Colorado State University Journal of Student Affairs

Volume IX, 2000


Managing Editor Greg R. Kish >00

Coordinating Editor Katherine P. Casserly >00

Technical Editor Heather Shea Gasser >00

Content Editor Laura M. Hattas >00

Production Editor Derek E. Morgan >00

First-Year Liason Chris E. Bryner >01

Advisor Martha H. Fosdick, >95, Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs



Cindy Braly >01 Jacqueline Sene >01

Chris E. Bryner >01 Tara Stormoen >01

Lisa Campos >01 Nick Sweeton >01

Scott Coenen >01 Deborah J. Timms >01

Barb Dahlke >00 Lisa Turney >01

Meg Houghton >00 Torgor A. Volden >01

Rebecca A. Newman-Gonchar >01 Sarah Woodside >01

Jeremy D. Page >01 Lance Wright >01

José-Luis Riera >01


To contact the Editorial Board, please call or write:

Student Affairs in Higher Education,Colorado State University,220 Palmer Center,1005 West Laurel Street,Fort Collins, CO 80521

(970) 491-4731

The Journal can be found on the World Wide Web at:


Table of Contents


Grant Sherwood, Ph. D. and Laura M. Hattas





Bumper Sticker Ethnography: A Study of Campus Culture

James H. Banning

How the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is Affecting Today"s Colege Student

Lisa D. Campos

Enhancing the Physical Interior Environment of the Workplace: Tips for Student Affairs and Higher Education Administrators

Stephanie Clemons, Ph.D.

Organizational Illuminatus: The Effects of Major Exigency at Colorado State University

Mark S. Denke, Ed.D. and Ray F. Gasser, M.S..

Learning Communities: Past, Present, and Future

Keith Edwards and Nick Sweeton

The Legality and Constitutionality of Mandatory Students Fees: The Campus Climate for Student Organizations After Rosenberger and Southworth

Andrew R. Feldman and Jennifer G. Roy

Just E-mail Me: Students of the Information and Technology Age

Laura M. Hattas

An Assessment of International Students Needs in the United States

Randy McCrillis

The Role of Orientation Program in Guiding Freshmen Transition to College Life

Rebecca A. Newman-Gonchar

Academic Life on the College Campus

José-Luis Riera

Book Review - Gender on Campus: Issues for College Women, by Sharon Bohn Gmelch

Reviewed by Wendy M. Wallace

Class of 1999



Director=s Perspective

Grant P. Sherwood, Ph.D.

Director - Student Affairs in Higher Education

Graduate Program

This past year our faculty and students approached the daunting task of curriculum review. A team comprised of faculty, students, alumni and an outside facilitator met regularly throughout the Spring Semester in attempt to revise/enhance our total program of study. Our guiding principals for this review were focused on the CAS standards, comparative analysis of other programs, feedback from our alumni working in the field and recommendations from our current faculty and students. Course content, skill development, ethical practices, course sequencing, duplication of effort, and preparation of student affairs professionals for the new millenium were topics of discussion throughout the semester.

Although it is difficult to fully describe the effort that went into this review, I was tremendously impressed with the team=s dedication and end product. The following changes were the result of this work and all ideas have been implemented:

  • The program requirements moved from 48 to 45 credits. This decrease was primarily the results of shifting our practicum requirements from a total of 300 hours to 150 hours. Two practicums are still required. It was felt that students have ample opportunity to gain practical experiences in our program through assistantships, independent study and other forms of fieldwork.
  • A counseling course was added back into the core. Not only does CAS standards dictate this requirement, but a course focusing on helping skills specifically designed for student affairs professionals is one of those Agivens@ that has needed our attention for a number of years.
  • The research sequence was changed and a new course entitled AResearch Methods and Proposal Design@ was added as an incentive during the second semester to help students begin their various research projects in a more timely and effective manner.
  • An additional 1 hour credit was added to ALaw in Student Affairs@ driven by the extensive content and importance of the topic.
  • Other changes included offering a more diverse selection of workshop topics. We feel workshops continue to be a wonderful, albeit brief, opportunity to offer students concentrated exposure to selected topics and services. In addition, the program has begun to offer specific topics in a colloquium format. Half-day sessions are offered in Awriting skills,@ Aemployment opportunities/strategies,@ and Apracticum selection.@

In 1995, we conducted a mid-decade review because of dramatic changes that were occurring in higher education environment. These assumptions are even more real today:

1.As students attending institutions are increasingly more heterogeneous, student affairs personnel preparation programs must prepare graduates to be effective in these changing educational environments.

2.Institutions of higher education are experiencing tremendous pressures to change resulting in challenges to traditional administrative approaches to serving students, perspectives on student development, and the helping relationship.

3.The administration of student affairs activities within the context of an institution of higher education is a very dynamic undertaking. It is essential that graduates be well prepared for the work environments which they will enter.

One of our students, Laura Hattas, contributed significantly to this review process and the following represents her comments and observations.

The opportunity to review the curriculum for the SAHE program, of which I was currently part, was unique and noteworthy. Many who have graduated the program probably recall both times of support and dissent for certain subjects or classes. I have been no different. After the experience of the review, however, I am very excited for the new changes, and also very excited that they were few. Hearing the expertise of committee members, as well as their thoughtfulness toward the curriculum design reminded me of being a young child. Sounding in my ears was the voice of my parents, Asomeday, you will understand.@ I suppose, as with many things, full understanding comes with knowing. It would be foolish for me to assert that I have achieved either, and yet my understanding is more complete now than prior to my experience with the committee.

The committee was able to look at esteemed programs throughout the country, measuring them against Colorado State University=s standards for an education in student affairs. While similarities were bound to exist, the differences were striking. CSU candidates vie for a Master of Science degree, they complete (in many cases) an additional 10-16 credits, their professors also serve as respected, practicing professionals, and they are expected to attain an array of practical experiences pertaining to the discipline. In addition, the committee used research based on feedback from graduates of the SAHE Program and national standards to evaluate the current curriculum and assess appropriate changes.

While the differences between programs, from the vintage point of graduate feedback and committee members, were seen as hallmarks of the program, the demanding credit load seemed cumbersome, and the committee questioned its reasonability against competing programs. Another point of concern was the recent movement away from a counseling requirement. These were, however, the most obvious points to consider. Throughout the process, each course was considered against its actual realization of its intended purpose and outcome, appropriateness of credit allotments, currently employed teaching methods, and the suitability of the course name. Most intriguing during our conversations as a committee were comments by those who had reviewed the program before. The history was so valuable. At times, a member of the group would suggest a change that would bring the program back to its design before the previous review. Many points about changing trends in higher education, as well as the cyclical nature of environments were challenging and illuminating.

I am very grateful to have been part of such a review. Looking at the whole of the SAHE Program at CSU, arguing each of its components to find whether it helps to fulfill the end goal of educating practitioners in the field of student affairs, provides me with great confidence that we graduate prepared, committed, and quality professionals.

Again, my thanks to Mark Kretovics who facilitated this effort and to the following students and faculty that participated in the review: Kris Binard, Jody Donovan, Andrew Feldman, Martha Fosdick, Laura Hattas, Keith Miser, Paul Shang, Grant Sherwood.


Student Affairs in Higher Education

Diversity Scholarship Recipients


Fall 1999 Winners

Heather Shea Gasser

Randy McCrillis

Susana M. Rundquist


Carl=s Jr. in the Lory Student Center has donated funds to establish research grants for the Student Affairs in Higher Education Program to enhance racial and ethnic diversity.


Note From The Editor

Greg Kish (>00)

With each annual publication of the Colorado State University Journal of Student Affairs authors, editors, readers, and volunteers strive to increase its quality and improve its scholarly reputation. The goals of the Journal include promoting scholarly writing, providing opportunities for students to enhance their writing and editing skills, and communicating with alumni and other student affairs professionals. This year I witnessed contributors to the Journal collaborate to increase the effectiveness of this publication in achieving these goals. Their contributions shine through in our ninth volume of the Journal.

As with most student affairs work, the Journal involves more than the concrete tasks that production of a scholarly journal entails. In fact, paramount to the Journal=s purpose stand the intangible benefits of interaction among all those involved in our effort to create the highest quality publication while simultaneously learning from one another in the process.

In preparing this volume of the Journal, the Editorial Board intentionally ensured that involvement with the Journal provided a worthwhile educational experience for all authors, reader board members, and volunteers. We increased our level of contact and communication with authors, orchestrated a thorough and constructive review of all submissions, and added a First-Year Liaison position to the Editorial Board to facilitate communication between first-year students and the Board while increasing continuity for next year=s Journal.

On behalf of the Editorial Board, I want to express our hope that you find this ninth volume of the Journal of Student Affairs a valuable and thought-provoking collection of writing that broadens your professional and intellectual horizons.



The 1999-2000 Colorado State University Journal of Student Affairs Editorial Board members would like to extend their thanks and appreciation to the following individuals:

  • Martha Fosdick, Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs at Colorado State University. Her help and guidance has been invaluable to the board.
  • Grant Sherwood, Director of the SAHE program and Housing and Food Services, for his dedication to programs such as the Journal.
  • The Reader Board, for their valuable input into the editing process. The Reader Board went through the time- intensive process of editing articles in the Journal.
  • Keith Miser, the Vice President for Student Affairs at Colorado State University, for helping support the Journal.
  • Mark Denke, the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Colorado State University, for his time putting the Journal on-line.
  • The Alumni of the CSPA/SAHE Program at Colorado State University. We value the time many have taken over the last several years, and especially this year, to submit articles to the Journal, and to continue to support the program.
  • Heather Shea Gasser, for her work in designing the Journal=s new cover.
  • Wendy Wallace, for continued guidance, support, and encouragement throughout the Journal production process.
  • The Palmer Center Staff, for allowing us to use their offices and computers for the production of the Journal.


Bumper Sticker Ethnography: A Study of Campus Culture

James H. Banning

The purpose of this ethnographic study was to illustrate the use of campus artifacts "automobile bumper stickers" to assist in the understanding of campus culture and subcultures. Bumper stickers were categorized by thematic content and by campus groups associated with assigned parking lots. In addition to identifying cultural values associated with different campus groups, the presence of bumper stickers supporting opposing views on an issue suggest a potential conflict in campus values. Finally, the absence of certain bumper sticker messages suggests values that are not being promoted on campus.


The focus of an ethnographic inquiry is on answering the question of what is the culture of this group of people (Patton, 1990). Traditionally, the method of choice for the ethnographer was to Alive in@ the culture as a participant observer and collect information about the culture through interviews, observations, and documents. Banning (1991) points out the usefulness of ethnographic approach in the attempt to understand the culture of the college and university campus.

The notion of assessing a campus culture through an audit process has been well documented (Kuh and Whitt, 1988; Whitt, 1993; Whitt and Kuh, 1991). Whitt (1993) defined a culture audit as providing Aboth insiders and outsiders with a means to systematically discover and identify the artifacts, values, and assumptions that comprise an organization=s culture@ (p. 83). Kuh and Whitt (1988) note that cultural assumptions and beliefs, A . . .are just below the surface . . . manifested in observable forms or artifacts@ (p.16). Geertz (1973) suggests a similar notion that artifacts store cultural meaning. Banning and Bartels (1997) illustrate how photographs of cultural artifacts (artwork, posters, sculpture, physical structures, and graffiti) can help the ethnographer evaluate the multicultural Aclimate@ of a campus. Banning (1996) noted that bumper stickers attached to vehicles parked on campus could be viewed as cultural artifacts and could provide information to assist in the assessment and understanding of a campus culture.

Gardner (1995) shared a similar notion about the importance of observing bumper stickers. She observed that bumper stickers lead to a portrait of America A...a nation of people in automobiles - that ultimate national icon - on the move with stickers expressing a view, sharing a frustration, or offering some perceived insight, solution, or wisdom@ (p. 6). She went on to note:

The bumper sticker may be an expression of personal philosophy, political anger and outrage, religious conviction, parental pride, sexual preference, or social comment. It may represent a simple statement of personal humor, ethnic identity, or class resentment. It may offer views of the opposite sex and marriage or of American culture and social institutions (p. 6).

Gardner (1995) also pointed out that Abumper stickers do not emerge in a vacuum but with the era and political culture of which they are a part@ (p. 6). The purpose of this article is to illustrate the use of campus automobile "bumper stickers" to assist in the understanding of the campus culture and subcultures.



The study was conducted on a large university campus in the Rocky Mountain region with a student population in the range of 20,000 to 25,000.

Data Collection

Rather than using a particular sampling strategy observers attempted to record all bumper stickers of all cars in all campus parking lots on a particular day. The campus-wide canvass of bumper stickers occurred on a typical day (non-holiday and no unusual events or weather conditions). Small teams of graduate students canvassed each parking lot. The observers recorded the following information: lot location, lot zone (the lot zone determined the parking eligibility for particular groups), number of cars in the lot, the number of cars with bumper stickers, and a verbatim record of each bumper sticker message. See Table 1.

Data Analysis

After entering the data (bumper sticker messages) into a qualitative data analysis software package, each message received a code indicating the parking zone and a code reflecting the content of the message. After coding all bumper stickers, major themes emerged inductively from the coding structure. These major themes or categories formed the basis of the subgroup analyses. See Table 2.


The placement of bumper stickers on vehicles driven to campus by faculty, students, and staff seems to be a relatively frequent practice. Forty to fifty percent of all vehicles associated with student lots had bumper stickers. However, faculty and staff were approximately half as likely to engage in this activity as the students.

The bumper sticker most often found on campus vehicles across all groups represented the identification of the local institution. The value of Apride in the local institution@ would be a reasonable interpretation. If other institutions had been included in the study, then perhaps a normative baseline could be established to make comparative judgements across institutions regarding the Adegree of pride in the local institution.@ If an institution ranked very low in this measure of Apride in local institution,@ then additional measures to assess the cause of the lack of pride might be warranted.

A relatively high number of bumper stickers represented institutions other than the one under study. Could this finding represent Asplit@ institutional allegiance? Or could it reflect perhaps a high number of transfer students on campus? For faculty and staff, the high number of non-local institutional stickers could represent institutions from which they graduated, and/or by which they were previously employed. Further cross-institutional studies might find the ratio of local to non-local institutional identification stickers a measure of institutional acculturation.

