what should be included in the MOU. As this writing process carried over into the spring term, we continued our actions on campus by having a week of events to promote awareness and support for the MCC. On April 16, 2008, the chancellor and ASUC president signed the final MOU draft prepared by the joint administration-student committee. We were able to acquire over $100,000 for staffing and programming costs for the temporary center as well as the university’s commitment to include plans for the permanent center in its capital campaign. I graduated from college because of the sense of agency I developed through this experience, which allowed me to take ownership of my place in the university and promote the inclusion of students of Color.

Self-Empowerment and Retention

My journey through higher education can be read through established theoretical lenses. The social integrationist perspective of Tinto (1993) partly explains the need to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be a successful student. Through my involvement in PASS, I learned a sense of professionalism that I can to apply to other situations, such as in how I communicate in the classroom and at work. The networks I formed as a student helped me to integrate into the academic and social domains of the university which, according to Tinto (1993), is essential to retention. In contrast, the context for this learning demonstrates the need for cultural validation. Rendón (1994) argued that when institutions support the identities of students of Color, students experience academic success and retention. PASS, the Pilipin@ student community, and bridges provided spaces for me to progress in my racial development to a stage of feeling pride for my heritage and connections to other communities of Color (Atkinson, Morton, & Sue, 1989). My persistence to graduate was in great part due to the stronger ties I developed with my community, which contradicts the notion of separating from the local and home culture as advocated by Tinto (1993).


Dizon • 39 Where my story departs from these theories is the key role my peers played in providing a setting for me to develop a sense of self-empowerment. Students were my teachers, colleagues, friends, and fellow activists. My peers were role models, and together, we learned the skills necessary to access our capabilities. Whether as a student, resident assistant, summer intern, PASS member, or a member of the MOU committee, I was able to effectively engage in these roles due to the knowledge and skills I gained and the support of a community. Feeling confident in my identity and my abilities helped me navigate the university, take a critical look at my environment, and respond to inequity. As a person with marginalized identities, becoming empowered was key to reaching graduation. Implications for Student Affairs The development of the whole student is of central concern for student affairs educators. SIRPs provide a concrete example for student affairs educators to take the intellectual leap from ensuring student-centered policies and programs to supporting student-initiated efforts. Current retention theory, practice, and policy can be reconsidered and potentially enhanced by taking into account Maldonado et al.’s (2005) three key findings. Developing dominant and culturally relevant knowledge, skills, and networks; building community ties; and engaging in social action may help to place the student of Color experience at the center of institutional retention efforts. Rhoads, Buenavista, and Maldonado (2004) provide suggestions for how student affairs educators may encourage student-initiated projects. Student affairs educators have the opportunity to take the lead in creating collaborative relationships with students. They can share information, such as institutional data, that may spark a widespread feeling of concern for an issue. Student affairs educators can then assist students with developing a student-initiated retention project, although students must clearly lead such an effort. At campuses with student-initiated retention projects, student affairs educators can collaborate to help enhance such work. There is no one answer to ensure students enter college and leave with a degree. An outcome of living in a White male dominated society is the myth that there is one appropriate solution for everyone. Racism inhibits diverse students from understanding their perspective and prevents higher education scholars and educators from engaging in student-centered research and practice. Through my counter-story, I support an alternative theoretical consideration of retention that validates the student of Color experience and the significance of student agency. Institutional support for students of Color in their identities and capabilities may help foster an inclusive campus in which all students lift others as they climb.


40 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 References Bordas, J. Salsa, soul, and spirit: Leadership for a multicultural age. San Francisco, CA: Berrett Koehler Publishers, Inc. Buenavista, T. L., Jayakumar, U. M. & Misa-Escalante, K. (2009). Contextual- izing Asian American education through critical race theory: An example of U.S. Pilipino college student experiences. New Directions for Institutional Research, 2009(142), 69-81. Kiang, P. N. (2002). Stories and structures of persistence: Ethnographic learn- ing through research and practice in Asian American Studies. In Y. Zhou & E. T. Trueba (Eds.), Ethnography and schools: Qualitative approaches to the study of education (pp. 223-255). Lantham, Maryland: Rowman & Little- field. Maldonado, D. E. Z., Rhoads, R., & Buenavista, T. L. (2005). The student- initiated retention project: Theoretical contributions and the role of self- empowerment. American Educational Research Journal, 42(4), 605-638. Rendón, L. I. (1994). Validating culturally diverse students: Toward a new model of learning and student development. Innovative Higher Education, 19, 243-262. Rhoads, R. A., Buenavista, T. L., & Maldonado, D. E. Z. (July-August 2004). Students of color helping others stay in college. About Campus, 9(3), 10- 17. Solórzano, D. (1997). Images and words that wound: Critical race theory, racial stereotyping, and teacher education. Teacher Education Quarterly, 24, 5–19. Teranishi, R. T. (2002). Asian Pacific Americans and critical race theory: An examination of school racial climate. Equity & Excellence in Education, 35(2), 144-154. Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.


Flores • 41

Harvesting Identities: A Migrant’s Journey from the Fields to the Green Mountains Amanda Flores I am a migrant student. Growing up, I faced a multitude of challenges such as a lifestyle of mobility and the presence of stereotype threat. Migrant students travel with their families across state lines during the planting and harvesting seasons looking for menial labor work (Parra-Cardona, Bulock, Imig, Villarruel, & Gold, 2006). Despite these obstacles, numerous migrant students graduate from high school and successfully transition to college. However, existing research fails to highlight the ongoing struggle of identity formation among migrants. I use Claude Steele’s stereotype threat theory, Pierre Bourdieu’s social reproduction and habitus theories, and scholarly personal narrative to capture a glimpse of the trials and triumphs in my struggle to make sense of my stigmatized identities. My father was the last, but I am the first. -Luis Urrieta, Racializing Class, (2003) Luis Urrieta (2003) was the first in his family to achieve academic success and end his family’s migrant trend. Like Urrieta, I am a product of this trend. This lifestyle had a significant impact on my educational attainment as a migrant student. Despite the academic barriers prevalent in this lifestyle, I managed to change my future. El Migrante There are over 200,000 migrant students in today’s schools; 87% of these students identify as Mexican-American (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Migrant students travel with their families across state lines looking for work. This continuous uprooting and relocating routine impedes the academic success of migrants (Parra-Cardona, Bulock, Imig, Villarruel, & Gold, 2006). Due to varying educational requirements state-to-state, it is near impossible for migrant students to complete and advance from one grade level to the next (Martinez & CranstonAmanda Flores is the Assistant Director for the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Stephen F. Austin State University. She earned her bachelor’s in English with minors in Music and Business from Texas A&M University in 2008 and her master’s degree from the University of Vermont’s HESA program in 2011. Amanda continues to unravel her identities as a straddling Latina through mindfulness meditation and yoga. Her research interests include first-generation and limited-income students, and she aspires to one day become a migrant scholar.


42 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 Gingras, 1996; Hatt-Echeverria & Urrieta, 2003). Adolescent migrants are the most vulnerable of family members. By the time they reach a specific age, they are asked to take to the fields. This early work engagement results in the students’ increased levels of absenteeism and low graduation levels (Zalaquett, McHatton, & Cranston-Gingras, 2007). However, despite numerous odds, some migrants make it out as the first in their family to break the cycle. Current studies address how migrant students can or may succeed in the K-12 system. However, they fail to examine the experiences of migrant students beyond their primary and secondary education (Gibson & Hidalgo, 2009). It is through their college successes that higher education administrators and educators can understand how migrant students are capable of ending the cycle. I intend to shed light on these historically underrepresented voices in higher education by exploring my story. Hací comienza mí historia. The Beginning I was born in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, just a few minutes north of the U.S.-Mexico border. At the time of my birth, my parents were only in their late teens and were already caring for three daughters. Without a high school diploma, my father cared for his family the best way he knew – migration. Every day I would watch my parents wake up por la madrugada, ready to battle the sugar beet fields filled with waist-deep weeds. From a distance, I could see the force behind every slash. My parents withstood the torturous heat from sunup to sundown as their arms flailed across the air, whacking the weeds out of the ground. Whether rain or shine, work had to be done, money had to be earned, and food had to be placed on the table. With their restless feet, calloused hands, and aching backs my parents walked up and down the surcos determined to work the full 12 hours of sunlight. We migrated to Wahpeton, North Dakota for the first eight years of my life. My parents waved to us from their van as my sisters and I boarded the bus for summer school. The late enrollment and constant withdrawals from school left my hermanas and me lagging behind our classmates academically. Instead of brushing up on algebra or fulfilling summer reading requirements, we spent our time learning about crops and the importance of our role as migrants. We were forced to manage our education in unstable learning environments (Zalaquett et al., 2007). The relentless cross-country travel resulted in constant code-switching between states, educational languages, and cultures (Martinez & Cranson-Gingras, 1996). The lack of institutional alignment across states exacerbated the already difficult transition from one school to another. Beginning in kindergarten, we were withdrawn from school early in the spring semester and enrolled late in the fall, which resulted in difficulty establishing significant relationships with teachers and mentors. My teachers often failed to acknowledge my true academic potential and so


Flores • 43 did I. Labeled as a migrant student, it was tough for me to plead for placement in advanced courses and I was seen as the troublemaker, la mal comportada. It was an internalized stereotype I fought against constantly. Should I succumb to the stereotypes, or could I rise above? Stereotype Threat Being a migrant meant that I was assumed to be lazy, dirty, and uneducable (Valencia & Black, 2002). Given these stereotypes, I was ashamed of my identity. I was convinced that it was not a way of living, and for years thought it acceptable for me to underperform academically. I developed stereotype threat. Claude Steele (1997) defines stereotype threat as the “social-psychological threat that arises when one is in a situation …for which a negative stereotype about one’s group applies” (p. 614). These social-psychological threats encourage individuals in the stigmatized group to live down to societal expectations (Steele, 1997). As a migrante I was constantly exposed to messages defining me as “dysfunctional,” “at-risk,” and “developmentally challenged.” I came to internalize these messages and became “self-threatening” and “self-defeating” (Strayhorn, 2010, p. 311). I was branded as a migrant, seen as a migrant, and treated as a migrant. For years, I would remain a closeted migrant student and would walk behind my shadow. Studies have addressed my migrant experience of constant self-blame, yet fail to connect stereotype threat to these emotions (Zalaquett et al., 2007). Although emerging research shows the effects of valuing one’s culture and one’s being, the educational system fails to support migrant students and frequently devalues their backgrounds (Valencia & Black, 2002). That was my experience. Trudging Forth In 1992, my family took a brief two-year stay-cation from migrating. My padre successfully found a job working for a concrete pavement company and my mom found work in a jean manufacturing company. This was their attempt at living ‘normal’ lives. I lavished at the idea of giving up the fields and seized every moment. Unfortunately, within those two years, my family suffered severe financial hardships. The events had a compounding effect on my parents and their inability to support our family. My father decided we should once again pick up our belongings and head down the highways. After two days, we finally made it to our destination, Breckenridge, Minnesota. This would become our summer home for six years. I was ten years old, and that meant I was old enough to work the betavel! This time, there was no escape. I remember every mañana, sitting somberly staring at my mom as she would get dressed. Quietly, I would watch her put on her working clothes stiff with soquete


44 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 from the previous day’s work. The most interesting part of her routine came when she would cover her face. My mother’s beauty radiates from within, and watching her cover her face was like denying her beauty to shine through. First, she would take a bandana, fold it in a triangle, and deliberately place the straight edge over her nose bridge and tie it so the knot would be above her ponytail. She would then take another bandana, fold it into a triangle, and place the straight edge across her forehead and tie it right below her ponytail. Next, she would take one last bandana and tie the opposite ends of the same side together so it would lie on top of her head and cover her neck. Afterwards, she would put on her sombrero. Finally, with her sunglasses, she would trap her beauty. Se desaparecio! Deep in thought I wondered, is this what would become of me? The threat in the air was inescapable. How much longer would my mom keep disappearing? Would I end up like my parents? How could I ever change this? What can I do to change my parents’ lifestyle, my sisters’ lifestyle, and my lifestyle? For six years I stubbornly walked through the fury of fields. I became my parent’s worst nightmare, la nesia. I fought back in tears, throwing tantrums and shoving my azadon back into their hands. When it rained, the mud trapped our boots in the fields and they would become irretrievable, leaving us barefoot. I would refuse to contribute to the mediocrity of this lifestyle. I pleaded for my parents’ mercy and complained about child labor. I figured with my educación I could teach my parents about the law. My parents persisted. We needed the money. We forged on as a family. I was initiated into the life of a migrant farmworker. Not much later, I made a personal promise that I would never end up a migrant farmworker—that I would one day stop the cycle and my parents would stop migrating. The only way out, as I saw it, was through my academics. La Realidad – Urbana-Champaign, Illinois In 2000, my parents divorced and we ultimately stopped migrating as a family. My mom worked three jobs to help support her four daughters, while my father continued as a migrant. Life in high school was tougher than the fields. For three years I learned to delve into books. The time away from the fields allowed me to create and nurture extensive relationships with my teachers, something I could not establish when we migrated. Shortly after, financial concerns began to surface. How were we going to pay for high school and all its extravagances, like prom? We had band trips, lettermen jackets, banquets, prom, and not to mention, food. In 2003, my twin and I were approached by my tió, who volunteered to take us on what would be our last trek up north. I knew I had to go, and I understood my purpose. It was time to help my family in any way possible. However, this time it was la espiga, in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. We stayed in a one bedroom apartment, along with my uncle’s family. While many around us were deep in


Flores • 45 their sleep, my aunt would come into the girls’ room and gently pat us on our backs saying, “Ya és hora míja” – it was time to start the day. My cousin, sister, and I would emerge from our room fully clothed in our migrating rags. Las mujeres prepared breakfast and lunch while los hombres caught a few more hours of sleep. Tacos were prepared and gently wrapped in foil. Needless to say, the protein and carbs consumed were burned through the day’s work. To beat the sun, we would hit the corn stalks by 4:30 a.m. This was mí realidad. This reality eventually led to a better understanding of my long-standing relationship with the fields. The re-folding of fields to harvest different crops year after year and the magical process of farming to provide produce is a testament to the resiliency of agriculture in our lives. Despite Mother Nature’s temperament and wrath, very often crops yield sufficient amounts to satisfy the livelihood of farmers and their workers. Sometimes the fields are able to pick up from the previous year’s poor performance and produce double the yield expected. Just like the crops and the fields I tilled, I have become resilient in confronting obstacles. This experience taught me that the most important thing is to take life for what it is and make the best of it. The resiliency of la llerva travels throughout my body. If I could make it through the fields, I could make it through my journey to selfdiscovery and to the present. Social Reproduction and Habitus My journey has not been easy to share. The brief literature on migrant students and my story suggest that successful approaches to enhancing migrant students’ college access involve (1) the cultivation of capital, as described by social reproduction theory, and (2) the development of habitus, defined as how individuals identify themselves based on personal experiences and societal structures (Bourdieu, 1977). Migrant students are seen through specific identities that have been systematically oppressed and misunderstood within the educational system (Parra-Cardona, Bulock, Imig, Villarruel, & Gold, 2006). They are students of Color and are born into working-class families holding what is called “double minority status” – two subdominant identities (Gonzales, Blanton, & Williams, 2002). Their upbringing makes them view their world and educational opportunities differently. They develop a habitus not suitable for immediate success. Bourdieu’s (1977) work on social reproduction theory and habitus is particularly instructive in this overview of the migrant experience. Social reproduction theory discusses the process in which one has acquired capital. According to Bourdieu (1986), “in its objectified or embodied forms, capital has the potential to produce profits and to reproduce itself, [or] contains a tendency to persist in its being” (p. 241). It has the ability of reproducing in ways that can either help individuals advance in society or keep them in place (Bourdieu, 1977).


46 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 The development and impact of cultural, social, and economic capital are salient among students of Color from working class backgrounds (Cerna, Perez, & Saenz, 2009; Nuñez, 2009a, 2009b; Stanton-Salazar, 1997, Strayhorn, 2010). The ladder to academic success for migrant students is dependent upon the reproduction of their inherited capital (Bourdieu, 1977). In my case, I had to work twice as hard to cultivate as much capital as my classmates. Along with the cultivation of capital, the status of habitus may hinder or enable the educational attainment of migrants (Urrieta, 2007). The level of inherited capital determines the status of habitus, and the status of habitus determines how individuals perceive themselves in society (Urrieta, 2007). My habitus status hindered my development of capital. For me, migrant living included a below average quality of life where I felt suffocated, trapped, and did not know a way out. I had to learn to understand myself and my experiences. Unveiling the Forbidden Identity After seven years of leaving the labores del norté, I made my way to the mountains of Vermont, which ironically has a flourishing migrant community. Being part of a program where identity exploration plays a relevant role in your position as a staff member and a student, it was time for me to open up – to be real, to be me. After all, how can I help students be themselves when I am not comfortable being myself ? The University of Vermont (UVM) and the Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (HESA) program hugged me and all my identities. This would be the place where I could open up without judgment, and the only person judging me would be myself. As a first-year student in the program, I found myself in affinity spaces where culture and race were at the center of the conversation. I slowly began to understand my identities and make meaning out of my lived experiences. After countless affinity groups and race-immersion discussions, I had an epiphany. Life as a migrant farmworker was not as rough and depressing as I made it out to be. My family and I shared countless laughs, celebrated many birthdays together, and had countless adventures in the fields. From my uncle’s American Idol talents, to my grandfather’s stories, even to old childhood games with the primos, life was great. These affinity spaces made me appreciate my experiences as a migrant and helped me make meaning out of my life’s deepest and most important experiences. The greatest value I gained from this lifestyle is the beauty of optimism and the virtue of compassion. In Fall 2010, I attended the Social Justice Training Institute (SJTI). SJTI is a raceimmersion institute where conversations are guided by our racial identities. This experience would frame the rest of my UVM experience and was the initial phase in my social justice and self-awareness journey. At first, the stories and emotions being shared ate at my core like never before. I felt an intense knot of emotion


Flores • 47 well up inside of me that made me want to curl up and hide. My optimism reached an all-time low, and I did not know how to navigate those emotions. A few days into the SJTI, I began to share my stories, acknowledge my migrant experience, and for the first time breathe life into my experiences – my light was switched on. Despite the pain experienced in sharing this part of my life, my light kept getting brighter as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders. My path to self-discovery and understanding had begun. Now on the road to becoming an aspiring migrant scholar, life is a constant journey of self-discovery. On my path, I have come to understand that I can learn something new about myself at every turn. As I grow older, my shadow may grow larger but I will always be at the forefront of my story. Bringing it to the Academy Yet in leaving home I did not lose touch with my origins Because lo mexicano is in my system. I am a turtle, wherever I go I carry “home” on my back. -Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, 2007 I would not be the individual I am today without my past experiences. I may be the only migrant student from the Rio Grande Valley who has made it to Vermont and attained a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration; and for some, I am the only migrant student they have met. For others, my story is the first migrant story they have heard. It is up to me to keep my light on and not lose ‘touch’ with who I am. My journey was an emotional and personal rollercoaster that liberated me from my shadow. I unveiled more of my being. I was working against myself, keeping myself closed and away from my reality. It was not until those around me began to view my life as significant that I began to believe that my life was significant to me. As I reflect on my experiences, I look towards the educators and student affairs practitioners who helped me find my way home, helped me find the value in my identities, and helped me balance my past with my present. I believe my story can inform the day-to-day work of student affairs practitioners and educators. My narrative highlights how personal journeys and meaning making promote healing, growth, and understanding. It is important because personal success and fulfillment come when balance is found between self and the outside world. I migrated for a total of 15 years with two breaks, and it was during those two breaks that I was able to effectively develop mentorship relationships with my teachers, counselors, and friends. The small taste of having a mentor kept me craving for more. My mentors helped me understand myself and make meaning out of my lived experiences. Like Anzaldúa (2007), I carry my home with me wherever I go. I have learned to practice vulnerability and be honest with myself. Higher


48 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 education is a fluid world where students can lose themselves, and as student affairs practitioners we are here to help them stay their course, rediscover who they are, establish a community, and succeed academically as well as personally—just as I did. It is time to begin harvesting our identities.


Flores • 49 References Anzaldúa, G. (2007). Borderlands: The new mestiza la frontera. 1987. San Francisco, CA: Spinsters/Aunt Lute. Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice (R. Nice, Trans.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Bourdieu, P. (1986). Forms of capital. In Richardson, J. G. (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (241-258). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Cerna, O. S., Pérez P. A., & Sáenz, V. (2009). Examining the precollege at- tributes and values of Latina/o bachelor’s degree attainers. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 8(2), 130-157. Gibson, M.A. & Hidalgo, N.D. (2009). Bridges to success in high school for migrant youth. Teachers College Record, 111(3), 683-711. Gonzales, P., Blanton, H., & Williams, H. (2002). The effects of stereotype threat and double-minority status on the test performance of Latino women. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(5), 659-670. Hatt-Echeverria, B. & Urrieta, L. (2003). “Racializing” class. Educational Founda- tions, 17(3), 37-54. Martinez, Y. G. & Cranston-Gingras, A. (1996). Migrant farmworker students and the educational process: Barriers to high school completion. The High School Journal, 80(1), 28-38. Nuñez, A. (2009a). Modeling the effects of diversity experiences and multiple capitals on Latina/o college students’ academic self-confidence. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 8(2), 179-196. Nuñez, A. (2009b). Latino students’ transitions to college: A social and intercul- tural capital perspective. Harvard Education Review, 79(1), 22-48. Nuñez, A. (2009c). Migrant students’ college access: Emerging evidence from the migrant student leadership institute. Journal of Latinos and Education, 8(3), 181-198. Parra-Cardona, J. R., Bulock, L. A., Imig, D. R., Villarruel, F. A., & Gold, S. J. (2006). “Trabajando duro todos los días”: Learning from the life expe- riences of Mexican-origin migrant families. Family Relations, 55, 361- 375. Stanton-Salazar, R. D. (1997). A social capital framework for understanding the socialization of racial minority children and youths. Harvard Education Review, 67(1), 1-41. Steel, C. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance. American Psychological Association, 52(6), 613-629. Strayhorn, T. L. (2010). When race and gender collide: Social and cultural capi- tal’s influence on the academic achievement of African American and Latino males. The Review of Higher Education, 33(3), 307-332.


50 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 Urrieta, L. (2007). Orchestrating habitus and figured worlds. In Van Galen, J.A & Noblit, G.W. (Eds.), Late to class (113-139). Albany, NY: State Uni- versity of New York Press. U.S. Department of Education. (2002). Education for disadvantaged children. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/offices/OUS/PES/ed_for_dis advantaged.html#9899 Valencia, R. R. & Black, M. S. (2002). “Mexican Americans don’t value educa- tion!”: On the basis of the myth, mythmaking, and debunking. Journal of Latinos and Education, 1(2), 81-103. Zalaquett, C. P., McHatton, P. A., & Cranston-Gingras, A. (2007). Characteris- tics of Latina/o migrant farmworker students attending a large metro- politan university. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 6(2), 135-156.


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A Comparative Review of Cass’s and Fassinger’s Sexual Orientation Identity Development Models Jesenia Gervacio As the student affairs profession continues to develop, it is imperative to remain aware of the changing demographics of college and university students’ various identities. Given the changing landscape of higher education, it is extremely important to take sexual orientation identity formation and its influence on student development into account. In this paper, I will explore Cass’s (1979, 1996) and Fassinger’s (1998) sexual orientation identity formation models and provide a comparative analysis of each theory. I will also identify how knowledge of these theories can inform the work of student affairs educators in creating more inclusive college and university environments. According to Evans, Forney, Guido, Patton, and Renn (2010), colleges and universities in the United States have seen an increase in the diversity of their students. As student affairs educators strive to provide students with adequate support, it is important to remember that the development of students’ multiple identities often occurs simultaneously and impacts their experience. Acknowledging this reality raises the question: how can student affairs educators provide support to students in their identities while creating inclusive college and university campuses? Having a foundational basis of developmental theories will help student affairs practitioners better serve students. However, these theories should not serve as a catchall for every student as individual development may not be fully explained by the various theories (Evans et al., 2010). Literature Review The following section provides an overview and comparison of Cass’s (1979, 1996) and Fassinger’s (1996, 1998) sexual orientation identity formation models including critiques, strengths and limitations of each. Cass’s Sexual Identity Formation Model Though multiple sexual orientation identity formation models have been develJesenia Gervacio is a second-year HESA student who received her B.A. in Psychology and Spanish with a minor in Education from Bryn Mawr College in 2007. She is very passionate about working with students from low-income backgrounds, first-generation students, and students of Color to increase access to and successful completion of higher education.


