Why is a student affairs pro on her way to a radical grassroots organizing conference? #roots12

I am writing this post while on a flight to Washington DC, headed to my first RootsCamp “unfconference” where hundreds of organizers from across the US will come together to share ideas and create conversations about successful practices in order to organize around causes they care about.

At first glance, I am sure many people in the field would dismiss this conference as “something my students would go to”, or possibly “what I might be doing if I wasn’t so busy on my own campus.”  It is true that this conference does not offer the tradition Student Affairs practitioner sessions.  It won’t offer speeches from authors in our field, a chance to meet other people around the region that do the exact same thing as us, or speak specifically to how we retain our students.   But in these differences are its real strengths.

When was the last time you stepped outside of the HigherEd bubble and saw how things were run in the corporate or non-profit world?  When have you taken time to volunteer for a major (non-college related) organization?  I find that there is immense value in stepping outside of the field of Student Affairs and interacting with individuals whose goals are in alignment with our own (make this world a better place and help others succeed) but are working at it from a different angle.

What I hope to gain from RootsCamp:

A reminder of what is important

I hope that this conference will remind me of what is most important in my work.  Sure, things like how quickly a student can fill out a spring break form matters, but what matters more is that our students are aware of what is happening in the world around them.  Yes, it matters that students learn how to plan a program, but it is matters more that a student who is struggling to make ends meet has the supports in place to finish her degree. I expect that going to a conference with hundreds of organizers will put my work into perspective.

A completely new way of doing things

When ask to think about it, you may be forced to admit that it has been a while since you have learned through a Student Affairs conference a completely new way of approaching a problem or designing a program on our campus.  Many times we are reminded of things we heard about, but didn’t take the time to fully research and implement, or a slight shift in how you were doing something on your campus already.  There is a really obvious reason for that – we are all recycling the ideas we learn at our past institutions.

Getting outside of the HigherEd bubble I expect to be exposed to some completely new ways of approaching problems; new ways of engaging an audience or growing a movement.  We need to step outside of our own insular world sometimes to bring fresh ideas to the table.

A new approach to communicating

This won’t be my first unconference.  I may actually be going on number 3 or 4 since I first heard of the concept.  However, I recognize that it is still a fairly new idea for our field.  UNconferencing asks people to come forward on the first day of the conference and make up the conference schedule on a giant wall.  Some people (who don’t know each other) with similar themes will join together and joint present on a topic, others will bring pre-set presentations to share.  The scale of this unconference is going to be so much larger than I have ever seen and I am looking forward to being on the volunteer side of things so I can see how it is all put together!

I will no doubt have much more to share after the weekend, and I certainly will also have something to say about being ‘radical’ on your campus after having broken the mold of SA conferences by headed to RootsCamp.  But I will leave you with this one thought for now: What have you done lately that has exposed you to fresh ideas?  When was the last time you stepped outside of the Student Affairs field and gotten a truly new perspective?  What was it you learned?  Please share in the comments section.

I’ll be tweeting throughout the conference at #roots12 . Rootscamp is sponsered by the New Organizing Institute (NOI)


[Infographic] Why SAPros are really superheroes in disguise


Image Credits
Superman: Alex Ross
Lois Lane: Killian Plunkett
SA Team (JLA): Jim Lee, http://www.joinwecanbeheroes.org/
Superhero/Alterego prints: by Danny Haas, http://society6.com/artist/r0gue
Superhero Playing Cards: RedRaspus on Flickr
Origingally posted on Student Affairs Women Talk Tech on 2.7.12

SA Women Talk Tech: Linkage Love

As a techie woman, and curious student affairs professional, I am always looking for free or cheap technology focused professional development opportunities in my city. I am lucky enough to call Boston my home, a city with an abundance of conferences, tweetups, and socials. Over the course of the year, I have attended events such as PodCamp6, A11y Tech Accessibility Unconference, Educators & Entrepreneurs Summit: The Future of Education Technology, NY Internet Week, and MegaTweetup3. At each of these events I always have the opportunity to learn about a new piece of technology that sounds promising. I come home with a pocketful of business cards, file them, and forget about them. I am sure you’ve had a similar experience. It’s not like you meant to forget them, but life just keeps going and you don’t take the time to look into that new piece of tech.

