3 Takeaways from Student Voice Index Session at the ABTS Winter Conference

February 6, 2019
Story by Jordan Baker

The following story was written by NCLC Director of Research and Training, Lindsey Templeton.

“Why does student voice matter?”

I began my presentation on the Student Voice Index (SVI) at the Association of Big Ten Students’ (ABTS) Annual Winter Conference, hosted at Purdue University, with this question. As student leaders at some of the largest institutions of higher education, the individuals that comprise ABTS represent hundreds of thousands of students, all of whom have their own unique voice. So why does student voice matter? And, perhaps more importantly, what are these student leaders doing to listen to and elevate the voices of students at their respective campuses?

To say I was impressed by the responses and discussion that followed would be an understatement. Student leaders from the University of Minnesota offered philosophical insights on student voice; members of the Purdue delegation shared strategies for engaging with the student trustee; student leaders at the Ohio State University discussed town hall meeting successes and challenges; Michigan State inquired about the role of politics in student voice; questions on the research methodology were expressed by student leaders at Rutgers; and the Indiana University delegation shared insightful ideas to address the case studies presented. Whether offering ways to strengthen the research, asking questions about using data to enhance advocacy efforts, or identifying ways to overcome barriers to student voice, each delegation offered unique insight and contributed to a valuable conversation.

In just a short visit with the ABTS, I learned a lot about camaraderie, advocacy, and engagement. Here are some of my key takeaways from this experience:

  • First, my visit with the ABTS delegations served as a reminder that research is a constantly evolving process. The Student Voice Index would not be what it is without input from student leaders. As we continue to grow our research efforts, ongoing dialogue with student leaders is a must. (To get involved, visit studentvoiceindex.org!)
  • Second, while student voice and student leadership varies at every institution, student leaders continue to face similar challenges. Collaborating to identify barriers to student voice and creatively develop ways to address those obstacles may provide a remedy for student leaders struggling to move forward.
  • Third, for those of us interested in student voice, whether from a research perspective or in practice, it is important to articulate why student voice matters. Without buy in for the importance of student voice, enhancing voice in institutional decision-making is unlikely to happen.

It was a pleasure to learn why student voice matters to student leaders at the ABTS Annual Winter Conference. I look forward to seeing the big (10) impact these student leaders are able to make this year and beyond.

If you’re looking for ways to increase student engagement and inform industry stakeholders about the importance of student inclusion, let us know. Our staff is available for keynote, panel and workshop speaking opportunities for students and student allies! Contact us at info@campusleaders.org!

© 2019 National Campus Leadership Council

© 2019 National Campus Leadership Council

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