The large number and variety of bumper stickers representing organizational memberships found across all campus groups could be viewed as a need to proclaim some aspect of identity and/or perhaps an expression of a need to belong. This broad range of organizational bumper stickers included professional organizations, activity clubs, and social groups.

When concentrating only on the student lots, many of the professional and activity organizations related to outdoor activities, for example, skiing, hiking, climbing, scuba diving, equestrian, rodeo, and other physical activities. No doubt, these activities are not only reflective of a youth culture on campus, but also reflective of the mountain setting of the campus. Coupled with this finding was the high number of bumper stickers relating to outdoor adventure and the high number of bumper stickers advertising products and shops associated with outdoor activities, i.e., ski shops, scuba gear shops, and a variety of product names associated with outdoor activities. The campus bumper stickers also suggested an allegiance to particular radio stations, bands and performers, and professional sports teams. In addition, a commitment to environmental and animal rights issues frequently appeared in all groups. In summary, the bumper stickers appear to reflect a student culture that is youthful and involved in outdoor activities. Within this culture a sense of identity comes from belonging to organizations devoted to these activities as well as sports teams and radio stations. The culture reflects a commitment to environmental and animal rights issues.

Faculty and staff culture evident in their bumper stickers presents a similar picture, but one represented by the older age of this group. Outdoor adventure stickers appeared, but not as often. Organizational membership remained high, but the organizations most often reflected professional and career activities, rather than adventure activities. The categories of Ahobbies@ and Aliberal political causes@ appeared on the faculty and staff list, but not on the student list.

Not only can bumper stickers help describe campus culture, but an examination of the various student parking zones (residence hall parking zones, commuter parking zones, and family housing parking zones) detected values of campus subcultures. For example, the family housing group had a higher presence of bumper stickers associated with Acar insurance@ and Afamily issues@ than any other student group. The commuter students' bumper stickers reflected more of the Aoutdoor adventure@ and Arecreational sports@ areas than any other group. Unlike all other groups the category of AChristian identification@ did not emerge as a top category in commuter lots. Also of all groups, commuters had the highest ranking of the Amiscellaneous@ category. This perhaps reflects the diversity of interests within commuters. The two categories Ahumor@ and Apeace issues@ emerged unique to the residence hall students.

Conflicts in campus values can also be interpreted from the bumper stickers by looking at issues where there are a number of bumper stickers on both sides of the issue. This suggests that differences in opinion are being held on important issues. Two conflicting issues emerged in this particular campus study: Anti-abortion vs. pro-choice and creation vs. evolution. Given the high identification of the campus culture with Christianity these issues might be expected. For a campus programmer in student activities, these might be the issues that would attract and involve students in important debates.

Finally, insights can be gained about the campus culture by answering the question: What bumper stickers were missing that one might expect on a campus? One notable absence from the inventory of bumper stickers, despite the fact the study was conducted in an election year, was the very few stickers devoted to political issues, candidates, or political parties. This suggests apathy toward the political processes associated with government. Also, of the thousands of bumper stickers inventoried only a handful dealt with issues of diversity and tolerance, despite strong institutional goals and programs devoted to this concern. Oddly enough, there were also only a very small number of stickers that promoted or identified Aacademic majors.@ Student=s values or interests in their academic majors appear not to translate into the presence of bumper stickers.

It is important to note a number of cautions. This study canvassed the bumper stickers at only one institution. The assumption that the bumper stickers on the vehicles represent values associated with the Azone@ in which the vehicle is parked has some room for error. The bumper sticker could represent the values of a previous owner, the vehicle could be a borrowed car, a parent=s car, or the vehicle's bumper sticker could have been attached to the car without permission of the owner. The availability of parking for the various groups must also be considered. The large number of bumper stickers involved in this study, however, decreases the impact of these possible cautions.


Campus bumper stickers can contribute to an understanding of campus culture as well as to an understanding of the campus subcultures identified through assigned parking zones. In addition, noting the presence of bumper stickers supporting opposing views on a particular issue can identify or predict potential conflicts in campus values. The absence of certain bumper sticker messages might also suggest what values are not being promoted on campus. Bumper sticker ethnography may not present the most refined picture of the campus culture, but it has potential, as a quick and easy tool, to assist in the process of understanding campus culture.


Banning, J.H. (1991). Ethnography: A promising method of inquiry for the study of campus ecology. The Campus Ecologist, 9(3), 1-3.

Banning, J.H. (1996). Bumper sticker ethnography: Another way to view the campus ecology. The Campus Ecologist, 14(3), 1- 4.

Banning, J.H. & Bartels, S. (1997). A taxonomy: Campus physical artifacts as communicators of campus multiculturalism. NASPA Journal, 35(1), 29-37.

Gardner, C.W. (1995). Bumper sticker wisdom: America's pulpit above the tailpipe. Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words Publishing Company.

Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of culture. New York: Basic Books.

Kuh, G.D. & Whitt, E.J. (1988). The invisible tapestry: Cultures in American colleges and universities. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report, No. 1. Washington, D.C.: Association for the Study of Higher Education.

Patton, M. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publishing.

Whitt, E.J. (1993). Making the familiar strange: Discovering culture. In G.D. Kuh (Ed.). Cultural perspectives in student affairs work. Washington, D.C.: American College Personnel Association.

Whitt, E.J. & Kuh, G.D. (1991). The use of qualitative methods in a team approach to multiple institution studies. The Review of Higher Education, 14, 317-337. 1

James Banning is a professor in the School of Education at Colorado State University.



Table 1. Campus vehicles with and without bumper stickers by parking lot zone type.


Type of Parking



Vehicles with


Vehicles without Stickers

Total Number of Vehicles


255 (21%)

966 (79%)


Residence Halls

197 (42%)

271 (58%)


Family Housing

324 (44%)

407 (56%)


Commuter Students

1027 (51%)

992 (49%)



1803 (41%)

2636 (59%)



 Table 2. Top Twelve Bumper Sticker Categories with Frequencies by Campus Group




and Staff

Residence Hall


Family Housing







Local Institutional Identification (48)

Local Institutional Identification (122)

Local Institutional Identification (63)

Local Institutional Identification (507)

Local Institutional

Identification (740)


Other College Identification (36)

Organizational Membership (21)

Organizational Membership (56)

Outdoor Adventure (77)

Organizational Membership (165)


Organizational Membership (31)

Radio Station Support (20)

Automobile Issues (30)

Miscellaneous (69)

Other College Identification (126)


Radio Station Support (24)

Bands and Performers (16)

Radio Station Support (26)

Other College Identification (62)

Radio Station Support (120)


Advertising Products and Services (19)

Advertising Products and Services (8)

Other College Identification (25)

Advertising Products and Services (60)

Outdoor Adventure (114)


Environmental Issues and Animal Rights (18)

Christian Identification (8)

Environmental Issues and Animal Rights (18)

Bands and

Performers (57)

Advertising Products and Services (99)


Outdoor Adventure (17)

Environmental Issues and Animal Rights (7)

Outdoor Adventure (13)

Organizational Membership (57)

Miscellaneous (98)


Christian Identification (16)

Outdoor Adventure (7)

Advertising Products and Services (11)

Radio Station Support (50)

Environmental Issues and Animal Rights (88)


Hobbies (16)

Automobile Issues (6)

Miscellaneous (10)

Environmental Issues and Animal Rights (45)

Bands and Performers (85)




Allegiance to Professional Sports Teams (6)

Allegiance to Professional Sports Teams (9)

Recreational Sports (37)

Automobile Issues (71)


Family Issues (11)

Humor (6)

Family Issues (8)

Automobile Issues (29)

Christian Identification (48)



Liberal (9)

Peace Issues (4)

Christian Identification (7)

Allegiance to Professional Sports Teams (27)

Allegiance to Professional Sports Teams (48)


How the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Is Affecting Today=s College Student

Lisa D. Campos

The most recent legislative changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) have affected colleges and universities. This article focuses on how the law has changed, how those changes are affecting colleges and universities and the various responses colleges and universities have had regarding the changes.


With the recent changes in legislation, many higher education institutions need to clarify the roles of the administrators, the student, and the student=s parents with respect to a student=s right to privacy. Should universities have the ability to release educational records without the student=s consent? If so, is it the role of a university to act as Ainformers@ and call the student=s parents when their child has violated a university policy? Likewise, what rights and responsibilities should students gain as they transition from child to adult and from high school to college? What about the parents= rights to information about their child? When sending their child to college, do they relinquish their parental obligations or should parents be entitled to know the details of their child=s disciplinary record? There are no absolute answers to the above questions. However, recent legislation may serve as a guide for colleges and universities in appropriately respecting students and their privacy rights.

The United States Congress passed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), also known as the Buckley Amendment, in 1974. Since then, the Act has provided institutions of higher education with a legal guideline to follow when handling students= privacy rights. The Act was adopted in order to A. . . protect them [students] from inappropriate release of those [educational] records@ (Lowry, 1994). Originally, without written consent from either the student or the parent (if a student is under the age of eighteen), college and universities could not release educational records.

The federal legislative process has added various amendments, which have altered FERPA in many ways. For example, in 1994 an amendment to FERPA required colleges and universities to release a security report that includes campus crime reporting, institutional response, and prevention. Perpetrators of the crimes are not identified in these reports. While still protecting the identities of students, the various amendments to the Act have influenced the changes to FERPA=s philosophical idea of protecting the privacy of students. Recently, Congress has again altered FERPA again. In 1998, amendments modifying Sections 951, which relates to crimes of violence, and 952, which relates to alcohol or drug possession, were passed. These amendments are effecting not only colleges= and universities= policies, but also students= rights to privacy.

It is important to address several components of the new amendments. The author will describe the changes and the reasons for the 1998 amendments to Sections 951 and 952. The author will also explain various universities= responses and more specifically, their implemented policies and results with their administrative concerns, as well as describing student affairs professionals= roles.


The modifications to Sections 951 and 952, established in the 1998 FERPA amendments, will have an affect on students= lives. As a result to the change of Section 951, the college or university is allowed to release students= records regarding disciplinary proceedings when a student has committed or A. . . is an alleged perpetrator of any crime of violence (as that term is defined in Section 16 of Title 18, United States Code), or a nonforcible sex offense. . . @ (Department of Education, 34 CFR part 99). Universities can release the Afinal results of any disciplinary proceeding@ which Ashall include only the name of the student, the violation committed, and any sanction imposed by the institution on that student; and may include the name of any other student, such as a victim or witness, only with the written consent of that other student@ (Department of Education, 34 CFR part 99).

The alteration made to Section 952 of FERPA involves students and alcohol. In the past, a college or university could not release information regarding a student=s alcohol violations if the student was over eighteen years of age, unless the university could prove the student was financially dependent on his or her parent(s). FERPA now states parents or legal guardians of students who have violated any alcohol or controlled substance law can now be notified if the student is under the age of twenty-one and A . . . the institution determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to such use or possession@ (Department of Education, 34 CFR part 99).

With these two amendments in place, students= records are not as secure as they were in the past. However, some people feel with today=s societal problems, student records should not be as protected as they were in 1974.


Most people recognize binge drinking and alcohol abuse as common problems at many colleges and universities. In fact, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Aamong more than 14,500 students surveyed at 116 institutions, 43 percent reported that they had binged at lease once in the preceding two weeks. . .@ (Wechsler, 1998). These and other behavioral problems, including criminal activity occurring on college campuses nationwide initiated, the changes made to the FERPA. Specifically, following five alcohol-related deaths, Senator John W. Warner of Virginia was persuaded by a state Task Force on Drinking by College Students to sponsor the amendment (Reisberg, 1998).

Section 951

Providing students with a safe campus environment was the main objective of amending Section 951. Carnevale (1999) indicated Congress proposed the changes, which would allow colleges and universities to disclose disciplinary proceedings when a student has committed a violent crime, in order to decrease crime on college campuses. Parental influence and even interference can benefit both the student and the college or university when a student=s behavior affects the campus environment. The amendment will also be used to eliminate violent crimes on campuses.

Section 952

In an effort to lower or eliminate alcohol-related incidents, such as binge drinking deaths, fights, and sexual assaults, Congress passed the 1998 amendment 952 regarding substance abuse (Carnevale, 1999). In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Bonnie Hurlburt, Dean of Students at Radford University, agreed with this response. She stated, A. . . we were so concerned about alcohol as a serious health and safety risk that we felt it was incumbent upon us to do something to turn it around@ ( Reisberg, 1998). Likewise, LeRoy Rooker, Director of the Family Policy Compliance Office at theDepartment of Education stated, A[alcohol abuse] is very serious out there around the country, and there=s a need to involve the parents@ (as cited in Carnevale, 1999). With the option of notifying a student=s parents, it is anticipated that alcohol-related incidents on campuses will decline.


With the new changes in effect, many higher education institutions are in a dilemma. Many policies must be altered to serve both the best interests of the students as well as the college or university. Higher education institutions are implementing various approaches to comply with the new laws.

Implemented Policies

The University of Delaware, among the first institution to implement the new amendments, is looked to as a model for other universities as they interpret new policies. According to Reisberg (1998), the University of Delaware notifies parents when their student has violated any campus policy. In conjunction with this, the University also implemented a zero-tolerance rule which includes suspending or expelling a student after three alcohol violations (Reisberg, 1998). Other more flexible approaches to notifying parents of student behavior exist. For example, according to a memorandum written by Keith M. Miser, Vice President of Student Affairs (personal communication, April 23, 1999), Colorado State University will continue to treat students as adults while maintaining a safe campus environment. The University feels an important part of student development is making the transition into adulthood, which includes taking responsibility for one=s own actions. However, under certain circumstances, such as serious incidents associated with substance abuse, the University realizes the importance of parental involvement. Unlike the University of Delaware, Colorado State University will not send letters home every time a student violates school policy. Instead, parents will be notified by a personal phone call in instances where the student=s behavior interferes with his or her safety or that of other students on campus. Parental notification will also be given if the behavior is ongoing and may result in suspension or expulsion from the University. In regard to violent crimes or sexual offenses, the University may release the outcomes of University Disciplinary Hearings. Colorado State University=s interpretation of and approach to the amendments focuses on notifying parents whose children participate in high-risk behavior.

Other universities are implementing similar approaches to Colorado State University. The University of Radford will notify parents of financially dependent freshmen when they are disciplined for a drug violation or a major alcohol offense, or two minor ones (Reisberg, 1998). Likewise, George Washington University will only notify parents if the problem is a public issue or is a severe violation of campus policy (Carnevale, 1999). According to Reisberg (1998), Virginia Tech sends letters home to parents upon a student=s probation or suspension.


