Today, an email was sent to a number of student affairs professionals that has the potential to play a huge role in the vote for or against NASPA/ACPA consolidation. The email is from the NASPA Yes! Consolidation No Committee, and they have created a website with additional information to which you are directed from the email. Since the email was sent out, Twitter has been only mildly aflutter with reactions (to be honest, not nearly as aflutter as I expected, although maybe it’s just because not everyone has been hashtagging their tweets). Not surprisingly, the reactions have been by and large negative.
Why do I say not surprisingly? Well, I have a couple of reasons, though they may not all be the ones you’re thinking or the most obvious. I feel like many of the people are reacting to the name and initial message in this email, much as I did when I first heard of this committee a couple months ago. I feel that there are a number of people that are a part of this committee that feel very passionate about their organization. Unfortunately, in this email and the related website, that seems to come across as territorial and anti-change instead of passionate. A more appropriate message here would have been “Collaboration Yes! Consolidation No,” as they continue to support collaboration between the organizations based on the statements made on their website (if you even get to the website after the negative feeling imposed by the email).
I have to admit, knowing that at least one member of this committee is a member of ACPA, the somewhat anti-ACPA feeling I got from this email and website was confusing and not a little disturbing. In my conversation with this member, they were very pro both organizations, yet there are some clear biases expressed against ACPA in these messages.
The other reason the negative response on Twitter doesn’t surprise me is that these are some of the first truly anti-consolidation messages to come from any organization. A large majority of the information that we have received as members of NASPA (and I believe ACPA, although I can’t speak for them, as I’m not currently a member) has painted a rather rosy picture of consolidation. Even the presentation at our regional conference about consolidation was obviously biased – when asked what the cons of consolidation were, President Griego couldn’t think of one.
When I first started hearing buzz about consolidation over a year ago now, I knew immediately that I would vote for it. As the consolidation talks have continued, I have made every effort to educate myself on the issue so that when I do vote, I vote for the right reasons – my reasons. Not anyone else’s. All I ask is that my fellow members do the same. I hope that they educate themselves on the issues that are important to them, on the issues that will affect all members, on anything they can. I hope that they do not let anyone tell them to vote no. I hope that they will not vote yes out of anger or frustration.
At this time, I can tell you that my vote will be no. I do not feel that consolidation is in the best interest of our profession, our development, or our students. I will be writing another post to explain this – not to persuade you, but to inform you. Maybe you’ll learn something new. Maybe you’ll disagree with everything I say. Hopefully it will at least make you think twice about why you’re voting whatever way you’re voting.
Finally, I hope that we can try to maintain more civil discourse around this issue. People are saying that this email has turned things ugly, but I disagree. Things turned ugly long before now. I have been attacked on Twitter by other student affairs professionals merely because I argued points against consolidation rather than for it – and I don’t think I’ve been the only one. And although this isn’t how I would have chosen to respond, I can certainly understand a bit of defensiveness on the part of anyone who is currently arguing against consolidation. I hope that we can overcome this and maintain our professional relationships across associations no matter what happens.