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Social Issues Facing Higher Education

Last Updated: June 1, 2020

Social issues constantly evolve, especially on college campuses. What is the role or responsibility of campus professionals who are closely connected to students in addressing social issues as they arise? In an effort to help campus recreation professionals answer that question, here are some resources available for social issues that are prevalent on many campuses across North America.

Please note this resource is to add to the great work NIRSA has developed through the EDI Resource Guide.

Issues Related to Race and Racism

Race is a topic that can be especially sensitive for students and professionals. Research has shown that students often call for action against instances of racial injustice or racism and look to university officials for meaningful responses.

Students don’t feel safe and tend to worry when instances of racism are not addressed by university officials, and when responses are not forthcoming or are inadequate they have a history of issuing a list of demands.

Below are three articles about how three campuses have been impacted by racism:

The following resource includes lists and links to various articles, books, podcasts, and videos intended to deepen anti-racism work:

See related:

Issues Related to Gender Identity, Including Transgender or Nonbinary Identities

Issues Related to Food Insecurity

Issues Related to Illicit Drug Use

Issues Related to Immigration

Issues Related to Climate Change

Climate change is a complex topic that can’t be isolated to a single institution.  However, here are some resources regarding higher education and the role of higher education professionals as it relates to climate change:

Issues Related to Firearms

Gun laws can be a very polarizing topic. As campus recreation professionals, we need to recognize that students coming to college may not know what a safe classroom feels like. Institutional commitments regarding emergency preparedness may help them feel more comfortable on campus. In the event of a shooting on your campus or affecting your campus community, it is better for campus recreation professionals to respond directly–even if the response is imperfect–than to not respond because of fear of saying the wrong thing. Acknowledging that something happened can help with the processing.

This resource was created by the NIRSA Assembly, a forward-thinking leadership group that focuses on the “hot topics” affecting the profession of collegiate recreation.

Learn more about the NIRSA Assembly