Timothy F. Brooks, Dean of Students at the University of Delaware, believes notifying parents when their child has violated a campus policy is working well (Reisberg, 1998). Following the initial implementation of notifying parents, Athe students= recidivism rate has plummeted@ (as cited by Reisberg, 1998). Dr. Brooks further explains that the conversations being held between parent and child are assisting in decreasing future infractions (Reisberg, 1998).

Although the system at the University of Delaware seems to work, some administrators do not feel it is the responsibility of the institution to notify parents of their children=s actions. Rather, the students should take responsibility to communicate with their parents without involving the institution. It should also be noted that, according to Gus Kravas, Vice Provost for Student Affairs at Washington State University, Athe vast majority of our students are respecting and law-abiding citizens@ (Reisberg, 1998).


Other administrative concerns regarding the new amendments have arisen. Some administrators are worried that universities will be held more liable now that the responsibility is on them to release the requested information. In the past, universities could use FERPA as justification for not releasing student records, especially when handling a state=s Open Records Law. A memorandum written by Donna W. Aurand, Associate Legal Counsel at Colorado State University, explains with the recent amendments in place, universities now have a legal responsibility to choose to disclose student information (personal communication, January 20, 1999). In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Gus Kravas stated, Anot only do we have to consider what=s in the best interest of the students, but now we have to ask ourselves whether we have a legal duty to notify parents@ (as cited by Reisberg, 1998). A legal duty has been placed on the colleges and universities and it is the responsibility of each college and university to manage and implement law abiding policies, meanwhile, continuing to protect students.

Administrators and students are opposed to the new amendments for various reasons. Many of them believe that notifying parents can do more harm than good (Reisberg, 1998). Parents may be so upset with their child, that they withdraw that student from the college or university. Other parents may side with their child and initiate a legal battle with the college or university. In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Andrea R. Goldblum, Director of Judicial Affairs at the University of Colorado in Boulder, states, Awe have parents who help their students learn the norms and expectations, and then we have parents who hinder the process by trying to get their students off@ (Reisberg, 1998). She believes some parents will argue that their son or daughter did not commit the violation and could threaten to sue the university. Other administrators believe the changes in the Act will now give the public a reason to monitor universities and their behavioral problems (Parents and Student Conduct, 1999). At this time, the implications of the amendments are not certain.


Student affairs professionals realize development occurs in many ways. Therefore, educating policy-makers about the student development process is crucial. For example, explaining the process in which autonomous decision-making enhances a student=s development will affect how administrators view parental involvement. It is also likely that policy-makers do not realize, Adevelopment occurs as individuals respond to novel situations and tasks that challenge their current level or capacity@ (Strange, 1994, p. 405 ). With this knowledge, policy-makers would make more informed decisions.

Hopefully, with the assistance of student affairs professionals, administrators will realize the implications of calling a student=s parents when the student has violated a policy. Although this realization will be Athrough the lens@ of a student, it is important for administrators to realize the potentially damaging effects their policies could create. In order not to deny a student the opportunity to develop, student affairs professionals must respond to the challenge of educating administrators about student development.


The various changes made to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, have granted more discretion to collegesand universities disclosing of educational records. These changes are affecting colleges and universities, students, and their parents. With more responsibility given to institutions of higher education, it is now the duty of the institutions to properly apply the amendments, and at the same time, protect a student=s well being. The university has the discretion to create policies and procedures to follow when disclosing educational records and student information. The role of policy-makers is to seek knowledge regarding the development of students. Student affairs professionals must be part of the policy-making decisions in order to share their knowledge regarding student development.

Implementing FERPA=s new amendments has not and will not be an effortless challenge. However, it is important to remember the original intent of FERPA, which is protecting students= right to privacy.


Family Educational Rights and Privacy, 34 C.F.R Part 99, Volume 64 Department of Education, (1999).

Carnevale, D. (1999, June). Education department proposes guidelines for changes in law on student privacy. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved June 7, 1999 from the World Wide Web:

Lowery, J. (1994). Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. ASJA. Retrieved September 19, 1999 from the World Wide Web:

Parents and Student Conduct. (1999, March 15). Syntex, p. 828.

Reisberg, L. (1998, December). When a student drinks illegally, should colleges call mom and dad? The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved June 7, 1999 from the World Wide Web:

Strange, C. (1994). Student development: The evolution and status of an essential idea. Journal of College Student Development, 35. p. 405.

Wechsler, H. (1998, November). Getting serious about eradicating binge drinking. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved September 19, 1999 from the World Wide Web:


Lisa Campos (>01) is a graduate student in the Student Affairs in Higher Education program at Colorado State University. Her assistantship is working in the Office of the Vice-President for Student Affairs.


Enhancing the Physical Interior Environment of the Workplace: Tips for Student Affairs and Higher Education Administrators

Stephanie Clemons, Ph.D.

This article offers some tips for student affairs and higher education administrators concerning the appropriate design of interior spaces. Issues such as implementing Auniversal design@, developing functional space plans, encouraging a Asense of place@, specifying lighting, and utilizing ergonomic furnishings are discussed.


Higher education administrators make ongoing, multiple decisions concerning the physical workplace environment on a campus. Administrators are asked for their input and many times make decisions concerning interiors of both public spaces, such as student centers, as well as private spaces, such as residence halls. Furthermore, many administrators influence the reconfiguration and design of campus office space.

Although campus facility departments offer guidelines on space allocation within a building, based on state and/or federal regulations, and purchasing departments provide expertise in bidding and ordering furnishings and equipment, there is an occasional gap in the decision-making process. Administrators find they need advice concerning use of a given space to enhance its productivity as well as the evaluation of light, color, and materials to enhance its function and aesthetics. In addition, more and more administrators are becoming aware of issues concerning territorialism and the need for privacy in the office, as well as the desire to reflect the inclusive, cultural sensitivity of their campus in interior spaces.

This article discusses a number of interior design issues specifically within the workplace and offers tips for student affairs and higher education administrators. The workplace or office environment was selected because appropriate design in these spaces can enhance effective communication, increase productivity, encourage teamwork, and improve morale (The Impact of Interior Design, 1997). The office environment can be found on campuses in general buildings such as administration and libraries as well as in student buildings including financial aid and admissions.



To understand the contemporary work environment, one must examine its origins. The office began in the home. Prior to the Industrial Revolution in the second half of the 18th century, most offices were found in royal households and in residences belonging to merchants and artisans (Smith, 1987).

At the turn of the nineteeth century, an Industrial Revolution management style prevailed and the office environment shifted from the home or farm to the industrial factory (Cutler, 1993). In the latter part of the nineteeth century, technology intervened with the invention of the elevator and with advances in building construction methods such as the use of steel and concrete (Heyer, 1993). With the invention of the elevator, the office shifted into high rise buildings for the first time and the Amodern@ office arrived B removed from both the home and the industrial factory (Kleeman, et al., 1991).

The concept of an office evolved throughout the twentieth century. However, it was not until the 1980=s that office design shifted from a product economy, with the office team supporting the production of a tangible item, to an information society in which information was the commodity for trade or sale (Herman Miller, Inc., 1993). New technologies, such as the laptop computer, facsimile machines, and Internet connections impacted the office with the appearance of monitors, importance of telephone/wiring access, and artificial lighting issues connected with glare. However, these same technologies made the process of work less expensive, more flexible, and geared to employees at all levels of responsibilities.

Today, the incessant use of information technology has stimulated increasing pressures of time and urgency because we can communicate with one another instantly and often in a global level (Heerwagen, 1996). With continued improvement in computer and telecommunications technology, information work is virtually location-independent. Many people now work effectively in their cars, from their homes, or virtually anywhere they are provided with the high-tech tools needed to perform their specific tasks (Kleeman, et al., 1991). As in the corporate world, employees in higher education literally take their office to administrative or committee meetings.

Today, in order to offer mobility and flexibility in the workplace, the trend continues to be to tear down permanent office walls and trade freestanding furniture for open office systems with panels and modular furniture. Modular furnishings can be hooked onto freestanding panels in multiple configurations. Panel systems continue to grow in popularity not only because they provide increased flexibility, but they also reduce costs and improve space utilization. These systems make it easier to meet changing needs for individuals, teams, and departments (The Impact of Interior Design, 1997).

However, challenges exist with the use of panel systems. As accessibility and flexibility improve, the need for privacy increases. In addition, difficulties arise with acoustics and efficient lighting. The current trend of home offices indicates a circular evolution back to the house. The Home Office Association of America reported that approximately 41 million people work at home, about 42% of the working population (Slaughter, 1996). Primary reasons involve technological advances and the need for privacy to accomplish tasks. Despite these challenges, many campus buildings have been remodeled to encourage the use of panels in open office systems.

Ways to address some of these technological issues in the office environment are effective space planning to enhance communication, Acreating a sense of place,@ and specifying ergonomic furnishings. In addition to addressing new challenges in the office due to technology issues, there are also those that relate to human and cultural needs, such as implementation of universal design and effective use of color and light. Following, each of these design solutions will be discussed in some detail. Although not a comprehensive list, attention to these fundamental design criteria may enhance the quality of life for staff and students alike.


Effectively Plan Interior Spaces

Productivity is a vital issue in corporate America. Since staff productivity often is measured in tasks and accountability, student affairs and higher education administrators need to analyze how, when, and where individual employees and teams perform their job responsibilities. Access, comfort, privacy, noise reduction, and flexibility need to be consciously designed into the finished space (The Impact of Interior Design, 1997).

When evaluating a new space or assessing the redesign of an existing space, it is critical to generate diagrams to determine effective communication flow within the organization. This technique can track office activities, paper-flow routes, filing systems, furniture/equipment allocations, and verbal exchanges to ensure workflow and communication efficiency (Kilmer & Kilmer, 1992). For example, several years ago, Enrollment Services at Colorado State University consolidated many of their offices and staff into one building. Conceptually, they wanted to achieve a Aone-stop shopping@ service center for their students. Time was taken to evaluate communication flow within specific, and between adjoining, departments. Many changes were made concerning adjacencies of individual workstations as well as access to administrators and resources specific to identified tasks. Student affairs and higher education administrators can reduce employee frustration and staff inefficiencies by assessing these types of workplace characteristics.

Encourage a ASense of Place@

In addition to the effective planning of work spaces to enhance communication channels, the environment should offer a Asense of place@ to staff and students. A Asense of place@ is a theory of interconnectedness or belonging to an environment, and security within it. ASense of place@ refers to a person=s experience in a particular place and how he or she feels about it (Steele, 1981). When people can control, use, modify, and personally mark a space, they feel an attachment, commitment, and responsibility for it, which is the basic premise of territorialism (Steele, 1981).

Many factors in the work environment conspire against a sense of place or place- making. For example, rapid changes in technology and telecommunications decrease connectedness and identity to the immediate environment. Campus administrators can enhance place-making by encouraging professional personalization of workspaces. Photographs of significant family members, a postcard from a recent vacation, or other memorabilia that personally marks an individual=s work environment assists in creating a sense of place.

Similar to sense of place created in the work environment, students unconsciously look for place making on campus. The campus physical environment, as a place, provides a powerful, informal setting for students to learn about different cultural values (Banning, 1999). The recognition of people and cultural identity, or how a place reflects the culture of those who use it, is important in the office environment as well. An area that evokes a message of inclusiveness through the appropriate use of signage, accessories, and accessibility, whether in general public spaces or in an individual=s work environment, will offer a safe and familiar place for both students and staff.

Specify Ergonomic Furnishings

One tip for higher education administrators is the specification of ergonomic furnishings. Ergonomics is the study of relationships between human beings and their function in the environment. Comfort relates to the way furniture accommodates the human body. Human beings differ in shape, size, and age, producing a wide range of anthropometric dimensions (Kilmer & Kilmer, 1992). Comfort levels can vary due to differences in size and proportion of the body. The most important piece of furniture in the office is the desk chair. Although they can be one of the most expensive pieces of office equipment, with prices ranging from $750-$1,500/chair, their self-adjusting attributes can properly support the body in a variety of working positions and increase comfort levels. Ergonomically designed furnishings reduce absenteeism, increase morale, and prevent medical injuries (The Impact of Interior Design, 1997).

Practice Universal Design

A concept referred to as Auniversal design,@ offers a design solution for multiple users of the work environment B young or old, physically challenged or physically fit. Universal design refers to designing all products, interior and exterior, to the greatest extent possible without the user appearing different or special, regardless of the product. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is just a small part of this movement. Accessibility, adaptability, affordability, aesthetics, and safety are characteristics of its features, products, or structural elements (Mace, Hardie, & Place, 1991).

When designing the campus work environment, it is critical to remember the age range of both staff and students. By the year 2050, the United States census is expected to reveal 67 million or 22 percent of the nation=s population will be 65 years or older (Davis & Beasley, 1994). Loss of mobility, color perception, and eye acuity are but a few of the challenges for the aging individual. For example, loss of mobility can affect a person=s capabilities in the office a number of ways. Pulling out the bottom file drawer, typing on computers, turning knobs on machinery or opening heavy doors, as well as safely navigating floor level changes (steps, ramps, or daises) are common challenges. Yet the physical challenges for an aging individual can be the same for a pregnant woman or a portly gentleman. Implementing an appropriate design for the aging individual in the office can improve the quality of life for people of all age ranges.

Through the ADA, many student affairs and higher education administrators have become aware of the issue of accessibility. However, proponents of universal design request an additional sensitivity in creating interior spaces that provide a better physical environment for all people.

Evaluate Use of Color and Light

Two of the most powerful elements of design are color and light. They can enhance the aesthetics and function of a campus office. Research studies reveal that color affects the brain, nervous system, and hormonal activity. Response to color is both psychological and physiological (Mahnke & Mahnke, 1987). Likewise, light not only provides adequate illumination and a pleasant visual environment, but also affects the human organism psychologically and emotionally.

It is common knowledge that in interior environments, color sets the mood and establishes an image. However, the way a person interprets or feels about a color can vary according to their experiences, education, and cultural association. Color association, or symbolism, generally is based on a person=s individual personality or cultural background. For example, in Western cultures, black generally symbolizes death and mourning, whereas in eastern civilizations, the symbolic color of death is white (Kilmer & Kilmer, 1992). Sensitivity to color usage and cultural meanings portrayed by colors in office space can enhance a positive image within a campus environment.

