Role of Student Development

Student development staff members are on the front lines where educational goals and reality meet; where educational theory is translated into practice. We have an important role, therefore, in being sensitive, articulate, and knowledgeable communicators. Because we see more of the "whole" student than our peers, we are most likely to learn from students exactly where institutional goals reach or fall short of their potential. Whether it be delay in attention to a work order, or allegedly hostile treatment from a staff person, or allegedly inaccurate guidance from an academic advisor, or a personal student problem, someone in student development is likely to be the first "official" person to learn about it. How we treat that knowledge is a very important responsibility because of its effect on both the student and the institution. The student development role includes clarifying the issues, problem-solving, and aiding communication between students, faculty, staff, parents, trustees, and, sometimes, the media. Student development professionals in all educational settings, but particularly in residential colleges, deal directly with the critical issues of the day.

We are social issue risk managers. Our skill in the development and application of policy and our effectiveness in increasing the level of knowledge and understanding of our constituents are key to maximizing individual responsibility and minimizing institutional liability. From public safety and food services to student activities and residence life, our effectiveness in addressing such issues as sexually transmitted disease, racism, or rape is as important to the community as the skillfulness of counseling and health practitioners is to the individual. To manage the multitude of risks facing the collegiate community today, student development staff in every area need to give continuous attention to professional development.

As part of the process of creating and sustaining effective student development divisions, I place a high value on staff development. Through on-going professional activity, staff are exposed to new ideas and issues, and are equipped to bring their collective intelligence and energy to bear on the resolution of problems. An important role of student development educators, therefore, is to remain active learners themselves.The student development division is also responsible for bringing the collegiate community together, and this is often done by generating fun. Fun, in any non-destructive form, is rejuvenating and healthy. That very important and very healthy facet of human experience can quickly be lost in these times of economic difficulty, war, world hunger, AIDS, date rape, and substance abuse.

Finally, student development professionals are student advocates and collaborators. In the mix of persons, programs, and priorities that are part of any college, it is our job to represent student interests. We are the scholars of student culture, and as a result of our contact with, and study of students, we enrich institutional decision-making and effectiveness.

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Statement on Student Rights and Responsibilities

Hiram College subscribes to the spirit of the joint Statement on Student Rights and Responsibilities as promulgated by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).

The essence of this document is to be clear about the standards to which a Hiram College student is expected to adhere, both academically and socially, and to commit to the basic elements of due process - notice and the opportunity to be heard - in all interactions between the student and the college.

This can be found in the Hiram College Student Handbook.