There are several steps administrators can take to prepare for campus protests in the upcoming school year, reports Nell Gluckman for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Gluckman rounds up recommendations from several student affairs experts to help prepare administrators for student activism in the upcoming academic year.
1: Say no only on rare occasions
In general, administrators should never say no to students who ask to stage a protest on campus, in order to protect students' freedom of speech, says Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA. However, he argues that administrators should say no when the protest or other type of demonstration is hostile toward other students or is dangerous in any way.
Ultimately, universities have a duty to protect groups of students who feel threatened, failing to do so would make those students feel targeted and can lead to Title IX complaints, according to Lee Tyner, general counsel at the University of Mississippi.
2: Put someone in charge
Often during campus protests, it can be unclear which administrator is in charge of determining whether the demonstration should be ended, Tyner says. He recommends designating specific people on campus who can make this call and giving them structured criteria for doing so.
3: Choose location carefully
To the extent that institutions have control over where a demonstration takes place, they should choose the location strategically, according to Denzil J. Suite, vice president for student life at the University of Washington. He argues that there should be emergency vehicles or supplies nearby and a safe area for speakers to disembark the stage or main point of interest. "You wouldn't want to put an event near classrooms or the health center," says Suite.
4: Partner with students
If administrators realize a certain guest speaker or demonstration on campus would adversely affect certain groups of students emotionally, they should step in, according to Penny Rue, vice president of campus life at Wake Forest University and a board member of Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA). For example, she recommends encouraging students to host a counter demonstration to voice their views. She argues that this would avoid a situation where students feel alienated from the conversation and debate (Gluckman, Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/30)
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