This past weekend, in the process of cleaning up my apartment managed to unearth a stack of cards and notes from the year’s various events and wanted to share some of my favorites with you.

This start up was tabling at one of the conferences to give attendees a look at the future of technology competency. I believe that our students are not as tech savvy as we give them credit for. We often think that students have more experience with programs such as Excel, Photoshop, or Google applications just because they are younger than we are. I find however that our students have a ways to go when it comes to using computer applications in a way that is useful for their organizations and their jobs. This website, still in it’s infancy, has begun to create a platform for testing and sharing technology competency scores. One day we may be posting our Smarterer scores on our resume, but in the meantime, it is a fun site to visit, test yourself, and perhaps even create a test to challenge your student leaders to grow their tech knowledge.


This gem I just learned about tonight from @robbiesamuels while at the the#MegaTweetup. Robbie uses Rapportive to be able to pull in all of the information from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to help him make connections with all of the people he emails. When you are in your Gmail account and have the program installed, you can see all of a person’s latest tweets and their contact information just by hovering over their name. Once you connect the program with your LinkedIn contacts, you might also discover connections between your friends and co-workers that you didn’t even know existed! Gist is another program that does something very similar. If you are a Gmail user, I suggest you check them out.

myhappypost.com: A social experiment to spread happiness

This project was one that I was introduced to at a street fair. I was talking by a table and asked the question “What makes you happy?” What a great question to ask a stranger I thought. The team that created this project is spreading joy into the communities around the world by asking them to share of what they enjoy in life, making people smile, and passing along the sense of satisfaction from one person to another. On the brick wall across from the table was hundreds of post-it notes from people at the fair that wanted to share. Immediately I thought of what a great project this would be to bring back to my college. Check out the project, and see if the thought of bringing the happiness project to your institution makes you smile :)


Does our constant connectedness kill our creativity?

Commuting. Walking. Waiting. We are never alone.  We have angry birds, plants vs. zombies, and facebook to keep us company. Whether we are sitting completely alone in a room, or waiting in a room full of dozens of others, our phones are our pacifiers and our safety net.  If you have 20 minutes until the next bus comes, you don’t fret because you know you have something to occupy your time.  If you are caught in a space with people you don’t know, you don’t have to reach outside of your comfort zone and awkwardly talk to someone else, you just pull out your phone.

I know you have heard it all before.  Pundits tell you to unplug from technology.  Authors write about how it is hurting our ability to get work done.  We feel guilty for being allowing a dependence on our techno gadgets.  It’s easy to rationalize our relationship with technology (and specifically our smart phones) because you see so many others around you with the same approach.

I am no different.  I never leave home without my iphone in my pocket and my ipad in my purse.  However I read an article a while back that planted an idea in my head that has been eating at me.  Does our constant connectedness kill our creativity?

As a techie, your mind probably does the same thing that mine does – instantly defends the stance that constant technological connectedness ENHANCES our creativity.  We share ideas, we build communities, we are exposed to new perspectives!  What could be bad about that?

But consider this; what did you used to do in all of those moments commuting, walking, and waiting before you had a smartphone?  Daydreaming, list making and absorbing information about your surroundings.  You were taking in the world in a different way.  Perhaps it was just to see an exciting new font, a shoe style on the person next to you that reminded you to call your brother, or read a magazine that had an article that spurs your next blog post.  The article I read proposed that without these moments of daydreaming, the unstructured time in our lives not invaded by videogames, facebook, and TV shows, we don’t allow ourselves to make the random connections that become a fully formed thought, which in turn can become an idea that leads to a true creativity.

I am not proposing that we cut all technology out of our lives.  I am certainly not suggesting we throw out our smart phones (my iphone isn’t going anywhere!).  I am simply suggesting that instead of pulling out a smartphone the next time you are on the subway or waiting in line, you consider using those precious minutes in your life to just take in the world around you and see what creative moments it might inspire.