52 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 oped to describe gay/lesbian1 identity formation (e.g., Hencken & O’Dowd, 1977; Lee, 1977; Plummer, 1975; Schafer, 1976), Cass’s (1979, 1996) sexual orientation identity formation model has been “the first model to remain in use over a period of time” (Evans et al., 2010, p. 307). Cass’s (1979) model presents six stages to describe the process a person undergoes when developing a homosexual identity. This model was developed “based on two broad assumptions: (a) that identity is acquired through a developmental process; and (b) that the locus for, stability of, and change in behavior lies in the interaction process that occurs between individuals and their environments” (p. 219). Cass (1979) also clarified that “by endorsing a link between assigned personal meaning and behavior, the model proposes an interactionist account of homosexual identity formation and recognizes the significance of both psychological and social factors” (p. 220). Given the diversity in individuals’ psychological and social backgrounds, there will be a vast array of difference as individuals proceed through their sexual orientation identity formation. Cass’s (1979) model consists of the following six stages: identity confusion, identity comparison, identity tolerance, identity acceptance, identity pride, and identity synthesis. Cass also introduced the idea of “identity foreclosure,” meaning that a person can decide not to develop a homosexual identity at any given stage as they progress through the model. Another important aspect of this theory is the distinction made between private and personal aspects of identity. Cass believed that as individuals progressed in their development, the private and personal aspects of their identity would converge. The following summarizes Cass’s identity development model: 1. Identity Confusion: characterized by feelings of turmoil, in which one questions previously held assumptions about one’s sexual orientation. 2. Identity Comparison: characterized by feelings of alienation, in which one accepts the possibility of being gay and becomes isolated from nongay others. 3. Identity Tolerance: characterized by feelings of ambivalence, in which one seeks out other gays, but maintains separate public and pri- vate images. 4. Identity Acceptance: characterized by selective disclosure, in which one seeks out other gays, but maintains separate public and private im- ages. 5. Identity Pride: characterized by anger, pride, and activism, in which one becomes immersed in the gay subculture and rejects nongay peo- ple, institutions, and values. 6. Identity Synthesis: characterized by clarity and acceptance, in which one moves beyond a dichotomized worldview to an incorporation of 1

The terminology used reflects the terminology utilized in the literature.


Gervacio • 53

one’s sexual orientation as one aspect of a more integrated identity (Fassinger, 1991).

In the above model, Cass (1979) used the term identity to describe what each stage can present for an individual in the process of developing a gay/lesbian identity. However, Cass did not provide a definition of identity. Ironically, this is a critique Cass (1984a) makes of the literature on gay/lesbian identity formation. In a review of the effect of Cass’s identity development model on the work performed by Alfred Kinsey, Cass (1990) distinguished that identity formation is a process independent of sexual preference formation but one that can influence sexual identity development. Cass (1990) stated: Some of the ways in which identity formation could influence sexual preference development are narrowing opportunities for sexual/so- cial/emotional expression, building attitudes that attach a fixed quality to identity and preference, reinforcing behaviors that are consistent with identity, and providing a system of rewards that encourages com- mitment to a particular mode of behavior. (pp. 252-253) Cass (1984b) garnered support for the model after conducting a study using 166 male and female candidates. Cass’s findings indicated that although “the model provides a valid picture of homosexual identity formation, some stages may be depicted more accurately than others” (p. 163). Another finding from this study indicated similarities and differences between the male and female subjects suggesting more work was necessary to better explain the sexual orientation development of women (Cass, 1984b). The societal context in which Cass’s (1979) model was developed is an important consideration. As Evans et al. (2010) noted, most of the early sexual identity development models, including Cass’s, “reflect the social and political forces of the 1970s when they were developed and may not reflect current social realities” (p. 311). This societal context informs the way the model was developed and the stages individuals were perceived to experience in the formation of their sexual orientation. Later research conducted by Eliason indicated that progressing through a period of anger towards heterosexuals, included in most early models of sexual identity formation, was no longer necessary for individuals to develop “an integrated sense of identity” (as cited in Evans et al., 2010, p. 311). As Cass (1979) aptly noted, “it is expected that over time, changes in societal attitudes and expectations will require changes in the model” (p. 235). As dominant society becomes more or less accepting of the range of diversity in sexual orientation, it is important to consider how sexual orientation development models will reflect this difference. In Cass’s (1996) revision of the model, Cass makes important distinctions that


54 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 were not originally present. One of the first changes made was the name of the model; in the revised version Cass changed the name from homosexual identity formation to sexual orientation identity formation. Cass also noted that the models of sexual orientation identity formation, including Cass’s own model, detailed this process as “universal ‘truths’ or ‘facts’ that may be found in the psychology of all people, regardless of culture and social background. This viewpoint has been called the ‘essentialist approach’” (p. 228). Given the societal context in which Cass’s model was developed, Cass acknowledged the role that social constructionist psychology played in its original formation. Another change in Cass’s (1996) model was the incorporation of a pre-stage. Here, Cass posited that individuals adopt a view of themselves as: supposed to be heterosexual; they consider themselves more or less part of the majority group (heterosexuals) or recognize that they should be; and they understand that heterosexuality is desirable and acceptable and homosexuality is stigmatized and has minority status. (p. 233) However, Cass further acknowledged that individual differences exist in each person regarding their perceptions of homosexuality and heterosexuality. These differences are based on their needs, social support structures, conflict management and communication styles, gender, and race. Critiques of Cass’s (1979) model and other early models include their lack of sensitivity towards diversity such as race/ethnicity, class, and age; the linear developmental pattern; and the idea that a public identity must be achieved in order to reach full development of sexual orientation identity (Fassinger, 1991). An additional criticism was that the models do not distinguish between a “selfidentification process regarding sexual orientation and a group-membership identification process involving the awareness of oppression” (Fassinger, 1991, p. 168). According to McCarn and Fassinger, early models were also criticized for their emphasis on male behavior as the norm (Fassinger, 1991). Another critique of these models is the use of biased samples (e.g., individuals belonging to gay social or political groups) to test the models (Fassinger, 1998). Cass’s (1996) model underscored the importance of listening to how individuals describe their identities, clarified that sexual orientation formation development intersects with other facets of development, and highlighted the important role of peer group interaction in the formation of sexual identity (Evans et al., 2010). Fassinger’s Sexual Identity Formation Model McCarn and Fassinger’s (1996)2 original sexual identity formation model was de2

Generally referred to in the literature as Fassinger’s model of sexual identity formation.


Gervacio • 55 veloped in an attempt to address the critiques of previously existing models. This model was created to describe the sexual identity formation of lesbians. This differs from other preexisting models in that the authors “clearly distinguish between the two processes of personal development of same-sex sexual orientation and redefinition of group membership and group meaning” (McCarn & Fassinger, 1996, p. 521). In contrast to other models, this model uses phases versus stages in order to provide flexibility and to demonstrate that the process of development is continuous. Another major distinction in the model is that disclosure behaviors are not seen as “evidence of developmental advancement, except, to some extent, at the last phase of group identity” (McCarn & Fassinger, 1996, p. 522). Given the impact of oppression based on sexual orientation, the authors believed that “to use it as an index of identity development directly forces an individual to take responsibility for her own victimization” (McCarn & Fassinger, 1996, p. 522). The model is divided into four phases and two separate processes. The four phases are awareness, exploration, deepening/commitment, and internalization/ synthesis. Each individual can progress through all four phases in their individual sexual identity development and/or the group membership identity development process (McCarn & Fassinger, 1996). The following summarizes the individual sexual identity development process: 1. Awareness: This phase begins with the individual realizing that she may have desires or feelings that are “different from the heterosexual norm and therefore from the predicted self ” (McCarn & Fassinger, 1996, p. 522). 2. Exploration: The authors hypothesized that women in this phase would have “strong relationships with or feelings about other women or another woman in particular…but will not necessarily involve ex ploration of sexual behaviors” (McCarn & Fassinger, 1996, p. 522). 3. Deepening/Commitment: During this phase women can identify as bisexual, heterosexual, or as lesbians after exploring their sexual iden- tity. For the emerging lesbian this phase causes her “to recognize her desire for other women as within herself and, with deepening self-awareness, will develop sexual clarity and commitment to her self- fulfillment as a sexual being” (McCarn & Fassinger, 1996, p. 523). 4. Internalization/Synthesis: In this phase “a woman experiences fuller self-acceptance of desire/love for women as a part of her overall identity” (McCarn & Fassinger, 1996, p. 523). McCarn and Fassinger (1996) acknowledged that although women in this stage may remain “closeted” in different areas of their life, they “believe it is unlikely that one could reach the final phase of individual sexual identity de- velopment without beginning to address the group membership ques- tions in the parallel branch of the model” (p. 523).


56 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 The following summarizes the group membership identity development process: 1. Awareness: Women in this phase realize that there is a community of lesbian/gay people and that they have been living under the as- sumption that heterosexuality was the norm. 2. Exploration: This phase “is characterized by active pursuit of knowl- edge about lesbian/gay people, in terms of both the group as a whole and the possibility of one’s belonging in the group” (McCarn & Fass- inger, 1996, p. 524). 3. Deepening/Commitment: During this phase women become more aware of the value and oppression of being part of the lesbian/gay community and commit to forming a personal relationship to the les- bian/gay community. 4. Internalization/Synthesis: A woman in this phase “has moved through a process of conflict and reevaluation, identified herself as a member of a minority group, redefined the meaning of that group, internalized this new identity, and synthesized it into her overall self-concept” (Mc- Carn & Fassinger, 1996, p. 525). Though McCarn and Fassinger’s (1996) model was initially created to describe the sexual identity formation of women, in later work, Fassinger (1998) found empirical support indicating the model could describe the sexual orientation identity formation for lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals. A study conducted by Fassinger and Miller (1996) utilized a diverse sample to validate the model. Because McCarn and Fassinger’s (1996) model was influenced by race/ethnic identity development models as well as gender identity development models, it offers a more inclusive perspective of various individuals in their sexual orientation identity formation. However, it is not entirely inclusive as it does not account for other factors such as class, religious upbringing, or cultural context. Comparative Review of Cass’s and Fassinger’s Models Despite the critiques of Cass’s (1979, 1996) sexual orientation identity formation model, this model has persisted in the student affairs profession to account for the development of gay, lesbian, and bisexual student identity development (Fassinger, 1998). Though McCarn and Fassinger (1996) and Fassinger (1998) moved the model forward to include different aspects of diversity in identity formation, Cass’s (1979) work set the stage for other development models. Although the models are different in their approach, both helped change the common perceptions of gay, lesbian, and bisexual identity formation. Cass’s (1979) work in particular helped normalize the experiences of gay/lesbian/bisexual individuals undergoing sexual orientation identity formation (Fassinger, 1991). Although Cass’s (1979, 1996) model is one of the most widely used in student


Gervacio • 57 affairs, Fassinger’s (1998) revision of this model details the role of lesbian/gay/ bisexual identity formation in student development theories. In the revised model, Fassinger provides specific examples and ways that student affairs practitioners can incorporate the use of this theory and other theories when working with college students. Fassinger extends the information from these theories to practical implications for making college and university campuses inclusive by incorporating sexual orientation identity formation with other aspects such as psychosocial and cognitive development. This model challenges student affairs professionals to consider the needs of this population when planning and programming campus events such as safer sex workshops and to include appropriate alternatives for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students. Implications An emerging challenge for student affairs educators is considering how Cass’s and Fassinger’s theories interact with one another as well as the other developmental processes students may be undergoing. Though these models, as well as other identity formation models, have their limitations, how can we apply their strengths to the field? As alluded to in the previous descriptions, it is apparent that sexual orientation identity formation is not static. Individuals can redefine their sexual orientation throughout their lifetime. Given the spectrum of sexual orientation identities, it is important to reconsider how these models can and cannot account for other sexual orientation identity formations. When considering the developmental trajectory of students, we must also determine how to support students who are questioning their sexual orientation but do not see themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. If a student comes out and then no longer identifies as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, how do we support them as they go through another sexual orientation identity formation process? Knowing where the different support services are located and how students can access them are important considerations when determining how to best support students on college and university campuses. The location of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Ally/Advocate (LGBTQA) center or similar structure can send mixed messages to students. For students who proudly identify as members of the LGBTQA community, having a center located on the outskirts of campus can send a message that they are not valued members of the community. However, for students who are beginning to question their sexual orientation but are not ready to disclose this information to their peers, having a LGBTQA center located in a highly visible area may deter them from seeking the support services offered by that center. How do we balance the separate needs of these students?


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Considering how sexual orientation identity formation intersects with other types of cultural and social identity formation, student affairs educators should examine how their college or university can provide students with enough support. When working with students who may not be familiar with Western ideologies of sexual orientation, what support can student affairs educators provide these students who may find themselves part of a “minority” outside of their social context? Given the diverse student population, it is important that other support services, such as the counseling center, know how to work with students from various backgrounds. Having counseling staff available to help students navigate their identity formation while being sensitive to their different backgrounds and cultural upbringings is essential to providing support to students. Concluding Thoughts Increasing awareness of the differences in sexual orientation and challenging the notion that particular behaviors imply connection with a certain identity are areas that need to be further developed in student affairs. While it is tempting to label individuals as gay, lesbian, or bisexual based on their behavior, it is important to learn how they themselves identify. In moving forward, conducting more research and developing support services to be more inclusive is extremely important. To achieve a more inclusive and supportive college or university campus, it is essential to know the needs of the students and the various identities represented. Student affairs educators need to commit to better understanding the sexual orientations present in a campus community in order to effectively support students.


Gervacio • 59 References Cass, V. C. (1979). Homosexual identity formation: A theoretical model. Journal of Homosexuality, 4(3), 219-235. Cass, V. C. (1984a). Homosexual identity: A concept in need of definition. Journal of Homosexuality, 9(2-3), 105-126. Cass, V. C. (1984b). Homosexual identity formation: Testing a theoretical model. The Journal of Sex Research, 20(2), 143-167. Cass, V. C. (1990). The implications of homosexual identity formation for the Kinsey model and scale of sexual preference. In D. P. McWhirter, S. A. Sanders, & J. M. Reinisch (Eds.), Homosexuality/heterosexuality: Con- cepts of sexual orientation (pp. 239-266). New York, NY: Oxford Univer- sity Press. Cass, V. C. (1996). Sexual orientation identity formation: A western phenom- enon. In R.P. Cabaj & T. S. Stein (Eds.). Textbook of homosexuality and mental health (pp. 227-251). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, Inc. Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L. D., & Renn, K. A. (Eds.). (2010). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Fassinger, R. E. (1991). The hidden minority: Issues and challenges in working with lesbian women and gay men. The Counseling Psychologist, 19(2), 157- 176. Fassinger, R. E. (1998). Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identity and student develop- ment theory. In R. L. Sanlo (Ed.). Working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender college students: A handbook for faculty and administrators (pp.13- 22). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Fassinger, R. E. & Miller, B. A. (1996). Validation of an inclusive model of sexual minority identity formation on a sample of gay men. Journal of Homosexuality, 32(2), 53-78. Hencken, J. D. & O’Dowd, W. T. (1977). Coming out as an aspect of identity formation. Gay Academic Union Journal: Gai Saber, 1(1), 18-26. Lee, J. A. (1977). Going public: A study in the sociology of homosexual libera- tion. Journal of Homosexuality, 3(1), 49-78. McCarn, S. R. & Fassinger, R. E. (1996). Revisioning sexual minority identity formation: A new model of lesbian identity and its implications for counseling and research. The Counseling Psychologist, 24(3), 508-534. Plummer, K. (1975). Sexual stigma: An interactionist account. New York, NY: Rout- ledge & Kegan Paul. Schafer, S. (1976). Sexual and social problems of lesbians. Journal of Sex Research, 12(1), 50-69.


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Ethnic Studies: The Cyclical Fight, Conquer, and Struggle Queena Hoang In 1968, the San Francisco State College Third World Liberation Front made history for the longest student strike in America. Armed with a growing self-awareness and a determination to end Eurocentric biases in the classroom, students of Color rallied in a five-month battle for the first School of Ethnic Studies. These were the first moments of making history and creating a future of stories and voices for those unheard. Forty-three years later, American K-12 and higher education school systems have come full circle with new legislation such as Arizona’s House Bill (HB) 2281. Ethnic studies departments are constantly caught in a stage of struggle for academic legitimacy (Chen, 1989). This article explores the criticism and critiques of ethnic studies courses, namely focusing on HB 2281. I will also discuss the value of these courses and the ways in which they can positively influence campus climate, in addition to how ethnic studies has personally affected my journey into higher education and student affairs. Spring quarter, senior year. I had finally completed the required courses for my major and would only need this last class to fulfill unit requirements: Asian American 157- Asian American Education. I remember sitting in that classroom thinking, “Only 10 weeks of this class and I can graduate. This will be an easy A.” Fast-forward 10 weeks and did I stand corrected. I had never been so challenged to think about education as an Asian American student. We had a majority of Asian American students in the class, but we also had White, Black, and Latino students, and international exchange students from England and Australia. With each class, we explored identities, discussed theories, and shared stories. Not only was this class not an “easy A,” but, by the end of the 10 week trimester, I wished we had another 10 or 15 weeks to delve deeper into the topics of the model minority myth, typical Asian American stereotypes, meritocracy, and the unending debate of ethnic studies courses. I felt empowered to continue the conversations outside the classroom with my student affairs colleagues, and motivated to connect the Queena Hoang is a first-year graduate student in the Higher Education & Student Affairs Administration program at the University of Vermont and serves as the graduate assistant in Campus Programs. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Queena’s identities as a first-generation college student and Asian American woman have influenced her passion, interest, and work to provide access to higher education for students of Color.


Hoang • 61 theory to practice. Liberating the Learner: Privilege in Higher Education Education is one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought. - Bertrand A. Russel (1872-1970) In the ongoing debate of what courses are being offered in K-12 classrooms and on college campuses, I ask, “Whom is the institution serving?” Is academia meant to follow the conventional American history track of Columbus and the New World, or is it meant to educate scholars to raise questions and think critically? Will scholars always stand on shoulders of giants or stand firm on their own beliefs and values? Students are not paying for just the degree, but to be taught and to learn the pluralistic truths of history. Ethnic studies can liberate students from the confined boxes of Eurocentric and hegemonic history and liberate faculty members through new pedagogical subjects and styles. I aim to be an advocate for my students so that they may find meaning for themselves through ethnic studies courses, as I found meaning during Professor Samura’s Asian American Education course. The Evolution of Ethnic Studies Programs The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action. - Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) The development of ethnic studies and its relationship within various levels of formal education in the United States has been subject of much discussion and debate. However, little attention is paid to historical developments that shaped the ethnic studies movement prior to 1960 (La Belle, 1996). Issues of unequal access to education in the United States for subordinated racial and ethnic groups have stemmed back as early as “separate but equal” for African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. As one response to limited access to education in the 19th century, some ethnic groups established separate institutions and a system of higher education also known as group-specific education. These educational efforts were organized by immigrant groups and ethnic groups to preserve their languages and heritages, as well as efforts to assimilate to dominant group culture and economy. As the number of African American, Latino/ Latina, Asian American, and other underrepresented student groups grew on campuses, group interests turned from increasing access to increasing power within the universities (La Belle, 1996). As years progressed, students wanted to diversify topics of conversation, honor multiple voices, and have more control over programs and curricula. On November 6, 1968, San Francisco State College students marched with demands for an academic education that was more reflective and relevant to their


62 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 communities (Umemoto, 1989). This five-month strike engaged college students, faculty, and administrators; the police; and politicians. The students faced physical violence, including batons and pepper spray, but this only encouraged them to be determined and steadfast. Inspired by the civil rights movement and born out of activism, ethnic studies programs were created with the goal of highlighting and understanding the convergence of struggles—civil rights, women’s rights, student voice, and oppressed nationalities. Almost 30 years after its founding, the field of ethnic studies is now in a paradoxical state, priding itself for long-established programs and departments across campuses, yet still intellectually marginalized (Hu-Dehart, 1995). Today, the field of ethnic studies is seen, but not heard; taken, but not discussed. Student activists have continuously risen in response to the unfair treatment and lack of respect for ethnic studies courses, but only so much can be done until backlashing consequences occur. It is time for faculty and administrators to stand up and speak out strongly about their second-class status (Hu-Dehart, 1995) and to be rewarded for their contributions to higher education through research and scholarship. Faculty members deserve to share their research and knowledge with students that desire to learn this information. Today’s Criticisms of Ethnic Studies Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive: easy to govern, but impossible to enslave. - Peter Brougham Arizona House Bill 2281 On May 11, 2010, Arizona House Bill (HB) 2281 was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, formally prohibiting K-12 courses that may “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government; promote resentment toward a race or class of people; are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group; [and/or] advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals” (H.R. 2281, 2010). Arizona HB 2281 was signed less than one month after the Arizona Senate Bill (SB) 1070, an anti-immigration bill also known as “Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.” Although HB 2281 was intended to specifically target the Tucson Unified School District’s Chicano Studies program, in which 3% of the district’s 55,000 students participate, it affects much more than just Latino students. The bill also affects advocates and students of Color participating in the Chicano Studies courses (Calefati, 2010). Critics argue that these laws are “responsible for creating a climate of intolerance and suspicion against ethnic minorities and their allies” (Sobti, 2010). Tom Horne, superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District and advocate


Hoang • 63 of SB 1070 and HB 2281, targets and outlaws course materials including Rodolfo Acuña’s Occupied America and Paolo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed from Chicano Studies programs, of which he says: “Those students should be taught that this is the land of opportunity…they should not be taught that they are oppressed” (Ethnic Studies Week, 2011, para. 4). Horne goes on to state that this law is an aim to prevent “ethnic chauvinism, to not infuse them with knowledge of one particular race, nor teach them narrowly just about the background and culture of the race that they happened to have been born into” (Hing, 2010, para. 2). Although the Tucson school district also offers courses in African American Studies and Native American Studies, neither has been singled out for elimination or audit like Chicano Studies. Although HB 2281 specifically targets K-12 education, the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, or MEChA, (2010) explains that the bill also impacts ethnic studies programs in higher education by undermining its importance in education and further disenfranchises People of Color by refusing to acknowledge the historical impacts of racial and social inequalities in the United States educational system. A Need For Change: Positive Outcomes of Ethnic Studies Courses Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it. - Marian Wright Edelman (1939) Despite the arguments against ethnic studies programs, there have been many positive outcomes from courses on campuses across the country. Today, there are over 700 ethnic studies programs and departments in the United States that have continuously “revitalized, reorganized, and reconceptualized” academia (HuDehart, 1993). The field provides perspectives students would not receive in a traditional Eurocentric American history course. It emphasizes the roles ethnicity and race play in history and culture, and it defines the issues behind a colorblind society. Most campus administrators understand that they need ethnic studies, as an ethnic studies program is the surest way to demonstrate a commitment to diversity. It immediately puts color into the curriculum (Hu-Dehart, 1995). In an era of increasingly diverse college and university campuses, faculty, staff, and administrators have to continually assess what they are doing to prepare students to know, appreciate, and interact in a world of ethic and racial complexity (La Belle, 1996). Changing Campus Climates Through Classroom Experience According to La Belle (1996), discussions of multiculturalism and ethnic studies emphasize the growing diversity of higher education and the increasing numbers of students of Color, women, immigrants, and older adults who are attending colleges and universities. Predominantly White institutions need not think of these


64 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 programs as only for “them” – the African American, Asian American, Native American, or Chicano/Latino students. In actuality, White students also need the exposure, the knowledge, the change in attitudes, and the recognition that we live in a multicultural, diverse society and that these courses and programs can help educate students of all backgrounds (Carter, 1996). University and college student affairs administrators and educators should be the initial agents in creating those opportunities, and then it would be up to the faculty and students to engage in conversation and create a profound in-class experience. With a commitment to diversity through multicultural and ethnic studies programs, an institution potentially creates a more inclusive and diverse campus climate. Faculty and students become empowered to facilitate social change through opportunities of emancipatory education (Chan, 2000). Hurtado, Milem, ClaytonPedersen, and Allen (1998) support the concept that increasing structural diversity of an institution is an important initial step toward improving the climate. They also found that when students feel that faculty and administration are devoted to their development and success, they are less likely to feel racial and/or ethnic tension on campuses. Ethnic studies courses should offer students a safe space to learn, share, and debate. With mutual respect, students can engage in conversations they may not have elsewhere. Faculty should be open to answering questions that counter the subject and students should be open to being challenged by the questions that are raised. Conclusion As much as educators would like to believe that the American education system has grown to become more inclusive and diverse, HB 2281 indicates the system is slowly progressing towards acculturation and assimilation. People are afraid to acknowledge and address differences and are dangerously turning towards a colorblind society. Educators – faculty, administrators, and even students – must ask themselves what role they wish to play in transforming American society. As the education system takes one step forward in recognizing the importance of ethnic studies courses, Arizona HB 2281 is a recent demonstration that some education systems have taken two steps backward. Will students ever really be liberated by the truth in education, or will they continue to be deceived by the confinement of history? “Education is a social process; education is growth; education is not preparation for life but is life itself.” - John Dewey


Hoang • 65 References A Calefati, J. (2010). Arizona bans ethnic studies. [Electronic Version] Mother Jones. Retrieved September 15, 2011 from http://motherjones. com/mojo/2010/05/ethnicstudies-banned-arizona. Carter, G. E. (1996). The importance of Ethnic Studies. [Electronic Version] The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved December 7, 2011 from http://chronicle.com/article/The-Importance-of-Ethnic/95263/ Education. Chan, K. S. (2000). Rethinking the Asian studies project: Bridging the divide between ‘campus’ and ‘community.’ Journal of Asian American Studies 3:1, 17-36 Chen, S. (1989). On the ethnic studies requirement: Pedagogical implications. Amerasia Journal, 15, 329-338. Ethnic Studies Week, October 1 -7. (2011). Retrieved from http://ethnicstud iesweekoctober1-7.org/arizona-hb-2281-fact-sheet.html. Hing, J. (2010, May 13). Chicano studies teach “ethnic chauvinism,” says AZ school Chief Tom Horne. Retrieved from http://colorlines.com/ archives/2010/05/az_superintendent_tom_horne_chicano_stud ies_teaches_ethnic_chauvinism_video.html H.R. 2281, 49d Cong. 2 (2010). Hu-Dehart, E. (1993). The history, development, and future of ethnic studies. The Phi Delta Kappan, 75, 50-54. Hu-Dehart, E. (1995). The undermining of ethnic studies. [Electronic Ver- sion] The Chronicle of Higher Education, 42(8). Retrieved September 15, 2011 from http://chronicle.com/article/The-Undermining-of- Ethnic/95925/ Hurtado, S. Milem, J. Clayton-Pederson, A. & Allen, W. (1998.). Enhancing campus climates for racial/ethnic diversity: educational policy and practice. In The Re- view of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.mofet.macam. ac.il/rashut/hafacha/walterallen/Documents/EnhancingCampusCli matesforRacialEtnicDiversity.pdf La Belle, T. & Ward, C. (1996). Ethnic studies and multiculturalism. New York, NY: State University New York Print. National M.E.Ch.A. (2010, May18). National MEChA to protest Arizo- na’s SB 1070, HB 2281 and the privatization of higher education [Online forum post]. Retrieved from http://www. nationalmecha.org/archives/2010/05/national_mecha_to_protest_ arizonas_sb_1070_hb_2281_and_the_privatization_of_higher_ educationphp#more


66 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 Sobti, N. (2010). Arizona bans ethnic studies: A reason for worry among south Asian Americans. Retrieved from http://divanee.com/2010/12/31/ arizona-bans-ethnicstudies-a-reason-for-worry-among-south-asian- americans/ Umemoto, K. (1989). On strike! San Francisco State College strike, 1968-69: The role of Asian American students. Amerasia Journal, 15, 49-75.