Critical tasks are performed in any campus office. So efficient light is key in preventing accidents and ensuring accuracy of details. Quality electric light that is flexible (e.g. portable or adjustable) also improves productivity since the human eye fatigues as the day wears on. An individual=s eyesight also decreases as they age and the muscle of the eye loses elasticity (Gordon, G. & Nuckolls, J. L., 1995). Therefore, aging eyes become easily fatigued and details of critical tasks become more difficult to read. To compensate, design of the office should include not only general light in the ceiling for common tasks, but light at specific work stations that can be increased as the eye fatigues. Flexibility in lighting design installations can assist those of all ages.

Research also indicates that people need to be aware of the passing of time. Therefore, daylight, or access to a window to see seasons change and a day shift to night is a critical component in the office environment (Steffy, 1990). With daylight, however, comes the challenge of glare, or misplaced light. Use of computers in the office has caused glare to become a common enemy. Because light travels in a straight path, moving the computer or task surface perpendicular to the daylight can resolve the problem. Lighting, both natural and artificial, must be coordinated with furniture placement and people performing the task.


The challenge of recruiting and retaining qualified employees is becoming increasingly difficult. Recent research indicates that the physical workplace environment plays an important role in decisions about accepting or leaving a job. The physical workplace impacts comfort, access to people, as well as privacy and flexibility (Recruiting and Retaining, 1999).

Interior space on a campus stands at a premium. Understanding how technology changes impact the way work is being accomplished and how to effectively design interior spaces in their buildings may help student affairs and higher education administrators use allotted square footage more efficiently.

Student affairs and higher education administrators are busy. They are concerned about creating an ethical environment (Anderson & Banning, 1998) and building residence hall communities to enhance the individual (Noeldner, 1998). They evaluate how to prepare new professionals (Binard, 1999) and how to respond to off-campus misconduct (Dicke & Wallace, 1999). Time is at a premium. In addition, assessing the nearby work environment and taking action to improve it requires time and money. However, good design rarely necessitates any more financial resources than poor design. Realizing that as a nation, citizens spend over 80 percent of their time in interior spaces, good design seems a small price to pay to improve morale, increase productivity, address psychological and physical needs, as well as offer a physical environment that is inclusive and attractive.


Anderson, S. K. & Banning, J. H. (1998). Creating an ethical environment: A journey looking for a roadmap. Journal of Student Affairs, 7, 26-34.

Binard, K. (1999). Student affairs in higher education: How are we preparing new professionals? Journal of Student Affairs, 8, 104, 112.

Cutler, L, M. (1993, October). Changing the paradigm: Is it workplace or work environment of the future? Proceedings of the International Facility Management Association, Denver.

Davis, T. D., Jr. & Beasley, K. A. (1994). Accessible design for hospitality: ADA guidelines for planning accessible hotels, motels and other recreational facilities. (2nd Ed.). New York: McGraw Hill, Inc.

Dicke, L. L. & Wallace, W. (1999). Responding to off-campus misconduct. Journal of Student Affairs, 8, 34-46.

Heerwagen, J. (1996, June). Naturalizing the workplace of the future: Technology, ecology, and place. Proceedings of the International Facility Management Association, Denver.

Heyer, P. (1993). American architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Kilmer, R. & Kilmer, W. O. (1992). Designing interiors. Orlando: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc.

Kleeman, W. B. Jr., Duffy, F., Williams, K. and Williams, M. (1991). Interior design of the electronic office: The comfort and productivity payoff. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Gordon, G. & Nuckolls, J. L. (1995). Interior lighting for designers (3rd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Mace, R., Hardie, G. J., and Place, J. P. (1991). Accessible environments: Toward universal design. In W. Preise, J. Wischer, & E. T. White (eds.). Design intervention toward a more humane architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Mahnke, F. H. & Mahnke, R. H. (1987). Color and light in man-made environments. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Herman Miller, Inc. (!993, January). Making a place, bridging the physical and the poetic. Holland, MI.

Noeldner, T. (1998). Building residence hall communities to enhance the individual. Journal of Student Affairs, 7, 44-49.

Recruiting and retaining qualified employees B by design (1999). American Society of Interior Designers, Washington, D. C.

Slaughter, P. (1996). Two new stores in Dallas focus on home office. Furniture/Today, 20, (41), 4, 33.

Smith, C. R. (1987). Interior design in twentieth century America: A history. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.

Steele, F. (1981). The sense of place. Boston: CBI Publishing Company, Inc.

Steffy, G. R. (1990). Architectural lighting design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

The impact of interior design on the bottom line (1997). American Society of Interior Designers: Productive Solutions, Washington, D. C.


Stephanie Clemons, Ph.D., Associate Professor has been teaching interior design for eleven years in the Department of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University. She is very interested in student affairs and administration issues.


Organizational Illuminatus: The Effects of Major Exigency at Colorado State University

Mark S. Denke, Ed.D. and Ray F. Gasser

As a large residential land-grant university, Colorado State University serves as a second home for many students, faculty, and staff. Although the prediction of specific campus exigency is impossible, Aorganizational illuminatus (The Jargon Dictionary, 1996) requires the use of reframing in providing maximum preparation for responding to campus exigency, coordinating accurate internal and external communication, and preparing for post crisis support, evaluation, and resolution.


Campus exigency can happen at any time, on any campus. Developing effective response procedures is critical to reacting to any potential crisis. However, sometimes it is difficult to foresee and plan for every possible incident. Given the unpredictability of crisis, administrators develop guiding principles and policies and test planned responses in order to adequately address campus emergencies. Using examples from Colorado State University, one can begin to explore how student affairs administrators identify, prepare for, and react to campus emergency.

Over the past three years, several incidents challenged Colorado State University to employ creative approaches to Aorganizational illuminatus@ (The Jargon Dictionary, 1996) for all of the affected populations. By highlighting the aftermath of the devastating floods that decimated the campus and community, the riots by Colorado State students in the nearby community, the reaction to the death of Matthew Sheppard, and the Columbine tragedy, this article will provide examples of response mechanisms for other institutions of higher education to reference when addressing similar exigency.

These institutional responses seek to provide some sense of normalcy and security to students, faculty and staff in very unstable and tragic times. After discussing the variety of exigencies that Colorado State University overcame, the article will offer some conclusions utilizing various frames of organizational behavior.


On July 28, 1997, a tremendous 500 year flood devastated many areas of the Colorado State University campus and significant sections of the Fort Collins community. A 500 year flood is one that has a 1 in 500 chance of occurring in any given year. It is not a flood that occurs every 500 years (Fetrow, 2000). The flood destroyed the lower level of the CSU Lory Student Center and the recently renovated Morgan Library. In addition, more than sixteen other campus buildings suffered damage. This crisis resulted in the most impressive organizational response in Colorado State University history (Grigg, et al., 1998). While the University had developed an Emergency Operations Plan (Colorado State University, 1998) prior to the flood, the exigency of the flood exceeded most other emergencies. The flood caused damage totaling over $100 million, including Abuilding damages, about 425,000 library volumes inundated, loss of a semester=s textbooks in the bookstore, and many other losses, both personal and professional@ (Grigg, et al., 1998).

While the flood occurred prior to the regular academic year, it did affect both a youth conference with 3,500 participants and approximately 800 summer school session students. Facilities Operations, in conjunction with the Office of Conference Services, instituted an emergency management team to deal with the crisis. At the same time, the flood recovery committee identified the top five immediate priorities which included Aprotecting health and safety, responding to personal and professional losses of staff and faculty, resuming classes as soon as possible (the University only missed about two days of the summer term), cleaning and preparing for (and minimizing disruption to) the fall semester@ (Grigg, et al, 1998).

During the first few days after the flood, Facilities pumped over five million gallons of water from flooded buildings and documented the extent of damage in each building. The Public Relations Office issued continuous and frequent press releases updating the public on the status of the University. The CSU web page as well as letters to incoming students assured them that the campus would be open on schedule in late August. While the flood made national and international headlines for a few days, state and local media continued to tell the stories of survival, rebuilding, and renewal for many subsequent months.

As displaced departments and faculty looked for temporary spaces for offices and classes, unaffected buildings and individuals opened their doors to support the ACan=t Stop Us@ campaign. This campaign became a rallying cry and source of motivation for the campus community as CSU worked to overcome this setback.

One month after the flood, as the University opened in time for Fall Semester, there were still obstacles to overcome. Over the next two years, the campus rebuilt the damaged portions of the library and student center and salvaged thousands of books through a freeze drying process. Colorado State University opened to students on time for fall semester as it remained united in disaster recovery. The efforts culminated two years later in the Fall of 1999 with the construction of a mitigation wall to protect the buildings from water flow in the future. To signify the impact of the flood, Colorado State University constructed a memorial and hung plaques marking the water level in the remodeled student center.


In early September, 1997, in Fort Collins= neighborhoods, two disturbances involving CSU students took place. APolice were called at around midnight for noise complaints in the area just north of the university campus. As police tried to break up the several parties in the area, some of the more than 500 people gathered, resisted and threw bottles and rocks. One large fire was started with debris in the street@ (Milligan, 1997). The first incident resulted in the arrest of two students. Since the disturbances occurred off-campus within the jurisdiction of the Fort Collins Police Department, the CSU Police Department did not respond to the complaint. Therefore, the University=s reaction differed from the other examples of exigency described in this article. The University quickly cooperated with the requests of Fort Collins Police as they conducted their investigation. The following weekend, after a repeated incident, the University increased its investigation by creating a 24-hour hotline Ato accept tips from callers with knowledge about Colorado State students involved in either of the two incidents@ (Milligan, 1997, p. 1). Dr. Keith Miser, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Mr. Steve O=Dorisio, President of the Associated Students of Colorado State University, responded to media inquiries and reiterated the University=s cooperation with the City=s investigation efforts.

Utilizing photographs and videotape of the incidents taken by the police and the campus newspaper, CSU administrators identified the primary participants in the riots and quickly responded with disciplinary action. The identified students were referred to the University judicial process, a separate system from the city criminal proceedings. Dr. Mark Denke, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, shared with the media that as a result of the discipline hearings three students were dismissed from the University and one student was placed on probation. In the article, Dr. Denke described the judicial process, as well as defined what the terms of the assigned sanctions (Milligan, 1997). At all times during the response, the University respected the students= privacy rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).


AIt was just a little before 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday evening, October 8, 1998Y(when) Matthew Sheppard said goodnight and went to the Fireside Bar in Laramie on his way home. There he met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, who during their conversation led him to believe they were gay. Matthew later left the bar with McKinney and Henderson, was taken to a location several miles east of Laramie, and was robbed, severely beaten, tied to a buck fence, and left in sub-freezing temperatures@ (Hurst, 1999, p. 5).

Five days later, Matthew Sheppard died in Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. While Matthew was a University of Wyoming student, he considered himself a member of the Fort Collins Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) community. The impact of Matthew=s death was significant for students at Colorado State University. Some considered him a close friend. Others were shocked by the brutality and hatred that this senseless incident represented. Gay and lesbian students expressed fear for their own safety and considered being less open about their homosexuality.

At the same time, the University responded to a crisis that grabbed national attention. During Homecoming Weekend, members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and Alpha Chi Omega sorority built a float for the community parade that included a scarecrow with the word AI=m Gay@ written on it. The very public incident was harshly criticized by the community. AThis incident belies what we as an institution represent. This offensive act targeting members of our gay community goes against the very beliefs that we as a university cherish most@ (Colorado State University, 1998, p. 1). The University identified the students involved and quickly took disciplinary action against them, resulting in similar outcomes as those from the riots.

The Colorado State University community responded by bringing students, staff, and faculty together to grieve, not only for Matthew Sheppard=s death but also for the hate that this senseless act represented. CSU President Albert C. Yates issued a press release: AOn behalf of the entire Colorado State University community, I wish to extend sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family of Matthew Sheppard, a young man whose life was guided by a belief in the inherent dignity and value of all people B and who, in his final hours, taught us much about the importance of caring for, learning from, and uplifting our fellow human beings@ (Yates, 1998).

It was the actions of the newly created Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Student Services (GLBTSS) Office that provided the most support to the students most shocked by the murder of Matthew Sheppard. An office created only a few months prior to this tragedy, GLBTSS helped to organize a candlelight vigil in memory of Matthew Sheppard in the Sculpture Garden of the Lory Student Center. Hundreds of students, staff, and faculty attended the vigil. Anyone wanting to speak was offered an open microphone to express his or her sadness, anger, fear, or regret. Additionally, the GLBTSS office provided educational initiatives, including a speaker=s bureau through the Student Organization for Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals (SOGLB). GLBTSS and the University Counseling Center worked together to help support grieving students who also were balancing the tragedy with a pending celebration of the National Coming Out Day events of October 11, 1998. In addition, community meetings were offered in the residence halls to develop proactive and educational strategies to discourage this scenario from occurring again.


On April 20, 1999, the State of Colorado watched, horrified, as local television covered a shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. As quickly as students and staff at Colorado State University found out about this tragedy, the University offered immediate support and response for the hundreds of Columbine graduates who attended Colorado State University. Many students had a sibling, friend, or former teacher at Columbine High School and reacted with grief and a quest for answers. With unprecedented speed, and a sense of caring for the emotional impact on the campus, the University staff responded.

As the evening of the tragedy approached, the residence hall staff of Corbett Hall pulled resources together in order to organize a candlelight vigil for the Columbine students to share their grief, anger, and pain. What began as an effort to support the Columbine students residing in Corbett Hall, became the support of the students, staff, and faculty of Colorado State University, and then the support of the needs of a grieving community.

The University=s Public Relations Office notified the media of the Corbett Hall vigil, as well as other efforts being organized on behalf of Colorado State University faculty and staff. The key players of the University discussed the events to respond with a unified effort. The University as the Registrar=s Office and Housing and Food Services worked to identify students who might be affected by the tragedy. The University Counseling Center issued an all campus e-mail reminding staff, faculty, and students to utilize the services provided by its staff.

