Recently, NIRSA signed onto a letter asking high-ranking college decision makers to recognize the essential role our members, and many throughout student affairs, have played in their campus’ COVID-19 response. The ask was that college officials recognize this continued work by advocating for prioritization of the COVID-19 vaccine for those staff members on their campus, with particular emphasis on those who interface with large populations of students as a requirement of their job.
This letter was authored by our sister associations, ACUHO-I and NASPA, who approached NIRSA and other student affairs organizations to offer the opportunity to sign-on their support. ACUHO-I, who has been advocating already for housing professionals to receive the vaccine since they often are working with students in quarantine situations, shared that their members feel efforts to bring more visibility to this issue is effectively playing out in more inclusive advocacy efforts by their administration.
To continue to build upon that visibility and its resulting advocacy, the letter NIRSA signed has been submitted to the presidents of six secretariat organizations—American Council on Education (ACE), American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), Association of American Universities (AAU), National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), and Association Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU)—with copies sent to their government relations and communications staff members.
The letter states, in part:
On behalf of the 32,000 members of our two associations, representing professionals across student affairs, residential life and housing, as well as the nine student affairs associations listed below, we are writing to share recent efforts urging state lawmakers to prioritize COVID-19 vaccination for higher education staff who, by the requirements of their jobs, live in residence halls, interface with large populations of students, respond to emergencies and serve students in isolation/quarantine spaces. As you continue to work with state and federal policymakers on issues related to higher education and the pandemic, we hope you will echo our call to protect the staff who continue to balance their commitment to their work and our students with the very real risks of contracting COVID-19.
The professionals represented by ACUHO-I and NASPA, and the student affairs associations listed below, along with front-line staff in food service, housekeeping, maintenance and custodial services, are essential to the functioning of our residential colleges and universities and to the health, safety, and success of students in normal times. During COVID-19, they are the linchpin that make continued operations possible and that keep community members safe. Even institutions that have reduced or eliminated their on-campus offerings have students who are living on campus due to food and housing insecurity, which means that these staff members continue to work and are subject to congregate living environments.
In addition to NIRSA, the eight other organizations to sign on to this letter were: ACPA-College Student Educators International, Association of College Unions International (ACUI), American College Health Association (ACHA), Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA), Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA), National Association for Campus Activities (NACA), National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), and NODA – Association for Orientation, Transition & Retention in Higher Education.
- For more information, please contact NIRSA Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships Erin O’Sullivan.