Hoffert, Brickner-McDonald, Bjellquist, & Lang • 67

Graduate Colleague Mentorship: Meaningful Connections for Emerging Women in Student Affairs Sarah E. Hoffert, Kailee Brickner-McDonald, Cait Bjellquist, & Kristin Lang The Vermont Connection, at its core, is about people who invest in people. As aspiring and practicing student affairs educators, we invest in ourselves, in our students, in our colleagues, and in our research—research that frequently centers on the relationships among these groups of people. We invest because we grew from relationships with those who cared enough to do the same for us. We are the product of myriad connections across time and landscapes, knit together in our common experience in the University of Vermont’s Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program. Intentional connection building is the purpose of HESA’s Graduate Colleague (GC) program, where incoming first-year students are matched with second-year students to assist in the transition to Vermont, the University, and HESA. In the following article, five generations of GCs discuss, through the lens of feminist theory, how our special connection informed and shaped each of our academic experiences, professional development, and voice-finding processes. The University of Vermont’s Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (HESA) graduate program has paired incoming first-year students with current second-year students through the graduate colleague (GC) program for over 20 Sarah E. Hoffert received her B.A. in Sociology with a concentration in Family Sociology in 2004 from Otterbein University in Westerville, O.H. and her M.Ed. from the HESA program in 2008. Sarah currently serves as the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Specialist at Lund Family Center in Burlington, VT. Kailee Brickner-McDonald received a B.A. in History and Sociology from William and Mary in 2006 and graduated from HESA in 2010. Currently Kailee enjoys working at UVM as the Program Coordinator for the Dewey House for Civic Engagement Residential Learning Community. Cait Bjellquist received her B.F.A. in Painting from Arcadia University in 2009 and her M.Ed. from the HESA program in 2011. Cait is currently working as a Residence Hall Director for Long Island University’s Post Campus. Kristin Lang graduated from the University of Iowa in 2008 with a B.A. in Theatre Arts and English and a minor in Women’s Studies. She is currently a second-year student in the HESA program where she serves as the Graduate Assistant for Greek Life. They would like to dedicate this article to their GCs: Adam-Jon Aparicio (‘07), Laurel Dreher (‘09), and Mathew J. L. Shepard (‘13).


68 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 years. The GC role varies with each year and relationship. For many, a GC is someone who eases the transition, shares common social identities, and has the potential to become a mentor and friend. In this article, five generations of GCs discuss the significance of these overlapping relationships for themselves and for the field of student affairs. We begin this article by sharing our individual experiences with our GCs from 2006-2012. Sarah: My GC, Adam-Jon, and I had an instant connection; his personality and sense of humor put me at ease during interview weekend and when I joined the HESA program in the fall of 2006, we connected at gatherings and downtown in big groups. I met Laurel, a fellow North Carolinian, at the next interview weekend, and I knew if we were lucky enough for Laurel to join The Vermont Connection then I wanted her to be my GC. I enjoyed the casual relationship Adam-Jon and I had but wanted something different for my relationship with Laurel. My first year in HESA was tremendously challenging; within the first three weeks of graduate school I lost two important people in my life. Being far away from all of my family, friends, and my partner, I was overwhelmed and embarrassed for needing help and favors so quickly into my new friendships. I sheepishly asked for early morning rides to the airport and promised I’d pay back the favors double-fold. I wanted to be adamantly clear to my new GC that she could call me for anything, even painfully early rides to the airport. What I’ve never told Laurel is that she gave me purpose outside of myself in HESA. When I asked about how her classes were going, it was a reminder to reflect on my own academic experience. When I asked about how she was taking care of herself, it was a reminder to pursue balance in my own life. She reminded me that it was okay to be human and to have needs outside of the program. She also kept me connected to my home state in ways I didn’t know would be so important. Perhaps selfishly, she reminded me to be kind to myself. Kailee: When I came to UVM for interview days I remember connecting with both Laurel and Sarah. Sarah interviewed me for her Graduate Assistantship (GA) position, which I ultimately filled, and Laurel knew one of my best friends from college. Once paired as GCs, Laurel continued as my lifeline into what to expect with my transition. In looking over emails, I see the range of concrete support Laurel provided. Responding to a question of where to start on a paper, Laurel responded with two articles, cheers of encouragement, and a lunch date suggestion. Over meals or ice cream, we built a comfort and trust in which I could share more than academic and work concerns. In my assistantship, Laurel was the only second-year GA among the five in that


Hoffert, Brickner-McDonald, Bjellquist, & Lang • 69 office. Laurel continued to be my go-to person. In staff meetings, she modeled what GA engagement could look like. When Laurel asked me how life was going, I knew I could be honest because she meant it. Her regular question: “So what are you doing to take care of yourself ?” helped me reflect meaningfully. I benefited from being part of her comprehensive exam committee, where she inspired me to find a “comps” topic and style that reflected who I was. I still gain insight from seeing the intersections of our professional and personal journeys. When interview days arrived I got to host Cait. We connected easily over our New Jersey roots. I found myself surprised to feel like an expert in topics such as the HESA program’s approach to social justice and essential Vermont footwear. When it came time to select a GC, I knew I could relate to Cait. Over the summer I started answering Cait’s questions about logistics, just as Laurel had done with me. To my delight, Cait also became my neighbor. Lunches started and our conversations about her concerns started to remind me of my own. Our relationship continued to connect the professional and the personal. I adopted the inquiries on balance and self-care I’d learned from my GC. Our connection grew over meals, meeting over the holidays at home, and even sewing Halloween costumes together. Cait: It’s hard to imagine life without the GC Program. At this moment, a homemade CD from Kailee sits in my CD player, made to get me through my few unemployed months. During my interview days, surrounded by incredibly talented people, Kailee sat down next to me when I was feeling out of place. She said she was from New Jersey, and I became velcro. When I received an email saying she was my GC, it was the icing on my “I’m going to UVM HESA!” cake. Kailee scheduled lunches quickly and had flowers waiting to be hand delivered to my new apartment, which was conveniently located across the street from her own. From the very beginning, our GC pairing was based on small acts of kindness that built the foundation needed to meet the academic, social, and professional challenges in HESA. “What are you doing to take care of yourself ?” started every lunch/ dinner/meet up. I was blessed to have Kailee in Vermont during my second year of HESA as well. Conversations that had originally been filled with questions about classes, professors, and the logistics of living in Burlington morphed into how to meet the demands of a job search, comprehensive paper research, and making sense of complicated relationships. The enthusiasm Kailee gave me for the GC Program turned me into an eager GC when Kristin and I were paired together. I knew sending her a “Happy Birthday” message and scheduling lunches for the entire school year was over the top, but I kept thinking how much I appreciated Kailee taking the initiative when I was new, knowing that without a little bit of required meeting in the beginning we’d probably lose track of one another in the busy life of a HESA grad. Our rela-


70 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 tionship was unique because though I was technically the “older” HESA, Kristin actually had a couple years on me in life and work experience; both helped stem our connection from mentor to peer to friend. Kristin: I first learned Cait was my GC through a response to a message I had sent her about our shared apartment complex. I didn’t have a chance to connect with Cait at my interview weekend but remembered she was involved in The Vermont Connection. I immediately looked up to her as someone I aspired to be as a HESA student. Quite possibly the same day that Cait returned to Burlington from an internship, I received 40 weeks of GC lunches on my calendar. I was amused at first but then realized the true necessity for us to have that scheduled one-on-one time together. There were weeks when things came up and we were unable to meet, but those shared lunches were an integral part of me finding a community in Burlington. Our conversations moved from getting to know one another and joking about HESA quirks to challenges with our relationships, our families, and our identity development. I learned so much about TVC from Cait as she brought me into this line of fabulous, intelligent women. The first GC dinner at Kailee’s was a rare moment in an entirely too stressful time where I felt at peace and like I was exactly where I belonged. Reflecting on our time together in my first year, I am so grateful to continue the traditions she shared with me as my GC. Theoretical Framework The format and inspiration for this article is a chapter from Empowering Women in Higher Education and Student Affairs: Theory, Research, Narratives, and Practice from Feminist Perspectives. In the dialogue chapter, “Sister Circles: A Dialogue on the Intersections of Gender, Race, and Student Affairs,” the authors recommend professionals “promote balance and health for yourself and those you supervise” and to “make the time to mentor. Mentoring can be bidirectional—senior to junior and junior to senior” (Niskode-Dossett, Boney, Contreras Bullock, Cochran, & Kao, 2011, p. 212). These have been strong tenets of our successive and multigenerational GC relationships. The most striking element of this chapter is the authors’ use of dialogue as the ultimate authority and content, citing just one reference. We will demonstrate the power of GC relationships through our own dialogue. As self-identified feminists, it is important to discuss the framework of feminist pedagogy to articulate our relationships. The methods we used to write this article and establish our GC connections, such as knowledge building, self-reflexivity, and finding communities of meaning, are all the product of our feminist roots.


Hoffert, Brickner-McDonald, Bjellquist, & Lang • 71 Feminist pedagogy is a methodology to emancipate all marginalized identities, beginning with women, in education. Rooted in Freire’s (1970) work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, feminist pedagogy seeks to make teachers and students (GCs in this article) partners in learning and constructing knowledge where all are “engaged with self in a continuing reflective process; engaged actively with the material being studied; engaged with others in a struggle to get beyond […] destructive hatreds and to work together to enhance our knowledge” (Shrewsbury, 1987, p. 6). There is an overwhelming critique of feminist pedagogy in that “much of feminist teaching continues to operate on the unspoken essentialist assumption that identities are stable, homogeneous and deterministic” (Macdonald & SanchezCasal, 2002, p. 1). In short, essentialism dictates that the shared experience of one person’s identity is considered the experience of all others who hold that identity. Essentialism undermines the very purpose of feminist pedagogy by limiting the complex interactions within a person’s experiences— that we are all oppressors and oppressed. In our GC relationships we have sought to reject essentialism through what Macdonald and Sanchez-Casal (2002) call “communities of meaning” (p. 13). Rather than see our experiences purely through the lens of identity, we build communities based on what identity experiences have meant. For example, while we all share a White racial identity, how we make meaning of that identity has varied greatly. Our GC community of meaning allowed us to reflect and acknowledge where we hold dominance and critically examine our marginalized identities in new terms. Navigating Change Within this framework of feminist mentorship, we greatly enjoyed coming together to reflect on the meaning of our relationships. We arrived at several themes. In this first conversation, we recognized the importance of a mentoring relationship with a near-peer who has had a similar experience (HESA) but is removed from our immediate group (our own HESA cohort), and the perspective each of us gained from that connection—academically, personally, and professionally. Cait: I remember that there was a lot going on within my cohort. We had hard conversations in our Cultural Pluralism class, and I could dialogue with my GC about things that came up for me. Having Kailee and being able to talk with Kristin helped me normalize and talk about my experiences, so when I went back the next week I had something to draw from. It felt like they were a neutral party, because they weren’t there in the room; I continued to process what went on for me in a fresh way, instead of the circular thinking that happens when you only talk within your cohort. Sarah: I was very conscious the first year that although class was a place to learn and


72 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 grow we were still being graded. There were some things I could process outside of class that helped me feel more prepared and understand my identities better. Having Laurel as another Southern White woman really helped me explore this part of myself. I’d question, “Is this my experience as a White woman, a Southerner, or both?” and Laurel really allowed me to question, make mistakes, and grow. Kristin: HESA was a culture shift for me. I had a few, “What am I getting myself into?” moments my first months. The cohort was different from any of my classes from undergrad. It was important to have the GC relationship in my transition to help normalize my feelings and my experience. Because Cait’s not in my cohort, I was able to explain my feelings more, I think, than I would have talking with someone in my cohort. That helped me get to what I was feeling and what happened to get me feeling this way. Kailee: Yes, it was a culture shift for me too. I had been in situations when social justice was defined differently, with more focus on creating change on the systems level. And here it was more about understanding our own identities first. When Laurel talked about her exploration of identities as a White heterosexual woman she helped me see how that actually was a good place to start in social justice work. Sarah: I felt like I had more time to reflect with my GCs in a way that was academic but explored identity too. It really was an amazing, sacred place that for me was hard to find elsewhere. Cait: It’s also in professional development—I’m finding that now. When I think about asking clarifying questions—that was a skill I gained when I was trying to make sense when explaining things to Kailee. With my current students and especially colleagues I ask things like, “I feel like I’m missing something, can you go back and explain that a little more?” That’s good to have, since after two years of HESA we get used to our cohort’s group dynamic, the same foundation of knowledge to work from, and that’s not my experience since leaving UVM. Sarah: Something I valued about HESA was having cohort members challenge me to be better. In my current work environment I just want to find an ally who acknowledges my identities. In classes, assistantships, or practica, we didn’t talk about how radically different our future work environments could be and how to navigate them. The only place I heard that was from my GC. When I question practices or the culture of my work place it’s my GC who still affirms my experience. Cait: I don’t want to be the only person who’s challenging and/or thinking about what our students need. Getting this education, I gained the confidence that I’m good at what I do. And that’s what people want—folks to come in and do a good job. But then I feel like I need other people like me, which is why so many HESA


Hoffert, Brickner-McDonald, Bjellquist, & Lang • 73 graduates return to Vermont. Exploring Connections Our GC relationships provided a navigation base for our growth and challenges during HESA and beyond. As we spoke, we realized that this is not a universal experience, and our gender identities influenced the significance of our relationships—especially as they continue to support us beyond HESA. We also rediscovered the reciprocity of our multi-generational relationships. Sarah: I didn’t realize the role a GC could play. I thought it was surface level, a where to buy toothpaste kind of thing. I didn’t envision what it could become or the power the lasting connections could have in my life. And I don’t know if I would have believed it if anyone had told me. Cait: I think it’s a reflection of who we are, because other folks in my cohort didn’t have this experience at all. Maybe they weren’t looking for it, and we were looking for that connection and experience? I also think that we’ve been really intentional about how we worked with our GC since we had the GC above us show how it’s valuable. I think that we all have similar warm-fuzzy feelings about our lineage—the “doer” identity is at the core of who we are, and I think that makes our GC line as strong as it is. Sarah: I didn’t feel like I got to talk about gender in my HESA experience. I was always paying attention to that piece, and we talked a little about gender identity, but otherwise gender was absent. I found I could talk to Laurel about it and say, “Wow, who’s getting hired, promoted.” In my recent job search I always researched the dean, chancellor, those in power, and tried to determine if it was a place where I could move up. Our GC line is one of the few places where I felt people were open and excited to talk about gender. Kristin: I agree, I can’t remember a significant time my cohort talked about gender in the classroom. Maybe it was because women are the majority in my cohort, but then that’s all the more reason to talk about it. We’re mostly women in the classroom and in the field, but who has the power in the classroom or in universities? We keep hearing the male voices again and again, usually. Cait: Numbers don’t equal who’s heard and who’s not heard. Even if you have one man, if he’s the one all listen to, then that’s something that we’d talk about— how to navigate that as professionals. In terms of job searching, I remember so many conversations where Kailee would ask, “Well what is it at the end of the day that you want to be doing, and who do you want to be with?” You get so caught up in the, “How are we going to make this work in different places?” but at the end


74 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 of the day what do you want and what does it look like? If you know what you want, you’ll make it happen. That was really clarifying, because I got stressed out about working with all those moving pieces. Kailee: In my first job out of HESA, I made some financial sacrifices for the purpose and location of the position. When I was preparing for my current job, I remember talking with Sarah about how salary does matter, despite the other messages we get. I felt like I was taking a risk by negotiating. I remember her saying that the worst they can say is no— they’re not going to rescind an offer! You were a solid voice, saying: “I know we’re young women in the field, but go for it!” It helped me gain confidence to make it happen. Sarah: And the interesting part is that I said that, but I still feel terrified to negotiate every time I do it. So having the experience of me saying, “You totally deserve this!” I think also helped remind myself to take my own advice. It’s affirming to say it to you, and to know I need to remember it for myself as well. Kailee: To zoom out in mentoring, you benefit from your mentor, but you learn more when you’re teaching than when you’re being taught... like Cait, when you were talking about me asking you about what you need for yourself, that was what I was trying to convince myself. It’s me hearing my voice out there and thinking, “Yes, I do believe that. Because that’s how I want someone I really care about to approach job/life stuff, and as someone I really care about, I’d like to do that too.” Sarah: What we were talking about— it’s just another example of how having a GC allows you to have a place to reflect. Personally and professionally, my GC relationships provide a place for reflection more so than in any other aspect of HESA. Kailee: Part of what makes our GC line so meaningful is that at least two of us stuck around Vermont after HESA. That can’t happen all the time, but it really helped us continue to reflect. Kristin: With Cait not living here, being intentional about this writing process is a way to continue things that connect us. Without living here, it’s harder, but you can be creative about it. Conclusion In HESA, we speak of intentionality, especially in regard to language, curriculum, and programming. Our story is about intentionality: taking time to check in, helping bridge connections, and most importantly, listening. Our GC linkage aided all of us in navigating the HESA program, our cohorts, and our identities. Though Laurel was not able to participate in this process, we hope that her voice


Hoffert, Brickner-McDonald, Bjellquist, & Lang • 75 and impact were realized through our writing. While it may not be the story of many, the mentorship that came from our GC connection is a part of what we take with us as we continue as student affairs practitioners, and in the end, a part of our success. We hope that our conversations demonstrate the richness of the root of our passion for student affairs work: investing in meaningful and transformational relationships.


76 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 References Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc.: New York, NY. Macdonald, A. A. & Sanchez-Casal, S. (Eds.). (2002). Twenty-first-century feminist classrooms: Pedagogies of identity and difference. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillian. Niskode-Dossett, A. S., Boney, M., Contreras Bullock, L., Cochran, C., & Kao, I. (2011). Sister circles: A dialogue on the intersections of gender, race, and student affairs. In P. A. Pasque & S. E. Errington Nicholson (Eds.), Empowering women in higher education and student affairs: Theory, research, narratives, and practice from feminist perspectives (pp. 194- 212). Sterling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing. Shrewsbury, C. M. (1987). What is feminist pedagogy? Women’s Studies Quarterly, 15(4), 6-14. Weiler K. (1991). Freire and a feminist pedagogy of difference. Harvard Educational Review, 61(4), 449-475.


Johnson • 77

Marginality, Mattering, and Black Feminism: Moving to Empower Black Women Jilliene M. Johnson In its inception, American higher education exclusively admitted White males, while all other identities were denied access. Currently, admission requirements no longer discriminate on the basis of religion, race, socioeconomic status, or other social markers. With an increase in diverse students comes institutional responsibility to establish safe, inclusive, and supportive collegiate environments. Theories of marginality, mattering, and Black feminist thought are explored as they relate to providing support services for undergraduate African American women at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). “Whether it be my religion, my aesthetic taste, my economic opportunity, my educational desire, whatever the craving is, I find a limitation because I suffer from the greatest known handicap, a Negro woman.” Mary McLeod Bethune, “Closed Doors,” 1936 Education, particularly higher education, has always been viewed as an avenue to access knowledge and gain upward mobility in America. Despite this pervasive ideology, higher education in the United States has yet to make this vision a reality for all who attend colleges and universities. American higher education was modeled and organized from the European structure (Cohen & Kisker, 2010). The emergence of the academy began in the 17th century and admitted only White males. It was with this beginning that the American higher education system began to articulate, define, and raise the questions of: Who shall be admitted? Who will attend? What will be taught? And, who will teach it? (Cohen & Kisker, 2010). The complexities in the higher education system continue to be a source of great debate and concern. Higher education professionals, specifically in student affairs, look to provide supportive and inclusive learning environments that engage the whole student in dialogue about issues of diversity, social justice, academics, wellness, and personal and community responsibility.

Jilliene M. Johnson is a second-year HESA student who received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Black Studies from The College of Wooster in 2008. She is passionate about building authentic relationships, working with students who hold non-dominant identities and researching institutional policies that impact student success in higher education. She intends to pursue a Ph.D. in organizational leadership and policy. Jilliene is grateful for her mentoring relationships and support programs that have helped shape her identity and vocation.


78 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 Many student affairs professionals are knowledgeable about the complexities of the world; this includes, but is not limited to, institutional racism, discrimination, and stigmatization across various identities. As members of the profession we must always seek to make students feel safe, respected, and welcomed in their new environment. As professionals, how do we respond to social pressures that make students feel marginalized or invisible? Examining student development theories of marginality, mattering, and Black feminist thought demonstrates the need for support groups for African American females at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). The Sista’s United support group at Midwest College (a pseudonym) serves as a case study to articulate and critique the implications of these programs and offer opportunity to discuss how to develop and implement this service on an institutional level. Prior to creating and implementing this type of support group at an institution, it is imperative to understand the racial complexities of American history. Race, a social construct, is a defining marker in the lives of many Americans. Steck, Heckert, and Heckert (2003) stated, “Racial and ethnic identity in the United States, then, can only be understood in the context of a history of oppression and a persistent racial inequality” (p. 59). The idea of race, specifically in regards to African Americans, began in 1619 when the first Africans were brought to the Americas. Since the arrival of the first Africans, African Americans have experienced, endured, and persevered through 200 years of slavery, segregation, and discrimination. Many battles were fought on local, state, and federal levels to obtain equal civil rights. The most instrumental case regarding education was Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Despite this, African American students are still underrepresented in higher education. The racial framework and history of African Americans in the United States illuminates why current issues of race continue to permeate all aspects of American society. Steck et al. (2003) stated that race plays a pivotal role in identity, especially for minority groups. In the United States, individuals construct racial identity in a society that is comprised of non-dominant and dominant identities. When looking at past interactions between Whites and African Americans it is evident that racism and discrimination have played a pivotal role in many aspects of peoples’ lives, especially in the educational system. Even 57 years after Brown v. Board of Education (1954), there are still inequalities in the education African Americans receive compared to their White counterparts. Reynolds and Pope (1994) explained that racism, in many instances, can have a psychological impact on the mental, physical, and psychological health of its victims. Moreover, these inequalities and psychological damages have become more covert over the years. Considering the effects of racially embedded factors in American society provides context for the need to include the following theories at the collegiate level.


