Lyz Liddell is the Director of Campus Organizing for the Secular Student Alliance. At the beginning of March, Lyz went to the national ACPA Convention, which is put on by the leading comprehensive student affairs association, that advances student affairs and engages students for a lifetime of learning and discovery. Lyz first attended an ACPA conference in 2013, and then joined their directorate for the ACPA Commission for Spirituality, Faith, Religion and Meaning. This year, she and SSA volunteer Lori Fazzino hosted a Secular Safe Zone training, as well as a session addressing Christian privilege. This is Lyz's recap from this year's ACPA convention.
The Secular Student Alliance is doing some really incredible work in the area of student affairs, most recently demonstrated by our several areas of participation in the recent national ACPA Convention.
But first, a bit of background - what is student affairs about, anyway? On a college campus, you’ve got students (of course), and faculty who provide the academic instruction. But then there are oodles of other staff who work in administration, residence life, student activities, financial aid, and much, much more. These folks are all working in the field known as student affairs.
Each spring, thousands of student affairs professionals gather for the ACPA national Convention, and the Secular Student Alliance has been proud to be a visible presence at this Convention for the past three years. But this year in particular really stood out.
We hosted a Secular Safe Zone training, providing 10 new facilitators with the tools necessary to create Secular Safe Zone programs at their institutions. We also ran a packed-room session addressing Christian privilege on campus, an issue that student affairs professionals are aware of but uncertain how to address. That interest was raised at this particular convention when keynote speaker Eboo Patel specifically called out the challenges secular students face on campus, and urged participants to raise the level of conversation around worldview identity. We also had the opportunity to hold face-to-face meeting with some of the leading researchers on secular students and the religious campus climate, helping pave the way for better understanding and better support for our students down the road. Finally, our own Director of Campus Organizing (me, Lyz!) continues in her leadership role on the Directorate for the ACPA Commission for Spirituality, Faith, Religion and Meaning, bringing secular students to the table at these discussions.