A program developed by Wesleyan’s Residential
Life received the Program of the Year Award from the National Association of
Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), based in Washington DC.
The Social Justice Training Program, spearheaded by Residential Life’s area
coordinators, teaches and trains about 100 student-staff members on the
topics of social justice, the cycle of socialization, dominant and
subordinate group dynamics, privilege and power and the action continuum. It
also stresses liberation from systems of oppression, through exploring
specific forms of oppression, including racism, sexuality and gender systems
of oppression, class and religious oppression.
Fran Koerting, director of Residential Life, nominated the program for the
“By participating in the program, our student-staff is able to apply the
knowledge they learned in creating inclusive communities within their
residential area, how to interrupt and confront instances of oppression and
how to respond to hate and bias incidents,” Koerting says.
The Program of the Year award is awarded to
programs that have been implemented within the three previous years.
Programs were evaluated on innovation and creativity, contribution to
student development and/or professional development, contribution to the
home institution and timeliness of topic.
Program planning began in June 2006, with input from student leaders and
colleagues from other departments, as well as the Residential Life central
staff and student staff members.
During the two-hour sessions held on five consecutive days during August
training, students had the opportunity to listen, discuss and reflect as
well as participate in various activities. In-services are being held
throughout the year.
The trainers taught the student-leaders how to appreciate different cultures
and lifestyles; understand how social justice relates to the job; how to
feel comfortable facilitating conversations; being aware of social justice
resources, and knowing the protocol for bias and hate incidents.
Not only did the program have a significant impact on the student staff, but
it also affected the area coordinators who had developed it, Dawn Brown,
Sharise Brown, Brandon Buehring, Eric Heng and Robin Hershkowitz.
“All five of us have had significant experience as professionals in
Residential Life for at least three years, yet we found the experience of
developing and collaborating as well as conducting the training contributed
a new and exciting opportunity," explains Hershkowitz, the area coordinator
of Nicolson, Hewitt and Fauver Residence halls. "Not only were we excited
that we were able to conduct these trainings with our students, but the
experience contributed greatly to our personal and professional growth."
The university is considering adapting the Residential Life Social Justice
Training Program for use with faculty and staff.
“As for the Wesleyan community, social justice is one of the most important
issues for students and staff alike,” Koerting says. “Instituting a year
long focus, and providing student staff with the information and tools to
address the issues with their residents, makes it possible to have a
significant impact on the entire community.”
The area coordinators have also shared the program with their colleagues in
the field through a session at the Northeast Association of College and
University Housing Officers New Professionals Program on Oct. 20. In
addition, they will present a session on the program during the annual NASPA/Association
of College Personnel Administrators conference in Florida in March.
The NASPA, headquartered in Washington DC, is the leading voice for student
affairs administration, policy and practice and affirms the commitment of
student affairs to educating the whole student and integrating student life
and learning. With over 11,000 members at 1,200 campuses, and representing
29 countries, NASPA members are committed to serving college students by
embracing the core values of diversity, learning, integrity, service,
fellowship and the spirit of inquiry.