Johnson • 79 Marginality and Mattering On a daily basis, people are divided into social schemas according to race, class, religion, and gender, to name a few. The awareness of difference leads to individuals and community members asking questions: Where do I fit in? Am I marginalized because of my identities? Will my group ever be considered equal? These and other questions are pondered and raised because all people want to feel a sense of connection and belonging. Schlossberg (1989) explained that the constructs of marginality and mattering illustrate how college students address issues in their new environments depending on their different identities and the state of their emotional and financial resources. The author further expounds on these constructs as they relate to transitional events and how people in marginalized positions often feel they do not matter. Studies indicate that African American students often feel isolated and alienated at PWIs and feel excluded from the campus community and environment, with adverse results on their matriculation (Lett & Wright, 2003). Mattering explains how to minimize marginalization. Schlossberg, Lynch, and Chickering (1989) defined mattering as people’s belief, whether wrong or right, that someone appreciates and cares for them, and that they are the object of someone’s attention. Schlossberg et al. (1989) describe the mattering framework in five dimensions: attention, importance, dependence, ego-extension, and appreciation. 1. Attention is viewed as one of the most basic forms of mattering where one can command and receive notice from another individual. An example of this is when people are able to distinguish an individual from others by knowing the person’s name. 2. Importance is the ability to perceive that another person cares about what the individual wants, thinks, and does. Importance is felt when a professor notices that a student is missing classes. 3. Dependence simply states that a person depends on others and that others depend on that individual. An example is when a student knows that an organization cannot function without their membership. 4. Ego-extension is the belief that others will relish in the individual’s accomplishments and be disappointed in their failures. An example of this is when an administrator is interested in a student’s progress, even after graduating. 5. Appreciation is when an individual feels thankful for who they are and what they do. The five dimensions of mattering play a pivotal role in adult learners as they approach relationship transitions (Schlossberg, Waters, & Goodman, 1995). The framework of mattering is essential when assessing how to ensure that African American women feel appreciated, validated, and supported when attending a PWI. These concepts incorporate the psychological and student development


80 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 theories needed to understand the experiences of our students. An additional theory to consider when working with this demographic is black feminist thought. Black Feminist Thought Marginality and mattering are fundamental theories in explaining what may hinder or promote a community’s development, yet due to their generalizability, they do not specifically discuss how the transition relates to specific identity groups. To better understand the complex experiences of African American women at PWIs it is essential to examine Black feminist thought. Collins (2000) explained that oppression formed due to the impact of slavery, which served as the catalyst for Black feminist thought. The convergence of race, gender, and class oppression shapes and affects the relationships that African American women have on communal, professional, and intellectual levels. As a critical social theory, Black feminist thought aims to empower African-American women within the context of societal injustice sus- tained by intersecting oppressions. Since Black women cannot be fully empowered unless intersecting oppressions themselves are eliminated, Black feminist thought supports broad principles of social justice that transcend U.S. Black women’s particular needs. (p. 22) Another function of creating support services for African American women at PWIs is providing a space where their experiences are shared, accepted, and validated. Under Black feminist thought, Collins explained the need to create spaces for Black women to self-disclose as a vital condition to resist societal oppression. Historically, survival was dependent on the ability to stick together, and currently, this can still be observed as Black women continue to evolve and pursue new areas in educational and professional endeavors. Collins (2000) stated, “By advancing Black women’s empowerment through self-definition, these safe spaces help Black women resist the dominant ideology promulgated not only outside Black civil society but within African American institutions” (p. 101). As scholar-practitioners, it is critical to examine marginality, mattering, and Black feminist thought as the underpinning literature to advocate for support programs for African American women. Midwest College’s Sista’s United program serves as a worthy case study on how a program can empower, support, and engage Black women at PWIs. Case Study Midwest College is a small, private, liberal arts school primarily known for developing independent minds and preparing students to be future leaders in an interdependent global society. The college is comprised of 54% women, 46%


Johnson • 81 men, 12% domestic multi-ethnic students, and 5% international students, with 2,000 students overall. In the past few years, the college has recommitted itself to diversity. However, as a PWI the college still continues to struggle with the recruitment and retention of domestic students of Color. Despite the increase of students of Color, the college acknowledges the need to be more inclusive and supportive of this student population. Two ways the college supports these students are through the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and multi-ethnic student organizations. Sista’s United is one organization that has served as a pillar in the Black community at Midwest College since the late 1980s. Similar to other schools at the time, students of Color protested about the lack of racial diversity in the classroom and co-curricular activities. After taking over the administration building, the students’ demands were met, resulting in Sista’s United and several other organizations being created. Currently, the organization serves as a significant resource to women from the African Diaspora. The members of the organization’s racial/ethnic identities range from Multiracial to Caribbean to African, while also providing space for allies. Nevertheless, the group is largely comprised of African American women. Sista’s United is a student organization that is self-governed with an executive board, general body, and individuals who live in the program house on campus. Each year elections are held to determine who will serve in the leadership role for the organization. The executive board’s most unique positions are the Sister-toSister Contacts. These two individuals’ task is to pair first-year women with upper class Sista’s members. Mentorship is one of the most instrumental components of the support group. Even after graduating from the college, many women continue to utilize their mentor as a resource. The matching process is reciprocal in that women can suggest who they want to work with and are matched based on personal and academic information. To obtain funding, the treasurer requests financial assistance from the school’s Student Government Association (typically around $4,000 each year). Over time the organization has developed staple programs such as Open House, Soul Food Dinner, Sadie Hawkins Dance, Apollo, and Women’s Recognition. In particular, the Sadie Hawkins Dance benefits the current students and serves as a program to supplement the Office of Admissions’ annual scholarship weekend for students of Color. Overall, the Black female leaders in this organization serve many constituents. First, they serve through their residential space, offering students and allies a safe space to cook, socialize, study, and be themselves without judgment from the dominant culture. Second, the organization educates the institution about issues affecting the larger Black community, especially Black women in the global context. Third, the organization serves Midwest College by providing mentors that assist with peer-to-peer academic, personal, and profes-


82 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 sional support during the rigorous four-year journey of college. One student who graduated in 2009 said this about her experience: I joined SU because of the women and the purpose of the organiza- tion. I was welcomed with open arms when I came as a prospective student. By this action I took it upon myself to learn more about the organization and its purpose. In learning about the mentorship of first-year minority women, it gave me a sense of belonging. Belonging to an organization that will help me have a smooth transition through my college years and beyond. Allowing me now to give back to the organization which once gave to me. (J. Brown, personal commu- nication, February, 5, 2010) It is evident from this student’s testimony that the Sista’s United program provided her with a supportive environment throughout her undergraduate collegiate experience. This model is student-centered but as practitioners, we must be mindful that every campus culture is disparate and will require various frameworks to be successful. Other institutions utilize models that are peer-to-peer, facilitator-student, or a mixture of the two. Nonetheless, it is critical that these programs provide the opportunity and safe space for African American women to embrace each other and share their narratives as a means for a supportive community. Implementation Strategies The concept of support groups for women of Color is not an innovative idea. Many universities, regardless of classification, offer some type of programming for this population. Few have written on this topic specifically utilizing marginality, mattering, and Black feminist thought to provide a holistic approach to this population and their needs. As students continue to grow and develop they yearn for opportunities to engage each other in dialogue about their shared and differing experiences. Their sense of isolation can be viewed in the classroom, athletic teams, residence halls, social settings, and may even be reflected in the lack of racial diversity in the faculty and administration. While many see the value of these programs, there are some in the academy who question these programs’ purpose. As previously stated, each institution will need to create a model that represents their student body’s needs and desires. Colleges and universities will have varied ideas about criteria and requirements for the group, but there is the ability to offer some generalizable thoughts for creating, developing, and implementing a support group for African American women at PWIs. The framework for implementation consists of four scopes: (a) application, (b) fiscal structure, (c) longevity, and (d) assessment and evaluation.


Johnson • 83 Application Application describes the initial scope to assess student’s interests and desires to establish the group. During this phase it is critical to research and observe other institutions to examine their programmatic model and adapt it according to the needs of the developing program. An additional component is establishing a group identity. As a collective whole, interested members and/or advisors can develop an organization name, craft a logo, mission, and set objectives and goals for how the group will function. The last phase is finding and securing an adequate time and location for meetings. Often on campuses it can be difficult to negotiate the use of space, especially if your program is newly created or seen as illegitimate by the dominant structure. As practitioners, we understand that the key to a successful program is booking the venue early. For the Sista’s United, this booking was established in the 1980s when the president signed legislation designating the group a house on campus annually. In particular, with these support groups it is imperative to pick locations that promote security, inclusion, and privacy, allowing for optimal participation. Fiscal Structure To be an effective and successful organization there must be financial support. Ideally, this would come from the student government body, but if not, the organization could look into acquiring funds from an academic or administrative department (e.g Multicultural Affairs, Dean of Students, Provost, Women Studies, or Africana Studies) on campus or external sources of funding. Additionally, after the program is established and members have graduated, the group can look to alumnae for donations. Longevity Typically, one of the most efficient ways to establish a group on campus is to become a recognized student organization. During this stage the group will need to decide whom the advisor(s) will be and define the role. If the group decides not to utilize campus programming, they will need to secure support from an office or department. Additionally, the group should develop a constitution and create a marketing plan to achieve short and long term success for group recognition and membership. Assessment and Evaluation The final scope is to create an instrument to measure the individuals’ and group’s success. The instrument can be an evaluation form, questionnaire, self-reflection paper, individual meeting set with the advisor, or whatever fits the needs of the


84 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 organization. If and when the program’s validity is questioned, the fourth phase will provide the organization with the quantitative and qualitative data needed to show the legitimacy and effectiveness of the program. Unfortunately, even with these four scopes, the student organization may still face issues surrounding purpose and validity. These comments and questions will often come from the dominant group but are not exclusive to them. As a practitioner I have found that the most frequently asked question is around self-segregation. Generally, when this comment is brought to light, I recommend that the individual read Beverly Daniel Tatum’s (1997) book, Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?. Tatum provides great examples of how issues of race, prejudice, internalized racism, and identity shape students during their developmental years and how that informs their identities as they move into adulthood. Conclusion As clearly defined in the work of Schlossberg (1989) and Collins (2000), the use of support systems for African American women is vital to creating an inclusive environment at PWIs. Often, we as practitioners work closely with students as educators, advisors, and mentors, and we begin to notice their struggles and need to feel connected. If practitioners find themselves in this position, they should assess the need for implementing a support program. Based on the early years of higher education we understand that the original questions surrounding the academy did not include the voices of individuals from oppressed and marginalized groups. Yet, as scholars and practitioners in higher education, we continue to adhere to the ethical principal of “do no harm” (ACPA Ethical Principles & Standards, 2006). Remaining committed to the field of student affairs can only be accomplished by creating opportunities where all voices are heard and students feel empowered. Support groups and organizations for African American women at PWIs will continue to create opportunities for meaningful dialogue, collaboration, and growth for the students and the institutions we serve.


Johnson • 85 References ACPA Ethical Principles & Standards. (2006). Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards. Retrieved from http://www.myacpa.org/au/documents/ EthicsStatement.pdf Cohen, A. M. & Kisker, C. B. (2010). The shaping of American higher education: Emergence and growth of the contemporary system (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Collins, P. H. (2000). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment (2nd ed.). New York: NY: Routledge. Lett, D. F., & Wright, J. V. (2003). Psychological barriers associated with ma- triculation of African American students in predominantly White institutions. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 30, 189-196. Reynolds, A. L. & Pope, R. L. (1994). Perspectives on creating multicultural campuses. Journal of Counseling & Development, 42, 229-236. Schlossberg, N. K., Lynch, A. Q., & Chickering, A. W. (1989). Improving Higher Education Environments for Adults. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Schlossberg, N. K. (1989). Marginality and mattering: Key issues in building community. New Directions for Student Services, 48, 5-15. Schlossberg, N. K., Waters, E. B., & Goodman, J. (1995). Counseling adults in transition (2nd ed.). New York, New York: Springer Publishing Com- pany. Steck, L.W., Heckert, D. M. & Heckert, D. A. (2003). The salience of racial identity among African American and white students. Race and Society, 6, 57-73. Tatum, B. D. (1997). Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? New York, NY: Basic Books.


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Womyn of Color Leadership: Utilizing Differential Consciousness to Navigate Workspaces Heather C. Lou Womyn1 of Color leaders working in student affairs face challenges navigating institutional roles while remaining authentic to nondominant forms of leadership. In this work, I explore the concept of differential consciousness as a tactic for womyn of Color leaders to navigate workspaces. Differential consciousness is a concept within U.S. third world feminism and refers to a social movement that provides spaces for womyn from historically underrepresented, underserved, and “minoritized” identities to address dominance (Sandoval, 1991). I propose Sandoval’s (1991) theory of oppositional consciousness as a way for womyn of Color to navigate political workspaces in order to embrace authentic, non-dominant leadership styles. Additionally, I provide recommendations to apply Sandoval’s framework to student affairs practice as it relates to social justice and inclusion in postsecondary education. According to The White House Project Report for Benchmarking Women’s Leadership, “women make up 57% of all college students, but only 23% of university presidents and 14% of presidents at the doctoral degree-granting institutions” (The White House Project, 2009, p. 23)—a troubling statistic that has not changed over the past ten years. Womyn of Color leaders accounted for 4.4% of all college presidents with more than 33% of this group identified as Latina as of 2006 (The White House Project, 2009). As womyn of Color struggle to advance in leadership in United States (U.S.) postsecondary education and earn less in salary than their peers, student affairs administrators should better understand the ways that this underrepresented and underserved group navigates workspaces. Administrators serve students with diverse social identities, backgrounds, and narratives through advocacy work, but 1 Womyn is a gender-independent spelling of “woman/en” that feminists and womanists adopted in 1975 as an opposition to institutionalized definitions of females according to the male-dominated societal norm. Womyn is intended to disrupt the gender binary and include those who identify with any intersection of historically “minoritized” identities, including, but not limited to: race, class, gender, and ability.

Heather C. Lou is a second-year HESA student who received her B.S. in public relations and humanities minor from San José State University in 2009. Her fluid racial and sexual identities and passion for social justice education are key influences in her practice as an administrator. She hopes to integrate multicultural affairs, advocacy work, and social media skills in postsecondary education in the years to come.


Lou • 87 discourse remains on ways to recruit, retain, and support womyn of Color leaders in the academy. Womyn of Color leaders working in student affairs face challenges navigating institutional roles while working within dominant forms of leadership, which favor Western values of success. In this work, I explore differential consciousness as it applies to womyn of Color leadership and the opportunities it provides for empowerment and political savvy to counter Western dominance. Sandoval’s (1991) theory of oppositional consciousness is a way for womyn of Color to navigate and potentially decolonize political workspaces in order to embrace authentic, non-dominant leadership styles. Additionally, I provide recommendations to apply Sandoval’s framework to creating socially just and inclusive communities in postsecondary education for student affairs professionals. Literature Review Sociology, psychology, critical race theory, critical race feminist theory, and U.S. third world feminist literature can help administrators better understand the ways womyn of Color leaders might navigate political workspaces. Literature on womyn of Color navigating spaces outside of postsecondary education can translate to student affairs administration, as postsecondary institutions are microcosms of U.S. society. Theory of Oppositional Consciousness Sandoval’s (1991) theory of oppositional consciousness is rooted in U.S. third world feminism, which provides a different way of conceptualizing feminism and oppositional activity. In general, oppositional activity “comprises a formulation capable of aligning such movements for social justice with what have been identified as world-wide movements of decolonization” (Sandoval, 1991, p. 1). The tension between hegemonic feminist ideology and U.S. third world feminism lies within the need to refocus “two different understandings of domination, subordination, and the nature of effective resistance” (p. 1). Womyn of Color may utilize Sandoval’s (1991) theory as “the design for oppositional political activity and consciousness…to effectively challenge and transform the current hierarchical nature of the social order” (p. 2). Sandoval identifies four ideologies to navigate and transform spaces: 1. Equal rights. Under this oppositional ideology, subordinated groups “argue that their differences—for which they have been assigned a [socially constructed] inferior status—are only in appearance, not reality” (Sandoval, 1991, p. 12). Those who believe in the equal rights oppositional ideology believe that their


88 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 humanity and power should be recognized and social inequity should be resisted. 2. Revolutionary. Under this oppositional ideology, subordinated groups “call for a social transformation that will accommodate and legitimize differences... between social, racial, and gender classes” (Sandoval, 1991, p. 12). Social inequity is recognized, and the subordinated groups’ desire is to create a new culture to uproot the power dynamic between dominant and subordinated groups. 3. Supremacist. Under this oppositional ideology, the subordinated groups “claim their differences, but they also assert that those very differences have provided them access to a superior evolutionary level than those currently in power” (Sandoval, 1991, p. 13). Those who subscribe to the supremacist oppositional ideology believe that due to social inequity, they have created more efficient, socially-just, moral, and ethical ways of leading. 4. Separatist. Under this oppositional ideology, “the subordinated do not desire an ‘equal rights’ type of integration with the dominant order, nor do they seek its leadership or revolutionary transformation” (Sandoval, 1991, p. 13). Those who subscribe to the separatist oppositional ideology protect and foster the subordinated and separate from the dominant social order altogether. Differential consciousness. Sandoval’s (1991) theory addresses the limitation of Althusser’s (1970) theory of ideology and the ideological state apparatuses, as it “does not specify how and or on what terms” (Sandoval, 1991, p. 2) citizen-subjects can create change within and around dominance. Differential consciousness addresses the limitation of hegemonic feminist movements, creating a dynamic motion that functions “within, yet beyond the demands of dominant ideology” (p. 3). Metaphorically, the differential mode serves like “the clutch of an automobile: the mechanism that permits the driver to select, engage, and disengage gears in the system for the transmission of power” (p. 14). Those who subscribe to differential consciousness are able to select, engage, and disengage between the equal rights, revolutionary, supremacist, and separatist ideologies. Understanding ideologies may allow for administrators to shift between hegemonic feminism and U.S. third world feminist theory, method, and oppositional theory. Love as a method for social change. Differential consciousness functions outside of speech and within what Lorde, Moraga, Anzaldúa, and Sandoval define as love. U.S. third world feminists understand love as: breaking through whatever controls in order to find understanding and community: it is described as hope and faith… a rupturing in one’s everyday world that permits crossing over to another; … as a set of practices and procedures that can transit all citizen-subjects, regard less of social class, toward a differential mode of consciousness


Lou • 89

and its accompanying technologies of method and social movement. (Sandoval, 2000, p. 140)

Without enacting love, womyn of Color leaders are unable to access differential tactics and methods to decolonize political spaces and enact social change. Love can be demonstrated with music, gestures, images, sounds, and words that express counternarratives to dominant understandings of culture. By enacting differential consciousness and love as a method for social change, people’s multiple truths can surface and provide space for coalition building, collaborations, and dialogue, a transformational tool Freire (1970) highlights in Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Sandoval (1991, 2000) applies her theory to womyn of Color and oppressed populations in the context of U.S. society but does not suggest how this work applies to postsecondary education. The theory of oppositional consciousness and love as a method for social change are abstract and dense, and womyn of Color leaders in student affairs administration (regardless of their political savviness) may not ascribe their behavior in dominant and political workspaces to a U.S. third world feminist praxis. The following sections will provide examples of Sandoval’s (1991) theory of oppositional consciousness and other U.S. third world feminist ideologies in postsecondary education. Border Crossing and Ambiguity Anzaldúa’s (1987) concept of border crossing relates to the way womyn of Color leaders or la mestiza can stand between non-dominant and dominant workspaces and leadership styles. Borders can be physical, symbolic, or metaphorical spaces within institutionalized structures and policies or reinforced through socially constructed norms: Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to dis- tinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition. (Anzaldúa, 1987, p. 25) According to Anzaldúa (1987), womyn of Color and other individuals who live within ambiguity learn to navigate through the borders and live between nondominant and dominant worlds. This form of political savvy describes the ways of moving from convergent to divergent thinking. O’Brien (2008) states “race, gender, and class oppression have critiqued the false dichotomies of public/private, reason/emotion, and mind/spirit (among others) as creations of those in power and used to devalue feminine, non-European, working-class ways of being” (p. 68). Anzaldúa (1987) describes the way la mestiza engages in oppositional activity that breaks down the subject-object relationship in dominant culture:


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La mestiza constantly has to shift out of habitual formations; from convergent thinking, analytical reasoning that tends to use rationality to move toward a single goal (a Western mode), to divergent thinking, characterized by movement away from set patterns and goals and to ward a more whole perspective, one that includes rather than excludes. (p. 101)

By strategically straddling and crossing borders, politically savvy womyn of Color leaders are able to incorporate critical race and critical postcolonial theory to draw out counterstories in opposition to the remnants of colonial dominance (Solórzano, Ceja, & Yosso, 2000). Cross-Cultural Code-Switching: “Lived Contradictions” Molinsky (2007) defines cross-cultural code-switching as “the act of purposefully modifying one’s behavior in an interaction in a foreign setting in order to accommodate different cultural norms for appropriate behavior” (p. 624). Crosscultural code-switching includes behaviors such as: changing volume and tone of voice, dressing differently, (lack of) expression or emotions, and/or “proficiently execut[ing] a novel and possibly complex” (p. 624) task that fits into the new culture. Molinksy (2007) identifies three psychological states that describe the effects of cross-cultural code-switching: (1) performance difficulty; (2) face threat, and; (3) identity conflict (p. 627), which may create positive emotion (e.g. pride, confidence, empowerment) or negative emotion (e.g. embarrassment, anxiety, guilt, stress). Cross-cultural code-switching causes dissonance as task performance often conflicts with personal and cultural values, especially for womyn of Color leaders moving between non-dominant and dominant leadership styles. Padilla & Chavez (1995) capture dissonance and cross-cultural code-switching in a qualitative interview with a Latina professor: I am struck by my lived contradiction: To be a professor is to be an- glo; to be a latina is not to be anglo. … To be a Latina professor, I con- clude, means to be unlike and like me. … Can I be both Latina and professor without compromise? (pp. 74-75) Can a womyn of Color in student affairs administration fulfill a leadership role in a space that honors dominant leadership styles without giving up culture, values, and non-dominant leadership? Richardson (2002) captures the ways Black and African American womyn educators utilize cross-cultural code-switching and border crossings between non-dominant and dominant spaces. Referred to as style/codeswitching, Black and African American womyn educators engage in this behavior to dispel stereotypes institutionalized through policy and bias to help students “decode texts and contexts” (Richardson, 2002, p. 698), and to make knowledge


Lou • 91 and resources more accessible. Sadao (2003) expanded on the way “bicultural” faculty appeared “willing to move between cultures, making the accommodations necessary for academic success” and “are … very aware of situations that require ‘code-switching’… and make these adaptations quickly and smoothly” (p. 412). This is a challenge for womyn of Color leaders navigating political workspaces, but can also serve as a tool to master and decolonize dominance. Further research on cross-cultural code-switching should be conducted to better understand the ways it may affect womyn of Color leaders in student affairs administration. Counterspaces Womyn of Color may overcome marginality and stereotype threat by creating counterspaces (Solórzano, Ceja, and Yosso, 2000). Counterspaces are physical and psychological places where people with “minoritized” identities can resist oppression and dominant spaces (Muñoz, 2009, p. 2). Affinity spaces are vital counterspaces where the non-dominant “group [can] find solidarity, provide one another support, and develop ways to challenge racism” (Everyday Democracy, 2008). Place-consciousness recognizes that spaces have “cultural meanings to individuals, groups, and societies” (Muñoz, 2009, p. 4) and may create ideological obstacles for womyn of Color leaders in navigating and decolonizing political workspaces. Castells articulated, “space is not a photocopy of society, it is society” (as cited in Muñoz, 2009, p. 9), demonstrating how navigating political, gendered, and racialized workspaces takes the savvy of oppositional consciousness in physical and psychic forms. Transforming Postsecondary Institutions with Differential Consciousness In The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House, Lorde (1983) related oppositional consciousness to the academic realm: …survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes rivaled, and how to make a common cause with those… other identified as outside the structures, in order to de fine and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. (p. 26-27) Within a postsecondary educational context, student affairs administrators should not only honor the academic skills but also the experiential knowledge of politically savvy womyn of Color leaders. Student affairs administrators can continue to find value in dimensions of difference and pluralism within students, staff, and faculty. Administrators must also recognize that womyn of Color leaders are not responsible for teaching all members of the campus community how to better serve people with non-dominant identities. However, dialogue on difference is not enough to transform the institution of postsecondary education. For


92 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 transformation to occur, perspectives of multiculturalism, feminism, racism, and assimilation to dominant culture in postsecondary education must be reframed. Instead, dialogue on difference, multiculturalism, feminism, racism, and dominance must be “acknowledged and engaged” (Ang, 1995, p. 193) to recognize diverse and multiple identities in the academy. All members of the campus community can continue to distinguish how intersections of identity, power, and privilege affect the multiple ways womyn of Color leaders psychologically and physically navigate political workspaces. Niskode-Dossett, Boney, Bullock, Cochran, & Kao (2011) engaged in a “sisterhood circle” dialogue, or affinity group counterspace, and recommended actions womyn of Color leaders in student affairs administration (and their allies) can pursue to improve race and gender relations in postsecondary education. Several recommendations apply to womyn of Color leaders and colleagues who identify within aspiring ally practices:

• Be an advocate with language and actions; • Shift from a monoracial to a multiracial paradigm; • Be aware of power [dynamics] and labels; • Do your own “personal [identity and social justice] work;” • Do not just bring other womyn of color to the system; challenge it and support mechanisms for oppositional activity; • Use your own power and privilege to advocate with other non-domi- nant identities; • Appearance does not necessarily reflect the whole being of a person; and, finally • Make time to mentor. (Niskode-Dossett et al., 2011, p. 212)

Womyn of Color leaders in student affairs administration and their aspiring allies can utilize U.S. third world feminist ideology and oppositional consciousness to decolonize political workspaces. By being aware of the ways womyn of Color (and other people who work within non-dominant leadership styles) experience the workplace, student affairs administrators can find ways to improve climate through inclusive policy, curriculum, equitable distribution of salary and resources, recruitment practices, and retention efforts. Promoting mentorship, networking, professional development, as well as conducting climate surveys and assessments, are tangible ways for postsecondary institutions to better understand the ways people with non-dominant identities navigate spaces and politics. Mentoring relationships formed between womyn of Color and other leaders with non-dominant identities and dominant identities can be positive in increasing retention and promotion. Improving inclusivity and climate and fostering relationships for womyn of Color leaders in student affairs administration can also help students, faculty, and other community members decolonize dominant practices at postsecondary institutions.


