#SAadvocates for #TodaysStudents: NASPA 2019 Advocacy

As the leading voice of student affairs, NASPA – Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education provides insight on federal and state public policy proposals that influence the daily lives of today’s students. Representing over 15,000 members across the world, NASPA connects our members and the broader field of student affairs with timely information and commentary to provide foundational knowledge and in-depth analysis of current policy conversations as well as support NASPA members in learning about emerging policy conversations. 

NASPA policy and advocacy staff publish weekly blog posts to the NASPA website across a wide variety of topics. With a field as diverse as student affairs, our work encompasses the spectrum from how NASPA research can inform policy development in areas such as student food and housing insecurity and support for first-generation students to comparisons of bills designed to address cultures of hazing, discussions of how regulatory changes may exacerbate food and housing insecurity for new immigrants, and state trends in legislation related to student expressive rights. This work is summarized in a monthly email that provides an at-a-glance update to what’s happening on the Hill along with links to policy statements and sign-on letters NASPA has joined.

In December 2019, NASPA held our second Hill Days event in recent years. More than a simple fly-in advocacy day, the 2019 NASPA Hill Days experience provided training and practice in civic engagement for student affairs professionals at all levels from new professionals to vice presidents. Through the late summer and fall, participants engaged with NASPA policy and advocacy and civic learning and democratic engagement staff to prepare for visits with Congressional members and staff in early December. This planning helped participants build a strong foundation of knowledge about key public policy issues, their individual Congressional delegations, and techniques for engaging in advocacy.

From December 2-4, 70 student affairs professionals representing 28 states and the District convened in DC. Our advocates scheduled and participated in 96 meetings, 55 House-side meetings and 42 Senate-side. Seventeen of those meeting were confirmed and scheduled during the event – our participants went above and beyond to work in as many meetings as they could! #SAadvocates used their professional experiences, stories, and data to connect real students and their circumstances to the policy proposals under consideration in Congress as part of on-going discussions to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, provide protection and support for Dreamers, and clarify Congressional direction to the Department of Education about institutional responsibilities related to Title IX.

As a member of the Today’s Students Coalition Steering Committee, NASPA will remain committed to these issues and to providing timely content to help student affairs advocates contribute both to campus conversations and public policy discussions as we head into 2020 and beyond.