Note: I do want to acknowledge that I am writing this article aimed at the privileged folks in Student Affairs who are able to afford a smartphone and other fancy pieces of tech.  If you are not one of those people, consider my article as a good way to rationalize enjoying this freedom from the smartphone world, and how much more thoughtful you have the potential be without the distraction J


Originally posted on the SA Women Talk Tech Blog at: http://wp.me/p17gVe-wc

If you could relive any moment in your life what would it be?

Several months ago I clicked on a twitter link to a TED talk that started with a statement, “Imagine if you could record your life…you can go back and find memorable moments and relive them…sift through traces of time and discover patterns in your own life that had gone previously undiscovered…”  The TED talk by MIT researcher Deb Roy went on to show a project that this speaker embarked on that captured on video the first two years of his son’ life.  While the project was interesting in itself, what really captured my attention was the “question” embedded at the beginning of his presentation.

I reframed it to think about what moments in my life I would have really love to have captured.  Whether on video or through some sort of futuristic sci-fi virtual reality where I get to actually relive the moment, there are certainly moments in my life that rise to the top of my mind.  I began with asking myself the question, when was I most happy?

For me, I immediately thought of the time I spent with my brother and his wife two summers ago.  We spent an afternoon on a hot Northern California summer day sitting together on the edge of a cool river.  The older of my two nephews splashed around in the water while we took turns holding the baby.  We ate cheese curds with dried apples and drank ice-cold cider. In that moment it felt like time stopped.  The only decisions that needed to be made was whether you would want to go swimming or just sit and watch others playing in the water.

In thinking about this memory I tried to identify the key elements that made it so significant in my mind.  Relaxing. Family. Food. Conversation. Clearly these are all very good things.  But only when I started to make my list of other moments that I want to relive did I begin to see patterns.

My Short List

  • My birthday when a group of friends went had a picnic at a winery in Santa Barbara and watched Shakespeare in the park.
  • The small backyard dinner party I threw with two friends at Beacon Street. Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas & Black Bean Dip made the menu.
  • Bocce Ball & a summer picnic in the park in downtown Bowling Green with new friends from BGSU.
  • Canoeing (sans paddle) on the Louisiana bayou with my cousin.
  • Enjoying a Fall weather chili cookout “tailgate” before a BGSU football game.

In making my list, I found that time and time again I would think about experiences when I am with friends, times when I am having great conversations, and of course, occasions when I am enjoying wonderful food.

Using the computer, watching TV, and hanging out alone didn’t make the short list (or even a long list).  Sure, these are all things that I do regularly, but if these are not the moments that I want to remember in my life, it begs the question, is this how I want to be spending my time?

After making this list, I resolve to reallocate my time to doing more of what matters most to me. I resolve to cut out timewasters, like watching TV so that I can get out of my apartment and begin making connections.  I resolve increase my social circle to include people who I can learn from and enjoy having great conversations with.  I also resolve to keep enjoying food whenever possible J

I encourage everyone who reads this blog to make your own list.  Think about the times in your life when you were happiest.  Think about moments when you felt most alive.  Who were you with and how did they make you feel?  This list can serve as a reminder to you, as mine will for me, about what is most important in your life.  Hopefully it will also help you prioritize your time and find ways to make those moments happen more often.  Your themes will be different from mine, but what is most important (in the absence of a sci-fi virtual reality) is that you are actively making new memories that bring you happiness.

SA WomenTalkTech: Why SAPros will survive the Zombie Apocalypse #sazombie

Have you ever been watching a zombie movie or TV show and wondered how you would fair if you were stuck in the same situation?  I have often, and have recently come to the conclusion that as student affairs professionals we are better off than the average person when it comes to living in a post-apocalyptic world.  We’ve got the the resources and the experience, because let’s face it, come April we all feel like zombies (@clconzen).