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Conclusion The question, “How does my identity as a womyn of Color leader in student affairs administration affect the way I navigate political spaces?” exists within postsecondary education. Better understanding of the way womyn of Color leaders experience physical and psychological structures in postsecondary education allows student affairs administrators to become more cross-culturally competent, to become more inclusive in practices, and to enhance aspiring ally behavior. By engaging in U.S. third world feminist praxis such as differential consciousness, womyn of Color leaders and aspiring allies can engage in dialogue and institutional transformation to better serve students, staff, and faculty with an array of diverse and complex identities. This literature review serves to supplement existing research and to bridge interdisciplinary perspectives on womyn of Color leaders to student affairs administration. It is my hope that this literature review paves the way for new and innovative research to support people with non-dominant identities and leadership styles in the field of student affairs. Administrators at postsecondary institutions should explore more inclusive practices in order to create positive, empowering experiences for womyn of Color leaders, students, and other members of campus communities.


94 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 References Ang, I. (1995). I’m a feminist but… “other” women and postnational feminism. In R. Lewis & S. Mills (Eds.), Feminist postcolonial theory: A reader (pp. 190-206). New York, NY: Routledge. Anzaldúa, G. (1987). Borderlands/La frontera: The new mestiza. (3rd ed.) San Fran- cisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books. Everyday Democracy (2008). Dialogue for affinity groups. East Hartford, CT: The Paul J. Aicher Foundation. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: The Continuum Publi- cation Company. Lorde, A. (1983). The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. In R. Lewis & S. Mills (Eds.), Feminist Postcolonial Theory: A Reader (pp. 25-28). New York, NY: Routledge. Molinsky, A. (2007). Cross-cultural code-switching: The psychological challeng- es of adapting behavior in foreign interactions. Academy of Management Review, 32(20), 622-640. Muñoz, F. M. (2009). Toward place-consciousness in higher education. (Unpublished Comprehensive Paper). University of Vermont. Burlington, VT. Niskode-Dossett, A., Boney, M., Bullock, L., Cochran, C., & Kao, I. (2011). Sis- ter circles: A dialogue on the intersections of gender, race, and student affairs. In P.A. Pasque & S.E. Nicholson (Eds.), Empowering Women in Higher Education and Student Affairs: Theory, Research, and Practice from Feminist Perspectives (pp. 194-212). Sterling, VA: Stylus. O’Brien, E. (2006). “I could hear you if you would just calm down:” Challeng- ing Eurocentric classroom norms through passionate discussions of racial oppression. In V. Lea & J. Helfand (Eds.), Identifying Race and Transforming Whiteness in the Classroom, 273, (pp. 68-86). New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing Group. Padilla, R.V., & Chavez, R.C. (1995). The leaning ivory tower: Latino professors in American universities. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Richardson, E. (2002). “To protect and serve”: African American female literacies. College Composition and Communication, 53(4), 675- 704. National Council of Teachers of English: http://www.jstor.org/ stable/1512121 Sadao, K. (2003). Living in two worlds: Success and the bicultural faculty of color. The Review of Higher Education, 26(4), 397-418. The Johns Hop- kins University Press: doi:10.1353/rhe.2003.0034 Sandoval, C. (2000). Methodology of the oppressed. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Sandoval, C. (1991). U.S. third world feminism: The theory and method of op positional consciousness in the postmodern world. Genders, 10, 1-24.


Lou • 95 Solórzano, D., Ceja, M., & Yosso, T. (2000). Critical race theory, racial microag- gressions, and campus racial climate: The experiences of African American college students. Journal of Negro Education, 69(1), 60-73. The White House Project (2009). Benchmarking women’s leadership report, Brooklyn, NY: The White House Project. Retrieved from: http:// thewhitehouseproject.org/documents/Report.pdf


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A Fish Out of Water? Unpacking Access and Privilege Through the Lens of International Intersectionality Dirk Jonathan Rodricks Access and privilege, although universally applicable, are not nearly as universally familiar. The author shares his experience as a gay, Catholic, Portuguese-Indian, first-generation Third Culture Kid (TCK) from India and his journey to a higher education and student affairs administration program. First the author recalls his experience of being forced to check a series of boxes upon his arrival to the United States and the inherent assumptions and perceptions that ensued. Next, he shares his process of identity development as an international student and the challenges contained in reconciling those multiple identities within the predominantly White context of access and privilege in the United States. Implications for higher education and student affairs professionals conclude this scholarly personal narrative (SPN) by providing recommendations on how student affairs educators can give greater voice and support for people representing intersecting identities within the TCK context. Internationalization is today’s new buzzword dominating higher education discourse about the future of student enrollment. Economic imperatives force higher education to embrace global initiatives that not only export education through programs like study abroad, but also generate income from overseas students (Jiang, 2008). The renewed focus on growing the number of international students in the United States poses an interesting challenge for its colleges and universities. Given the complexity of international identity abroad and the context of increasing intersecting identities at home, are higher education and student affairs professionals adequately prepared to support international students in the way they need us? I arrived in the United States from India in 2001, shortly before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and over the past decade have had experiences that prompted me to ask my own questions: why do I culturally identify one way, but present as another? Why does that matter? Where do I belong? The past ten years have brought Dirk Jonathan Rodricks is a first-year HESA student. He holds a M.S. in Applied Psychology from Northeastern University and a B.A. in Theatre (Magna Cum Laude) from UVM. Drawing from his own experience of multiple identities, Dirk’s research interests lie in exploring the complex issues of those intersectionalities as they relate to access to and success in higher education. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. and somehow integrate his love for theatre into his pedagogy and research as a future member of the faculty.


Rodricks • 97 more questions and some answers. Pollock and Van Reken (2009) define this phenomenon as a “neither/nor world” and presents the following concept of Third Culture Kids (TCKs). TCKs have been described as people who have spent a significant part of their developmental years in a passport culture outside their home (or host) and move back and forth between the two (Useem, 1993; Langford, 1998; Pollock & Van Reken, 2009; Fail, Thompson, & Walker, 2004; Zilber, 2005). When placed in a third culture, these TCKs or Adult TCKs (ATCKs) “frequently build relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any” (Pollock & Van Reken, 2009, p. 13). This phenomenon is similar to Kramsch’s (1993) concept of “third place identities,” which portrays a more positive view of the international student experience. He proposes that students may feel that their values and practices do not conform to their home culture but find more comfort in occupying a “third place.” The third place lies between the cultural practices of the home culture and the abroad culture in which they find themselves. In such a place, the individuals can develop self-affirming identities unencumbered by the ties and group memberships (e.g. nationality and ethnicity) (Grimshaw & Sears, 2008). Simply put, viewing international students as coming from one culture into another is an outdated view of not only the culture but also identity development. Both have very distinct terms and processes. This SPN will discuss the process of unpacking access and privilege in this third culture, while personally navigating a hybrid form of identity and its implications to student affairs research and practice. My “Mayflower” I am an Adult Third Culture Kid of Indian origin. I have spent my life not being enough for the world in which I was raised or for the world in which I belong to now. I grew up in a cosmopolitan urban metropolis in a country where ethnic identity is not defined exclusively by ancestral heritage or simply by religious affiliation, but a combination of both. This ethno-religious way of life (Laumann, 1969) dictates cultural and identity development for both the home (host) and passport (nationality) cultures respectively. For the majority, the cultural and identity development would be interchangeable where the family structure at home would mirror society at large. However, my home culture was defined by one religion whereby another dominated the national landscape (i.e., passport culture). I was born and raised in a blue-collar, Catholic family where my parents fought hard for the life they had come to make for our family; whereas, Hinduism dominates the Indian subcontinent permeating almost every aspect of society (Flood, 1996). Growing up, life revolved around school, church, and family – we were to live for these three aspects. I remember growing up confused, constantly feeling something was not right, but failed to define what was actually missing. Academically, I was a straight-A student and that pleased my proud parents. The academically rigorous school system would become one escape as I began to use my talents


98 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 to deflect outwardly every day my inner confusion. On the other hand, I overextended myself (albeit successfully) in music and drama where I did incredibly well to the delight of my family and friends. I represented the local parish at the city and state competitions, seizing every opportunity. In doing so, I suffered from a victim mentality. Braiker (2004) describes a self-image of victimization as a “pervasive sense of helplessness, passivity, loss of control, pessimism, negative thinking, and strong feelings of guilt, shame, self-blame, and depression leading to hopelessness and despair” (p. 2). Pollock and Van Reken (2001) further explain victim mentality as a limiting delusion of choice where “an option to act is offered, but circumstance arbitrarily eliminates that choice” (p. 107). I knew what I needed to do, but my predicament made it difficult to make the right choices and decisions. My success itself became fodder for the bullies at school and in the neighborhood. Upper-class students ragged me repeatedly: “Pansy!” “Nerd!” “Geek!” “Fag!” Their taunting baffled me. I knew I was raised differently, but was my success a direct product of my turmoil? Was my deviance from the heteronormative master narrative substantially visible and significant? To exacerbate my state of confusion about who I was, at age 17 I lost the one person who taught me almost everything I knew as my values system: my mother. Her passing introduced me to loneliness for the first time in my life. I firmly believed that all my potential opportunity ‘died’ with her, yet another delusion of choice. I expended my energies on ensuring that my family (particularly my younger sister) was coping well, but I did little work to pull myself out of loneliness. I would go to bed at night recreating each day as if she were in it, and I would wake up each morning feeling lonely and stuck on auto-repeat—this was my coping mechanism. This pattern continued for a year. By age 19, I was suffocating because I had no idea who I was. I was angry and disillusioned with my Catholic faith. My loneliness had disconnected me emotionally from the rest of my family. I was angry with my father for being in a constant state of mourning. I resented my siblings for being similar in personality to the bullies I had encountered at school. I invested in superficial relationships over anything deep just to blend in—a coping mechanism for self-preservation. I needed to get out. I was an “it is what it is” person (Nash & Murray, 2010) tacitly accepting life on society’s terms. Upon turning 20, I realized that it did not have to be that way. “It is what we name it to be; it is who we are and what we believe and perceive” (Nash & Murray, 2010, p. 41). No singular event was responsible for this change. As I reflect back, it was more out of desperation. I could either succumb, or do something. I chose to do something. Leveraging the years of family pride I had banked for outstanding performance inside and outside of the classroom, I tentatively gained my father’s support to pursue studies abroad. By the end of that year, I packed my bags, said my goodbyes, and moved to a different country in five days. This was my “Mayflower” and my chance at that American dream.


Rodricks • 99 Access, and Privilege, and Survival, Oh My! When I arrived in Boston, it quickly became apparent that I culturally identified one way and presented another. The new/transfer student orientation program seemed to speak to everyone else but me. I was “othered” instantly, a term coined in the context of post-colonial critique by Gayatri Spivak (1985). Spivak, an Indian literary critic and theorist, described it as “a process by which the dominant culture can define itself against those it colonizes, excludes and marginalizes […] the business of creating the enemy...in order that the empire might define itself by its geographical and racial others” (as cited in Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin, 2000, p. 156). Over the course of the next 18 months, I began to understand that post-9/11, the United States would become a highly sensitized and hyperaware society. September 12th, 2001 would be the first day I discovered that I was actually a color, specifically brown, and that it mattered. I would learn that gradation in shade mattered, that lighter is Whiter, and each choice made irrespective of self-identification could be perceived in a manner beyond control (Patel, 2009). In my journey to better understand the concepts of access and privilege, it was clear that I would need to unpack and confront them myself. The process would become a struggle that would continue for a decade. Two stark examples come to mind as I reflect on being compelled to reconcile the perceptions of others with my own perceptions of myself. I remember vividly (before 9/11), when I walked to an Indian-owned convenience store with an Indian friend of mine. I presented with lighter skin than he did. Upon entering the store, I was enthusiastically greeted in Spanish (“Hola!”) complete with eye contact and a head acknowledgement by the owner behind the cash register. Having finished our shopping, we proceeded to check out. While at the counter, my friend was ignored and I began to get served first…in Spanish. I gestured to have the owner finish with my friend, which he ignored. Having deciphered a side conversation while shopping, my instinctual reaction resulted in me speaking to the man in Hindi. After the brief shock registered, I was offered an apology that was in fact owed to my friend who was embarrassed by the entire turn of events. Furious for my friend, we left the store without our groceries. About nine months after 9/11, I was at airport security returning from a national conference in Albuquerque, NM. The middle-aged White male at the ID checkpoint threw my passport back at me with absolute disdain, “Where is your American passport? I want to see that, and not this!” Hyper-aware that I presented as a Person of Color, I nervously tried to explain that I was not an American citizen and therefore was not in possession of an American passport, and that this was all I had. I remember the fear of impact from that disclosure while desperately wanting to be American on that day. I felt American: culturally, it was the closest thing I had experienced to the almost 20 years of my home culture. The confu-


100 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 sion at his question and my response represents the cultural dissonance often experienced by TCKs and international students (Pederson, 1995). Growing up in India, to be American was to be White. If I walked like a duck and quacked like a duck, was I a…? I am not White but I did become an angry Third Culture Kid stuck in limbo – not White enough to be American, not dark enough to be Indian. I spent the next few years “white-washing” myself: trying to blend in while abandoning everything about my home and passport cultures in favor of this new found ‘comfort’ third culture. I spoke only English, had only White friends, shopped at the White stores, and dated only Whites (Pyke & Dang, 2003, p. 156). Victor Frankl (1997) describes this in three stages. First, the period of depersonalization/readjustment, second, the period of deformation (anger), and finally, the period of disillusionment/bitterness. As I reflect, I realize that I was oscillating between those three stages, triggered each time by an event or circumstance. I was getting by, but entrapped, and barely holding on for survival. From Entrapment to Empowerment As I encountered more experiences and was guided by mentors who cared about my acculturation, I began to understand the language of difference. The lack of a vocabulary to frame my experiences and my responses (or lack thereof) was a stumbling block. The academic and co-curricular contexts at two private institutions of higher education, both with large international student populations, failed to meet my need. Fueled by these nagging questions of who I am, I naturally turned to my home culture for answers. Access and privilege may be universally applicable, but they are not universally familiar. Such was the case when I began to ask my father to weigh in on race and ethnicity so I could unpack my own access and privilege. It was clear that he could not fathom the reasoning for engaging in this kind of dialogue. On my own, I began to research as much as I could about my family, our history, and our origins as far back as I could. I discovered that I am (as far as basic name records go) eighth generation Mangalorean Catholic (an ethnoreligious group) that has origins in both the Portuguese (Goan) and the Pancha Gauda Saraswat Brahmin lineage (Prabhu, 1999). The research revealed more questions than answers: why was I given a DutchGermanic name rather than an Indian one? How and why was English my first language? Why were Portuguese and Konkani (an ethnic dialect), which my parents spoke, ignored? Why focus on education, especially the arts—learning the piano at the age of six and taking speech and drama extracurricular classes? As I engaged in deeper understanding of race and culture in the United States, and met people like myself, the answers soon became apparent. It was my parents’ decision to focus on social class upliftment as they embraced the culture that would provide a better means to the end. It meant persevering with the home culture against the passport culture, and hoping that at some point a third culture would emerge with


Rodricks • 101 success and achievement attained. I realized that each intentional decision made by my parents to raise me as a TCK afforded me privilege and provided me with access to opportunity that I would never have otherwise received. Today, I identify as a bi-racial, bi-cultural, bi-ethnic proud ATCK and I am aware of my privilege that my informed understanding of that status affords me. I realize that I do not need to make apologies for who I am and how I was raised. Implications for Educators One size does not fit all: ATCKs have very different experiences, making it critical to develop support services strategically. According to Hill Useem and Baker Cotrell (1993), the average ATCK transfers colleges twice during an academic career, takes longer to complete a degree, or drops out to pursue other opportunities. While ATCKs are more likely to be multilingual, mature, and hold a broader multicultural worldview than their domestic counterparts, they may be less apt to engage their peers effectively (Shames, 1997; Kohls, 2001). Like many ATCKs, I needed support in creating a positive self-image and developing a sense of connection (Harrell, 1986). This is the essence of student development, and educators are therefore well-positioned to help provide this support. If it were not for my student affairs mentors, who realized I had a narrative distinct from other international students and encouraged me to be an involved student leader, I would have failed to develop a sense of belonging and quit within six months. One recommendation for student affairs practice informed by my experience is to start at the point of application for admission. According to McCaig (1991), many individuals are unaware that they may fit the profile of an ATCK, but are able to identify with the feelings and challenges associated with the experience. Training admissions staff to recognize indicators in applications could be beneficial (Stultz, 2003). Admitted students should have year-round access to peer mentoring and academic advising to facilitate transition issues. Other support structures include encouraging student organization involvement, curriculum reflecting global perspectives, and programs focused on cultural identity development (Pollock 1996; Schaetti, 1996). Institutions can benefit through word-of-mouth recruitment and retention of this high-risk group by providing choices appropriate to their experience (Hill Useem & Baker Cotrell, 1993). Ultimately, visibility is key. Increasing awareness will allow educators to better understand and be better understood by ATCKs. As educators become more familiar with the ATCK experience, the campus will likely begin to show respect for a different kind of diversity (Stultz, 2003). Research on this subject is still limited as it relates to access to and success in higher education. Educators need to learn with ATCKs rather than about them. Educators can encourage and foster


102 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 environments that educate, engage, and empower this unique student population. As I prepare to be one such educator, I am cognizant of what might have been had I never received these support services. I am heartened by the fact that my own personal narrative will enable me (and others) to open more doors and provide greater voice to TCK experiences.


Rodricks • 103 References Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., & Tiffin, H. (2000). Post-colonial studies: The key concepts. New York, NY: Routledge. Braiker, H. B. (2004). Who’s pulling your strings ? How to break the cycle of manipula- tion. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Fail, H., Thompson, J. & Walker G. (2004). Belonging, identity and third culture kids: Life histories of former international school students. Journal of Research in International Education, 3(3), 319–338. Flood, G. D. (1996). An introduction to Hinduism. London, England: Cambridge University Press. Frankl, V. (1997). Man’s search for meaning. (I. Lasch,Trans.). Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Grimshaw, T. & Sears, C. (2008). Where am I from? Where do I belong?: The negotiation and maintenance of identity by international school stu- dents, Journal of Research in International Education, 7(3), 259-278. Harrell, B. (1986). Practical guidelines in the positive adjustment of missionary children. In C.N. Austin. (Ed.). Cross cultural reentry: A book of readings (pp. 191-201). Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press. Hill Useem, R., & Baker Cotrell, A. (1993). TCKs four times more likely to earn bachelor’s degrees. Newslinks. v. xii (May), n. 5. Institute of International Education. (2010). “International Student Enroll - ment Trends, 1949/50-2009/10.” Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors Jiang, X. (2008). Towards the internationalisation of higher education from a critical perspective. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 32(4), 347- 358. Kohls, L. R.. (2001). Survival Kit for Overseas Living, (4th ed.). Yarmouth, ME: Nicholas Brealey Publishing/Intercultural Press. Kramsch, C. (1993). Context and culture in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford Uni- versity Press. Langford, M. (1998). Global nomads, third culture kids and international schools. In M. Hayden & J. Thompson (Eds.), International education: Principles and practice, pp. 28–43. London, England: Kogan Page. Laumann, E. O. (1969). The social structure of religious and ethnoreligious groups in a metropolitan community. American Sociological Review, 34(2), 182-197. McCaig, N. (1991). Birth of a notion. Global Nomad Quarterly (Premiere Issue). Nash, R. J., & Murray, M. (2010). Helping college students find purpose: The campus guide to meaning-making. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Patel, T. G. (2009). Mixed-up kids: Race, identity, and social order. Ann Arbor, MI: Russell House.


104 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 Pederson, P. (1995). The five stages of culture shock: Critical incidents around the world. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Pollock, D. C. (1996). Where will I build my nest? The multicultural third cul- ture kid. In C. Smith (Ed.), Strangers at home: Essays on the effects of living overseas and coming “home” to a strange land (pp. 202-219). Bayside, NY: Aletheia Publications. Pollock, D. C., & Van, R. R. E. (2009). Third culture kids: Growing up among worlds. Boston, MA: Nicholas Brealey Pub. Prabhu, A. M. (1999). Sarasvati’s Children: A History of the Mangalorean Christians. Bangalore, India: I.J.A. Publications. Pyke, K. & Dang, T. (2003). “FOB” and “Whitewashed”: Identity and internal- ized racism among second generation Asian Americans, Qualitative Sociology, 26(2), 147-172. Schaetti, B. (1996). Phoenix rising: A question of cultural identity. In C. Smith, (Ed.). Strangers at home: Essays on the effects of living overseas and coming “home” to a strange land, pp. 177-188. Bayside, NY: Aletheia Publica- tions. Shames, G. W. (1997). Transcultural odysseys: The evolving global consciousness. Yar- mouth, ME: Intercultural Press. Spivak, G. (1985, Winter/Spring). Can the subaltern speak? Speculations on widow-sacrifice. Wedge, 7(8), 120-130. Stultz, W. (2003). Global and domestic nomads or third culture kids: Who they are and what the university needs to know. Journal of Student Affairs, 12. Retrieved from http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/ SAHE/JOURNAL2/2003/Stultz.htm Tizard, B. (2002). Black, white or mixed race?: Race and racism in the lives of young people of mixed parentage. New York, NY: Routledge. Useem, R. H. (1993). Third culture kids: focus of major study. Newslinks, 12(3), 1–29. Zilber, E. (2005). International school educators and their students: implica- tions for educator-parents, colleagues and schools. Journal of Research in International Education, 4(1), 5–22.


stephenson • 105

Listening to Their Voices: Career Development for Nontraditional Students  

mae stephenson Nontraditional students are a burgeoning population on American college campuses. However, many current support systems were developed with only the needs of traditional students in mind. As career-related factors often serve as an impetus for adults to return to the academy, it is vital for career services professionals to proactively develop and adapt relevant services for these students. The author provides an overview of career services, nontraditional student experiences, and the differences traditional and nontraditional students have in their career development processes. Additionally, suggestions are made for new and more relevant research as well as ways career centers can begin to address nontraditional student needs now.

