Blogging Student Affairs and Technology

Inside Higher Ed - blogging about student affairs and technology - Eric Stoller

I am thrilled to announce that I’m going to be blogging about Student Affairs and Technology for Inside Higher Ed (IHE). As an avid reader of IHE, I am very excited to join the IHE blogging team. I think that my posts on student affairs + technology will complement Joshua Kim’s blog on Technology and Learning.

Recently, I held a contest via Twitter to name my new blog. The incentive — a $100 Amazon gift card — courtesy of Inside Higher Ed. Several folks came up with interesting/creative blog names. I think the #SAChat Community provided the majority of ideas. Student Affairs folks are uber creative.

Here are my 3 favorite submissions:

  • Jeff Jackson: The Stoller Strikes Back, Return of the Blogosphere, Student Affairs….I am Your Blogger
  • Zack Ford: Challenge and Tech Support
  • ACUHO-I (sent via DM): Binary Code of Conduct

Choosing a winner from these 3 has been extremely challenging. Star Wars references, Sanford, and an entire Association…how cool is that?!! After more than a week of deliberate (intentional ;-) ) deliberating I have decided that the winner of the gift card is:


Zack Ford’s submission made me laugh. It’s subtle….and I love subtlety. The obvious nod / homage to Nevitt Sanford warms the heart. Challenge and Support is one of my all-time favorite, and oft-used, student development theories.

It should be noted that Julie Larsen was correct…the official name of my new blog is going to be: Student Affairs and Technology. The name needed to be something that would be simple enough that any IHE reader would know exactly what it was about. The blog also needed to be search engine friendly…”Students Affairs + Technology” is simple and searchable.

Stay tuned for my first official post on Inside Higher Ed!

Honorable mention:

Julie P-Kirchmeier: Stoller: Resistance is Futile

Niki Rudolph: Epic Stoller

Justine Carpenter: Tech Tips for SAPs

Christopher Conzen: The Stoller Coaster

Sustaining social media strategies

Twitter birds by Chris Wallace

I was checking out the Twittersphere the other day via TweetDeck when I noticed a rather edgy tweet by Brad J Ward:

How sustainable is your social web strategy? 4 tweets since June from @elginspartans. Just some food for thought. via @bradjward

Brad’s tweet got me thinking about how I approach the Twitter accounts that I manage for OSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences. We have two accounts: HHS Advising and OSU HHS. My personal Twitter account, @ericstoller, is not affiliated with the HHS accounts. I keep everything separate during the work day with the help of CoTweet. If I am on vacation, out sick, etc., our web team can access CoTweet and post on the HHS Twitter accounts. Our social media strategy in HHS is not predicated upon the social media following of any one individual. It’s a team effort. It’s an organizational strategy that will (hopefully) continue regardless of individual personnel ebb and flow.

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Life@Lane student blog

Lane Community College Eugene Oregon Student Blogs
Life@Lane is a “student moderated blog” at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. I happened to stumble upon the site while checking out some summer classes at LCC. The blog is prominently advertised on the Lane Community College homepage.

I scrolled down through several posts and was intrigued by a post titled “Would The World Be Better With Women As Leaders?” The post basically says that women are emotional and therefore are not capable of being leaders. Jeffrey, the writer of the post and student at Lane, states in a response to a comment that “i don’t think my gender is superior i just don’t think women would be a good world leader.” Unbelievable. How can Lane Community College support this blog? How can Lane Community College stand behind this overtly sexist post/comment?

Here is the initial blurb about the blog via the LCC Marketing and Public Relations Office:

Life at Lane Student Blog

LIFE@LANE, A STUDENT MODERATED BLOG, launched from Lane’s homepage. Topics are generated by Lane’s Student Service Associates. Student blogs are common at four-year institutions. Lane is among the first community colleges to host a student blog. The purpose is to provide a communication tool primarily for current and prospective students and to increase “community” access.