Do you know more SAPro survival skills? Post them on the comments below!  Also, I HIGHLY suggest checking out the Disaster Preparedness Simulation Exercise created by a USF employee in 2009.  Read all about the controversy is caused on the SunSentinel.com.  In that regard, I would like to say that this was created in jest and is in no way associated with the college at which I work.

Below this infographic I have listed all of the great tweets that contributed to the creation of this post.  Thank you to everyone who gave me their ideas!  A enlarged version of the converted H1N1 sign is also posted below.



  • Friday duty nights are nothing compared to nights of the living dead @Clconzen
  • Face it…come April we all feel like zombies @Clconzen
  • SA pros negotiate work/life balance while zombies balance work/undeath balance @Clconzen
  • SA pros running on all cylinders with almost no sleep is just a normal day at work. @ECrumrine
  • We have closets full of snacks and candy for next week’s program & keys to the univ getaway golf @OberBecca
  • We’ll just write a developmental theory that will make their brains explode as they connect to emotion. @Kmagura
  • Hoarding supplies, leading groups of survivors, first aid kits, availability of sporting equipment and board games. @demonsean
  • We certainly WON’T if we do our thing and “meet them where they are” ;) @justcameo
  • ZBSD reference from the unofficial Emergency Planning Document, UF Disaster Preparedness Simulation Exercise (Check out page 5 for the “Infected Co-Worker Dispatch Form”!)

Reuse H1N1 sign to save time and money


Graphic Credits:

Flashlight by Mark A. Hicks, Candy from Clipartheaven.com, Pea shooter from Bryan Lopez, Tired Student from 1photos.com , Undead student & party zombies from JessFaulk, Key from Freepik.com, Golf Cart from Muddy Waters Metal Art , Microphone from WorldPolicy.org , Zombie Twitter Sticker from coolpics.blogspot.com , H1N11 sign from safetysign.com , Brain by BestVector & ZBSD reference by UF staff member

This was  posted on the SAWomenTalkTech blog Friday, December 9, 2011.

SA Women Talk Tech: Linkage Love

Transgender Remembrance Day


Twelve years ago Transgender Day of Remembrance was created to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred.  On November 20, 2011 we will pause to honor those transgender persons who were forever lost to the world.  If you don’t have a transgender remembrance memorial or program on campus or in your community, consider sending out information and links to shed light on this very serious topic.

From Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition:

  • 13%-56% of transgender people had been fired
  • 13%-47% had been denied employment
  • 22%-31% had been harassed, either verbally or physically, in the workplace

From Youth Pride, Inc.:

  • 33.2% of transgender youth have attempted suicide. (2006).
  • 55% of transgender youth report being physically attacked. (GLSEN, 2003).
  • 74% of transgender youth reported being sexually harassed at school, and 90% of transgender youth reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression. (GLSEN, 2001).
  • In a survey of 403 transgender people, 78% reported having been verbally harassed and 48% reported having been victims of assault, including assault with a weapon, sexual assault or rape. (1997).

To find out about events happening around the world, visit the International Transgender Day of Remembrance website, http://www.transgenderdor.org/.

It Gets BetterIt Gets Better
@ItGetsBetter, #ItGetsBetter
The It Gets Better project was created in September 2010 to share with LGBT youth a positive future.  The hope is that these videos which allow LGBT people to share their own stories of survival and success will help a younger generation get through difficult times and feel supported through their teen years.

I recommend viewing the It Gets Better pagefocused specifically on the experiences of Transgender individuals for National Trans Remembrance Day

Show your Campus Pride!Campus-Pride-

Campus Pride is an organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students. The organization is a volunteer-driven network “for” and “by” student leaders. Campus Pride hosts a number of resources available to college students, and provides a place for LGBT teens to look for queer-friendly colleges throughhttp://www.campusclimateindex.org/  Consider getting your college listed on the index!

Listen to a recent interview with Campus Pride executive director Shane Windmeyer (@shanewindmeyer) and Eric Stoller (@ericstoller) on Student Affairs Live

Originally posted on 11/18/11 on the SA Women Talk Tech Blog

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