As time progresses, people with increasingly diverse identities are forging the path to college. Among these diversities is life experience: while the traditional student is understood to be heading to college straight from high school, many students are now taking a break in their education. Some scholars are beginning to see these nontraditional students as “now-traditional” (Kennen & Lopez, 2005). As shifts occur in student populations, it is vital for student affairs professionals to keep up with the changes by providing relevant services to students. Career centers are among these student services, and more research is needed to determine how they can better support nontraditional students. This article will begin with an overview of career counseling and of nontraditional students, discuss the burgeoning research involving both topics, and conclude with suggestions for further areas to study as well as immediate ways career centers can better support nontraditional student needs. Career Counseling: An Overview

If one asks a group of one hundred people the simple question, “Who are you?” approximately 95 percent will respond in terms of what they do for a living. They will say, ‘I’m a teacher,’ ‘I’m a secre-

mae stephenson is a second-year HESA student who earned her B.S. in Women’s Studies at Portland State and her A.A. at Seattle Central Community College. Her commitment to supporting nontraditional, first-generation, and working class college students as they navigate higher education brought her into the field of student affairs. Her passion for social justice and centering non-dominant identity experiences at both the individual and structural levels is a driving force in her work.


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tary,’ ‘I’m an engineer,’ or ‘I’m a....’ In other words, most people define who they are in terms of their occupations. As Super has put it, “The choice of a career is the implementation of a self-concept.” (Rayman, 1993, p. 10)

Many people define the “self ” by what they do. Even small children have lofty dreams of what they will be when they grow up. Career development starts at a young age and remains an integral part of a person’s identity for much of hir1 life. Figuring out a career path that represents a person, aligns with hir values, and suits hir skills takes a lot of exploration and preparation. In essence, career counselors work with current students and graduates through these processes; however, the inner-workings of career centers vary between institutions. Some career centers focus their energies on job placement, while many others emphasize a more holistic approach to career development. Over time, the central task and guiding philosophies of career centers have evolved. Currently, common tasks include reviewing resumes and graduate school applications, strategizing with students about how to approach a job search, hosting mock interviews, discussing career options and majors, keeping a database of jobs and internships, and helping students answer the question, “What do I do after graduation?” Career centers perform these tasks in a variety of ways, including drop-in appointments, one-on-one counseling, phone appointments, group workshops, and online resources. These services have all been influenced by foundational theory and the changing landscape of the job market. Jeffrey Traiger (2006) described three generations of career development. The first generation is represented by Frank Parsons’s 1909 trait-factor theory and postulated a matching process between fixed traits an individual possesses and the requirements of a job. The second generation expanded on trait-factor theory with John Holland’s theory of career development, which introduced six personality types and six corresponding environment types. According to Holland, individuals are drawn to the environment to which their personality is most similar. He suggested that “career choice [is] an expression of identity development” (Traiger, 2006, p. 11). Traiger’s (2006) third generation was defined as a postmodern approach, beginning around the 1990s, that recognized personal milestones in career development that connect an individual’s own meaning-making; it also recognized other life roles an individual may hold in addition to that of worker. The three generations loosely coincide with shifting norms in career development and make a pendulum swing from the emphasis on the job to the 1 This author has chosen to use the gender-neutral pronouns ze (he/she) and hir (his/her) in order to be inclusive of those who identify outside of the gender binary.


stephenson • 107 individual. In the first generation of theory, individual satisfaction came second to performance, and people often stayed within one organization throughout their career (Traiger, 2006). By the early 1990s, it was common to “hold from five to fifteen different jobs” (Rayman, 1993, p. 10) over a lifetime, and career theory had become more person-centered and open to a course of development instead of a one-time decision. Donald Super’s work also represents this shift. A key career development theorist, Super synthesized existing career theories into a segmented Life-Span Life-Space theory, which he continually updated and expanded over forty years (Salomone, 1996). Part of his theory involved a series of life stages in relation to career development: growth, exploration, establishment, maintenance and decline. Each stage has a corresponding age range. However, in the early 1980s, he updated his theory to include the concept of recycling, which represented minicycles of the stages that happen during times of transition (such as beginning a new job, changing careers, or becoming a parent), thus making his theory more inclusive of a variety of life experiences (Salomone, 1996). In addition to theory, the work of career services has been shaped by the economy and resulting job markets. The economic downturn of the 1990s resulted in recent college graduates competing for jobs with highly experienced, recently laid-off professionals (Rayman, 1993). Career centers that had successfully focused on job placement experienced less demand from employers looking to interview and recruit on campus, while demand for career planning and counseling services began to increase. As multiple external influences alter the terrain of career development, both theorists and professionals must continue to reassess and adapt in order to meet the changing needs of individuals. Nontraditional Students: An Overview As career centers consider ways to remain relevant to students, there is a rapidly increasing student population to contemplate. While the exact numbers may be conflicting, nontraditional students are becoming more prevalent. Chao and Good (2004) found over 40% of U.S. undergraduates to be nontraditional students; however, other sources claim that only 27% of college students today could be considered traditional (Kennen & Lopez, 2005; Larkin, LaPort, & Pines, 2007). This discrepancy could be a result of differences in definition: generally, nontraditional students are defined as individuals who are 25 years or older (Chao & Good 2004; Luzzo, 1993; Quimby & O’Brien, 2004). Larkin et al. (2007) defined a traditional student as one “who earns a high school diploma, enrolls full time immediately after finishing high school, depends on parents for


108 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 financial support, and works, at most, ‘part time’” (p. 87). Career counselors must also consider other aspects of students’ complex identities. A student might be a Person of Color, the first person in hir family to attend college, a parent or caretaker, a full- or part-time employee, working-class, queer, a person with a disability, a military veteran, or identify anywhere along the gender spectrum. All of these identities, roles, and skills, as well as others gone unmentioned, interact uniquely in each student’s life and may present challenges or opportunities as the student navigates hir way into and through college. What this might mean for a nontraditional student returning to the academy will vary, but some scholars have contributed research on the topic. Carol Kasworm (2010) found that adult students entered college with “anxiety” and “self-consciousness,” (p. 145) and experienced “a sense of otherness” (p. 150) due to the youth-oriented campus culture. However, more “seasoned” returning students “believed they could use their adult honed skills to negotiate their needs and gain acceptance” (p. 150). While the students in Kasworm’s study did see their status as a “potential disadvantage,” they did not understand their “age and life responsibilities [to be] obstacles” (p. 152). In fact, returning to school was a confidence booster for many involved in the study. In an interview with Ronald Chesbrough, David Bergh discussed finding similar results about nontraditional college students and encouraged educators to “[turn] deficiency thinking upside down” (Chesbrough, 2010, p. 8). Bergh found that students developed skills and strengths through overcoming the adversity of the past. Similar to the adult students in Kasworm’s study, the participants thought of their experiences as positive “assets that they regularly leveraged” (Chesbrough, 2010, p. 8). Bergh asserted that professionals must not view the experiences of nontraditional students as a deficiency because this thinking affects the way they provide services. Professionals can better serve students by validating their experiences and by exposing ways they can use those experiences to their benefit. Still, returning to college is a costly sacrifice (Kennen & Lopez, 2005). To complicate matters, many faculty members and administrators have little understanding of the working college student (Perna, 2010), and many nontraditional students do not have the luxury or desire to study without working. According to Laura Perna (2010), most faculty members believe students should work no more than “ten to fifteen hours per week, on campus” (p. 30) and that working can be an additional distraction from their academic priorities. This contradicts the idea that work is a meaningful learning experience that can provide students with tools applicable to success in the classroom. Perna (2010) challenges fac-


stephenson • 109 ulty and administrators to reconsider the idea that work undermines education and consider it as “promoting student learning” (p. 31). More understanding from faculty and administrators could increase a sense of belonging and provide opportunity for better support. Intersections: Research on the Career Development of Nontraditional Students Career counselors are in a unique position to support nontraditional students because career goals are central to nontraditional students’ decisions to return to school (Chao & Good, 2004; Luzzo, 1993, 2000; Quimby & O’Brien, 2004). Darrel Luzzo (2000) found that economic factors are often impetus for adults to pursue higher education. Chao and Good (2004) found nontraditional students returning because “they felt stuck with their current jobs,” because they wanted “to change career goals via college education,” or because of “life transitions... [which] force them to change to different jobs” (p. 9). Clearly, there is an important relationship between the work of career counselors and nontraditional students. Most career services offices were originally developed for traditionally-aged college students, and research shows that while there are similarities between traditional and nontraditional student career development needs, there are also major differences. For example, there seems to be no clear relationship between a student’s age and “CDM [career decision-making] attitudes [or] CDM skills” (Luzzo, 1993, p. 114). However, nontraditional students often have a clearer idea of, and commitment to, their career choice, and they are also more likely to name “substantial numbers of barriers to reaching their chosen occupational goal (e.g., economic barriers, multiple-role conflict)” (Luzzo, 2000, p. 195). Luzzo (1993) also found higher levels of apprehension, uneasiness, and anxiety around career development issues. Career counselors could be supportive by focusing on confidence building and addressing real barriers faced by nontraditional students. They could also emphasize skills the student has already developed and how those skills might be transferrable to current career-related dilemmas. Another common theme in the study of nontraditional students’ career development is Bandura’s (1977) theory of self-efficacy. Quimby and O’Brien (2004), who conducted a study on career decision-making self-efficacy among nontraditional college women, described it as “the belief in one’s ability to successfully perform a specific task” and further explained that it “has been linked to initiation of behaviors, persistence despite obstacles, and successful performance,” with low levels of career self-efficacy relating to “career indecisiveness, an external career locus of control, and problems with career exploration” (p. 324).


110 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 Their study found that nontraditional college women had very high levels of confidence in both managing student responsibilities and career-related endeavors. However, participants did face career-related barriers, and those most likely to influence their self-efficacy were “multiple role conflict, discouragement from choosing nontraditional careers, and conflict between children and career demands” (Quimby & O’Brien, 2004, p. 335). Examples of multiple roles might be employee, mother, and student. They specifically named childcare issues as a major concern, demonstrating a need for better childcare options for student parents (Quimby and O’Brien, 2004). Barbara Fultz (1993) found that career counseling workshops could positively influence nontraditional students’ career self-efficacy, indicating the significance of “brief counseling interventions” for returning adult students (p. 44). Quimby and O’Brien (2004) determined that relationships in which there were shared interests, experiences, and pursuits were a source of support for nontraditional college women. This could indicate why the workshops in Fultz’s study were successful, but further research would be necessary to state that relationship more confidently. Nontraditional students also draw support from themselves. Larkin et al. (2007) found returning adult students to be more self-motivated than traditional college seniors. This corresponds with the notion that nontraditional students see their previous life experiences as advantageous rather than as a barrier and that those experiences have provided them with tools to be successful. Jeffrey Traiger (2006) studied the differences between nontraditional students who saw their primary role as an employee (which he termed as Employees Who Study [EWS]) and those who saw their primary role as a student (Students Who Work [SWW]). He found EWS supports to be more similar to those of nontraditional students (e.g. already existing relationships outside of school), and SWW supports more akin to traditional students (e.g. a need for new relationships from which to draw support). This is an example of the variations that exist within nontraditional student experiences. Other sources of support include a balance of enjoyable activities and work or school duties (Traiger, 2006), verbal recognition of nontraditional college women’s competencies (Quimby & O’Brien, 2004), and a core sense of hopefulness that influenced other areas including actions, perceptions, and motivation (Chao & Good, 2004). Again, these sources may vary between and within traditional and nontraditional students. While similarities exist between the two groups, there are substantial differences that must be taken into consideration in order to provide relevant services to returning adult students.


stephenson • 111 Recommendations for Further Research In addition to these findings, further research is needed. One area would be additional exploration of how nontraditional and traditional students vary and compare in career development needs. Another would be potential differences that might exist for nontraditional students who attend institutions with predominantly traditional students versus those who attend institutions with predominantly nontraditional students. Luzzo (2000) called for experimental research by career counselors to determine the effectiveness of traditional methods with nontraditional students. Finally, research exploring the effects of intersecting marginalized identities would promote a better understanding of students and how career counselors could provide more relevant services for all. Recommendations for Practice While there may be an unknown number of possibilities for further research, a multitude of recommendations for practice are already within reach. It is important to recognize that limited resources are available to many career services offices. While this may influence the types of support offered to nontraditional students, this should not hinder specialized support altogether. It is also important to find innovative ways to meet students’ needs while still allowing for personalized, one-on-one services. Some concerns of particular relevance to nontraditional students include: time constraints that might occur with multiple roles; limited awareness of available services, as most returning students do not live on campus and may attend parttime or participate in distance learning opportunities, providing fewer opportunities for exposure; and anxiety related to campus and cultural norms regarding student age. With these notions in mind, here are recommendations for more inclusive practices: • Online resume review and editing by career counselors; • Phone and online instant messaging options for drop-in or full- length counseling appointments; • A comfortable, quiet, and child-friendly place to research jobs and work on resumes between work or class and an appointment; • More accessible hours, including evenings and weekends; • Close proximity to other resources (while moving an entire office may not be possible, a career counselor could host a drop-in table in the student center); • Targeted outreach to nontraditional students to inform them of the resources available; • Partnerships with campus faculty who may have more contact with


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nontraditional students; • Workshops and networking events specifically for nontraditional stu- dents with detailed information relevant to their career development concerns; and • Strategies for increasing confidence related to career development (e.g., discuss transferrable skills learned in previous life experiences).

It would also be beneficial to consult practitioners working with nontraditional students on a regular basis, although it is important to keep in mind that different campuses may produce different concerns. Golden Gate University is a college campus with an average student age of 34 (“Best Practices,” 2010). Leah Antignas, director of career planning at the time of publishing, recommended being very particular about strategies and tools to use when working with nontraditional students, as most of them were developed with younger students in mind. Antignas also recommended collaborating with faculty. “Best Practices” (2010) divided students into three categories: career advancers, career changers, and career launchers. If career services offices offered specialized support for each of these three areas, students could self-select the best category regardless of their age, and all students could receive the most relevant support to their individual experiences. Summary More and more students are returning to the academy after a break in their education, and they are largely returning to advance or restart their careers. Traditional and nontraditional students have different career development needs, and most strategies and resources were developed for traditionally-aged students. Further, nontraditional students have differing needs based on their unique experiences, as well as their intersecting identities and multiple life roles. Foundational career theories can be fluid and adaptable based on new developments in the job market and employment norms. Career services providers should update current processes in order to better support this growing student population. While there are options for improving those strategies now, more research is necessary for colleges and universities to provide the most relevant services possible for every student who attends.


stephenson • 113 References Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review 84(2), 191-215. Best practices: Career services for nontraditional students at a nontraditional school. (2010, April 14). Spotlight Online for Career Services Profession- als. Retrieved from http://www.naceweb.org/Publications/Spotlight_ Online/2010/0414/Best_Practices__Career_Services_for_Nontradi tional_Students_at_a_Nontraditional_School.aspx Chao, R., & Good, G. (2004). Nontraditional students’ perspectives on college education: A qualitative study. Journal of College Counseling, 7, 5-12. Chesbrough, R. (2010). Turning deficiency thinking on its head. Student Affairs Leader, 38, 8-4. Fultz, B. (1993). The effect of a career counseling workshop on the career self-efficacy of non-traditional college students. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Clem- son University, Clemson, South Carolina. Kasworm, C. (2010). Adult learners in a research university: Negotiating undergraduate student identity. Adult Education Quarterly, 60(2), 143- 160. doi: 10.1177/0741713609336110 Kennen, E., & Lopez, E. (2005). Finding alternate degree paths for non-tradi- tional, NOW-traditional students. The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Educa- tion, 70(8), 31-35. Larkin, J., LaPort, K., & Pines, H. (2007). Job choice and career relevance for today’s college students. Journal of Employment Counseling, 44, 86-94. Luzzo, D. (1993). Career decision-making differences between traditional and non-traditional college students. Journal of Career Development, 20(2), 113-120. Luzzo, D. (2000). Career development of returning-adult and graduate students. In D. Luzzo (Ed.), Career counseling of college students: An empirical guide to strategies that work (pp. 191-200). Washington, DC: American Psycho- logical Association. Perna, L. (2010). Understanding the working college student. Academe, 96(4), 30-33. Quimby, J., & O’Brien, K. (2004). Predictors of student and career decision- making self-efficacy among nontraditional college women. The Career Development Quarterly, 52, 323-339. Rayman, J. (1993). Contemporary career services: Theory defines practice. New Directions for Student Services, 62, 3-22. doi: 10.1002/ss.37119936203 Salomone, P. (1996). Tracing Super’s theory of vocational development: A 40 year retrospective. Journal of Career Development, 22, 167-184. Traiger, J. (2006). Working nontraditional adult undergraduate students’ development of career identity and life satisfaction: A qualitative examination. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri.


114 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33

V REFLECTIONS

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As members of the UVM HESA community, past and present, we acknowledge the value in listening to one another’s stories. To commemorate the 32nd anniversary of The Vermont Connection, authors were invited to reflect on meaning-making and lessons learned from higher education and student affairs, the HESA program, and the community that unites us. We hope that you will enjoy these reflections as they chronicle the continuing journeys through HESA’s past, present, and future.


Gardner • 115

Beyond Access to Success Pamela K. Gardner Reflection is a cornerstone to developing ethical, effective, learning-focused professionals, and a favorite topic of mine. Being invited to share my thoughts in The Vermont Connection is a real honor. Because this year’s theme is about access, this essay focuses on transforming students’ experiences by normalizing not knowing and the ways power and privilege can play out in students’ transitions out of college. Yesterday I worked with a group of first-semester students with identities or histories that have been correlated with dropping out of college. They are all enrolled in a course that strengthens study skills, critical thinking, listening, decision-making, resilience, and career and multicultural competence. Often we think of educational access as the chance to enter the academy. These students had passed that milestone and sat before me with varying degrees of earnest optimism and trepidation, either because or in spite of their circumstances. Having arrived at my own undergraduate institution from a large lower-income Latino family, with parents who hadn’t attended college, and from a state ranked 49th in education, I felt some kinship with these students. By age 18 I was already aware that the odds were against someone like me, but I never doubted that I would graduate from college. My early education gave me some reason to believe I could, but like many first-generation or low-income students, my post-baccalaureate vision was long on dreams and short on strategies. Career choice just seemed like magic to me. Though I had a history of academic success, college was a shock. Surrounded by people who had been leaders and academic all-stars, I felt dwarfed. While my classmates found our introductory science course remedial, I studied relentlessly to keep pace with the rapid-fire presentation of new material. I was convinced I was the only student who had never heard of Friedrich Nietzsche or Samuel Johnson. Everyone seemed to know more than I did. Pamela K. Gardner earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina, and both her master’s and doctoral degrees--in Student Affairs and Leadership, respectively--from the University of Vermont. She currently serves as UVM’s Director of Career Services where she supports students as they imagine, explore and pursue the best work for them. Passionate about improvement and growth, her interests include using narratives in career counseling and professional development, removing barriers for students’ marginalized identities, engaging with her partner and children, and living with gratitude and joy.


116 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 Enrolling as “undecided,” I was sent to the Center for Undeclared Majors. Each semester the same kind and optimistic faculty member would ask if I’d decided on a major. When I hadn’t, he would give me the same assignment. “Go,” he would say, “and talk to the chairs of interesting departments.” Each semester I’d ask if it was really okay to do that. Each time he’d say, “Of course!” and send me on my way. Honestly, I had no clue how to proceed. Would I call up and say, “Hi, I’m undecided but I might want this major?” Then what? Crickets? I pictured myself slack-jawed and tongue-tied, instantly revealing that I was clueless and really didn’t belong. Though I tended to be compulsive about following instructions, I never completed this assignment. Each semester I’d show up, guilty and scared, waiting to be discovered. Not once did this advisor remember us having this exact conversation before. After four semesters of this, he had me choose among the three disciplines wherein I’d racked up the most credits. Even then I declared double majors because I couldn’t decide between my two favorites. The fact is that I lacked confidence and what Pierre Bourdieu calls “cultural capital”—assets like cultural knowledge and habits of speech that provide entre into professional settings (Swartz, 1991). I simply didn’t know how college worked. What felt natural for my advisor seemed insurmountable to me. Not once did he ask whether I could picture myself making the calls or suggest questions I might pose in those meetings. He never asked what classes I was enjoying or suggested I read each major’s course descriptions and note my interests. Though I didn’t realize it then, this caring man’s unwillingness to address my indecisiveness only served to further undermine my confidence. By assuming I understood the way things worked, or that I could just decide, he reinforced my fear that I was an imposter. His silence told me that not knowing was to be hidden, and by implication, was shameful. Shame brought on paralyzing fear that kept me from seeking expert advice. I faked it, following my gut or relying on peers. Luckily, I stumbled into great majors, became involved, met student leaders, and eventually learned about navigating college. Through campus leadership, I found belonging and regained my joy at being in an educational setting. It is no accident that I became interested in student affairs, as it is why I succeeded. With lots of mentoring, openness, and encouragement, I transitioned relatively easily into my life’s work as a career counselor. So what does all of this have to do with last night’s class? The course’s text covered the major and career clarification process so thoroughly that I found


Gardner • 117 it intimidating. My intent as I walked into class was to normalize the feelings people experience as they choose majors and implement career ideas. At the instructor’s request, I told a bit of my story. We then asked students to assemble according to how decided or undecided they were about majors, and then careers. In these human continuums, they did the teaching. They shared how they had arrived in this state of decision or indecision, reflected on parallels in each other’s stories, discussed how their classmates had attained more clarity (active exploration, reflection, more exploration), and identified what had made them change their minds. They noted that realizing you dislike something is information. Knowing why makes that information useful and applicable in other situations. Perhaps more importantly, they realized that while it’s okay to be undecided, you can’t live there. To decide, one must explore internal and external territory, and reflect on how new information changes perspectives and provides focus. Yes, it’s great to set your sights on a goal and pursue it doggedly, but not to ignore information that could affect your capacity to manifest that goal. They were amazing. By 9:00 this morning three students had emailed me. They talked about what a relief it was to know that they weren’t alone, that others struggled, and that they could see a way through the mire. Each planned to take some independent action and/or connect with mentors, advisors, or the staff of our career center. These messages made me consider how much more we must do. Making decisions about majors, exploring career ideas, and setting goals all require self-awareness and some knowledge of the work world, in addition to skills in analysis, reflection, and decision-making. They require what we used to call maturity — a sense of agency and personal responsibility. All of these developmental tasks are familiar to student affairs professionals. We acknowledge the additional social/cultural, campus, and home-related stresses faced by traditionally underrepresented students. What we sometimes overlook are the huge hurdles related to implementing career decisions. The students in that class were only beginning their journey. There are many obstacles ahead. Lower income students frequently work while taking classes, often at jobs they held in high school — grocery stockers and cashiers, lifeguards, retail clerks, and the like — without regard to career interest. Few can afford the unpaid internships so often required to credential oneself in a career. Internships offer access and the opportunity to build cultural capital. They are immersive opportunities where students build skills, experiment with cultural fit, and learn the structures and jargon of their fields. They develop contacts, job-related


118 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 skills, and understand field-based concepts. All of these factors contribute to higher degrees of confidence, competence, and credentials needed to become a professional. Job searching is highly ritualized, demanding context-dependent written, verbal, and non-verbal communication skills. Much of this information is race or class-based, gender-normed, defined by narrow boundaries of ability, and fraught with assumptions and “-isms.” It is coded in ways that, much like choosing a major was for me, are a mystery to students like those in my class. The amount of detail that must be absorbed and fluidly accessed to become a successful job candidate, especially in 2011’s employment market, is staggering. Student affairs professionals can do something about these problems. We can advocate for courses like the one I visited, integrate career and personal development into our student leader training, and teach networking and etiquette in our programming. Work-study jobs can become internship-quality opportunities, and we can encourage supervisors to become mentors, teaching students the norms, language, and skills that will increase their access to opportunity. We can advocate for funding unpaid internships and recruit alumni/ae mentors with a wide range of identities who have achieved success. We career counselors can advocate with employers and run programs, but to succeed we must mobilize our campuses to promote accessible educational opportunities and social justice. It is time for new and creative thinking to ensure the brilliance of the next generation is not dimmed by acceptance of the status quo. We need you. Students need you. What more will you do?

References Swartz, D. (1990). Pierre Bourdieu: Culture, education and social inequality. In Doughtery, K.J. & Hammack, F.M. (Eds.), Education and society: A reader (pp. 70-80). Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Brace.


