As an association, NIRSA strives to monitor and track policy and legislative issues with the potential to impact our members or the campus communities they serve. These issues are wide ranging and may pertain to higher education, employment law, physical fitness, or our strategic values areas.

As a part of an effort to stay abreast of these highly impactful, and sometimes unpredictable, topic areas, NIRSA is participating in monthly calls with other Student Affairs in Higher Education Consortium (SAHEC) members. The goal is to discuss policy issues each organization is tracking, their impact on higher education, and opportunities to coordinate response efforts where sensible.

This is in addition to NIRSA joining with a subset of SAHEC members (ACUHO-I, ACPA, ASCA, NASPA, and NIRSA) in hiring Active Policy Solutions to assist with monitoring, tracking, analyzing, and determining appropriate action on issues relevant to our associations. NIRSA and ACUHO-I co-led the RFP process throughout the summer and fall of 2017. SAHEC has worked with a Washington DC-based government relations consultant previously; however, the growing impact and scope of these issues provided the impetus for the new RFP and a reexamination of the needs of SAHEC’s members.

NIRSA’s current Policy and Legislation Committee is discussing how their committee’s structure and charges could also evolve. They’re examining how to best ensure these new resources and opportunities are leveraged to provide members nimble and comprehensive communications. In addition to procedural and responsibility considerations, they’re looking at committee composition including things like term length, regional representation, and specific skill sets to see what factors might best help future Policy & Legislation Committees do this work.

As higher education continues in this period of rapid evolution and change, as funding crunches continue to be felt across campuses, as the campus recreation profession continues to fight the real stigma of ‘lazy rivers and climbing walls,’ as the societal landscape increases in tension and unpredictability, there is now more than ever a need for advocacy work at the association level. Though this certainly includes understanding, contextualizing, and communicating policy matters, this also includes responding to society when it impacts our members; collaborating with other associations and external groups that share our concerns, values, and goals; and, critically, telling our story.

If you’d like to be a part of this work with NIRSA, consider applying to be part of the Policy & Legislation Committee for the upcoming leadership year. Committee and work team application are open through February 15. Apply today!


  • For more information, please contact NIRSA Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships Erin O’Sullivan.
Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships at | NIRSA Profile

Erin O'Sullivan is currently the Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships at NIRSA.