To do its part to encourage communication and expression of sympathy and regret, the Associated Students of Colorado State University set up Aseveral banners for people to sign to send a message of hope to the high school, its students, and staff (Yates, 1999). The Lory Student Center Information Desk offered silver and blue memorial ribbons, the colors of Columbine High School, for several weeks until the end of the semester. The campus organized a blood drive, and a special web page was established to provide more detailed information on campus and community activities. Finally, the Colorado State University Foundation agreed to collect money to assist Columbine, the victims, and their families. On Friday, April 23, 1999 at 11:30 a.m. the university campus had a moment of silence to honor the victims and survivors of the terrible tragedy.


Bolman and Deal (1991) identify four frameworks or paradigms present in any organization. It is important to look at the potential complications within an organizational framework in order to describe the response of Colorado State University evident in these four examples of campus exigency. The student affairs professional will be able to adapt these scenarios and institute their own campus protocol, by analyzing the Colorado State University response to campus exigency from the perspective of organizational behavior.

The Structural Frame

Bolman and Deal (1991) describe the structural frame as the way Astructure develops in response to an organization=s tasks and environment@ (p. 119). Simply put, this frame is the formal organizational structure. Some important items to consider for any crisis from a structural framework include: capitalizing on the roles, talents, and skills of individuals within the department and/or institution; and reporting structure. A major task involves using these resources to eliminate some of the confusion during an emergency to facilitate an effective response.

The Human Resource Frame

This frame is more humanistic and collegial as it adds to the structural frame, Athe interplay between organizations and people@ (Bolman & Deal, 1997, p. 120). Basically, the framework describes people as being an organization=s most critical resource. Some important considerations during a crisis include: identifying and meeting individuals= most basic needs, understanding the emotional and physical well being of individuals, and attention to others during crisis.

The Political Frame

Bolman and Deal sees this frame in terms of confronting issues directly, organizing coalitions, and managing conflict. The political frame Aviews organizations as >alive and screaming= political arenas that house a complex variety of individual and group interests@ (p. 186). Consideration during a crisis is due to the people united toward the organization=s goals, everyone=s knowledge and understanding of what and why they are doing what they are doing, scarcity of resources as a source of conflict during the crisis and getting the full story.

The Symbolic Frame

The symbolic frame focuses on group culture and organized anarchy, placing more value on what something means than what is happening. AThe symbolic frame seeks to interpret and illuminate the basic issues of meaning and faith that make symbols so powerful in every aspect of the human experience, including life in organizations@ (Bolman & Deal, 1997, p. 244). Very symbolic activities during a crisis: the meaning of symbols of support: ribbons, flags, vigils, the mourning processes, the tokens left behind as a reminder to the crisis: plaques, dedications, etc.


While planning and preparation can provide a basic path for an institution as it faces a crisis, no amount of planning can provide all of the answers for every scenario. In some instances, the institution will respond inadequately. However such instances serve as a benefit in that they fine-tune future strategies for administrators. The examples listed in the article provide good case studies for future administrators. Drawing from the exigency examples in this article, the following are recommended as key strategies for responding to any campus emergency.

1. Communicate as much accurate information between departments, offices, and individuals within the university as soon as possible. During a time of exigency, the general public is interested in detailed information and the public demands information and sound bytes. It is important to accurately communicate with services and offices that can help respond to the crisis and for one person to serve as the spokesperson to communicate information to the media.

2. Solicit appropriate support services. Remember, an administrator is never alone in responding to the crisis. For example, a recent student death in Parmelee Hall at Colorado State University required Residence Life staff to collaborate with the campus police department, the County Coroner=s Office, the Public Relations Office, the Counseling Center, the HELP/Success Center, as well as the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

3. Mobilize the institution=s resources and people. It is within the initial stages of any emergency that success will be outlined. Institutions should consider making organized plans for response to general emergencies. Individuals, offices, departments, and other constituencies should be able to work cooperatively with common goals. Essential elements of any plan should include the development of a mission, crisis team, communication procedures, and specific protocols.

Working within the organizational framework of a large university, student affairs administrators are required to consider the potential outcomes of any emergency, respond accordingly, and work together with the best interests of the students in mind. Exigency planning allows an organization to increase the effectiveness and immediacy of its response to victims, reduce the severity and duration of the crisis to the campus community, reassure the campus, and protect the image of the institution.

Using common sense and experience to deal with organizational behavior problems can work under conditions where change is very slow, and where one has likely dealt with a similar situation in the past and learned from past mistakes. But the environment we have to deal with is increasingly diverging from such a pattern. We are confronting situations and problems we have not dealt with and are being asked to solve them more quickly and more skillfully than ever before.


Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (1991). Reframing organizations. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Colorado State University. (1998). Colorado State University Deplores Discriminatory Actions. [On-line]. Available:

Colorado State University. (1998). Lessons of Recovery, Emergency Operations Plan [On-line]. Available:

Fetrow, D. (2000). Floodplains [On-line]. Available:

Grigg, N. S., Doesken, N. J., Frick, O. M., Grimm, M., Hilmes, M., McKee, T. B., & Oltjenbruns, K. A. (1998). Fort Collins Flood 1997: Lessons from an Extreme Event. [On-line]. Available:

Hurst, J. C. (July-August 1999). The Matthew Sheppard tragedy: Management of a crisis. About Campus, 4, 5-11.

Milligan, T. (1997, August 30). Colorado State, City Officials to Coordinate Following Incident. [On-line]. Available:

Milligan, T. (1997, September 8). Colorado State University Establishes Hotline to Identify Students Involved in Incidents Near Campus. [On-line]. Available:

The Jargon Dictionary: Illuminatus! (Version 4.00, 24, July 1996) [On-line]. Available:

Yates, A.C. (1999, April 21). Open Letter to the University Community [On-line]. Available:

Yates, A.C. (1998, October 12). Statement from Colorado State University President Albert C. Yates. [On-line]. Available:


Dr. Mark S. Denke is the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Colorado State University. He teaches the Organizational Behavior course (HE676) in the SAHE Master=s Program. Ray F. Gasser (=97) is the Complex Coordinator for Corbett Residential Complex at Colorado State University.


Learning Communities: Past, Present, and Future

Keith E. Edwards and Nick Sweeton

The authors of this article examine the history and philosophy of learning communities, the current research on the impact of these learning environments on students= academic achievement and retention rates, and conclude with the authors recommendations for creating or improving similar initiatives.


Integrating student affairs and academic affairs is a hot topic in the field of higher education. Many professionals believe that an institution=s mission can be better achieved by combining these two functional areas. Some institutions have already integrated the two areas into a single division (Altizer et al., 1996). Other institutions have attempted different methods to integrate the curricular and co-curricular experiences for students. One method is implementing academic learning communities in residence halls. In these communities, students live with other students in their academic discipline and are provided academic resources in the living environment (Rowe, 1981). Research has shown that this atmosphere indirectly increases students= academic success and persistence rates, as well as student satisfaction (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1981). This article will examine the history and philosophy of learning communities, current research on the impact of learning communities on academic success and retention rates, and conclude with the authors= recommendations for the future of learning communities on college and university campuses.


The earliest models of American higher education reflect the ideals of living and learning environments (Schroeder & Mable, 1994). English institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge, the models for American higher education, involved faculty members in almost every aspect of the collegiate experience. While faculty taught, as well as ate and socialized with the students, porters and other staff members managed discipline and other areas of student supervision. Early institutions of American higher education, such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, attempted to imitate this English model. However, these institutions did not have the resources to build facilities in which faculty would be interested in living. In addition, faculty in America had responsibility for all aspects of the student experience, including student supervision and discipline. This left few boundaries between the role of educator and authority figure.

American institutions, founded in the second half of the nineteenth century looked to German models of higher education (Schroeder & Mable, 1994). German universities focused almost entirely on teaching and research. Large research universities in America adopted this model and also viewed in-class education and research as completely separate from extracurricular activities and living arrangements. The German model was also adopted by the large land grant institutions that emerged from the Morrill Act of 1862 and the second Morrill Act of 1890.

Descriptions of the German model rarely included the word Alearning.@ This lack of focus on student outcomes has been a recent criticism of American education at all levels. Recently, politicians, researchers, and educators have criticized the quality of undergraduate education in the United States (Cross, 1993). While separating student affairs from academic affairs helped make higher education more efficient at handling increased numbers of students, institutions now realize that it was not, in fact, the best for all students (Schroeder & Mable, 1994). Research increasingly illustrates the Aimportance of peer culture, active student involvement, the seamless nature of student experiences, and the need for new partnerships between academic and student affairs@ (p. 12).


The research on the effectiveness of a traditional residence hall experience in contributing to academic success is inconclusive. As a result, residence hall staff have attempted to structure the living environment to effectively increase students= academic success (Pascarella, Terenzini, & Blimling, 1994).

Learning communities have varied purposes and structures. Rowe (1981) outlined six basic structures for such environments: special interest units, like-major units, units with noncredit classes and programming, units offering regularly scheduled classes, units with unique or experimental programs, and residential colleges. At the most basic level, special interest units group students according to a particular extra-curricular interest, usually involving a faculty advisor with expertise in that area. Special interest units might focus on astronomy, athletics, arts, etc. Administrators organize like-major units more formally than the special interest units. Like-major units group students with the same major to increase peer academic support and structured assistance from the university in a concentrated academic area. Noncredit classes and programming units require a commitment from the student to be involved in a course or formal program, some noncredit classes or programming units might include: music ensembles, leadership studies, and wellness development. Units offering regularly scheduled classes organize students to add an additional aspect to the course. Faculty usually become highly involved in the programming and living aspects of the program, sometimes to the extent of living in a residence hall. Some programs involve unique course offerings or experimental programs that require a residential aspect in order to be successful. Examples might include: community service/volunteerism units, language floors, or intense academic endeavors such as dramatic arts, writing, and theater production. The final method of structuring a learning community exists in the form of a residential college. Structured to resemble the Oxford residential model, residential colleges attempt to create an environment closest to a Amini-college.@ Residential colleges not only house students with similar interests, they also add a faculty involvement component, study groups and programs, extra-curricular activities, and tutorial programs (Rowe, 1981).

In 1967, learning communities emerged in the modern era of higher education (Centra 1967). At that time most residential communities consisted of separate male and female quarters with a commons area, which included dining, recreation, laboratory, offices, etc. Administrators attempted to make residence halls academic environments, rather than merely hotels on campus. However, evaluation attempts at the time showed no statistically significant impact of the programs on student perceptions of an intellectual or cohesive environment (Centra, 1967).

By the early 1970s learning communities of all kinds, including residential colleges, began to emerge all over the country. Many of these programs were developed to personalize the educational experience of students attending universities with swelling student populations (Schein & Bowers, 1992). In 1971, Taylor and Hanson looked at the impact of grouping engineering students together in a homogeneous living environment. The results of the study showed a significant cumulative increase in the achievement of the students in the program. The initial success of this initiative encouraged other practitioners to proceed with similar programs.

In 1974, DeCoster and Mable outlined what they called the Apurpose and process@ of residence education. They called for more than just providing a physical environment for students, but an educational environment as well. By designing a variety of structured environments to meet the diverse needs of students, institutions can better encourage holistic growth (DeCoster & Mable, 1974). Historically, residence hall staff members have claimed that merely by living in residence halls, students would experience more success. Housing departments now refer to their facilities as Aresidence halls@ rather than Adorms@ to emphasize that these facilities provide more than just places to eat and sleep. Housing facilities ideally have developed into learning environments. Many practitioners in higher education have attempted to verify the benefit of residence halls as educational tools by demonstrating their influence on a students= academic success as well as on retention and persistence. However, studies have led to inconclusive results in support of this hypothesis (Astin, 1973; Blimling, 1989; & Pascarella et al, 1993).

Magnarella (1975) conducted an evaluation of a learning community after its first year in existence at the University of Vermont. Magnarella, through discussions and a questionnaire, discovered that program students indicated a more positive experience in the areas of intellectual atmosphere, educational opportunities, extracurricular opportunities, and community spirit than did non-program students (Magnarella, 1975). In every aspect investigated, the program showed positive results. After four years, Magnarella returned to the program at the University of Vermont to re-examine the impacts of the program. The living arrangement continued to have a positive affect on the academic and intellectual quality of the student experience. This unique environment and faculty involvement added to the richness of the experience for the students (Magnarella, 1979).

In 1976, Madson, Kuder, Hartanov, and McKelfresh examined the impact of a learning community on student satisfaction. The program grouped students into living environments by their majors in the College of Forestry and Natural Resources at Colorado State University. Madson et al. found students to be more satisfied with the educational benefits of their environment and more positive about their student colleagues. In addition, the students became more aware of activities and organizations within their field and exhibited a higher level of participation in the out-of-class activities than other students (Madson et al., 1976). In a similar program at Auburn University, Schroeder and Griffin (1976) examined the grouping of engineering students. Researchers found evidence that the program had a positive impact on persistence rates in engineering, renewal rate to the residence halls, and academic achievement (Schroeder & Griffin, 1976).

Following the earlier success of the program with the College of Forestry and Natural Resources, Colorado State University created a similar program housing engineering students (McKelfresh, 1980). While the program did not show a statistically significant impact on grade point averages, students showed greater increases in satisfaction with their environment, the services and facilities provided by the University, and the connection to the College of Engineering than did similar students not involved in the program.

With evidence growing in support of learning communities, critics began to emerge in the late 1970s. Some critics claimed that brighter and more talented students would be more likely to be involved in learning communities thus impacting the validity of the research. In response to this criticism, Blimling and Hample (1979) studied the impact of living environments on grade point average across the spectrum of ability level, while controlling for the impact variance from ACT scores, gender, and previous grade point average. The programs showed a statistically significant positive impact on grade point average, even taking into account pre-existing factors. The evidence indicated that the program alone increased student grade point average between .05 and .20 points for the quarter studied (Blimling & Hample, 1979).

Pascarella and Terenzini (1981) examined why learning communities seemed to increase student performance and satisfaction in a number of areas. Their research indicated that the structured learning environment did not directly influence students. However, the environments indirectly impacted students by increasing both the quantity and quality of interaction between students and faculty (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1981). Interactions between faculty and students directly impacted student academic success and satisfaction with their living environments.

In 1988, Clarke, Miser, and Roberts studied the impact of three different factors of student success and satisfaction: structure of the learning environment, faculty involvement, and academic themes. They found similar results to previous studies; students indicated higher levels of satisfaction with their facilities and program of study than students in traditional residential environments. For those students involved in the learning community, involvement in outside areas increased across the board, from study groups to attendance at parties (Clarke et al., 1988).