Naiman • 119

The Writing on the Wall: Equity, Access, and Liberation in Higher Education Garrett Naiman What does liberation mean to you? Will you reach liberation in your lifetime, or is it something you will always be fighting for? The questions above are from a bulletin board that hangs in a middle school I work with in East Oakland, California, at which over 90 percent of the student body is Latino or African American and where almost all the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. One recent morning on the way to work, I stopped at the school to drop something off for the English Language Development Social Studies teacher. I was in a hurry to get to a meeting at my office and had no intention of stopping to examine the colorful student projects that adorn most of the school’s hallway walls. But when I saw the word liberation out of the corner of my eye, I was intrigued and paused to look at the bulletin board. “What does liberation mean to you?” Such a poignant question was being asked of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. My initial response was one of exhilaration. It was uplifting to observe a middle school engaging in dialogue with students around such a powerful concept—one that is central to both their survival and success. Seconds later, my excitement gave way to a more somber reaction as I began to reflect on all the social injustices and challenges that youth in many of our communities face every day, the resultant trauma of which they bring with them into the classroom. How can we not ask our students to consider their own liberation starting as early as 11, 12, and 13 years old, when their survival and success is put in jeopardy daily? It was exciting to see a middle school engaging students in such a way, but at the same time, the writing on the wall was clear; our schools and communities are in crisis, and our students are caught in the middle. Those of us who Garrett Naiman is a 2007 graduate of the HESA program at the University of Vermont and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in International and Multicultural Education at the University of San Francisco. He is employed at the University of California, Berkeley, as the Deputy Director for the Early Academic Outreach Program, a program that assists educationally under-served students to gain access to higher education. He is also the founder and Executive Director of By Any Dreams Necessary, a community based organization in Oakland, CA.


120 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 dedicate our lives and careers to the learning, development, and wellbeing of students of all ages are engaged in what bell hooks (1994) called “education as the practice of freedom.” Though every student who reads that bulletin board is going to respond to those questions in their own way and with their own truth, as educators our contribution to their liberation is to work tirelessly for equity and access in education. This is particularly true for those of us who work directly with students who come from under-served schools and communities, but it is incumbent upon all of us in education to work in solidarity toward this goal. In higher education and student affairs specifically, whether it be in outreach programs like the one I work for or in college student services, we are charged with forging a pathway to and through college for students. Though I don’t believe fighting for equity and access in higher education to be tantamount to the work of true liberation, I have dedicated my life and career to social justice from within the academy because I believe strongly in the ability of higher education to liberate minds and lives. The academy is far from a perfect place, but it is, for better or worse, the particular landscape I have chosen to carry out my work and to engage in the struggle for learning and liberation. hooks (1994) so powerfully captured the importance of our work when she wrote: The academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom with all its limitations remains a loca- tion of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labour for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom. (p. 207) Though most of us in student affairs do the majority of our work with students outside of the classroom, we do labor for freedom by creating fields of possibilities for our students vis-à-vis the advising, counseling, programming, and mentoring we engage in with them every day. It is a privilege to be part of a profession in which our job is to guide students through their journey to reimagine the world and their place in it. Practicing Freedom is a Collective Effort Over the last several years, I have had the pleasure of meeting Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (HESA) students from subsequent cohorts. Some of them have asked me what it is that I found most valuable about my time at the University of Vermont (UVM). Though I learned and gleaned much during my two years in the program, my greatest lesson came just after. While in the program, faculty and HESA alumni/ae spoke to us of the legacy endearingly called The Vermont Connection. But it wasn’t until I graduated


Naiman • 121 and moved elsewhere that I began to understand just how special The Vermont Connection is. I have benefited greatly from having a network of colleagues and friends across the country (and the world), all connected by a common commitment to student success. In bell hooks’s (1994) quote above, she explained that education as the practice of freedom is a collective effort. “We collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress” (p. 207). When I come across difficult situations in my work and I am unsure about how to proceed, I pick up the phone and call other HESA alumni/ae or UVM staff for guidance and eagerly reciprocate the gesture when I am called upon. Recently, a college student to whom I serve as a mentor was in crisis and needed support. Normally I refer students who come to me in need to people and resources that I know and trust. What was particularly challenging about this situation, however, was that the student does not attend UC Berkeley, where I work, but rather a university on the other side of the country where I did not know anyone. I asked a colleague, who has access to a national listserv of higher education professionals committed to social justice, to send out an email inquiring about staff at that university who would be able to support the student in the ways she needed. Though no one replied from that particular institution, somebody did respond with several names of people that he knew and trusted on that campus. What was remarkable about the response was that it came from Raja Bhattar, who is not only a HESA alumnus, but also a member of my graduating class. There are probably hundreds of people on that listserv, and my name was never mentioned in the email, yet in the end, it was a member of my HESA cohort who had replied with information I needed to aid a student I care deeply about. This is The Vermont Connection at work. In actuality, as the story demonstrates, The Vermont Connection is only a small part of a larger connection shared by all of us in higher education and student affairs. Student affairs educators are bound together by a commitment to students’ learning, development, and wellbeing. I will continue to fight for equity and access in education and to support students, particularly those who must overcome social injustices and challenges to be admitted to and graduate from college. But my endeavors are only as strong as the community I build and belong to in higher education and student affairs. Building a Better Tomorrow Equity and access work in higher education can sometimes be disheartening and feel Sisyphean in its scope. At a recent leadership meeting scheduled to discuss our department’s contribution to the University’s role in furthering


122 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 educational equity and inclusion, a colleague of mine, who is Mexican American and in his late forties, spoke to the group about the climate on campus for students of Color. He shared with us that students of Color he works with today are marginalized in ways that mirror his own experiences on the very same campus nearly three decades ago. For all the ivory tower intellectual jargon that is put forth about furthering diversity in the academy, we have a long way to go before we achieve real inclusion and social justice. And yet despite all the challenges, I am continually inspired by the resolve and resilience of the students with whom I work. Every time I see a student become the first member of her or his family to go on to higher education, I am rejuvenated. Each year, against incredible odds, students walk across the stage at their college graduation, an achievement celebrated with their families and by their communities, and I am reminded of the positive effects of our work. Yuri Kochiyama challenged all of us to realize that “tomorrow’s world is [ours] to build” (as cited in Gottheimer, 2003, p. 472). As higher education and student affairs educators, we build a better tomorrow for all of us by supporting the lives and learning of students today. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, an Associate Professor at San Francisco State University and a teacher and community member in East Oakland, echoed this sentiment. While lecturing at Harvard University, Duncan-Andrade spoke of building a better tomorrow through his work as an educator:

I don’t believe I’ll change the world as a teacher. I don’t believe I’ll change the world as a researcher. I don’t believe I’ll change the world as an academic. But I do believe that my students will. I do believe every day when I stand in front of those 31 ninth graders, that I might be looking at the person who moves us to a better society. (Duncan- Andrade, 2010)

We move closer to the society we want to live in by increasing access to institutions of higher learning and by working to make them more welcoming, inclusive, and equitable for all students. My thoughts turn again to the bulletin board on the wall of the middle school. What does liberation mean to me? It means that if we are not free, I am not free. My own liberation is linked to that of the students, families, and communities I work with every day. All of us in higher education and student affairs must continue to work to improve access to and equitability in our institutions. We are engaged in education as the practice of freedom, our students’ freedom, and our own.


Naiman • 123 References Duncan-Andrade, J. (2010, April 28). Note to educators: Hope required when growing roses in concrete [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_ embedded&v=8z1gwmkgFss. Gottheimer, J. (2003) Ripples of hope: Great American civil rights speeches. New York, NY: Basic Civitas Books. hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. London, England: Routledge.


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THE KENNETH P. SAURMAN AWARD This award honors Kenneth P. Saurman, who will long be remembered for his dedication to the field of student affairs and to the graduate program at The University of Vermont. After his death in 1980, a memorial fund was established for a prize recognizing the outstanding graduate in the program. This award is a reminder of the professional excellence and commitment Kenneth P. Saurman inspired in his students and colleagues. Each spring, a committee of faculty members in the College of Education and Social Services selects a student, or students, who best display(s) the established award criteria. Those recognized: (a) show a record of outstanding achievement; (b) demonstrate ability to make outstanding future professional contributions at both local and national levels; (c) demonstrate future ability to make outstanding intellectual contribution to the field in the areas of research and scholarship; (d) show evidence of having fostered a sense of community and cooperation among peers, staff, and faculty; and (e) show evidence of outstanding contribution to the University through internship and practical experience. In April 2011, the Kenneth P. Saurman Award was proudly presented to: Jimmy Doan


Doan • 125

Our Work According to Mister Rogers: Reflections from a New Neighbor Jimmy Doan 2011 Saurman Award Recipient When I received the letter from Kristin Lang, this year’s TVC Executive Editor, with guidelines for writing this reflection, I had no idea where to begin. I started by reading reflections written by past Saurman award recipients for inspiration. I reached out to other UVM HESA alumni/ae for guidance. I even asked my sixyear-old niece and four-year-old nephew for their sage advice at dinner one evening. When I realized that it would be difficult to write a reflection that incorporated Hello Kitty or Thomas the Train, I began thinking of other starting points. Upon returning home to my apartment after a program one late night, I realized that my inspiration for this reflection had been sitting at my bedside for the past five years. I am a lover of cheesy inspirational quotes and hoarder of those little white strips of paper from fortune cookies. As this is no secret to my family and friends, it was no surprise that one of my best friends, Andrew, gifted me with The World According to Mister Rogers – Important Things to Remember for my birthday at the end of my sophomore year of college. Beyond being a fan of cardigan sweaters, I grew up watching Mister Rogers come home and sing, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” as he changed into his sneakers. The book, published after Fred Rogers’ passing, is a compilation of quotes from the friendly neighbor that I have found particularly relevant to my work as a student affairs professional these past six months. I earmarked a number of Mister Rogers’ quotes when I first read this book in 2007. As I looked back to the book for inspiration to write this reflection, the following passages speak to lessons I’ve learned these past six months after graduating from HESA. “More and more I’ve come to understand that listening is one of the most important things we can do for one another. Whether the other be an adult or a child, our engagement in listening to what that person is can often be our greatest gift. Whether that person is speaking or playing or dancing, building or singing or painting, if we care, we can listen.” (Rogers, 2004, p. 171) Jimmy Doan is a 2011 graduate of the University of Vermont’s Higher Education & Student Affairs Administration program. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of the Holy Cross in 2009, where he majored in Economics. He continues his habits of hoarding fortune cookie fortunes and cheesy inspirational quotes, many of which fill the walls in his office at Bentley University, where he is the Program Coordinator for Student Activities.


126 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 LISTEN. How many times do we pause in our lives as student affairs administrators and practitioners to simply listen? We regularly work the over-forty hour weeks at late night events, answer the duty calls in the middle of the night, or advise students in our offices past five o’clock. How much of that time is spent listening to what is going on around us? How often do we stop to reflect and listen to ourselves? As a new professional, and even as a graduate student, I recognize that more of my time is spent doing rather than listening. I am an offender of this during one-on-one meetings with students when my mind is focused on what I need to do to prepare for my next staff meeting. It happens when I’m at an event and sit in the back of the room and catch up on email while students go on with their program. I am a culprit of this when I am running across campus in a hurry with my colleagues to be on time for our next meeting, missing everything else in my peripheral along the way. How many times do we realize that it is the quiet and reflective moments in our busy lives that give meaning to the rest of the minutes and hours that go by when we are doing? As a new professional, I have found that one of my most important job responsibilities is to show students that there are individuals around them who care. As Mister Rogers reminds us, there is nothing greater than taking a second, minute, hour, or day to pause from doing to show that we care. What will you do to listen to those around you and yourself more? “People have said, ‘Don’t cry’ to other people for years and years, and all it has ever meant is, ‘I’m too uncomfortable when you show your feelings. Don’t cry.’ I’d rather have them say, ‘Go ahead and cry. I’m here to be with you.’” (Rogers, 2004, p. 151) FEEL. One of my most memorable moments as a new professional was sitting in a meeting with a student and directing my eyes to a tissue box on my desk, sending her a message that it was okay to cry and show her true feelings. She was holding back tears from a fear that she was failing a summer bridge course into which she felt she was truly putting effort. It’s just a class—nothing to lose tears and sleep over, right? I let her cry. I encouraged her to do so. After a round of tears, I soon learned it was more than just the thought of failing the course. The tears stemmed from a deeper fear, a fear of disappointing her family if she did not matriculate into college. She continued to cry. Through the tears, she rid herself of the lack of confidence she had in her ability to improve her grades in the course. She nearly emptied the tissue box, but the last tear she wiped away was followed by a sigh of relief. She became determined. She left my office that summer day with a new determination. Her new determination enabled her to successfully complete the summer class and shine as a first-year undergraduate student. Typically, I feel very awkward in situations where I am around others who are crying, and even more so when they are crying to me. My instinct is to look


Doan • 127 down, twiddle my thumbs, and wish that time would pass quickly or that their tears would run dry. Honestly, I’m not quite sure what revelation I had on the afternoon that this student walked into my office, but my gut told me that I needed to be there. I was quickly reminded of my former advisors and mentors who had played the same role for me, remembering the value of their listening ears and their attentive eyes. Never having to say a word to her through the course of the conversation, I told her, “Go ahead and cry.” That afternoon, the loss of a tissue box was outweighed by a gain in assurance that tears shed can allow students to realize their true potential. How do you empower others to show their true feelings? “The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing…and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they’re doing, and they love it in front of others.” (Rogers, 2004, p. 42) LOVE. As many people can probably relate to, I had trouble when I graduated from college with a degree in economics and reminded my parents that I was going to graduate school to learn how to be a professional college student for the rest of my life…or at least learn how to work with them. Sharing my overwhelmingly positive experience outside of the classroom was not enough to explain why I would not consider other job opportunities with larger salaries. When it came down to it, the only way to truly express why I was venturing into the career path that I chose was because of my love for what I would be doing. As a student, I loved having a getaway space to the Campus Activities Board office to procrastinate from doing work. I loved being around the staff of the Student Programs & Involvement Office, sometimes just sitting in my advisor’s office for an hour or so with no purpose. I embraced the idea that I, too, could change students’ college experiences and lives. It was about four months into my job when a colleague told me that I was still lucky to be young and love doing what I do. Initially, I did not think twice about this, and even took it as a compliment. After thinking more about the comment later, I suddenly became confused. Did my colleague consider himself unlucky? Did he no longer love what he was doing? This instance allowed me to reflect on what I loved in my work as a professional. I love the conversations with students that have no direction. I love seeing students overcome unexpected challenges at an event and seeing them come out on the other side. I love working with colleagues who put students’ best interests first. I love the “aha” moments. I love the unpredictability that the next workday brings. As a new professional, I go home every day after work and find at least one thing I loved about my day. Why do you love doing what you do? -


128 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 “When I think of Robert Frost’s poems, like ‘The Road Not Taken,’ I feel the support of someone who is on my side, who understands what life’s choices are like, someone who says, ‘I’ve been there, and it’s okay to go on.’” (Rogers, 2004, p. 37) MENTORS. Much of the past six months was spent recalling the moments in college when I realized I wanted to pursue a career in student affairs. Remember that person who may have contributed to your decision to pursue a career in higher education? I often think back to the conversations that I had with my mentors in Starbucks coffee shops and on park benches during college and ask myself, “What would they do right now?” Often times, realizing that what they did may not be what I should do is the biggest lesson to learn. However, the thought of knowing that someone is always by your side to listen, to support, and frankly, to tell you that you’ve done something stupid, is comforting. The “someone” who Mister Rogers speaks of is perhaps one of the most important people for all of us to have in our lives. Whether you are a graduate student or seasoned professional, having someone to call who is willing to offer sage advice or listening ears is one of the most rewarding benefits of having a mentor. It did not take long as a graduate student at UVM to realize that I was no longer only playing the role of seeking out mentors, but I was becoming a mentor to others. While this was a scary thought, it was one that I whole-heartedly embraced. I looked forward to being on the other side of the long conversations about my students’ struggles with academics, finding balance in collegiate life, and even helping a student navigate the coming out process. Suddenly, I found myself not only saying it was “okay to go on,” but also sending that message to others. How do you remember your mentors while being a mentor for others? “I have always wanted to have a neighbor Just like you! I’ve always wanted to live in a Neighborhood with you. So let’s make the most of this beautiful day; Since we’re together we might as well say, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?” (Rogers, 2004, p. 141) COMMUNITY. Did you really think that I was going to end this reflection without including some words from one of Mister Rogers’ famous melodies? Remember that I said earlier that I’m a lover of cliché quotes and sayings, so it is only appropriate. In March of 2009, I vividly remember Deb Hunter welcoming twenty plus prospective HESA students to The Vermont Connection. From that point on, we were a part of this network of individuals who would become our


Doan • 129 future classmates, colleagues, and family. Some of us would get to know each other better over the course of the following two years as we embarked on the journey that many of us know as “HESA.” Through the course of these two years, we learned how small of a family UVM HESA truly is with our own cohort, the alumni/ae that came before us, and the prospective students we met during Interview Weekends. We learned that this network extended on to our professors, current and past, and staff around the University of Vermont who supervised and mentored us through our two-year journey, and beyond. As I reflect on my past two and a half years since visiting the University of Vermont for the first time, the one thing that stands at the forefront of my mind is the neighborhood that I’ve moved into permanently. The walls of our apartments and residence halls may change as we move from one position to another, possibly leaving the field to explore other passions and opportunities or going on to become nationally recognized student affairs practitioners, but our neighborhood continues to exist and extend well beyond Burlington, Vermont. It is a neighborhood that I’m quite proud to be a part of and one that I look forward to seeing grow beyond my years in HESA. How have you been a good neighbor? During our time as HESA students, we are encouraged to process our thoughts, consider haunting questions, and dig deep to answer, “What came up for us?” As a new professional, I have found comfort in asking myself these questions and pondering these thoughts regularly. In addition, I have reflected on the above actions and themes. As the gentle, soft-spoken television personality famously closed out each of his weekend shows, he committed himself to a snappy new day. To close, as we look ahead to snappy new days, how are we ensuring that we listen, feel, and love? How are we remembering the mentors who have guided us while being a support for others? How do we remind ourselves of the community that we are a part of ? It’s such a good feeling to know you’re alive. It’s such a happy feeling: You’re growing inside. And when you wake up ready to say, ‘I think I’ll make a snappy new day.’ It’s such a good feeling, a very good feeling, The feeling you know that we’re friends. References Rogers, F. (2004). The world according to Mister Rogers: Important things to remember. New York, NY: Hyperion.


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THE FINAL WORD

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Each year, we invite a member of our community to write The Final Word. This contributor is the consummate student affairs educator and serves as a role model to us all through dedication, wisdom, and compassion. This year, we are fortunate to conclude with Jill Mattuck Tarule, Ed.D. Professor of Educational Leadership & Policy University of Vermont


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The Final Word Jill Mattuck Tarule I was deeply moved and honored to be invited to write the Final Word for this 33rd Volume of The Vermont Connection. It meant a lot, having recently made the switch from administrator to faculty member. Thus, as a “new” faculty member in the HESA program, the invitation felt like a warm welcoming. But another set of emotions was swirling as I read the invitation. Battling away with moved and honored, I was feeling intimidated and worried. Having spent decades as an administrator on the “academic side of the house,” as it is often defined in higher ed talk, what did I have to say about the “other” side of the house? Whether as chair, dean, or associate provost, I had always been aware of student services as a critical component in the work we were trying to accomplish – but it was somewhat peripheral. So this was the darker side of my reaction: what was I doing having the “last word” after all the wise and better informed that precede this entry? Then it dawned on me that this was precisely the sort of thinking that reifies seeing the academy as divided into sides (one could argue that there are more sides like academic/administration or business/academic); thinking that has for years been problematic for the central project of higher education: supporting human beings to develop, learn, and become moral, ethical, and thinking individuals whose lives and work contribute to sustaining and creating a better future. Just about every mission statement aspires to these goals, and most of us chose higher ed because we care a lot about achieving these goals.

Jill Mattuck Tarule, Ed.D. is a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Vermont. She has served UVM as Associate Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs and as dean of the College of Education and Social Services. She also served as an administrator and faculty at Goddard College and Lesley College (now University). She holds a doctoral degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an honorary doctorate from the University of New Hampshire School for Lifelong Learning. She is co-author of Women’s Ways of Knowing: the Development of Self, Voice and Mind and co-editor of Knowledge, Difference and Power: Essays Inspired by Women’s Ways of Knowing and The Minority Voice in Educational Reform, An Analysis by Minority and Women College of Education Deans, as well as articles and chapters on leadership, adult learners and leaders’ moral decision-making. Among the awards she has received are the Pomeroy Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teacher Education and the Gender Equity Architect Award, both from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.


132 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 Yet in our daily work, we divvy up the responsibilities, assigning them to different sides of the house, each with different structures and different leaders. Slowly, the sides talk less and less to each other, and recognize their shared purpose and mission less and less. And then there is a sudden blooming in the institution of a need for efficiency, often prompted by economic challenges, that causes the various units to become even more insular while they deal with their own attempts to become lean, efficacious, and sustainable. I realized I did want to try a final word about this business of sides, particularly the academic and student affairs sides. I wanted to explore what it has meant to all of us who care about higher education. A Personal Interlude I have actually been in academia my whole life. I was born into a conversation about education and learning; both of my parents were members of a faculty at a small private progressive college. For them, it was both a job and a life work. Educators who were trying to think through and practice what progressive higher education was and should be were often in our living room. A core issue for a progressive education is that learning should be centered around the student’s interests, which means someone has to work closely with the student to help the student define their interests, design an individualized program, stay focused, etc. Thus, the faculty role includes counseling. Faculty members in the college met with their students every week and had professional development conferences on topics like Psychological Issues in Education. The emotional and daily life of the student – so often a responsibility assigned to the student affairs side – was part of the academics. There were not sides at this progressive college. I emerged from this environment thinking that it was neither necessary nor appropriate to divide the student up into an emotional being trying to learn how to live in community and a rational being trying to be an academic, with different professions assigned to guide the student in each. Higher Education’s DNA As I moved into higher education as an academic, it quickly became apparent that this dividing up of the student was exactly what was happening; it was common practice. I recall student affairs contributions being referred to as the “cocurriculum,” a separate and maybe equal curriculum. There is a long history of scholarship on this issue of the boundary between academic and student affairs. One that is, I am sure, more familiar to and better known by student affairs students and professionals than it is to me. And that in itself points to the fact that


Tarule • 133 the academic is privileged in the academy. Those of us who hung out on that side paid a lot less attention to this issue, while those in student affairs thought more about the boundary because, as is the case in so many instances of privilege and boundaries, the less privileged status sees the power structures and their effects more precisely and with greater clarity. Recently, I found a new way to think about the division as I read Christensen and Eyring’s (2011) The Innovative University. They analyze what constitutes “a great American university,” a title of a section in which they define what they call higher education’s DNA, comprised of “strategically significant traits copied from Harvard” (p.136) by colleges and universities across the nation. (Harvard is used as the mother lode of traits, a privileged stance for sure – but that is another discussion.) Traits that have been widely adopted in the DNA include: face-to-face instruction, rational/secular orientation, comprehensive specialization, departmentalization and faculty self-governance, long summer recess, graduate schools atop the college, private fundraising, competitive athletics, curricular distribution (General Ed) and concen- tration (majors), academic honors, externally funded research, up or out tenure with faculty rank and salary distinctions, admission selectiv- ity. (p. 136) They identify four traits that were not widely adopted: “extension school (degree programs for nontraditional students), residential house system, Ivy Agreement (limitations on competitive athletics), four year graduation” (p. 136). Note what side of the house is being addressed almost exclusively. Aside from athletics and admissions, all the DNA traits that diffused into higher ed, in their view, are academic. And of the four that were not adopted, only the house system might be viewed as a student affairs DNA trait, but the authors do not make this argument. In short, in their ivy-centric view, there is no ‘student affairs DNA.’ But of course there is, so the obvious question is what are the student affairs DNA traits? Student Affairs DNA The first trait that I am aware of is the notion of in loco parentis. Considerably less legally binding for institutions of higher education now than when I first entered higher education, I would argue that this principle was the seed of a very important student affairs trait: the concern for the student as a developing human being and the notion that students are in need and deserving of care. And specific kinds of care, like what Sally Ruddick (1980) defined as “maternal thinking,” the ability to care for another with concern for their unfolding development as well as a concern


134 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 for their preservation. Student affairs carries so much of the responsibility of ensuring that there are processes and procedures in place that support and care for the developing student. While it isn’t parenting per se, the term reminds that it is a unique role and relationship in the care of another. The second trait I propose is the responsibility for community. Student affairs, it seems to me, has been significantly engaged for years with the notion of the campus as a community, and the community as a model for what students need to know and do as productive and effective citizens. Higher education institutions would be barren and ineffective learning environments without this component in their DNA. It may be what Christiansen and Eyring (2011) were intending to signal when they note that the Harvard house system, which was a four-year community for students, didn’t get adopted. The third and final trait is intimately tied to community and to the theme of this journal. I would argue that the student affairs side of the house has made a significant contribution by insisting that higher education create and sustain functioning models of diverse communities that both liberate the learner and provide students with active and complex ways to confront privilege, imagine a socially just world, and create a viable identity. What is worrisome, however, is that the boundary between the houses of academia is particularly robust in this regard, so that the academic side still holds onto the idea that introducing diversity into the curriculum is an elective choice, not an imperative for all faculty members. Conclusion I suspect there are additional DNA components for student affairs. I hope there are. And I hope that as they get identified, it sparks dialogue about what it takes to develop a whole human being. Like the exploratory and innovative dialogues in the living room of my childhood, this needs to be an emblematic dialogue. It needs to illuminate a new vision for learning environments. A vision that bridges the divides currently troubling and diminishing higher education’s potential as a force for ensuring a smarter, brighter, and more just world. References Christensen, C.M. and Eyring, H.J. (2011). The innovative university: Changing the DNA of higher education from the inside out. San Fransciso, CA: Jossey – Bass. Ruddick, S. (1995). Maternal thinking. Toward a politics of peace. Boston, MA: Beacon.


