Student Affairs

Conservatives, Liberals and Student Affairs Professionals: Walking a Tightrope

Duration: 1 hour
Facilitator: Dr. Aaron Hughey
Price: $50.00

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“This broad overview of data on views about higher education in the U.S. reveals a complex set off attitudes – a public that still sees the benefit of a college education but has grown wary about the politics and culture on college campuses and the value of a four-year degree that has an ever-increasing price tag.”                                                                                                      - Kim Parker, Pew Research Center


The volatile political landscape in our country has permeated virtually every aspect of our lives, including the contemporary college campus. Issues of free speech, affirmative action, immigration, and the still-evolving role of diversity, equity and inclusion within the higher education landscape are topics of ongoing discussion and debate. Even attending college has become controversial in many sectors of society; certainly the proclivity for campus events to take a potentially violent turn is much more present than was the case only a few years ago.  

Student affairs professionals have to grapple with these thorny issues on a daily basis. We are often the ones charged with “keeping the peace” as the greater conflicts that continue to play out at the local, regional and national level inevitably affect the campus climate. This webinar will discuss how politics have affected the student experience in both positive and negative ways, and provide concrete strategies for maintaining civil discourse without compromising the promotion of the campus as a marketplace of ideas. The presentation will be applications-oriented.


  • Politics: How Did We Become So Divided?
  • Controversy and Complacency: Two Ends of the Spectrum
  • Individual Beliefs/Institutional Responsibilities
  • Co-Existence: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
  • Civil Discourse and Mutual Respect
  • Case Studies from the Proverbial Real World

Learning Outcomes:

  • Gain a better understanding of the influence politics has on the contemporary college campus.
  • Understand how controversy is integral to a viable educational environment.
  • Discover how to separate your personal perspective from your professional responsibilities.
  • Explore approaches for de-escalating situations that have the potential to turn counterproductive to the educational process (or violent).
  • Dissect how student affairs professionals have handled the issues at hand in both positive and negative ways.

Who Should Attend:

Student affairs professionals at all levels, especially those who are in direct contact with students on a regular basis.


Dr. Aaron W. Hughey is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Counseling and Student Affairs at Western Kentucky University, where he oversees the graduate degree program in Student Affairs in Higher Education. Before joining the faculty in 1991, he spent 10 years in progressive administrative positions, including five years as the Associate Director of University Housing at WKU. He was also head of the department of Counseling and Student Affairs for five years before returning to the faculty full-time in 2008. Dr. Hughey has degrees from the University of Tennessee at Martin, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Western Kentucky University, and Northern Illinois University. He has authored (or co-authored) over 70 refereed publications on a wide range of issues including leadership and student development, standardized testing, diversity, legal issues (including compliance), technology, and educational administration. He regularly presents at national and international conferences and consults extensively with companies and schools. He also provides training and professional development programs on a variety of topics centered on faculty, staff and student success. He routines discusses this topic in several of his graduate classes.


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