Consistency is key in student affairs

Since April of 2015, Wichita State’s Division of Student Affairs has been in almost constant upheaval.

Look no further than the three vice presidents for student affairs and the six Student Government advisors who have served since then, to see that consistency in leadership is in short supply.

Student Affairs controls many aspects of the college experience – from Student Involvement and Campus Recreation to Disability Services and Housing and Residence Life.

Inconsistent leadership poses a problem for students looking for familiar faces to go to with their questions and concerns.

It’s Student Affairs leaders’ job to get to know students so as to best advocate for them, not students’ job to re-learn who’s in charge of what when leadership seemingly changes by the month.

What’s more, the revolving door of Student Affairs positions makes newly-appointed leaders painfully aware that they have a low margin of error in their job performance. This ensures they stay on their best, least-controversial behavior, so as not to draw the ire of higher-ups in university administration.

Something is drastically wrong when Student Affairs professionals are incentivized to make anything but students their top priority. They have to choose between branding the university and actually helping students.

In a July email to students announcing his resignation from the university, Lyston Skerritt, who worked in Student Involvement before briefly serving as the advisor for Student Government, said, “We must refocus on the students and be transparent about our intent.”

Consistency in leadership is the key to refocusing on students.

When Student Affairs leaders can settle into their positions without having to worry about job security, they will be more likely to focus their attention fully on students.

For the sake of students and Student Affairs leaders alike, let’s have some consistency, transparency, and an end to the fear of retaliation for prioritizing students.