New Connections • 135

NEW CONNECTIONS

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Each year, members of the graduating HESA class write original papers in the form of a comprehensive exam in order to meet graduation requirements. These papers take the form of original research, scholarly personal narratives, literature reviews, and argumentative essays. The Full Board of The Vermont Connection is pleased to share topics from the Class of 2011, along with the “New Connections” they have made following their graduation. What follows is the current placement of members of the Class of 2011, followed by the title of their comprehensive exam and an abstract. Please feel free to contact the authors if you would like more information about their topic. Please note that submission of an abstract is not required for Scholarly Personal Narratives (SPN) and therefore may not be included for some author’s comprehensive exams.


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Lilu Barbosa

Area Coordinator, Office of Residence Life Fairfield University Walking Through the Valley: Experiences of a Black Man in College

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Cait Bjellquist

Residence Hall Director Long Island University Motivation, Behavior, and the Emotional Impact of the Hook Up Culture on Women Hooking up has become the normative relationship on college campuses, and is receiving increasing amounts of national attention. This paper will review the evolution of dating and sexual scripts with attention to gender dynamics as they inform the development of the hook up culture before examining results from a campus survey on collegiate female hook up experience. The study investigated 244 female college student’s experiences with hooking up, defined as “a sexual encounter that may or may not include sex, without the expectation of commitment, monogamy or hooking up again.” (Bjellquist, 2011). The correlations between 10 motivations, 11 sexual behaviors, and emotional impact were examined by comparing 12 emotional states pre- and posthook up. Respondents completed a questionnaire that collected data on the aforementioned variables by examining hook up experience by individual partner, rather than collective experience. The purpose of this research was to understand the intersections of motivation, behavior, and emotion in hopes practitioners working with female students will share the results with their students. Access to this information may enable women to make more informed decisions on their participation in the hook up culture.

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Leah Charpentier

Co-op Advisor Wentworth Institute of Technology Mentor Letters


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Xavier DeFreitas

Residence Hall Director Stonehill College Making Tough Choices to Find Your Passion I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken Robert Frost’s poem, one of the few I understood in Mrs. Jackson’s fourth grade English class, resonated with me. I believe it delivers the message of the importance of the choices we make in our lives. I was always fascinated with the person in the forest. I would think to myself, “What choice was he making in life? Why did he choose the one less traveled? Did he have the option of turning around and going home?” Life has moments that call for critical choices. As we become independent adults, we have to start taking ownership of our own decisions. With apologies to Mr. Frost, but sometimes, choices are not just two roads separating; sometimes it is a four-way intersection, a one-way street, or one of those confusing European roundabouts. When we approach a critical choice in life, it is not as simple as trying to look down the road and choose between two options. We have to consider the long path that we already took just to get to this critical point. This paper will analyze the critical choices I made in my life when it comes to my first career in acting. Life on the stage has taught me lessons about making decisions in life and finding my passion. Through my example, I hope people will come to understand that when making career decisions, it is not as simple as comparing two choices and going with the sensible option. As young adults, we battle friends, family, and societal pressures just to find our purpose and independence. Young adults cannot be passive participants in life. They must make active plans and find a passion for themselves. Through my example, I hope that young adults can be comfortable in making tough choices in life and be willing to accept the path they choose to take.


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Jimmy Doan

Program Coordinator, Student Activities Bentley University Exploring Campus Climate for Closeted Gay & Lesbian Students The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the experiences of gay and lesbian college students who have not yet established a public gay or lesbian identity. This research is framed in Cass’s (1979) theory of sexual orientation identity development. Often referred to as being “out of the closet,” the last stage in Cass’s sexual orientation identity development, formally known as Stage 6: Identity Synthesis, requires the individual to take on their sexual orientation as a way of life. Through interviews with students at a small, public, research institution, that have self-accepted their sexual orientation identity, but not yet come out, this study provides additional voice for these students with implications for improving the campus climate. Through conversations with these students and engaging them in reflective journaling, this research examined how campus climate influences closeted gay and lesbian students.

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W. Dustin Evatt

Coordinator for Student Organization Development Virginia Commonwealth University “Being the Man I Want to Be”: Masculinity and Meaning Making within Fraternity Culture This phenomenological study employs a social constructivist perspective to better understand how four fraternity men make meaning of their masculinity. The results that emerge from this study reflect the participants’ masculine gender identity as developed through constant interaction with society’s expectations of them as men. Identity development is a social process influenced largely by people’s interactions with others. Understanding the development of college men requires examining their experiences from a social constructivist perspective (Harper & Harris, 2010). Scholarly attention regarding men’s gender identity has recently been suggested as a way to understand and address gender issues facing men and women (Edwards & Jones, 2009). This study provides a theoretical framework of college men’s gender identity development. Based on the findings, implications and recommendations for practice are offered to help support the gender identity development of college men, so student affairs educators can begin to


New Connections • 139 help them “be the men they want to be.”

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Alicia Ferrell

Resident Director Wagner College Out in Admissions: Creating Positive Campus Climates Through Inclusive Admissions Practices As higher education institutions begin to put diversity in the forefront of their strategic plans, higher education administrators and student affairs practitioners need to consider the importance of diversifying their multicultural initiatives on college campuses. First–year students are entering their collegiate experience with a better understanding of their identity. This qualitative study examined the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and intersex identified students, in conjunction with higher education institutions needs to evaluate the process in which they recruit, admit, and retain this student demographic to best provide the most comprehensive practices to achieve an inclusive campus climate.

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Amanda Flores

Assistant Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs Stephen F. Austin State University Harvesting Identities: A Migrant’s Journey from the Fields to the Green Mountains I was born into a migranting family. As a migrant, my voice was silenced by the rustle in the wind, the never ending surcos in the fields, and by a society who saw me less than. This scholarly personal narrative is an accumulation of significant experiences that have impacted my life, moral upbringing, and perspective. I constantly found myself hiding behind other individuals and my shadow, afraid of being myself. Stories have been ways for me to travel to different worlds and inhibit others’ minds and journeys; a way for me to leave my reality and become someone else. These art forms kept me yearning to share my story and make meaning out of my darkest moments. My story reveals how simple acts of servant leadership made my life significant. Relationships allowed me to break through my fictional characters and shadow, and led to personal empowerment and understanding. I discovered and became engaged with the real Amanda.


140 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 In sharing this manuscript, I hope to inspire future student affairs practitioners who are stuck in their shadows to forge a connection with their inner selves. We work in a field where we help others harvest their identities, but how can we help others if we do not seek to understand ourselves first? This is my story.

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Jennifer “J.J.” Jang

Residence Director Loyola University Chicago Transcend Adversities through Intentional Self Care: The Rejuvenating Narrative of a Student Life Quarterlifer

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Christine P. Nguyen Resident Director Oregon State University

Cross-Racial Horizontal Oppression Among College Students of Color There is currently a narrow body of literature related to cross-racial horizontal oppression; what does exist is literature with a focus on interracial relations, internalized racism, and horizontal hostility in feminist literature. By reviewing this literature, the author attempts to show a correlation between those themes and cross-racial horizontal oppression among students of color. This paper reviews extant literature on horizontal oppression, describes the significant themes from previous research, offers possible explanations for gaps in the literature on cross-racial horizontal oppression in particular, and argues for further research on this topic. Freire’s (2000) Pedagogy of the Oppressed is used to frame analysis of cross-racial horizontal oppression and the themes in related literature. The author makes recommendations for future research and scholarship to analyze deeper connections between internalized racism, intraethnic/intraracial group tensions, and cross-racial horizontal oppression. Social justice educators in higher education can hopefully benefit from reading the author’s views on the state of research on cross-racial horizontal oppression and understanding how future research could broaden the knowledge base for those working with students of color and diminish the taboo associated with the topic.


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Viraj S. Patel

Hall Director Georgetown University In-Group Allyship: A Call for Inclusive Language Relating to Countering Horizontal Oppression This paper is prompted by a single question fueled by a lifetime of wonder. If I, an Asian American, work in the interests outside of my racial group to end a system of racial oppression from which I suffer and benefit from, is that considered allyship? Within the context of working towards racial justice, allyship refers specifically to White people working to end the system that oppresses people of color. By challenging a binary model of allyship, which I argue continues to perpetuate the binary status quo of dominance; I draw upon Paulo Freire’s work to begin a discussion for an alternate way to view acts of allyship that is inclusive of all people. The binary system of viewing race can be challenged by placing such theoretical ideas in the context of a higher education case study in order to show how horizontal oppression can affect the lives of professionals working in the field of Higher Education.

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Salomón (Salo) Antonio Rodezno

Program Coordinator, Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion John Carroll University Tell Me A Story About...Race Based on the independent, non-profit project, StoryCorps, Tell Me A Story About Race sought to enable participants to tell stories about their experience with racial realities in the United States. Storytelling has the power to educate, validate, and potentially liberate both speaker and listener. Participants were given the opportunity to have a 20-minute recorded conversation with a friend or a trained staff member. This written supplement details the development of the project. This reflection discusses the impact this project had on one of the creators of the project. The project can be experienced at http://www.wix. com/srodezn7/tell-me-a-story-about-race.


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Katelyn Sadler

Residence Director University of San Francisco Staging Performance Ethnography Methodologies within Student Affairs Research Based on work by Magolda (1999) encouraging ethnographic research, Manning (1994) encouraging the integration of liberation theology into practice, and the authors of Learning Reconsidered who championed transformative education, student affairs educators can analyze the way they teach aspiring professionals and conduct research and assessment with students (Keeling 2004). This work summarizes the idea that practitioners, assessors, and researchers can utilize performance ethnography, of which Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed is a part, as a method for framing and conducting dialogic research that elevates students from passive participants to partners in research design, publication, and performance. In this article I explore the basics of the performance ethnography method, bounded in a critical theory discourse. I discuss the ethical, moral, and logistical limitations of this method. I then highlight the method’s applications within student affairs research and practice through collective qualitative storytelling.

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Nydia M. Santana

Residence Hall Director Stony Brook University Mentoring Graduate Students of Color: A Narrative Inquiry into Cultural Capital Entering graduate school can be an overwhelming experience for any student. Whether enrolling immediately after completing a bachelor’s degree or after a break, the workload and expectations are often difficult to handle. This can be especially true for graduate students of color as they experience racial and ethnic development at an extreme predominantly White institution (EPWI). When balancing academic commitments with assistantships and internships, many graduate students of color may find their transition even more difficult. Having a mentor can make this adjustment easier for students. This qualitative study examined master’s level graduate students of color mentoring experiences as they embarked on their own racial and ethnic development and developed cultural capital at an EPWI.


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Vay Van

Residence Education Coordinator Purdue University Horizontal Oppression Towards Gay and Bisexual East Asian Men The negative image of East Asians is a disparaging one throughout the media and many other forms in society. There is even more ridicule for East Asians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Using a historical view of colonization and globalization, this paper examines horizontal oppression, a type of systemic oppression practiced among sexual and racial minorities, in this case, gay and bisexual East Asian American men. This literature review takes a thorough review of the interdisciplinary approaches outside of higher education to deconstruct queer horizontal oppression.

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Sarah S. Wasilko

Alumni Relations Officer University of Vermont Foundation Pressure, Expectations, and Competition: How the Academy Can Help Students Find Their “Own” Voices


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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Dear TVC Friends and Colleagues, As we write this Acknowledgements note, we as co-advisors to The Vermont Connection could not be more pleased with the work that both cohorts have put into this publication. This year’s production of the 33rd volume of the journal has been one of the best we have seen to date, from the organization and excellent execution of Phone-a-Thon, to the development and editing of journal articles, to Production Week itself. We have also found ourselves constantly impressed by the Executive Board’s approach to maintaining professionalism and adding their own personal touches to the process. As alumni/ae, it is your inspiration and encouragement that have allowed our HESA students to perform at such an outstanding level. Your generous contributions that went towards bringing this year’s journal to life cannot and should not go unnoticed. It is this same strong alumni/ae base that maintains our journal as a staple of success within the HESA program! In addition to reflecting on this past year, we thought it would be important to look ahead at some upcoming changes to our graduate program. Under the leadership of the HESA faculty, the program is exploring additional ways to allow prospective graduate students to apply to the program and select from a variety of educational and professional practice options. No longer are we limiting the type of graduate student who would be interested in our program with a “one size fits all” model; instead, the faculty are opening up access and opportunity for prospective students to carve out their own experiences. These options will allow individuals to be a part of the HESA community in what we have traditionally labeled as “nontraditional” ways and stretch our reach to the type of students we Tricia Rascon is Assistant Director for New Student Orientation at the University of Vermont. She is excited to be hosting a regional orientation conference this spring and is looking forward to another summer in Vermont. Nick Negrete is Assistant Dean of Students at the University of Vermont. He is contemplating applying to UVM’s Educational Leadership and Policy doctoral program.


Acknowledgements • 145 would like to see graduate from the program: well-rounded, well-educated students who can develop a road map to future career goals without being relegated to a particular type of graduate experience. While all of this is occurring, we are preparing to say goodbye to our very own Dr. Dorian L. McCoy, who will be leaving the program at the end of the spring semester and pursuing the next chapter in his life as a faculty member at the University of Tennessee. Simultaneously, we have the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Jill Tarule to the HESA faculty team this year. Jill has already made a lasting impact on our community through her work in leading students in their practicum experiences and serving as a strong mentor for our students and professional staff. As the HESA program continues to evolve and adapt to these monumental changes even as we write this, the University of Vermont community is in the midst of searching for its 26th President to take our institution to a new level of excellence and national recognition. As changes around us continue to take place at a rapid pace, The Vermont Connection remains focused on our mission and vision. Change is the only thing that is constant. It can feel overwhelming and, at times, unpredictable. However, it is refreshing to observe all that is positive in the change in front of us, as well as the thoughtfulness and standard of excellence that can be detected at every point along the journey. We feel honored to be a part of this process, and we hope that you feel the support and collegial energy of the HESA community as you navigate the change and progress on your own campuses this year. All the best, Nick Negrete (HESA ’06) and Tricia Rascon (HESA ’06)


146 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 This year’s Executive and Full Boards would like to thank the following individuals who contributed to our successful fundraising over the past calendar year. Our alumni/ae and friends are responsible for the continued vitality and success of our efforts.

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Leadership Circle Donations of $250 or more Jacob Lee Diaz Ronald Alan Emler Robert Dwayne Kelly Jason Carroll Locke Hung Mai Madelyn Krest Nash Robert James Nash Janet Edgar Walbert

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Vector 8 Donations of $100 or more Christine Ellen Anthony Jeffrey Blair John F. Brennan Darlene J. Brown Patrick MacGregor Brown Patrick Joseph Buckley Elizabeth Bowman Burtis Meagan C. Burton-Krieger Amanda Louise Cook Carlos A. Costa Frederick H. Dalby Sidonia Tamule Dalby Jimmy Doan Aaron Michael Ferguson Jerry E. Flanagan Deanna M. Garrett-Ostermiller Jennifer A. Garrett-Ostermiller Jackie M. Gribbons Elizabeth Marie Guevara V. Hilton Hallock Sadika Sulaiman Hara Simon Hara

Jennifer Lynn Hart Bryan G. Hartman Kimberly Anne Howard Deborah Ellen Hunter Amy Huntington Marcia Craig Jacobs Jason Michael Johnson Susan Robb Jones Maria Joseph Khristian L. Kemp-DeLisser Sabrina T. Kwist Kathleen Manning Lester John Manzano Paul Joseph McLoughlin, II Stacey Aileen Miller Joseph Thomas Nairn Tonantzin Socorro Oseguera Thomas Everett Robinson Michael Daniel Russel Tomas Sanchez Frederick Carl Schneider Linda Vaughn Schreiner John Frederick Schwenger Michael Segawa Alan Lee Sickbert Annie Stevens Alvin Arbre Sturdivant Kurt Michael Thiede Alina Marie Torres-Zickler Nathaniel A. Victoria Jennifer Grace Wegner Daphne R. Wells Thomas Edward Whitcher Harriet Iris Williams


Donors • 147

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Editorial Board Club Donations of $75 or more Adam-Jon Aparicio Michelle Luff Brisson Barbara Dean Carskaddan Gary Alan Carskaddan Jason Jaesae Cha Jonathan Henry Jankowski Ann Crittenden Livingston George Steven Marshall Dorian L. McCoy Thomas O’Ryan Menchhofer Daren Rikio Mooko Lael Croteau Oldmixon James Anthony Pietrovito Janet Early Pietrovito Amiko Matsumoto Rorick

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Green & Gold Club Donations of $50 or more Lorriz Anne Alvarado Joyce Wagoner Ames Scott Richard Anderson Corin Elizabeth Blanchard Jonathan Isaac Bove Akirah Jerelle Bradley Randy Dorian Brown Jessica Belue Buckley Tom R. Burke Kathleen L. Campbell Brian Edward Canavan Nicole M. Chabot-Wieferich Rebecca J. Chabot-Wieferich Leah N. Charpentier Susan Schirmer Chiappetta Sarah Maria Childs Rachael Kathryn Class-Giguere Kristi Lonardo Clemens Danielle Marie Comey Kathleen Marie Cook

Xavier DeFreitas Dennis P. DePaul Deborah Ann Desjardins Margo Wallace-Druschel Stephen John Druschel Michael Addison Dunn Peggy Ann Mahaffy-Dunn Aaron Michael Ferguson Rachelle Ann Flisser Dara Lin Forsthoffer Kirsten Freeman Fox Pamela Kay Gardner Richard John Gatteau Amy Joan Gillard Michael Gerard Gunzenhauser Betty M. Hibler Sarah Elizabeth Hoffert Edward John Keagle Martha Burroughs Keagle David Allen Kembel Kim Barth Kembel Jace Kirschner B. Jean Leonard Kimberley Kirsch LeSage Sarah Conant Martin Merin Eglington Maxwell Laura Elizabeth Megivern Benjamin Christopher Meoz Matthew Neil Milner Stephan Moore Frank Michael Muñoz Martin Hershel Nadelman Garrett J. Naiman Christine Phuong Nguyen Nathan Divino Panelo Jean Marie Papalia Rosemary Jane Perez Louis D. Phelps, IV Audrey B. Place Tricia Rascon Enzo Rebula Salomon A. Rodezno Steven M. Rose


148 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33 Finn Jean Schneider Timothy Ryan Shiner John Gerald Spissinger, Jr. Susan Landers Spissinger Alissa B. Strong Ian Thomas Stroud Charlotte Ann Taylor Colleen Rose Toomey Iesha Gloria Valencia Matthew J. Van Jura Barbara Howland Verrier David Arthur Verrier Andrew Mcmahan Wells Timothy Lael Wilson Scott Thomas Wolterink Jennifer Ann Wowk John Donald Zacker Terry York Zacker

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Donor’s Club Donations of up to $50 Alexis Linda Andres Amarildo Barbosa Michelle L. Bartley-Taylor Joslyn DiRamio Bedell Caitlin Ann Bjellquist Kailee A. Brickner-McDonald Allen W. Brouillette Darcy O’Keefe Brouillette Mary Beth L. Carstens Douglas Alexander Dickey, Jr. Kimberly Equinoa Brendon Evans W. Dustin Evatt Alicia Lynn Ferrell Amanda Flores Kirsten Elizabeth Fricke Valerie Marie Garcia Corynn Marcum Gilbert Jennifer L. Granger Ken Jian Guan Payne Hiraldo

Brian Hooks Carrie Frances Williams Howe Eric A. Howe Brett Phillip Hulst Jacqueline Elizabeth Hyman Gina Marie Ippolito Suzanne Eileen Jolly Tamia Rashima Jordan Maureen C. Keefe Lorraine Betz Kelm Robert John Kelm Robyn Hogue Kummer Stephanie Nelle Kurtzman Ann Laubenheimer Larget Lewis Scott Lerman Alvin Lou Linda M. Lou Hannah Roberts Lozon Molly Susan MacElroy Heather Ann Maginnis Patricia Marin John Hubbard Miller Anna Iannuzzi Molettieri Alison L. Moll Katie Ann Morgan Nicholas Efren Negrete Stephen Marcoux Nelson Erika Lee Nestor Marian Frank Newman Adam Joseph Ortiz Jessica Lein Ortiz Gisele Laffaye Pansze Trent Woodson Pansze Viraj Shashin Patel Jennifer M. Pigza Heather Parkin Poppy Delilah Poupore Louis George Provost Marlene Collins Provost Christopher J. Purcell Katelyn Marie Sadler Nydia Maria Santana Kennith Hans Sartorelli


Donors • 149 Marybeth Bacon Sartorelli Lara Elizabeth Scott Laura Brina Semenow Jason Foster Simon Stephen Michael Sweet John deCani Taylor Patricia Turner-Gill Amber Ulmer Vay Cong Van Debbie VanSchaack Greg Palmer Voorheis Sarah Surgala Wasilko Susan Aleen Wilson Jesse Alexander Wingate Michael Paul Anthony Wong Jamen Ann Yeaton-Masi


150 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33

GUIDELINES FOR AUTHORS

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The Vermont Connection publishes articles dealing with student development, professional development, administrative concerns, and creative programs to improve student services. Manuscripts should focus on: original research; replication of research; reviews of research/literature; essays on theoretical, organizational, or professional issues; reviews of current literature relevant to the field; or practical reports of experiences from the field. Style Guidelines Manuscripts must be clear, concise, and interesting with a well-organized development of ideas. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition (2009) should be followed for reference style and general guidelines. • •

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Double space all material, including references, quotations, tables, and figures. Leave extra space above and below subheadings and allow generous margins (at least one-inch margins). Because manuscripts are processed through an anonymous review system, they should contain no clues to the author’s identity or institutional affiliation (with the exception of a separate title page as outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition). Where appropriate, institutional identification will be inserted after acceptance of the manuscript. Research manuscripts should total no more than fifteen (15) double-spaced, typewritten pages (approximately 3,000 words) including references, figures, and tables. Shorter articles are accepted and encouraged. Original research (literary, qualitative, quantitative, or scholarly personal narrative) is encouraged. All such work should be applicable to the higher education and student affairs professions.


Guidelines for Authors • 151 • Field reports should not exceed three (3) pages (approximately 600 words in length). They should briefly report on or describe new practices, programs, or techniques. Authors should supply additional background information for interested parties who may request it. • Dialogues/Interviews should follow the manuscript guidelines outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition. They should take the form of verbatim exchange, oral or written, between two or more people. • Book reviews should not exceed five (5) pages in length (approximately 1,000 words). Proposed titles to be reviewed should be approved by the Full Board. Authors are fully responsible for obtaining such texts. Additionally, it is the author’s responsibility to secure permission to quote or adapt text content. A copy of the publisher’s written permission must be provided to the Full Board before any manuscript can be published. • Authors are responsible for the accuracy of all references, quotations, tables, and figures. Authors should make every effort to ensure that such items are complete and correct. Submission Instructions •

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Form and content of manuscripts should comply with the above style guidelines and the general guidelines of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition. Manuscripts that do not conform to these guidelines cannot be considered. Never submit manuscripts that have been previously published or are currently under consideration for publication. Material should be submitted electronically only; visit The Vermont Connection website for more information. It is imperative for authors to adhere to all dates outlined in the Call for Articles.

The Vermont Connection Executive Board will be responsible for all publication and editorial decisions. Visit http://uvm.edu/tvc for additional information.


152 • The Vermont Connection • 2012 • Volume 33

Notes


Volume 33 Full Journal