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Registration opens for ‘Encouraging Student Voices’ conference

October 7, 2015 By Susannah Brooks

In a socially and politically active city such as Madison, listening to student voices — at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison College, Edgewood College and elsewhere — might seem obvious.

In practice, encouraging students to speak out for self-advocacy, self-authorship and shared responsibility often takes thoughtful coordination.

Photo: Valyncia C. Raphael

Valyncia C. Raphael

Photo: Everett Mitchell

Everett Mitchell

This year, the Madison Student Personnel Association (SPA) plans to address these topics head-on at its annual conference, with the theme “Encouraging Student Voices.” The event takes place on Friday, Oct. 16 from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at UW–Madison’s Gordon Dining and Event Center.

All members of the campus community are encouraged to attend, particularly those who work or are interested in student affairs and student engagement outside of a formal classroom setting.

SPA president Mike Perry, area coordinator with University Housing, says the theme is especially timely as the campus and city work to come together around contemporary issues.

“Listening to what students bring to these conversations gives us an opportunity to hear from up-and-coming leaders in our community,” says Perry. “Without having a pulse on their views, we miss out.”

Two keynote addresses will speak to different aspects of student engagement. 

Everett Mitchell, director of community relations in UW–Madison’s Office of University Relations, will deliver the morning keynote. Mitchell’s address will highlight his experience supporting students and the campus community during difficult times, including the response to the death of Madison teenager Tony Robinson.

“When we were discussing potential speakers, Everett’s name came up pretty quickly,” says Perry. “He’s done a great job of providing students with a space to come together, giving them opportunities to make their voice heard in the campus and broader community during some difficult situations.”

Valyncia C. Raphael, a doctoral student in educational leadership and policy analysis, will present the lunch keynote. Raphael will share lessons from her journey as a student and the impact of engaging the student voice.

Perry is also excited about the broad array of topics covered in the conference’s four breakout sessions and roundtable discussions.

“A lot of these topics are on people’s minds right now, including sexual assault, wellness and Title IX,” says Perry. “We were able to capture a group of presentations that will give people an opportunity to learn and grow.”

Other topics include student employment, multiple aspects of social justice, using and interpreting survey data and cultivating diverse student voices in leadership.

The cost is $35 student/$65 professional, which includes breakfast and lunch at the conference and a yearlong membership in the SPA. Attendees are welcome to register in advance or at the door.

Founded by UW–Madison staff, SPA is a Madison-area association of current and aspiring higher education professionals that facilitates collaboration and networking to support one another and enhance the student experience.

View the full conference schedule and registration details