As we grow into our second year of the newly-reimagined Government Affairs Committee, some of you may be wondering how government affairs connects to campus recreation. You may even ask yourself, “Who cares?” Well, you should.
Policy that is passed at the state and federal levels trickles into our units as changes to our policies and procedures. The groundswells of momentum for and against issues have an impact on the sociocultural climate our students live in and in which our campuses exist.
Instead of being reactionary, it‘s best for us as higher education professionals to get ahead of potential changes and mitigate their effect not only on our daily operations, but on our students and the campus community.
Some legislation, such as the PHIT Act, helps us in our pursuit of supporting the creation of lifelong healthy lifestyle choices. Other policies, such as the conversations surrounding Title IX, may affect how we interact with our teams or work with our students. It’s important for us to be diligent and keep up to date on legislation at the state level as well as the federal level.
I personally became more involved in government affairs in order to help navigate the effect state policies were having on our building operations, such as active shooter training and the possibility of gun legislation allowing open carry on our campuses. Getting more involved led me to take a deeper dive into a whole host of legislation that was affecting our campus – from free speech zones to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)—as well as how each of these would impact our staff.
I feel it’s important to not only be informed about potential impacts to our daily operations, our students, and our staff, but also to speak out when necessary to ensure we have a voice in the process. It’s important that NIRSA has a seat at the table in order to help support or oppose legislation as it relates to higher education and, more importantly, to campus recreation.
The Government Affairs Committee has worked hard over the past year to provide the NIRSA Board of Directors with information and support amidst a dynamic and evolving policy environment so that they can make decisions on how best to spend resources and how to communicate information to our membership.
Every few weeks, the committee publishes Policy Pages to NIRSA Connect. These are places in the NIRSA Discussions Library under the “Member Benefits” folder. The table of contents of most of these issues are also published to the NIRSA news page and mentioned in the NIRSA Know. This document is a go-to place for members to stay up-to-date on issues happening at the federal and state level.
The Government Affairs Committee will continue to monitor issues that are immediate, as well as keep an eye on the horizon to be as proactive as possible. While we are able to work within the committee to scan the landscape on what we should be paying attention to, we would love to hear from you about legislation and/or issues you feel we should be keeping an eye on and providing information on to the membership. Please feel free to reach out to any of the committee members with issues in your region, or just to say hi!
Government Affairs Committee
Yvette Kell, Centers, LLC at University of Missouri – St. Louis, Chair
Derrick Applewhite, The Ohio State University, Student Member
Bill Crockett, University of Maryland Baltimore, Professional Member
Korey Lane, Tulane University, Professional Member
Mark Ritter, University of South Carolina – Upstate, Professional Member
Alex Accetta, Stanford University, Professional Member
Rob Patchett, Colorado State University – Fort Collins, Professional Member
Jacob Tingle, Trinity University, Professional Member
Andrew Chadick, The University of Texas at San Antonio, Professional Member
Christopher Crume, Denison University, Professional Member
Troy Snow, Oregon State University, Professional Member
Erin O’Sullivan, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships, NIRSA HQ Liason
- For more information, contact NIRSA Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships, Erin O’Sullivan.