After the initial research showing the benefits of academic living units conducted between 1966 and 1978 (DeCoster, 1966; Madson et al., 1976; Ebbers and Stoner, 1972; Pounder, 1973; and Schelhas, 1978), investigators attempted to revisit the research and re-examine the benefits of such programs. This time focusing on women, Golden and Smith (1983) found the same positive benefits: academic atmosphere and intellectuality, involvement, emotional support, independence, order, and organization. In addition, the researchers found a decreased level of academic competition within the academic living unit and an increased level of academic cooperation compared to other living units. A similar decrease in social orientation also appeared for the learning community students; students not involved in a structured living environment seemed to Aparty@ more. Research showed that less restrictive peer groups led to this finding (Golden & Smith, 1983).

Despite these studies, Schein and Bowers (1992) declared that the impact of learning environments on academic performance and retention remained unclear, due to a lack of control for pre-existing factors. This parallels the difficulties researchers had in determining the impact of residence halls in general.

In one of the most recent studies of learning communities, Pike, Schroeder, and Berry (1997) examined the impact of a freshman interest group, a learning community that included a first-year seminar. Their study found that the residential learning communities Adid not improve students= academic achievement and persistence directly, but did indirectly improve students= success by enhancing their incorporation into college@ (Pike, et al., 1997, abstract). Their study found a significant positive impact in faculty-student interaction, social integration, and institutional commitment, while the academic achievement intercept was lower for the students in the program. The program had positively impacted students in three out of four critical factors in Tinto=s conceptual model (Pike et al., 1997). According to Tinto (1993), the student will look to their academic and social integration, and if they are satisfied with both, the student will likely stay at the institution. Learning communities aim to integrate students socially and academically in all areas of the collegiate experience (Tinto, 1993). Researchers concluded that the program had an indirect impact on significantly higher levels of academic achievement and persistence (Pike et al., 1997).


Based on current research available on learning communities, as well as Tinto=s conceptual model of retention, the authors have three major recommendations for improving the quality and impact of learning communities. The authors recommend increasing interaction between faculty and students, strategically grouping students, and involving student assistants and mentors.

By creating classroom spaces in residence halls, either by building new facilities or reassigning existing space, colleges and universities can increase student and faculty interaction (Tinto, 1993). Students would then have a concrete means of associating their living environment with a learning environment. For example, a lounge could be reassigned as a classroom space, equipped with a white board, computer access, etc. While creating a functional classroom space, the importance of maintaining the informal environment that a lounge provides should not be overlooked. In such an environment, students tend to be more relaxed and comfortable, and in turn, they are more engaged in learning (Strange, 1994).

Colleges and universities can increase faculty and student interaction by housing interested faculty in apartments within the residence halls. This creates the faculty members= accessibility to students during evenings and nights, increasing the informal student-faculty relationship. For example, the night before a mid-term exam, the faculty member could very easily attend a study session in the residence halls. Faculty could also eat their meals with students in the on-campus dining centers, join them for social events, and engage in discussions outside of the classroom environment. The research discussed that increasing student-faculty interaction, both formally and informally, positively influences student persistence (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1981; Pike et al., 1997).

The authors= second recommendation for improving learning communities involves strategically grouping students, either by academic area or extracurricular interests. The authors would prefer that students be assigned by area of study or major in order to allow for the distribution of academic information and resources to one single place. A first-year student who moves onto a floor consisting of students from the same major will immediately have something in common with other members of his/her floor community. In this environment, social connections will likely develop quickly. Administrators may place students into the same introductory class sections for their majors. As a result, they live with the same students with whom they have some of their classes. Therefore, students can simultaneously develop social and academic connections. When there is a test in one of these common classes, students can easily access classmates with whom they can study. The social pressure to perform academically will likely encourage more students to study, and as a result, grades will improve. Programs such as these have been successful at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (J. Battista, personal communication, April 5, 1999).

While the authors clearly prefer grouping students by academic interest, they also recognize the importance of providing extracurricular interest groupings for students looking for a broader experience, engaging with students outside of their academic program of study. Students could request environments such as health and wellness, alcohol free, or language floors. Depending on the extracurricular interest grouping, having live-in faculty might still be warranted. In situations that do not lend themselves to faculty liaisons, developing a relationship with a university staff member with expertise in this area could be considered.

Finally, the authors recommend employing more student assistants and academic mentors in learning communities, in addition to resident assistants. Unlike a resident assistant, the focus of a student mentor would be solely academic. Upper-class mentors could reside on the floor, serve as teaching assistants in one of the common classes, and serve as academic aids to learning community students. Student assistants could hold study sessions before major exams and serve as general tutors to students in the living environment. The academic mentors would be available during times that the student study.

Resident assistants on these floors could focus on integrating academics into the co-curricular aspects of the learning community. For example, floor social programs could bring in professionals from the students= area of study to eat meals with the students. Floors could take excursions to places related to the students= major. For example, a floor of pre-med majors could take a trip to the morgue. This would be beneficial because it increases the integration of the students= academic and social experiences (Tinto, 1993).

In the learning communities of the future, other types of student assistants could help students with a variety of issues such as information technology, research, and writing. Students proficient with computers could become Information Technology Assistants and assist students with computer issues. These student assistants could live in the residence halls and serve the residents who live in that hall. This would be beneficial for all involved; a resident gets prompt assistance from a peer who lives in their residence hall, and the student who provides the assistance gains consulting experience.


By taking a look at the history of higher education, the authors of this article feel that learning communities have developed from a philosophy prevalent early in American higher education. Today, universities are returning to this philosophy in an effort to create an integrated academic and co-curricular experience for students. In examining the data on learning communities, it has become clear that these environments have at least an indirect relationship with student academic success and faculty interaction. Based on this information, the authors have made recommendations for university administrators. Whether universities are creating new learning communities or looking to make existing programs more effective, the authors recommend increasing interaction between students and faculty members, strategically grouping students, and providing peer mentors and other student assistants.


Alitzer, A. (1996). A model for increasing collaboration between academic and student affairs. College Student Affairs Journal, 16, 56-61.

Astin, A. W. (1973). The impact of dormitory living on students. The Educational Record, 54, 204-210.

Bliming, G.S. (1989) A meta-analysis of the influence of college residence halls on academic performance. Journal of College Student Development, 30, 298-308.

Blimling, G.S. & Hample, D. (1979). Structuring the peer environment in residence halls to increase academic performance in average-ability students. Journal of College Student Personnel, 20, 310-316.

Centra, J. A. (1967). Student perception of residence hall environments: Living-learning versus conventional units. Paper presented at the 1967 American Personnel and Guidance Association Convention.

Clarke, J., Miser, K. & Roberts, A. (1988). Freshman residential programs: Effects of living-learning structure, faculty involvement, and thematic focus. Journal of College and University Student Housing, 18, 7-13.

Cross, K. P. (1993). Improving the quality of instruction. In Levine, A. (Ed.), Higher learning in America: 1980 - 2000. pp. 287-308. Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press.

DeCoster, D. A. (1966). Effects of homogeneous housing assignments for high-ability students. Journal of College Student Personnel, 9, 75- 78.

DeCoster, D. A. & Mable, P. (1974). Residence education: Purpose and process. In D.A. DeCoster & P. Mable (Eds.), Student development and education in college residence halls (pp. 41 - 54). Washington, D.C.: American College Personnel Association.

Ebbers, L. H. & Stoner, K. L. (1972). Lorch house: Innovation in residence living. The Journal of College and University Student Housing, 2, 27-29.

Golden, R. D. & Smith, D. A. (1983). Potential benefits of academic units in the college residence hall: An issue revisited. The Journal of College and University Student Housing, 13, 8 - 13.

Madson, D., Kuder, J., Hartanov, T., & McKelfresh, D. (1976). Residential academic groupings: A program evaluation. Journal of College and University Student Housing, 6, 16-20.

Magnarella, P. J. (1975). The University of Vermont=s living-learning center: A first-year appraisal. Journal of College Student Personnel, 16, 300- 305.

Magnarella, P. J. (1979). The continuing evaluation of a living-learning center. Journal of College Student Personnel, 20, 4-9.

McKelfresh, D. (1980). The effect of living environments on engineering students. Journal of College and University Student Housing 16- 18.

Pascarella, E.T., Bohr, L., Nora, A., Zusman, B., Inman, P., & Desler, M. (1993). Cognitive impacts of living on campus versus commuting to college. Journal of College Student Development, 34, 216 - 220.

Pascarella, E.T. & Terenzini, P.T. (1981). Residence arrangement, student/faculty relationships, and freshman-year educational outcomes. Journal of College Student Personnel, 22, 147 - 156.

Pascarella, E. T., Terenzini, P. T., and Blimling, G. S. (1994). The impact of residential life on students. In C. Schroeder & P. Mable (Eds.), Realizing the educational impact of residence halls (pp. 22-52) San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Pike, G. R., Schroeder, C. C. & Berry, T. R. (1997). Enhancing the educational impact of residence halls: The relationship between residential learning communities and first-year college experiences and persistence. Journal of College Student Development, 38 609- 621.

Pounder, D. (1973). Women=s residence halls: Freshman, undergraduate or coed. Journal of the National Association for Women Deans, Administrators, and Counselors, 36, 125-129.

Rowe, L.P. (1981). Environmental structuring: Residence halls as living learning centers. In G. Blimling & J. Shuh (Eds.), New Directions for Student Affairs: Increasing the Educational Role of Residence Halls (pp. 51-64). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Schein, H. K. and Bowers, P. M. (1992). Using living/learning centers to provide integrated campus services for freshmen. Journal of the Freshman Year Experience, 4, 59-77.

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Keith E. Edwards (=00) is a second-year Student Affairs in Higher Education graduate student. Nick Sweeton (=01) is a first-year Student Affairs in Higher Education graduate student. Both authors are currently Hall Directors at Colorado State University.


The Legality and Constitutionality of Mandatory Student Fees: The Campus Climate for Student Organizations After Rosenberger and Southworth

Andrew R. Feldman and Jennifer G. Roy

Mandatory student fees have perplexed campus administrators for years, and in 1999, the United States Supreme Court heard its first case on the subject in five years. Whether or not student fees can be used for organizations of a religious or political nature is uncertain, as is whether or not students can be forced to support student organizations with which they disagree ideologically. This article examines some of the issues surrounding the use of mandatory student fees to support student organizations on college campuses. The authors conclude with recommendations for student affairs administrators dealing with this complex issue.


Student affairs administrators must be more aware than ever of the potential ramifications of student fee policies implemented at their institutions.  Recent court decisions both support and prohibit the use of public universities= funds for student organizations of a political, ideological, or religious nature. In addition, courts have ruled both for and against students who object to their mandatory fees supporting student organizations with which they disagree.  The importance of universities providing a marketplace of ideas can conflict with the protection of students= free speech rights, which include the rights not to speak or to support certain kinds of speech.

This article investigates some major legal cases that have influenced how student affairs administrators historically have managed mandatory student fees. An analysis of the current legal situation and its implications for the future follows.  The first state-legislated bill enacted on student fee policy and its effects on Colorado State University are examined. Finally, the authors offer recommendations to help institutions of higher education determine the best strategy for addressing mandatory student fees.


Conflicting opinions of various state and federal courts make it difficult to determine whether or not mandatory student fees are legal.  More than forty major court decisions address the issue (Johnson, 1997); four are discussed here.  Two issues emerge that are paramount to a legal analysis: first, whether a public university may deny funding to certain student organizations because of their religious, political, or ideological nature; and second, whether university students may be required to fund through mandatory student fees those student organizations with which they disagree.

Denying funds to political, ideological, or religious student organizations

Tipton v. University of Hawaii (1994)

In 1994, the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals heard the Tipton case. The University of Hawaii-Manoa refused to provide student fee funding to student groups of a religious nature.  After funds were denied to four campus Christian groups, four students initiated a lawsuit against the University (Jaschik, February 16, 1994).  The Ninth Circuit ruled for the administration, finding that the university had prohibited the use of public funding to promote a particular religious viewpoint, agreeing with the District Court's assertion that the students in religious groups had Ano right to government-subsidized speech@ (O'Neil, November 23, 1994).

The fee allocation system in place at the University of Hawaii did not prohibit distribution of student fees to all religious groups; funding was permitted for programs that Ahave a secular purpose and do not promote only one religion@ (Jaschik, February 16, 1994), which lead to the denial for the four Christian groups in question.  The Court relied on the Establishment clause of the First Amendment, in which government agencies are prohibited from establishing any semblance of a state-supported religion, in making its decision and did not feel their ruling would violate students= Free Exercise rights.  The Tipton court did require the University to apply the policy justly and consistently.

Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (1995)

Until 2000, the Rosenberger case was the most recent U.S. Supreme Court decision rendered on the policy of funding student organizations. Rosenberger, like Tipton, addressed the conflict a public university faces in funding religious student organizations.  On one side, a state entity has a duty under the First Amendment to avoid establishing a religion.  On the other side, the government may not inhibit the free exercise of religion or the free speech rights of students.

Rosenberger and other students at the University of Virginia founded Wide Awake, a campus publication with an acknowledged Christian perspective.  At the time, there were approximately15 other student publications, secular and non-secular, on campus, including daily newspapers, literary magazines, satirical journals, and others.  Rosenberger sought funding from the Student Activity Fund, a pool of mandatory student fees collected to finance student organizations.  Denied because of the religious nature of the magazine, Rosenberger appealed without success.  He then sued to elicit funding for Wide Awake from the Student Activity Fund.

Virginia argued that, in funding a religious student organization, the University would be in violation of the Establishment Clause, while Rosenberger claimed the denial of free exercise of his religion.  In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the students; Athe First Amendment rights of all students were protected as long as the [mandatory student fee money] was disbursed in a way that treated all ideologies as equally valid and deserving of support@ (Blumner, 1998, p. A12).  The legal basis for the decision rested on the Court=s past findings that Agovernmental entities may neutrally supply benefits to religious organizations without violating the First Amendment prohibition against establishing a religion@ (Case Summary, First Amendment Center).  The Court found that by offering student fee money to student organizations, the University obligated itself to fund all groups; it could not distinguish between organizations based on their content or viewpoint in determining whether or not to fund them.

