Title

Professional or Student: Mastering Your Place During Racial Unrest

Conference Strand

Social Change, Leadership, and Advocacy

Abstract

It is important that student affairs administrators are equipped with the knowledge and tools to address the unique needs of Black male graduate students within their institutions. More importantly, it is important for administrators to challenge their personal lens and understand how various life paths and experiences can impact a student developmentally.

Description

The goal of the presentation is to shed light on the often overlooked student affairs professional, the graduate student, during times of crisis. From our experiences, it seems as though graduate students exist in an unclear gray area between not being labeled “professional staff” and not being able to assume the full role of “student.” This professional limbo can create apprehension amongst graduate students when they want to express their own concerns and opinions while still serving as a resource and advocate for undergraduate students. We want the presentation to guide a dialogue about how institutions of higher learning can better serve and support graduate students in times of crisis, particularly surrounding race relations. We plan include to crisis management strategies and self care techniques that black male graduate students can adopt as they find the balance between their work, school, and personal lives.

Evidence

With the current high exposure of racism on college campuses, students often feel the need to advocate in various ways. Whether through active protesting, writing of demands, or educating peers on cultural competencies, students of color have been dealing with crisis management while at universities across the nation. Specifically graduate students of color, who seem to exist on an ambiguous line between professional staff member and student must learn coping strategies while remaining strong, yet vigilant, in cases of emergency. Concerns and opinions of these graduate students, in particular Black males, can become lost within the confines of remaining professional. This professional limbo can create apprehension amongst graduate students when they want to express their own concerns and opinions while still serving as a resource and advocate for undergraduate students. We want the presentation to guide a dialogue about how institutions of higher learning can better serve and support graduate students in times of crisis, particularly surrounding race relations. We plan to include crisis management strategies and self care techniques that black male graduate students can adopt as they find the balance between their work, school, and personal lives.

Often times college administrators model the way for how student affairs professional respond to and support students through times of crisis on campus. As student affairs professionals, we must be aware of the impact crisis incidents can have on the diverse student populations we serve. According to Reynolds (2009), student affairs professionals should be better prepared to address multicultural issues and work effectively with culturally diverse populations and their issues (Pope & Reynolds, 1997). This level of attention and effort should not be limited to diverse undergraduate populations either. Graduate students, particularly those of color, will face the same injustices and crisis as undergraduate students. Student affairs professionals must continue to expand their multicultural competence as it is essential to applying helping behaviors in a higher education context (Reynold, 2009).

Talbot (1992) included that “research has indicated that multicultural training efforts within graduate preparation programs are uneven and often inadequate” (as cited in Reynolds, 2009). With this in mind, student affairs professionals play a crucial role in adequately supporting graduate students of color. In times of racial unrest in the country, college campuses have been largely affected. Many marginalized groups of students may experience several macro and microaggressions that can affect their mental wellness and daily functionality. This is particularly true of Black male graduate students with the societal villainization on black men throughout the media on America.

Student affairs professional that work directly with graduate students in a supervisory role can be one source of immediate support to assist them through times of crisis. Winston and Cream (1998) describe supervision as a “helping process provided by the institutions to benefit or support staff” (as cited in Reynolds, 2009). While graduate students assume the role of paraprofessionals, the student component can be sometimes overlooked. It is imperative for individuals who supervise black male graduate students, especially during times of racial unrest, to be aware of their multicultural competency. By remaining abreast of multicultural issues, supervisory roles can, in part, become mentorship roles, allowing fruitful relationships and outcomes for the graduate student, the supervisor, and the department. However, we cannot continue with the current narrative in the field of education. With these stereotypes and myths about mentoring, student affairs professionals must move towards a functional system of mentoring. Functional mentoring is simply preparing graduate students for careers by promoting visibility and access by the faculty mentor (Thomas et al 2007). With the increase of racial tensions on college campuses, it can be difficult for graduate students of color to find the social and academic support from faculty members. Thus, the difficult dance of mentor-protégé begins with graduate students of color establishing effective mentoring relationships. In doing so, they will be able to engage with their graduate students in an empathetic manner that allows for validation of the individual’s experiences as they work beyond this injustices.

Format

Panel Presentations

Biographical Sketch

Donald D. Gilliam is a second year Master student in the Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis Program at the University of Missouri. Donald serves as a Graduate Assistant at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center where he focuses on developing social and educational programs reflecting the African culture. He also serves as the instructor of Mizzou Black Men’s Initiative. This leadership development program focuses on aiding the successful transition of Black freshmen males into the collegiate environment.


Michael J. Seaberry is a second year PhD student and Counselor in Student Support Services, a TRiO program, at Louisiana State University. Seaberry's work centers on Black male racial and masculine identity formation as well as activism and healing of scholars of color during times of racial unrest. His publications include articles in The Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, and books chapters with Lexington Press. Seaberry can be reached at mseabe2@lsu.edu


Brandon Jamaal Stroud received his master’s in Higher Education - Student Affairs from the Warner School of Education, University of Rochester. Brandon is employed at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the Center of Residence Life as a Residential Coordinator. He serves on a research team that focuses on urban neighborhood development, civil engagement, and educational reform in the local Rochester community. This project focuses on creating general hubs in the community that offers a transformation for community and mind. Brandon is a Ph.D. candidate in Human Development and Counseling at the Warner School of Education, University of Rochester.

Michael Robert Williams received his master’s in Exercise Science - Kinesiology from California University Pennsylvania, California, Pennsylvania. Michael serves as the Coordinator of Male Initiatives at Norfolk State University. He also serves as the lead program director for an all male Learning Community. This learning community focuses on developing scholars, leaders, and professionals development.

Location

Room 210

Start Date

2-18-2017 12:45 PM

End Date

2-18-2017 2:00 PM

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Feb 18th, 12:45 PM Feb 18th, 2:00 PM

Professional or Student: Mastering Your Place During Racial Unrest

Room 210

It is important that student affairs administrators are equipped with the knowledge and tools to address the unique needs of Black male graduate students within their institutions. More importantly, it is important for administrators to challenge their personal lens and understand how various life paths and experiences can impact a student developmentally.