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  • Why Higher-Ed Institutions Should Address Period Poverty

    Menstrual equity is a matter of human dignity, public health, and gender discrimination. Written By: Thea Louise Thomaseth Bugge Period poverty is an issue of equity in higher education. Limited or no access to menstrual products can leave students vulnerable to health complications such as emotional stress, infections, and serious illnesses. Period poverty impacts a lot of students across the U.S; as many as 1 in 10 college students struggle with it, according to a 2021 study by BMC Women’s Health. Unfortunately, underserved groups, low-income students, and first-generation students have the highest rates of period poverty. Students should not have to miss school due to the risk of bleeding through clothes and getting shamed, let alone be at risk for some types of illnesses and/or be forced to pick between simple hygiene or food just because they get their period. As such, higher-ed institutions should provide students with free menstrual products. Access to menstrual products is not a given. Menstrual products can be costly and difficult to find for free. For example, pantyliners may cost people up to $443.33 in their lifetime, while tampons may total up to $1,773.33. Ruined underwear alone can cost people up to $2,280 in their lifetime. It can be difficult for students to cover these expenses while paying thousands of dollars for tuition and other related expenses. Students without access to period products may miss valuable classes they paid for, which can harm their educational performance and translate to a financial loss overtime. Additionally, this cost falls almost exclusively on women, adding additional expenses on top of the gender wage gap. Those who come from underrepresented and underserved communities should not be forced to deal with additional expenses that can harm their school and career development. Period poverty can harm students in many ways. Some students may try to use toilet paper and risk bleeding through their clothes, which can cause discomfort, embarrassment, and social stigma. Some students may miss class and valuable teaching time. Even more concerning is the fact that inadequate access to menstrual products can be dangerous. Menstruating people without access risk several medical issues, like infections that can lead to cervical cancer and infertility. Further, students who leave tampons in too long due to lack of access to menstrual products may be at risk of toxic shock syndrome, which is deadly. It is important to recognize that period poverty is not exclusively a women's issue. Nonbinary students and transgender men may also get their periods. They should have access to period products too, without having to face possible prejudice when trying to get access to them. Therefore, it is important to provide menstrual products in a circumspect yet accessible way. This is a matter of human dignity, public health, and gender discrimination. Periods are as unavoidable as any other bathroom needs. Toilet paper and hand-soap is free and provided by all kinds of institutions, including schools. Imagine how unfair it would be to remove toilet paper from school bathrooms. This is equally unfair. Additionally, condoms are provided at many institutions, yet menstrual products are not. People can abstain from sex and contraception can be found for free or cheap elsewhere - yet periods are unavoidable and menstrual products often cannot be found for free (some, not all, homeless shelters may offer them, but it should not be assumed that people live near them or know about them). So it does not make sense to exclude free menstrual products from students. Period poverty should be recognized as an equity in higher education issue. Therefore, colleges and universities should take steps to provide free menstrual products in their public restrooms. For more information, see: Menstrual Equity: A Legislative Toolkit by Period Equity & ACLU Changing the Cycle: Period Poverty as a Public Health Crisis, University of Michigan School of Public Health

