Reflections on ACPA 2018 by Devin Buhdram

Authenticity and Representation are two ideas that we as student affairs professionals speak about a lot; specifically in regard to supporting our student populations and their success in many different aspects. Whether it be hiring staff at all levels that represent the ever changing student demographics, creating inclusive spaces where students can live, share ideas, and feel valued and visible, or utilizing processes that allow for the decolonization of systems, we advocate and strive to ensure our students get the resources they need to transition, be successful and graduate.

I find that we speak about it in smaller, quieter voices when it comes to these being important ideas to support our newer or even seasoned professionals.

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Implementing Intentional Conversations into Your Residence Life & Curriculum Work

Implementing Intentional Conversations into Your Residence Life & Curriculum Work
ACPA Commission for Housing and Residence Life Sponsored Program
Monday, March 12 | 4:00-5:00p | 342E
Presenters: Dr. Paul Brown & Dr. Hillary Lichterman

Staff in departments of housing and residence life are changing the way they approach educational initiatives within residential communities.  Influenced, in part, by the rise of the curricular approach to student learning beyond the classroom, many campuses have moved away from traditional programming models towards the recognition and utilization of various diversified strategies for engaging students.  One strategy that has grown increasingly popular is the use of guided, 1-on-1, peer conversations.  These intentional interactions, or intentional conversations, are a means of connecting with students individually and contextualizing learning to a student’s unique needs and situations.

During our session at the 2018 ACPA Convention, we will unpack the concept of “intentionality” and discuss the benefits and challenges of using intentional conversations as an educational strategy. Advice and resources will be shared on how to implement effective interactions through intentionally developed guides and prompts.  Furthermore, we will explore how transitioning to this approach can impact staff selection and training as well as assessment techniques. Continue reading

On Fishbowls, Role Modeling, & Self-Care by Sandie Downs, M.A.

fishbowl blog

At last, the end of the year has come or is closer than ever.  In residence life, we often like to celebrate the accomplishments of the last year through banquets and award ceremonies.  Working with student leadership groups, I had the opportunity to watch the National Residence Hall Honorary recognize others with their “fishbowl”: a literal candy-filled fishbowl given to the residence hall that has written the most “Of the Month” awards (a recognition tool used by the National Association of College and University Residence Halls). It’s a fun tradition, and although the candy tends to disappear in a few short minutes, the image of a fishbowl is something that has long been in my mind. Continue reading

Putting the Mission in Commission: A Word from Our Chair, Laura Arroyo

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Commission for Housing and Residential Life,

It is with much excitement and thanks that I begin my time as your CHRL Chair. For those of you that attended ACPA, you may have heard ACPA’s new and BOLD Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice. However we recognize that many were unable to attend convention and therefore wish to share with you the following important statement: Continue reading

Is It Best to Live On Campus? Living Environments and Student Engagement: Research Findings & Implications

Living Environments and Student Engagement: Research Findings and Implications
ACPA Commission for Housing and Residence Life Sponsored Program
Tuesday, March 28| 4:45-5:45p | Convention Center A124
Presenters: Polly Graham, Sarah Hurtado, Bob Gonyea

Within the higher education community, there is a tacit belief that living on campus is more beneficial to students than living off campus. Residence life professionals in particular have experiential knowledge that supports this assumption. Most residential programs offer targeted programming, professional staffing, and increased access to a wide variety of resources, among other amenities. With increased access to these resources, it is commonsensical to assume that living on-campus offers more to students than other housing options. Additionally, there is scholarship that affirms the advantages of on-campus living, probably most well-known being Pascarella and Terenzini’s How College Affects Students.

In the 1991 edition, they assert the significance of residence life, concluding living on campus was “the single most consistent within-college determinant of the impact of college” (p. 611).

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(Re)imagining Theory-to-Practice in Residential Education

ACPA Commission for Housing and Residence Life Sponsored Program
Tuesday, March 28| 10:00a-12:15p | Convention Center B234
Presenters: Reginald Blockett, Arian Bryant, Kelly Hennessy

Enjoy learning about theory? Are you always looking for ways to incorporate theory into your practice? Do you want to learn about how student development theory has evolved over time? Research encourages incorporating theory into higher education and student affairs practice and as educators we are always examining how this is actually occurring on campuses. Using residence life as a context and by bringing together graduate students, scholar-practitioners, and faculty, ACPA will offer a session that will (Re)imagine theory-to-practice in residential education. This session will generate new insights into how a diverse group of educators actively foster a theory-to-practice culture across multiple institutional contexts. Continue reading

Transformative Residential Curricula: Lessons Learned Over 10 Years

ACPA Commission for Housing and Residence Life Sponsored Program
Monday, March 27 | 9:30a-10:30a | Convention Center B131
Presenters: Dr. Hilary Lichterman, Dr. Kathleen G. Kerr, Dr. Keith Edwards

Take a moment to think about the past 10 years.  No doubt, that prompt can conjure up various transitions in your life, job, and other commitments as well as positive anecdotes and challenging circumstances.  On the national scene in student affairs, the curricular approach in beyond the classroom settings started 10 years ago as an emergent trend for residence life practice.  Today, colleagues leading divisions of student affairs and serving in a myriad of functional areas of student affairs around the globe consider the curricular approach to be obvious practice to enhance student learning. Continue reading

Activating the Potential for Student Bystander Intervention on Campus by Laura Stiltz Dahl

ACPA Commission for Housing and Residence Life Sponsored Program
Monday, March 27 | 12:45-1:45p | Convention Center C162AA
Presenter: Laura Stiltz Dahl, MEd

Most college and university administrators know their campuses are “at-risk” environments for sexual misconduct (McMahon, 2010).  Research suggests that 1 in 5 women, 1 in 16 men, and nearly 1 in 4 students identifying as transgender or gender non-conforming experience sexual and partner violence while in college (Cantor, et al., 2015; Krebs, Lindquist, Warner, Fisher, & Martin, 2007), with most campus assaults involving alcohol and occurring in social settings such as residence halls or fraternities (Abbey, Ross, McDuffie, & McAulens, 1996; Fisher, Cullen, & Turner, 2001; Messman-Moore, Coates, Gaffey, & Johnson, 2008).

Since more than 50% of survivors do not report because they believe the event was not “serious enough,” college campuses need to do more to prevent campus sexual assault as well as create a campus environment supportive of survivors.

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Carving Your Path in 2017 by Steven Knepp


I have, up until recently, thought about my future within the context of employment. Location. Title. Pay. Job Responsibilities. However, it wasn’t until recently that I began thinking about my future through a new lens.

What do I want to be known for in Student Affairs and Higher Education? What is my legacy? As we enter into a new calendar year, 2017 may be the perfect opportunity to think about your legacy!


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We Never Imagined This: Life as a First-Gen Student and #SAPro by Kristi Hipp


A year ago almost to the day, I experienced the death of a student for the second time as a professional. I was in my second year as a professional, and in my first year working at a small private school in Saint Louis, Missouri. The student in question was beloved across campus, and the loss was one that shook the campus community to its very core.

As is usual for me, after I got home for the night I called my parents to debrief the situation. I had lost another student the previous year to a tragic accident, and had dealt with several suicidal ideations and other crises. As I was debriefing the day for my parents, they made a comment that has stuck with me ever since:

“When you told us you wanted to do this for a living, we never imagined this.”

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