Student Life professionals have always taken the lead in addressing multicultural issues in higher education. Many universities strive to create welcoming and inclusive campuses. However, with a plethora of complex diversity challenges, it is clear we need additional skills. Each student affairs staff member, from the receptionist to the chief student affairs officer, will have to develop a set of core competencies to be able to deliver effective programs and services to meet the needs of a diverse campus.
Core competencies are not new to the profession. Barr, Creamer, Komimives & Woodard, and Miller & Winston recognized the need for core competencies. These trailblazers communicated the need for all student affairs professionals to be competent in areas such as leadership, ethics, organization and management, assessment, conflict resolution, etc. In addition, in recent years scholars have argued the need to expand these competencies to include multicultural competence in order to prepare student affairs practitioners to be culturally responsive. Antiquated diversity models suggest than an individual or one office/program can be dedicated as the diversity expert or the one-stop shop for all your diversity needs. Realizing the need to expand core competent ices, Pope and Reynolds (1997) created a list of seven core student affairs competencies: (1) Administrative and Management; (2) Theory and Translation; (3) Helping and Interpersonal; (4) Ethical and Legal; (5) Teaching and Training; (6) Assessment and Evaluation; and (7) Multicultural Awareness, Knowledge, and Skills. Pope, Reynolds, & Mueller(2004) make a strong case for multicultural competence. They argue that multicultural competence is so essential; it should be a separate core area. In addition, they make the case for its integration into all core areas.
Student Life professionals should be challenged to examine and evaluate their own level of cultural competence. We can rise to the challenge and take our programs and services from an orientation of compliance to one of commitment.
The Division of Student Life is committed to increasing the level of multicultural competence among our staff. The Multicultural Competence Committee is currently working on a strategic plan for the Division.
To learn more about our plan, please visit Multicultural Competence webpage.