Another issue the case raised is the type of public forum created for the discussion of multiple views at the University of Virginia.  The majority opinion wrote, AOnce it has opened a limited forum, however, the State must respect the lawful boundaries it has set@ (Rosenberger, 1995).  By collecting mandatory student fees for the purpose of funding student organizations and clubs, the University had an obligation to treat equally all points of view, even religious ones.  The First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom to freely exercise one=s religion seem to outweigh any possible violation of the Establishment Clause.  Furthermore, the Court found theUniversity was practicing unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy wrote:

The viewpoint discrimination inherent in the university's regulation required public officials to scan and interpret student publications to discern their underlying philosophic assumptions respecting religious theory and belief.  That course of action was a denial of the right of free speech and would risk fostering a pervasive bias or hostility to religion (Rosenberger, 1995).

Requiring students to support student groups with which they disagree

Smith v. Regents of the University of California (1993)

The University of California-Berkeley saw one of the earliest major court cases about student fees. The California Supreme Court considered the legality of mandating student fees when a student protested their distribution in 1981.  At the time, the University required students to contribute $12.50 in student fees per quarter. Various student clubs and organizations received the distributed money, 14 of which petitioner Smith identified as objectionable based on their political or ideological nature.  The Court found the collection of fees for student activities constitutional, but a student objecting to the use of his or her fees for political or ideological activities was entitled to a refund of that portion of the fees.  A[The] burden on dissenting students= speech and associational rights in this case is real and substantial.  Students are, in fact, forced to support causes they strongly oppose@ (Smith, 1993, Section 10).

This case focused on the duty of a college or university to provide a marketplace of ideas, a concept the courts have generally supported (Court, Legislator, July 28, 1997; Ritter, 1997) and the right of students not to support speech with which they disagree.  The Smith court found that students= constitutional rights must be upheld, for the First Amendment right to free speech includes the right not to speak (Hudson, February 4, 1998).  Among higher education practitioners, dissent about mandatory student fees remains. UC-Berkeley constitutional law professor Jesse Choper said, Aa student at a state university cannot be compelled, by a condition of being a student there, to pay student fees that go to support political or ideological beliefs that the student disagrees with@ (Healy, September 4, 1998). In contrast, Wisconsin political science professor Donald Downs, although not in support of using mandatory student fees for political purposes, believes just as a publicly financed institution offers courses on a variety of ideological persuasions, so should it support different student groups (Healy, September 4, 1998).

Southworth v. Grebe (1998)

The Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals decided the Southworth (1998) case, brought by a group of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who protested their mandatory student fees paying for student groups with whose purpose the students disagreed.  At the time, Wisconsin students paid $32.03 per semester in student activities fees as part of their overall fees (Ritter, 1997). The sum was dispersed to various campus organizations, including some with political or ideological agendas.  Southworth and two other students objected to the use of the student fees to pay for certain groups, including Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group; the Campus Women=s Center; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Campus Center; and the International Socialist Organization (Southworth, Part I, Section C, 1998).

When the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the students, the University of Wisconsin appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which granted certiorari for the 1999-2000 term.  Southworth raises competing issues of a state institution=s role in providing an arena for myriad ideas and a student=s right not to fund speech that he or she does not support.  The majority opinion in Southworth ruled that Afunding groups that engage in political and ideological activities [is] not relevant to the school's educational mission@ and that Athe use of these mandatory fees violated free-speech rights@ (Martyka, August 12, 1998).  Mark Gallagher of the Pacific Legal Foundation, a group that argues compelled speech cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, said, Athe university should not force students to fund viewpoints they disagree with; the university can still provide a forum to air different viewpoints@ (Hudson, February 4, 1998).

The Court of Appeals= decision recommended the University institute an opt-out system to allow students to choose which student activities of a political or ideological nature to fund.  Ted Crabb, Director of the Wisconsin Student Union, decried such a method as logistically difficult to implement and detrimental to student groups.  Crabb stated, AIf you go into a situation for dues check off, so that students check which student activities get funding, very few will get any funding@ (Ritter, 1997, p. 27).  However, the Court addressed only those student organizations engaged in political or ideological activities, not social or recreational clubs.  AThe appeals court pointedly did not strike down the university's use of student fees to support non-political organizations@ (Healy, September 4, 1998).

Wisconsin=s position reiterated the necessity of mandatory student fees to Apromote the University's educational mission by providing opportunities for the free expression of diverse viewpoints on difficult and challenging issues@ (Ritter, 1997, p. 27).  In the Court of Appeals decision, both petitioners and respondents agreed that the First Amendment protects free speech on campus, Abut the students do not ask that [the court] restrict the speech of any student organization; they merely ask that they not be forced to financially subsidize speech with which they disagree@ (Southworth, Part I, Section C, 1998).  What the First Amendment does not require is government subsidization of free speech.  The Court ruled that the educational mission of the university, while important, did not Ajustify the compelled funding of private organizations which engage in political and ideological advocacy, activities, and speech@ (Southworth, Part II, Section A, part 1, 1998).


The courts provide conflicting guidelines regarding the use and constitutionality of mandatory student fees. The issue presents many constitutional concerns, including the free exercise of religion, the potential establishment of religion by a government entity, and the freedom of speech, which includes the freedom not to speak. While the Tipton (1994) court attempted to avoid excessive entanglement by the government in religion, the Rosenberger (1995) majority found that it was more detrimental to deny the free exercise and free speech rights of the students publishing a campus magazine with an acknowledged Christian perspective.  Both cases made determinations on the use of student fees for religious organizations on campus, and both universities sought to uphold the Establishment clause.  In seeking legal direction, student affairs administrators should follow the U.S. Supreme Court=s decision in Rosenberger (1995), which protected the First Amendment rights of all students, since it takes precedence over the lower courts= decisions.

On November 9, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court heard Southworth; the ruling could prohibit a public college or university from requiring students to pay fees that support ideological and political viewpoints with which they disagree.  Since student activities fees pay for a wide number of student organizations with varying or no political and ideological persuasions, the university argued that all viewpoints are treated equitably. Southworth and the other complainants maintained that having to pay for any perspective objectionable violates the First Amendment. A ruling is expected in the spring of 2000. Given the current court=s composition, some believe the lower court ruling will be upheld (Greenhouse, 1999; Schmidt, 1999). If that is true, student activities coordinators must prepare to offer students a method of withdrawing their support from so-called Acontroversial@ groups if they wish. 

An analysis of the mandatory student fee cases must also consider the nature of an open forum on campus.  When a university permits and even promotes the expression of various ideas, must it support financially all forms of speech, including that of a political and religious nature?  Some legal cases support the funding, while others stress the need for the state to remain uninvolved.  The marketplace of ideas, so vital to the nature and purpose of a college or university, demands open discussion of ideas; in question is whether students or the government are required to fund such activity.  Courts have ruled that state agencies are not responsible for financing the freedom of expression, but must ensure an open forum is protected when created.


Colorado Senate Bill 97-028 (1997), known as the Wells Bill, took effect in the state of Colorado on July 1, 1997.  The first state-legislated bill in the nation to specifically address mandatory student fees, the legislation directs and empowers the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) to create specific policies for all Colorado public colleges and universities that charge mandatory student fees.  The legislature created the bill Ato consider students= opinions concerning the amount assessed in fees and the purposes for which the institution uses the revenues received@ (SB 97-028, 1997).  The bill mandates Colorado institutions of higher education to adopt policies regarding the definition, assessment, and allocation of student fees.  The Wells Bill requires an itemization of any general student fee on the student billing statement and the refund of any automatically assessed optional fees or charges, upon request, to any student who paid the fee. In addition, institutional plans must define the student fee proposal and approval process, establish procedures for student participation in determining student fees, and create a complaint resolution process for disputes on student fee proposals or any issues relating to student fees (Revised Institutional Plan, 1997).


Colorado State=s ARevised Institutional Plan for Student Fees and Charges@ allows a student to file a complaint or to request a waiver for a specific student fee by submitting a request to the appeals officer in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.  The decision of the appeal officer is deemed final (Revised Institutional Plan, 1997).  The only currently optional fee at CSU is for the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (COPIRG); students can request a refund during the telephone registration process, by a check-off on the student bill, or directly from the COPIRG office on campus (Revised Institutional Plan, 1997).

In 1998, the Associated Students of Colorado State University (ASCSU), the student government association, funded over eighty clubs and organizations from the student activities fee of $7.40 per semester.  ASCSU=s blanket policy is to deny funding to student groups and organizations with religious, ideological, or political agendas.  However, the Colorado Student Association (CSA), self-identified as a political lobbying group and currently receiving student fee monies, could present a potential controversy.  CSA is considering identifying itself as an Aeducational@ organization rather than as a lobbying group as a result of some students= demands that CSA not be granted fee money.  No student yet at Colorado State University has requested a student fee waiver. However, as recent legal cases have found that mandatory student fees are unconstitutional in certain circumstances, more students may challenge this traditional method of funding student clubs and organizations.


Current legal trends indicate a movement toward issuing at least a partial refund of fees.  Some campuses have developed check-off systems that allow students to choose which organizations they will support before they pay any fees.  Several campuses developed funding systems that involve more student input into the entire fee allocation process.  Writing about student fees, Gibbs (as cited in Johnson, 1997) recommends that:

    • Institutions know their state constitution, laws, and regulations.
    • Institutions have a clearly written policy statement of guidelines

for collection, allocation, and expenditure of fees.

    • Institutions are clear on which organizations and activities can

apply for funding.

    • Fees support primarily educational requests.
    • Policies governing the distributing of fees be content-neutral.
    • The process allows for a great amount of student dialogue before fees are collected and distributed.
    • Fees only fund on-campus organizations and events.

After the Wells Bill passed, Colorado State University implemented a formal procedure for its student fee appeal process and publicized it to students. Until 1998, no fee appeal process existed, and no one informed CSU students they could petition a student fee.  Now, an appeals committee hears cases, and the appeals procedures are published on all information listing the fees. In such cases as Southworth and Smith, courts said that universities may not force students to fund expression with which they disagree and have required universities to offer students refunds or waivers.  Other universities should follow CSU=s example in establishing an appeals process.

Universities like CSU that do not provide student fee funding to organizations deemed religious or political may be vulnerable to a lawsuit based on Rosenberger, but at the same time they are shielded from the problem presented in Southworth.  Coordinators of student activities, in consultation with university counsel, should determine the best possible course of action based on these two legal cases.

Institutions should research how the University of Virginia, the University of California, and the University of Wisconsin systems are currently addressing student fees and discuss with these institutions how these fee systems are working for them.  Associate Vice Chancellor of Students and Dean of Students, Ronald Stump of the University of Colorado-Boulder, who worked at the University of Virginia during the Rosenberger case, offered this advice: AFollow what makes sense for the campus, its political climate, and use the best legal interpretation as a guide.  I also would put into the funding process a means for refunds for dissidents so they can opt out@ (R. Stump, personal communication, November 8, 1998).  This approach considers the constitutional rights and diverse interests of all students.


May a public university deny funding to student organizations of a political, ideological, or religious nature?  May students be forced with mandatory student fees to support student groups with which they disagree?  After a review of current cases, the apparent answer to both questions is Ano.@  The issue of mandatory student fees is confusing, due in no small part to the conflicting court rulings on the subject.  Student affairs administrators need to consider the competing demands of the university to provide an atmosphere of intellectual discourse with room for divergent points of view, as well as the student= constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression.  Student affairs administrators face a challenging task that is negotiable with careful attention to all concerns.


Associated Students of Colorado State University, AReferendum For Increased

Student Funding,@ Bill 2157, 21st Senate, 25th Session.  (1992). Blumner, R.  (1998, August 28).  Student fees and free speech.  The Rocky

Mountain News.

Carroll, T.W.  (1998, November 6).  Using student fees for lobbying, Letter to the Editor.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, B9.

Case Summary, Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, 115 S. Ct. 2510 (1995).

First Amendment Center [On-line].  Available:

Court, Legislator Take on Wisconsin's Student Fee System.  (1997, July 28).

First Amendment Center [On-line].  Available:

Greenhouse, L. (1999, November 10). Justices hear students= case on the withholding of fees. The New York Times.

Healy, P.  (1998, September 4).  U.S. Appeals Court Bars U. of Wisconsin From Forcing Students to Finance Political Groups.  The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Hudson, D.  (1998, February 4).  Students claim university's mandatory fees

violate rights.  The Freedom Forum Online [On-line].  Available:

Jaschik, S.  (1995, July 7).  High court rules in favor of religious students.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, A24.

Jaschik, S.  (1994, February 16).  Court upholds a ruling on religious

activities.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, A36.

Johnson, J.F.  (1997).  Student activity fees: An examination of systems and

the related legal concepts.  Unpublished manuscript, Indiana University.

Martyka, J.  (1998, August 12).  Appeals court upholds U. Wisconsin fees

decision.  University Wire [On-line].  Available:

Office of the Vice President for Student Affair. (1998. November). Student fee survey, Colorado State University.

O'Neil, R.M.  (1998, September 25).  What a recent court ruling means for

required student fees.  The Chronicle of Higher Education.

O'Neil, R.M.  (1994, November 23).  A troublesome supreme court case.  The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Revised Institutional Plan for Student Fees and Charges. (1997, December). Paper presented at meeting of the State Board of Agriculture, Colorado State University.

Ritter, D. (1997).  Students challenge activities fees.  The Bulletin of the

Association of College Unions International, 65(1), 26-33.

Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, S. Ct.


Schmidt, P. (1999, November 12). Supreme court shutdown over student speech. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Senate Bill.  97-028 (enacted), General Assembly of the State of Colorado


Smith v. Regents of the University of California, 16 Cal. Rptr. 2nd 181 (Cal.

Sup. Ct. 1993).

Southworth v. Grebe, (7th U.S. Ct. App. 1998) [On-line].  Available:

Stump, R.  (1998, November 8).  Personal communication via email.


Andrew R. Feldman (>99) is the Asistant Director of Student Life for Community Services at the University of Vermont. Jennifer G. Roy (>99) is the Coordinator of Programming and Leadership Development at California State University, Chico.


Just E-mail Me: Students of the Information and Technology Age

Laura M. Hattas

Growing in importance to how student affairs professionals practice is their understanding of technology and the effects of such technology on students, the university and the world at large. Questions remain not only unanswered, but unasked. If administrators are to effectively contribute developmentally and educationally to the lives of students, a revolution may be imminent.

Seven percent of households owned computers in 1983. By 1997, the number exploded to 44 percent. Only five years ago, in 1995, the Internet remained virtually unknown to the masses and inaccessible to most of the world=s population. In 1997, there were 80 million e-mail users worldwide. Current projections prophesize that over 40 percent of American households will be connected by this year (Tapscott, 1998).

