Efforts to keep students engaged and safe on campus earned Rowan University two awards at the annual NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education Conference last month in Baltimore.
Rowan’s Student Engagement Advisory Team and Protest Response Team received the NASPA Best Practices Award, while Joe Lizza, Director of Student Center and Campus Activities (SCCA), received the NASPA Campus Safety Initiator Award.
Support student activism
Recognizing that student activism can play a critical role in Rowan’s mission to be inclusive, agile, and responsive, the Student Engagement Advisory Team supports student awareness of campus policies when hosting events such as as demonstrations, protests or rallies. The team’s goal is to help students organize safe and successful events that allow their voices to be heard while adhering to campus policies.
The team strives to provide student activists with: guidance regarding University policies that have been developed to keep the Rowan campus safe and accessible; information about the organizational structure and institutional history of the University so that students can better reach their target audience; access to meetings with the Student Government Association and other student leaders, as well as education professionals Student life, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and other areas of campus; responsiveness and openness to student ideas on how to improve the campus; leadership resources on effective actions, connections, and forms of communication to achieve their goals; resources for personal and community care support and advocacy services; and inclusion on committees and working groups to address issues affecting students.
While the Student Engagement Advisory Team focuses on pre-event planning, the Rowan Protest Response Team was created to improve University responsiveness. The team includes faculty, staff, administrators, and students trained in First Amendment and academic protest politics, de-escalation and conflict resolution skills, and social justice advocacy. Twenty-five faculty and staff members are available to help and support students when students engage in protests.
“The simple goal of these programs is to support student activism and free speech while making various resources available to support them before, during and after an event,” notes Lizza.
The Student Engagement Advisory and Protest Response Teams are comprised of professionals within SCCA with support and guidance from the Division of Student Life/Dean of Studentsthe Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Division, the Wellness Center, public safety and the SGA.
Campus Safety Initiator Award
NASPA presented the Campus Safety Initiator Award to Lizza in recognition of her commitment to campus safety, violence prevention, and emergency preparedness, both in higher education and in the community.
The award is given to an individual who conceives, initiates, and implements unique and creative ideas related to campus safety, has a sustained professional service record as a student affairs professional, and has earned the respect of students, faculty and administrators on campus and in the surrounding community.
A leader in higher education student affairs since 2007, Lizza, in her role as Director of Student Center and Campus Activities, is responsible for the administrative vision, leadership and management of SCCA. He directly oversees the programs, facilities, and services offered by SCCA and provides overall direction in establishing initiatives and goals that foster a culture of quality, inclusion, and service excellence to the University community. .
An assistant instructor in the College of EducationLizza is the Assistant Title IX Coordinator, Leader of the Student Engagement Advisory and Protest Response Teams, Risk Assessor for Student Organization Events, and Advisor to Rowan EMS.
He is currently President of the National Association for Campus Activities Foundation and previously served on its Board of Directors. Lizza is also the President-elect of the NASPA Campus Violence Prevention and Safety Knowledge Community.
A first responder in her hometown of Hammonton, volunteer firefighter, officer and emergency medical technician, Lizza is a member of the Atlantic County Mental Health Advisory Council.