How in the hell does this blog “increase ‘community’ access”? Student blogs are a common method of providing student insights into the student experience at a college/university. Student blogs are supposed to build community. They are not supposed to perpetuate stereotypes. It seems that Jeffrey, the student blogger at Lane, wanted to generate controversy and not build community. Marketing and Public Relations officials at Lane Community College should post an apology on the Life @ Lane blog, fire Jeffrey, and start moderating the commentary of the Life@Lane blog. I highly doubt that this is how they want life at Lane Community College to be represented.

Looking forward

A theme that I have come across lately is the idea of looking forward in order to move past an issue. I feel that looking forward or forward thinking is a good thing as long as the issue at hand has been addressed. Unfortunately, a lot of times, the concept of looking forward becomes PR speak for not actually addressing the issue but going back to the status quo.

The fall term at Oregon State University provides an example of this idea of doing nothing but saying that we are looking forward type of thinking. In the fall term, OSU’s community was focused on two separate racist incidents. A student wearing blackface was featured on the front of the campus newspaper (ensuing conversations, editorials, and Facebook groups underscored a campus climate that is not bereft of racism) and a noose was hung in the yard of an OSU fraternity. Both incidents received a lot of press and generated several meetings amongst campus community members. An official statement from President Ray was issued in November.

The first half of the statement focuses on the amount of media coverage that occurred in the fall term:

In recent weeks, The Oregonian and other media have carried coverage focusing on the campus climate at OSU regarding race, recent incidents regarding racial symbols and steps the university is taking to address these matters. We have long recognized the need to address such matters here at OSU.

The last paragraph of the statement really sums up my feelings on how the fall was addressed:

I do not want us to engage in a cyclical pattern of negative events, meaningful dialogues, and then business as usual. We have committed to look at the issues students raised and to make progress. The notion that nothing changes is simply not acceptable.

And then the fall term ended. People went on winter break and poof, the racist occurrences from the fall term seemed to have been swept under the rug at the front door of the capital campaign.

Near the end of winter term, an article titled, “A University Examines Underlying Problems After Racist Incidents” was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education on March 11th (my apologies for the lack of speediness with my post). [Full text].

The concept of looking ahead to the future rather than focusing on racist incidents is brought forth in the article:

Administrators at Oregon State, unlike their peers at many colleges, have taken the view that it would be a mistake for them to focus their energy on responding to various racist incidents. To make lasting progress in diminishing racism, they say, campus leaders must focus on promoting diversity in a forward-looking manner, between the controversies that erupt.

In what I feel is another part of the cyclical pattern of how incidents are handled at OSU, another statement was issued from the president’s office the same day as the Chronicle article was published. Statement issuing seems to occur in conjunction only when significant media coverage is present. The statement speaks of action “through ongoing dialogue, surveys, and other means to assess where we stand and what we must do to make real progress.”

I do not feel that we can look forward without addressing incidents like the ones that happened in the fall term. “Looking forward” becomes code for waiting until people are quiet again and the media has moved on to another story.

University of Michigan + Ableism

University of Michigan
The University of Michigan‘s Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor is apparently in violation of the American’s with Disabilities Act. A letter sent to the University of Michigan by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) (6MB PDF) informed the university that three complaints had been filed alleging that the stadium is “not accessible to or usable by individuals with mobility impairments.” The OCR determined that the University of Michigan was in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

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Silence as approval

DB on the idea that silence is approval.

[W]here in all of these voices is the official voice of OSU? I respect Ed Ray and believe that his commitment to diversity and social justice issues is authentic. But the silence from the President’s office is deafening. And the resultant vacuum ends up sounding like a tacit approval of those who would wear blackface, which, since it cannot be scrubbed of its racist roots, is wrong. How difficult would it be for one who is committed to social justice to say just that?

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Enrollment Management update 4/10/07

A lot of enrollment management administrators ponder the effects of the U.S. News and World Report college rankings report. The report can lead to a lot of free publicity for those schools that are fortunate enough to be ranked by U.S News.

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