Written by: College Student Alliance
Building a meaningful dialogue with college administration is key to having a positive impact on your campus and creating win-win solutions that will ultimately benefit your student population and your school as a whole. If your administration involves you in their decisions on a regular basis, and vice versa, there is a greater opportunity for both parties to come to a constructive solution before issues escalate. COVID-19 has undoubtedly made meaningful discussions more difficult without the ability to have in-person meetings. We have compiled a list of dos and don’ts for meaningful dialogue with your college administration that can be used to help increase the impact of your sexual violence prevention advocacy on your campus!
Don’t: Wait for the administration to contact you for consultation.
Do: Reach out to your administration and ask to be included in conversations that affect students- your administration may not always be eager to invite students to the table. Reach out by email, follow-up, and make the first step by scheduling a Zoom call! It is also best practice to schedule regular meetings with your administration to make sure that you are both aware of each other’s concerns.
Don’t: Assume that your administration is working out of their own best interests.
Do: Ask questions when in meetings with the administration to help understand their perspective, and where there are opportunities for them to support you. It is your responsibility as a student advocate to make the administration aware of ongoing student issues and concerns and to work with administrators to push for and create change. When bringing forward student concerns, we encourage you to use real-life examples from your own experiences and the experiences of your students. As a student leader, you would have gone through the experience of being a student, use this to your advantage when trying to help the administration understand your concerns.
Don’t: Expect your administration to always be on your side.
Do: Acknowledge that your college administration has its own priorities, such as working within their budget and covering their operating costs. Knowing your administration’s priorities can help inform your advocacy strategy. If you come to the table with an understanding of your differing priorities, this will help the discussion go a lot smoother.
Don’t: Be afraid to compromise.
Do: While your goal should always be to advocate on achieving the best possible results for your constituents, sometimes your strategy should incorporate a willingness to compromise. This could help you achieve little successes that will lead to your long-term goal. While compromising your vision for students shouldn’t be the goal, it’s important to realize that change doesn’t happen overnight, so small wins will go a long way.
Don’t: Let closed doors discourage you.
Do: Be persistent and know the value of your voice. As a representative of students on your campus, your role is vital to ensuring that their voices are heard and needs are met. Remember that since your student association is paid by student dollars, it is your job to hold your institution accountable. Your voice is important and deserves to be recognized in conversations that affect students.
Don’t: Go into a meeting empty-handed.
Do: Prepare recommendations and research beforehand to present to your administration, and show exactly how issues are impacting students on your campus. This can be through the form of surveys, student feedback, student stories, or data. Additionally, prepare concrete solutions for the issue at hand to ensure a meaningful impact after your meeting. Remember to follow-up on these solutions and hold your administration accountable if they do not implement them in a reasonable time frame.
College Student Alliance (CSA) advocates on behalf of Ontario college students in partnership with student leaders. Through our member student associations, we represent the collective voice of Ontario’s college students. Learn more about our work here: https://www.collegestudentalliance.ca/about
Suggested Citation: College Student Alliance. (2020, September). The Dos and Don’ts of Meaningful Dialogue with College Administration to Increase the Impact of your Advocacy on Campus. Courage to Act. www.couragetoact.ca/blog/meaningfuldialogue
The College Student Alliance (CSA) is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization that believes in working collaboratively with post-secondary education (PSE) stakeholders & government to improve the college experience. We are an advocating voice on behalf of Ontario college students in partnership with student leaders. Learn more about CSA here.