  • Addressing Sexual Assault in Higher Education is Important for Equity

    Sexual assault in higher education is still an understudied field, yet existing research is enough to highlight why it is essential that colleges and universities address sexual assault in their pursuit of equity. Written by: Thea Louise Thomaseth Bugge As students head back to campus this fall, spirits are high with many in-person classes available again after a two-year hiatus. But that return also presents an opportunity to remain aware of a more nefarious season - the critical time period in fall semester called “The Red Zone,” which is characterized by a dramatic spike in sexual assaults on campus. At highest risk are women, people of color, those who identify as members of the LGBTIA+ community, and people with disabilities. While no victim responds the same way, the consequences of sexual assault can be detrimental for students' wellbeing and academic success. As they look toward priorities for the year and creating more equity for students, college and university leaders should do more to address sexual assault at their institutions in a person-centered and equity-oriented way. Sexual assault in higher education negatively impacts equity in many ways, including in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation, and disability. In terms of gender, studies show that 25% of women and transgender-identifying students experience sexual assault by the time they graduate. Considering that in 2018 and 2019 sexual assault was the most reported crime at colleges, it’s easy to see that sexual assault harms schools' gender-equity at a high rate, especially for women and trans individuals. However, the harm sexual assault causes men should not be ignored either. In fact, men attending college are 78% more likely to be sexually assaulted than non-students their age, showing a dire need for colleges to address this crisis for students of all genders. Sexual assault can also seriously hinder racial equity in higher education since people of color tend to be at higher risk of sexual assault. Unfortunately, the negative effects of sexual assault on racial equity in college in particular remain understudied - but a 2017 study of more than 70,000 students found that Black transgender-identifying college students experience a higher rate of sexual assault than their white counterparts. The study also found that Black women and people with 'other' as their ethnicity were more likely to be victimized than white, Latina, and Asian women. Additionally, students that are Native American, First Nation, and of Alaska Native heritage are more likely to experience sexual assault – a 2016 National Institute of Justice survey found that more than 56% of the Indigenous female population in the U.S. were victims of sexual crimes. Finally, sexual assault also disproportionally impacts sexual orientation and disability equity and harms students that identify as LGBTQIA+ and/ or have disabilities. Around 14% of LGBTQIA+-identifying students had been sexually assaulted in college, and out of those, bisexual women were the most likely to have been victimized. People with disabilities are at increased risk for sexual assault, too. In 2016 an estimated 39% of all women who were sexually assaulted had a physical or mental disability. Sexual assault is an intersectional issue - key to understand in developing solutions. The consequences of experiencing sexual violence and assault are severe for many students and can impact their wellbeing and ability to succeed in higher education. First and foremost, victims may experience a wide range of mental health-related consequences such as depression, PTSD, suicidal ideations, and drug use. A 2017 study found that student sexual assault victims were more likely to experience high levels of stress and low academic commitment. These are all factors that contribute to research that shows rape victimization can be a predictor for both lower final semester GPA and students leaving college. Sexual assault can negatively impact historically marginalized students even more severely. For example, victim blaming—which is a known problem in higher ed—is particularly likely to harm Black women. Considering the fact that students are less likely than the general population to report their rapist to the police, those students may experience further societal marginalization. Sexual assault in higher education is still an understudied field, yet existing research is enough to highlight why it is essential that colleges and universities address sexual assault in their pursuit of equity. There are many ways that higher education can work to address sexual assault. Many schools have taken steps in the right direction by providing bystander effect training and implementing anonymous sexual assault reporting options. Some universities are providing targeted support, like the University of California Merced’s "Sexual Violence Resources for students who identify as Women of Color" resource as part of their CARE program. Yet these efforts are still not enough. For example, many students don't file official reports due to factors including fear of retaliation. Many students don't feel that universities are focusing enough on prevention efforts, and some schools are still sweeping cases under the rug. Higher education institutions should consider taking a holistic, intersectional, and prevention-oriented approach to sexual violence and assault to improve equity on their campuses and beyond. For more information and guidance, see: The Association of American Universities' Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct Best Colleges: Understanding Sexual Assault on Campus Current benefits and pitfalls of bystander effect training: Bystander programs addressing sexual violence on college campuses: A systematic review and meta-analysis of program outcomes and delivery methods Some Psychologists and University Students' evaluations of the current ways higher-ed institutions are addressing sexual assault: A crisis of campus sexual assault The American College Health Association's Addressing Sexual and Relationship Violence: A Trauma-Informed Approach Toolkit

