Intersectionality: Understanding Our Students’ Multifaceted Identities
Presenters: Sarah Stevens (University of Southern Indiana), Courtney Drew (Rotary International), Craig McGill (Florida International University)
In an April 2015 NACADA Webinar, a team of panelists, sponsored by the NACADA Diversity Committee, came to the Webinar platform to discuss Academic Advising and Social Justice: Privilege, Diversity, and Student Success, laying the foundation for the topic in this venue. They shared information and discussed strategies designed to help advisors form stronger relationships with students, identify challenges and roadblocks faced by students, create individualized solutions to increase student success, and reconceptualize advising around issues of social justice. Attendees for this event requested more information related to social justice and advising. One said, "I think it should be a series on social justice issues where you look at things in a particular way that will empower others." Our panelists agreed, and therefore Sarah E. Stevens (University of Southern Indiana) returned, joined by Craig McGill (Florida International University) and Courtney Drew (Rotary International), to discuss how the concept of intersectionality can inform our relationships with students, our advising practices, and the ways in which we foster student success. In advising, we often think about the separate needs of specific student populations. What we may fail to understand, however, is that none of our students possesses a single identity factor. Intersectionality provides an understanding of the multi-layered identities inhabited by our students (and ourselves). Grounded in reference to theorists such as Audre Lorde, Patricia Hill Collins, and Evangelina Holvino, our presenters considered how we can create our own intentionally intersectionalist approach to deepen both our understanding of student needs and our critical self-reflections as advisors.