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The Sociology of Student Affairs: Higher Ed’s Equality-Driven Staff Cadre

November 2, 2018

This article*, which relay’s some socioeconomic characteristics of student affairs staff, partially explains why some in that staff circle *may* swing more to the left of faculty and administrators. The piece contains some notes to keep in mind when one is tempted to find fault with some of the excesses of student affairs offices.

I found this eye-opening: “In a potentially surprising twist, white men are slightly underrepresented in student affairs compared to overall student demographics, with 20 percent of positions being occupied by white men versus 24 percent of students overall. For leadership positions, this shifts somewhat, with about 33 percent of top jobs being held by white men. About 56 percent of the top officers are female.”

As a white male, I’m quite fine, personally, to be in a professional minority. It’s stimulating. It also keeps me culturally honest—even though my political sensibilities are generally to the left of my mainstream liberal staff/student affairs colleagues.

I also appreciate this note on the economics/pay of student affairs staff. We are apparently the socialist vanguard in higher ed employment: “White women — the more entry-level staff members — were paid about 96 cents for each $1 white men earned. This gap was slightly wider among leadership, where white women earned closer to 91 cents for every $1 their white male counterparts earned. Black men earned 97 cents for every $1 a white man made, and black women earned 94 cents for every $1 a white man was paid — among the black junior student affairs staffers.”

This article seems to yet another in a quiet InsideHigherEd series on the traits and attributes of student affairs staff. It has caused a stir with a few of my faculty colleagues, particularly those who have a penchant for finding fault with all “administrators”—a grouping which seems, to them, to include student affairs workers. – TL


*The InsideHigherEd story conveys the results from this CUPA-HR report.


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