ACUI Open Forum

 View Only

State of the College Union - Part 2

  • 1.  State of the College Union - Part 2

    Posted 30 days ago

    Thanks to Ian Crone and Hank Walter for the second part of the "State of the College Union".  They highlight many of the challenges that face unions these days as demographics shift, institution leadership changes, boards and politicians get more involved in the day to day issues of campus, and so on.

    They rightly indicate the importance of aligning the union's direction with institutional issues and priorities.  There is a historical disconnect between the union as idealized in the ACUI Role of the College Union and the expectations of campus leaders.  This disconnect becomes more apparent in times of rapid change.  Aligning the union's direction involves conversation with senior leaders, sharing appropriate data, and ensuring that the union mission is integrated with and supports the campus mission.

    As union professionals, we believe that our mission is building campus community.   That is another way of saying building student engagement with the institution.  Ian and Hank quote Corbin Smyth saying we need to share that we are the experts in engagement and belonging.  Doing so means recognizing that the union is not the sole place where student engagement is built.  Partnering with other departments and facilities and sharing our expertise is an important way of doing this.  That may mean helping to fund lounge facilities in academic buildings where students, faculty, and staff can mingle between classes.  It may mean locating coffee shops or dining facilities all over campus.  It may mean co-sponsoring events with residential life and athletics.  As with all strategic action plans, it is important to have metrics to show the impact of these efforts. 

    This is indeed a challenging time for higher education.  My advice is to expect change.  Plan for it and embrace it.

    Robert Rouzer
    Gallatin TN
    (615) 527-7707