The Question

As a student affairs professional, is our charge first to the students or the University?

This question falls in a grey area for most. This is most likely not a yes or no answer. But, if you could only respond with yes or no, what’s your response?

I have been asking several professionals over the past few weeks how they would respond to this question and even asked some students which led to great conversations over this thought provoking question. My favorite responses came from the students who shared in thought how they see us professionals. Their responses varied in “student first” and “university first.”

If you were curious as to my response: I believe our duty as student affairs professionals should be toward the University based on reasoning listed below. Now for those of you who thought student were first. I don’t believe your response is wrong. Again, this is a grey area. By the way, it makes for great discussion at the lunch table.

For the University:
  • If we are for the University, inevitably we are for the students.
  • It’s our job as professionals to use the rules and regulations set forth by the University as a foundation that leads to the overall growth of students.
  • Am I the only one who has been burned hit bumps along the way when operating temporarily under the “student first” though concept? I can’t be. Lessons learned.
  • To quote a colleague, “We work with students in four year stints. Many students we don’t see again after they depart the institution. Relationships with colleagues will last much longer and will have more of an impact on ones professional experiences.”
I’m definitely not saying I’m right with my thought process as I have shared with you. I believe this is a question to be answered individually by each professional. What works for me will not work for each person. Also, this concept is determined by our undergraduate, graduate, and work experiences.

So the question still stands...

Let me know your thoughts, tweet me @jjwil325

Joshua Wilson

Student Affairs - the First Years

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