Today=s traditionally-aged college student grew up alongside the telecommunications industry. College graduates will enter a job market that not only demands a working knowledge of information technology, but also hungers for those with a mastery of cyberspace skills. Understanding the challenges confronting students demands that student affairs professionals be aware of changing technology and its potential effects on students, the world they will enter, and the field of student affairs.

Levine and Cureton (1998a) likened the relationship of students to their college or university as that of customers to a bank:

Think about what you want from your bank. We know what we want: an ATM on every corner. And when we get to the ATM, we want there to be no line. We also would like a parking spot right in front of the ATM, and to have our checks deposited the moment they arrive at the bank, or the day before! (p. 14).

Many students now expect convenience and immediate gratification from their post-secondary institution. Why? Arthur Sandeen (1996) held changes in technology responsible:

Rapid advances in communications, information processing, and computer technology have changed the way colleges and universities conduct their affairs. These advances have also changed the expectations of students and others for efficient, rapid services and around-the-clock access to information (p. 455).

Students= familiarity and comfort with technological innovations have made them accustomed to systems that can cater to their expectations.


A look at technological advances over the last two decades illustrates the changes effecting how students and administrators live and work today. The most influential include: genetic engineering, fiber optics, CD-ROMs, digital audio tape (Levine & Cureton, 1998b), personal computers, robots, semiconductors, software, interactive software, cellular communications, satellite links, and the Internet (AThe Hitchhiker=s,@ 1996); not to mention the advances in medical technologies. Many of these developments crushed people=s former knowledge of time and space; turning a belaboring paper task into the click of a mouse, and connecting people to cultures and to persons once too far away to imagine.

Beyond the technologies we already know, the capacity for further advancement seems infinite. Currently, computing power doubles every 18 months. The average car today has more computer-processing power than the first lunar landing-craft had in 1969. ANo communication medium has ever grown as fast as the Internet. . .with the number [of users] doubling every year,@ (AThe Hitchhiker=s,@ 1996, p. s4). Purchasing groceries, trading stocks, or participating in a video call in real-time are no longer advents of the future. And, clearly, the zenith of such growth remains indeterminate.

How does perpetual technological growth impact the world that future college graduates will enter? The technology forecast of 1998, from Design News claims that in the near future there will be dual-processors on desktops. The brains of two computers will be merged, doubling a computer=s (and often a person=s) speed and work capacity. New Aflexible@ circuits are being developed that enable communication devices to be more complex, while being smaller and more economical. Alternative uses of plastics are being developed (there is an all-plastic car in the future). Intranet technologies are abounding, and there are major advancements in the use of hydraulic power. Future graduates will enter a work arena increasingly different than today, change being the only constant.




The impact of technology on graduates indicates the need to prepare students to meet it. At the same time, higher education itself needs preparation. Envisioning the future campus includes picturing the future student. A depiction of who will be coming to college can be gleaned from information on today=s youth. Electronic Children (Gill, 1996) explored three major issues dealing with the effects of technology on children: children watching television, playing games with computers, and computers in education.

How have children responded to the information revolution? The author asserted that there was a relationship between violence and television, described the potential for addiction to computer games, and identified computer games= influence on negative gender identification and hindering of social development. It is important to examine how pre-college students learn, to better prepare educators to understand the incoming generation of students. This becomes even more crucial as one imagines potential revolutions to current structures of education. The final issue in Electronic Children (Gill, 1996) explored the quality of education and the future of education based on use of computers in the curriculum and cited Professor Seymour Papert:

There won=t be schools in the future. . .I think the computer will blow up the school. That is, the school defined as something where there are classes, teachers running exams, people structured in groups by age, follow a curriculum - all of that. The whole system is based on a set of structural concepts that are incompatible with the presence of the computer (p. 75).


Although an abundance of information subsists on the generations of students born up to late 1970s, little material exists on current and upcoming students. Don Tapscott (1998), named this group the Net Generation - a generation raised in a world that filters life experiences through technology. Tapscott wrote about a new mind, a new learning and a new culture. His proclamation included a generation >lap=. This younger generation has become an acknowledged authority for the first time by their elders, as they surpass them in their mastery of, and comfort with, technology and change. Sixteen year old Kim Devereaux shared, AI think that technology has changed the way adults treat me. They seem to take my opinions more seriously because they realize I just may know something they don=t@ (p. 37).

Tapscott (1998) stated that American society was becoming knowledge-based. His view of changes in education conjectured that they followed the economy=s movement from being agrarian to industrial, then business, and now, he asserted, it would have to change again:

In the new economy, wealth is increasingly created by knowledge work - brain rather than brawn. There have always been people who have worked with their minds rather than their hands. Already, almost 60 percent of American workers are knowledge workers and 8 of 10 new jobs are in information-intensive sectors of the economy (p. 127).

Tapscott (1998) referenced Davis and Botkin, Abut we have yet to develop a new educational paradigm, let alone create the >schoolhouse= of the future, which may be neither school nor house@ (p. 151).


This idea of tearing down the revered schoolhouse may unnerve many people. It also may be just that: an idea. However, the establishment of educational institutions solely offering distance degrees, like Western Governors University, might drive the wrecking ball. Levine and Cureton (1998b) spoke to rapid change in technology and how people relate to such change. They referenced the Industrial Revolution. Since change occurred so rapidly, without a way to understand exactly what the future held, people were Aconfused, frustrated, angry, lost, flailing, and often failing@ (p. 153). Loss reigned as the dominant emotion. Today could be a time of similar unrest, particularly with regard to drastic movements in a major institution like education.

Distance learning exhibits one of the most obvious unions of technological advancement and education. Benedict (1996) wrote,

When most people think of the process of higher education they usually think of a group of students sitting together in a specific place, at a specific time, and for a specified duration of time, usually in a semester of fourteen or fifteen weeks. This image often includes a faculty member presenting information to the students, usually in a lecture format. . . Imagine a class of students who never meet face to face with one another or the professor; whose homes are spread throughout the country; who communicate through computers, fax machines, and videotapes (p. 477).

Benedict described what many of us know as distance education. The concepts traditionally held around learning have broken down to fit an educational relationship between the institution and the student solely through technological means. For example, Benedict considered the speed in which individuals gather information. What once took days - collecting research and making copies, not to mention looking through a university=s library card catalogue - might take a few hours.

People can communicate across oceans through the Internet, making access to the breadth and depth of information necessary for research instantly available. Classrooms hold the capabilities to join other classrooms worldwide through computer- and tele- conferencing. Komives and Woodard (1996) stated that a major campus issue was Acreating and leading with technology@ (p. 549). They contended that practitioners would be expected to Aknow how to harness technology to design learning environments and meet the service needs of students.@ How do these practitioners learn the know how to do this successfully?


Many student affairs professionals wonder if students today experience growing isolation amongst their peers, and others, as a direct consequence of technology. According to Benedict (1996), some students in distant learning programs report a feeling of isolation or loneliness due to the absence of classroom interaction. This is of grave concern to student affairs practitioners. If the profession=s focus is to build community and foster the development of students, how would any impact manifest if we never meet the students with whom we work? Should dehumanization be considered a potential and real danger? The question for student affairs practitioners remains: how will student services need to change to accommodate the fact their opportunity to reach students endures only via computer? Is community still possible? If the future of higher education can be seen through a computer monitor, what does it look like for student affairs, and for students?

Furthermore, will the theories of development used by professionals still be applicable, or is a new age of theory imminent? Becoming increasingly important to understanding students= development is knowing the potential effects of new technology, and how that technology may alter student affairs practitioners= abilities to effectively participate in students= development. One area for reexamination abides in what we know about involvement theory. Astin (1996) found involvement a powerful catalyst in student development. He exacted three major forms of involvement as having the most impact: academic involvement, involvement with faculty, and involvement with student peer groups. Would student affairs as an entity still be able to aid in the fulfillment of these aspects on a virtual campus? Some would respond with a quick and resounding, ANo.@ Without the physical and real interaction, involvement would develop an entirely new meaning, one that is contrary to a known foundation in the field. And yet, distance learners told Benedict (1996) that they received greater interaction, through e-mail, with both faculty and peers than they did in traditional classes.

All aspects of the role of student affairs in a student=s development deserve examination as we move, not necessarily on to a virtual campus, but toward a campus that is increasingly connected through a computer. To do this, practitioners need to be students; to not only learn the new technologies, but concentrate on how they can effect positive change in students through this new medium.

A clear perspective regarding this revolution needs to be maintained, however. For instance, warning goes to those contemplating the quick and dramatic effects projected of new technologies from a group who call themselves technorealists. They claim that too much extremist thinking about technology abounds, and somewhere in-between lies reality and truth. AIntegral to this perspective is our understanding that the current tide of technological transformation, while important and powerful, is actually a continuation of waves of change that have taken place throughout history,@ (Bennahum, et al., 1998, p. 19). They might ask student affairs practitioners to reflect upon the assumption that the educational universe will be revolutionized as an unauthenticated conclusion.


In a rapidly changing world, professions are challenged continually to examine themselves in light of new technologies. The concerns for student affairs practitioners are many. The uncertainty about the future is great. While impossible to imagine all of the possibilities of revolutionizing the currently structured campus, hopefully this article brings to mind thoughts about how technological advancement impacts campus - from student=s rooms, to classrooms, to our own offices. Based on his/her participation in his/her education through communication devices, today=s student may face developmental issues we have not yet discovered. The dawn of major change in terms of our interaction with students and the university rises. The world growing around and within higher education remains unpredictable and full of new potentials and mysteries. Is student affairs responding to the call to explore them?


Astin, A. (1996, March/April). Involvement in learning revisited: Lessons we have learned. Journal of College Student Development, 37, 123-134.

Benedict, L. (1996). Technology and information systems. In S. R. Komives & D. B. Woodard & Associates (Eds.), Student services: A handbook for the profession. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Bennahum, D. S., Biggs, B. S., Borsook, P., Bowe, M., Garfinkel, S. Johnson, S. Rushkoff, D., Shapiro, A., Shenk, D., Silberman, S., Stahlman, M., & Syman, S. (1998, April 6). Technorealism: Get real! A manifesto from a new generation of cultural critics. The Nation, 266, 19-20.

Gill, Tim (1996). Electronic children. United Kingdom: Biddles Ltd.

The hitchhiker=s guide to cybernomics. (1996, September 28). The Economist, 340, s3-s6.

Komives, S. R. & Woodard, D. B. (1996). Building on the past, shaping the future. In Komives, S. B. & Woodard, D. B. & Associates (Eds.), Student Services: A handbook for the profession. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Levine, A. & Cureton, J. S. (1998a, May/June). College life: an obituary. Change 51, 14-17.

Levine, A. & Cureton, J. S. (1998b). When hope and fear collide: A portrait of today=s college student. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Sandeen, A. (1996). Organization, functions, and standards of practice. In S. R. Komives & D. B. Woodard & Associates (Eds.), Student services: a handbook for the profession. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Tapscott, D. (1998). Growing up digital: The rise of the net generation. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Technology forecast 1998. (1998, January 5). Design News, 53, 70-77.


Laura M. Hattas (>00) is a graduate Hall Director at Colorado State University and graduate student in the Student Affairs in Higher Education program.



Randy R. McCrillis

This article examines the needs of international students as they enter into and maneuver through the United States institutions of higher education. In addition, it examines the barriers that international students encounter. The author assesses the sources of stress and how higher education administrators can work towards relieving some of the pressure international students encounter.


International students are increasing in numbers and becoming an important aspect of the United States= higher education system. In 1995, over 450,000 international students were enrolled in colleges and universities in the U.S. (Coleman, 1997), making the United States the largest provider of higher education to international students (Barker, 1996). A review of the research (Barker, 1996; Piland & Barnard, 1996; Myers-Lipton, 1996; Kintzer, 1995; de Verthelyi, 1996; Aper & Currrey, 1996; Kao & Gansneder, 1995; Coleman, 1997) identifies many issues facing international students entering United States institutions of higher education, accompanied by varying concerns of universities who host international students.

International students face a variety of concerns as they attempt to maneuver through the United States institutions of higher education. Among the pressures these students face include: adjusting to new surroundings (Kao & Gansneder, 1995; de Verthelyi, 1996; Barker, 1996); language barriers and the use of the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) as a base for determination of English proficiency (Coleman, 1997; Kao & Gansneder, 1995); and finally connecting with faculty and peers (Coleman, 1997; Aper & Currey, 1996; Kintzer, 1995). These factors may determine whether a student succeeds or fails in a system.


International students face a variety of obstacles upon arrival at a college or university, as do students from the U.S. They are challenged by the inability to buy food that they were used to at home as well as locating their classes. While many of their concerns are similar to the U.S. student, international students are furthered challenged by the acculturation process. The acculturation process is noted by five stages. The honey moon period is where the international student is elated to be in the new culture and excited by everything new. Culture shock or stage 2, the international student is immersed in new problems: housing, transportation, food language, and new friends. Fatigue may result from continuously trying to comprehend and use the second language, they may wonder why they came here. The third stage Initial Adjustments find the international students has moved passed the difficulties of finding housing and going to school. They are now able to express basic ideas and feelings in the second language but may not be fluent yet. In stage four Mental Isolation, the international student has been away for a long period of time and may feel lonely. Many still feel they cannot express themselves as well as they can in their native language. Frustrations and sometimes a loss of self-confidence may result. Some individuals may remain in this stage. The final stage is Acceptance and Integration where a routine has been established. The student has accepted the habits, customs, food and characteristics of the people in the new culture. The student feels comfortable with friends, associates and the language of the country. In addition to the acculturation period other difficulties that are heightened for international students in adjusting include: the contrast between pre-arrival expectations and the first impressions; the conflict in celebrating different holidays and religious festivals than those celebrated in the host country; the lack of connection with a support system; the inadequacy to easily attend to one=s personal needs; and finally, the process of learning and understanding a new culture (Coleman, 1997; de Vertheyli, 1996; Barker, 1996).

The host institution can help to make the period of adjustment much easier on the student by providing him or her with information on support groups, the acculturation process and places to buy culture-specific food and clothing (Myers-Lipton, 1996). In addition, host institutions can assist these students to feel at home by simply asking the student what she or he may need to feel at home.


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