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 NASPA’s Best Practices Award, while Joe Lizza, director of the Student Center & Campus Activities (SCCA), received the NASPA Campus Safety Initiator Award.
Supporting student activism
Recognizing that student activism can play a vital component in Rowan’s mission to being inclusive, agile and responsive, the Student Engagement Advisory Team supports students’ awareness of campus policies when they hold events such as demonstrations, protests or rallies. The team’s goal is to help students hold safe and successful events that allow their voices to be heard while, also, following campus policies.
The team works to provide student activists with: guidance regarding University policies that were developed to keep Rowan’s campus safe and accessible; information about the University’s organizational structure and institutional history so that students can best reach their intended audiences; access to meetings with the Student Government Association and other student leaders, as well as professionals in Student Life, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and other areas of campus; receptiveness and openness to students’ ideas about how to improve campus; leadership resources about effective actions, connections and forms of communication to achieve their goals; resources for support and advocacy services for self-care and community care; and inclusion in committees and task forces to address issues affecting students.
While the Student Engagement Advisory Team focuses on pre-event planning, the Rowan Protest Response Team was founded to enhance the University’s responsiveness. The team includes faculty, staff, administrators and students trained in First Amendment and University protest policies, de-escalation and conflict resolution skills, and social justice advocacy. Twenty-five faculty and staff members are available to assist and support students when students engage in protests.
“The simple goal for these programs is to provide support for student activism and freedom of speech while also making available various resources 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 Students, the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Wellness Center, Public Safety and the SGA.
Campus Safety Initiator Award
NASPA presented the Campus Safety Initiator Award to Lizza in recognition of his commitment to campus safety, violence prevention and emergency preparedness, both within higher education and in the community.
The award is given to an individual who conceives of, initiates and implements unique and creative ideas related to campus safety, has a record of sustained professional service as a student affairs professional, and has merited respect from students, faculty and administrators on campus and in the surrounding community.
A leader in higher education student affairs since 2007, Lizza, in his role as director of the Student Center & 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 leadership on establishing initiatives and goals that promote a culture of quality, inclusion and service excellence to the University community.
An adjunct instructor in the College of Education, Lizza is deputy Title IX coordinator, leader of the Student Engagement Advisory and Protest Response Teams, risk evaluator for student organization events, and an advisor to Rowan EMS.
He currently serves as chair of the National Association for Campus Activities Foundation and previously served on its board of directors. Lizza also is chair-elect for the NASPA Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Knowledge Community
A first responder in his hometown of Hammonton, serving as a volunteer firefighter, officer and emergency medical technician, Lizza is a member of the Mental Health Advisory Board of Atlantic County.