Just as the world has seen change over the course of this past year, so too has NIRSA’s Government Affairs Committee.  While we strive to keep up to date on all policies that might impact campus recreation and wellbeing, or higher education as a whole, that is a large task. To help focus our efforts, NIRSA sets out a policy agenda each year.

This year, Committee members will continue to monitor transgender sports participation laws, as well as civic responsibility and Title IX.  These are important issues that can have a major impact on how and what we do. In addition to these, we will be monitoring the continuing efforts of the PHIT Act as well as looking into the impacts of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) changes as they relate to the campus recreation profession.

This work is very fluid and cannot be done without the support of the NIRSA community.  If you have any questions, comments, concerns, answers, or you have a legislative/policy item you’d like us to explore, please contact us. We are here to serve you and help keep you informed. Remember, knowing is half the battle.

Below you will find the full agenda for 2021-2022.

2021-2022 Policy Agenda Background

Since the transformation of the Policy and Legislation Committee to the Government Affairs Committee in 2018, the committee has been charged with creating a policy agenda to help guide the work of NIRSA in regard to legislation at a national, state, and local level to assist and support our members as they navigate a plethora of issues on their campuses.

The Policy agenda typically does not shift radically from year to year. It comprises what issues the group anticipates will dominate legislative action and allocates an action strategy based on current knowledge. Things may shift as the year goes on, but the agenda gives the group a sense of priority in the always crowded legislative landscape. It also gives members a working sense of what they can expect to hear more about as the year progresses.

Changes from the 2020-2021 Policy Agenda

The 2020-2021 Policy Agenda can be found here. The definition of categories and action strategies remain the same. As is expected most years, the changes come in the matrix that charts which specific issues the group expects to be monitoring and the action strategy assigned.

The topics of Civic Responsibility and Voting, Title IX, and Transgender Athlete Participation were carried over. The “collaborate” action strategy was added for Title IX as NIRSA already has, and most likely will continue, to partner with others in student affairs on any Title IX efforts. The “advocate” action strategy was added for Transgender Athlete Participation, based on the Board’s recent statement. Social Justice and Anti-Racism also remained as a topic area but was specified to include a focus on diversity training legislation. Two topics were added: the PHIT Act and Athlete Compensation for image/likeness; both are in the ‘inform’ category.

2021-2022 Policy Agenda

The policy agenda, created in 2019 and approved by the NIRSA Board of Directors, is based on the principles that NIRSA supports pertaining to policies promoting and advancing success for both students and the higher education practitioners that support them, and the communities in which they live. Structured to educate policymakers and others about the work and impact of NIRSA and our members, the agenda fits in four broad categories:

Higher Education Impacts

NIRSA is committed to placing importance on cultivating and fostering an environment of growth, safety, and inclusion for students, faculty, and staff in postsecondary education. NIRSA supports policies that recognize the benefits of higher education and advance opportunities for all. NIRSA will provide leadership on issues including affordability, access, recreational facilities and programs, student development, student leaders, the co-circular experience, and the advancement of the profession.

Wellbeing and Healthy Communities

NIRSA plays an integral role in the importance of promoting physical activity, active living, wellbeing, campus safety, mental health, access to health services, and sustainability strategies impacting students and campus recreation professionals. NIRSA supports policies and programs that recognize the benefits of Healthy Communities and that positively impact the physical, mental, and social emotional health of our students, members, and institutions.

Social Justice and Inclusiveness

NIRSA places importance on equity, diversity, inclusion, justice, and safety of college campuses and their students, faculty, and staff. NIRSA is committed to fostering increasingly more diverse, inclusive, and just campuses that actively support all students and help foster democratic campus environments. NIRSA will support policies and programs that help our students, members, and institutions bring together and provide voice to diverse people, thoughts, opinions, and views.

NIRSA Strategic Value Areas

NIRSA will take an active role to move forward policies and actions that maintain the values of our profession: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Global Perspectives; Health and Wellbeing; Leadership; Service; and Sustainable Communities. NIRSA will support and advocate policies to ensure our strategic values are elevated and moved forward.

Action strategies

NIRSA will direct efforts towards these key public policy issue areas. As part of this policy agenda, each of the broad categories will be shaped around four action strategies: advocate, promote, collaborate, and inform.

Advocate

NIRSA will advocate for students and employees who represent diversity on a broad range of dimensions including gender, sex, sexual orientation, language, age, ability status, national origin, religion, socio-economic status, as well as race, ethnicity, and heritage. NIRSA endeavors to support individuals interested in becoming involved in advocacy work on their campuses and educating student, faculty, staff, and other leaders on how to engage in such actions. This includes allocation of resources by NIRSA HQ, NIRSA Board positional statements, activation of the Government Affairs Committee, and utilizing NIRSA and our members’ spheres of influences to do such work.

Promote

NIRSA is devoted to the support and promotion of policy and government action that advance the association. NIRSA will formulate strategy around such promotion that adheres to our values and strategic visioning. Strategy is formulated by the NIRSA Board, or by NIRSA HQ or Government Affairs Committee with endorsement from the NIRSA Board. Allocation of resources is determined by NIRSA HQ where appropriate. The Government Affairs committee will be activated and tasked if needed to assist in any promoting efforts.

Collaborate

NIRSA is committed to collaborating with organizations and partners that support and align with our desire to cultivate learning and growth by fostering lifelong habits of wellbeing. NIRSA HQ will develop and nurture collaborations to include allocation of resources where appropriate. The Government Affairs committee will be activated and tasked if needed to assist in any collaborative efforts.

Inform

NIRSA will observe and analyze the progress of government action and legislative policy that concern topics related to campus recreation and higher education. This includes aligning and positioning resources for later strategy and disseminating information to members in an effort to educate. The importance is educating the NIRSA membership while continuing to monitor issue(s). The Government Affairs Committee and NIRSA HQ will be tasked with managing this action strategy.

As of June 2021, the Government Affairs Committee has determined the upcoming year the following topics will be our area of focus.

Topic/Issue

Action Strategy

Broad Category

Advocate

Promote

Collaborate

Inform

Higher Ed

Wellbeing & Health

Social Justice

NIRSA Values

Civic Responsibility and Voting

Social Justice and Anti-Racism (with attention to diversity training legislation)

Title IX

Transgender Athlete Participation

PHIT Act

Athlete compensation

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

Chris Crume is currently the Director of Aquatic Center at Denison University. He serves as co-chair of NIRSA’s Government Affairs Committee; he can be reached by email at ccrume@hotmail.com.