  • Equity Within Student Writing Centers

    Written by: Thea Louise Thomaseth Bugge Increasing the scope and scale of writing center research can potentially increase student equity in higher education. The writing center is a resource at institutions that provides students help on their writing-based assignments from trained peer tutors. One of the many goals that writing centers have is to increase equity for its students through coaching and targeted learning in tutoring sessions. Much of the research on writing centers thus far has been surrounding how to make centers as utilized and helpful as possible to underrepresented students. Much of the recent discussion and research about writing centers have focused on making them as equitable and inclusive as possible. Just within the past five years, researchers have published antiracist training recommendations, recommendations for writing centers as safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students, how to utilize multilingualism within the writing center, and more. Much of this research has been dedicated to providing recommendations for best practices. Implementing these recommendations can be a great step towards student equity. But too little research has tested the actual effectiveness of these recommendations. Further research needs to prove whether these recommendations work so that institutions can effectively utilize resources to increase student equity. At the time of this article, there have been no systematic reviews and a lack of state-wide or larger-sample studies about the effectiveness of writing center practices. This is a problem as it allows biases to impact leaders' understanding of the overall successfulness of writing centers. Small, localized sample sizes of students can lack enough diversity to prove trends across the diverse national student body. While these studies may be able to account for intersectional equity-related factors at some schools or local areas, the existing challenges may be unique to that area. This can leave out stakeholders' understanding of important intersectional issues that may impact writing centers at schools with different student population diversity. They also don’t account for demographic student body changes over time. Some types of writing center research can be limiting. Studies following one class over time, for example, may limit insight to factors relating to that specific class. Even if that student population is large and follows them over their expected four years expected graduation terms, they may not be representative of the general student population. Factors such as class-culture, admission rates, overall diversity, and methods of instructions may be unique to that class, leaving the research results unreliable for the general population. Demographics are changing in the United States, schools will have to adapt and cater to an increasingly changing student population any given year. Shifting student demographics means that the writing center has to be able to adapt to diverse student needs. Some research has shown that students with higher academic skills and motivations were more likely to use the writing center (2015). A different study found the opposite. They found that students that had indicated that they needed more help with writing in a freshman survey, non-native English speakers (ESOL), and students with low SAT scores were more likely to use the writing center (2019). Based on the limited large-scale research done thus far, there is a clear need for increased data collection at writing centers across all of higher education. The writing center is a great resource that can be a piece of the puzzle to improve student equity across all sectors of higher education. They are not the key to solving every issue, but they are student-centered and can provide students' academic support. Research on effective practices for writing center-equity is abundant, but unfortunately lacking both in terms of scale and diversity of study participants. Gathering data on how writing centers are effective and how best practices are installed paves the way for institutions to leverage their existing programs into truly serving their students.

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  • Team

    MEET THE TEAM SORENSON IMPACT CENTER MAPS TEAM Allison Boxer Managing Director Contact Megan Brewster Senior Manager Contact Danika Borcik Associate Contact Frederique Irwin Director Contact Meredith Muller Manager Contact Christopher Firmage Associate Contact Chak Tan Director Contact Byoung-Gyu Gong Data Scientist Contact STUDENT COALITION FOR HIGHER EDUCATION Alex Rodriguez Abhi Harikumar Heidi Seabrooks-Smith Contact Us First Name Last Name Email Write a message Submit Thanks for submitting! JOIN OUR MAPS COMMUNITY CONNECT WITH OUR TEAM

  • Shelley Nickel

    Shelley Nickel Former Executive Vice Chancellor for Strategy and Fiscal Affairs, University System of Georgia Shelley C. Nickel recently retired from the University System of Georgia after a distinguished career as a respected public servant in the field of public administration and policy. Most recently, she served as the Interim President of Georgia Southern, a regional university enrolling 26,400 students in southeast Georgia. Under her tenure, the University entered its first year as a new institution, after the recent consolidation of Georgia Southern and Armstrong State Universities. Nickel previously served as Executive Vice Chancellor for Strategy and Fiscal Affairs and Treasurer for the Board of Regents, University System of Georgia (USG) providing strategic leadership and policy guidance for the Board and the System’s 26 institutions. Her portfolio included all financial activity, research and policy analysis and information technology, providing the Board and University System the ability to make data-driven decisions. Shelley was responsible for executing the board’s strategic plan and implementing system-wide projects such as consolidation, which reduced the number of institutions from 35 to 26 since 2011. The USG’s consolidation initiative has served as a national model for other higher education systems. Shelley also led the University System’s effort to operationalize shared services practices for administrative functions. These initiatives created greater efficiency and better use of University System resources, including more than $32.9 million in annual cost savings. Nickel has served in a wide range of administrative positions in Georgia. She was appointed Interim President of Gordon College, a USG liberal arts college serving 5,000 students. She was also appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue as director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget for the state of Georgia, the highest state office in budget planning and management. Nickel also served as president of the Georgia Student Finance Commission, which is responsible for the state’s scholarship, grant and loan programs, including the nationally known HOPE Program. She is a graduate of Penn State University, where she earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Public Administration. She is a life member of the Penn State Alumni Association and served on the College of Liberal Arts Alumni Society Board. ​

  • Newsletter Archives | MAPS Project

    NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE ​ The MAPS newsletter seeks to provide a platform for students to speak alongside thought provoking articles and MAPS work. View past newsletters and subscribe to stay up to date on MAPS news. MODEL. ANALYZE. PROTOTYPE. SHARE. Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here "We are never going to reach equality in America until we achieve equality in education." -Sonia Sotomayor Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States In Their Voice Our Work What We Are Reading MAPS Newsletter Thought Leaders Takes

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