SUSDA Member of the Week: Nik Bowen

Nik and his cat, Max

Nik and his cat, Max

Name: Nik Bowen

First Year or Continuing Student: First Year Student

Current Job: University of Washington Bothell – Student Engagement and Activities Program Assistant

Why are you passionate about student affairs?
Studying at a university is such a powerful transformation time in a person’s life. It is fulfilling to support and make that process as meaningful as it can be for others. I want to help shape the leaders of today and the future and make it a better place.

What is your favorite place to go or thing to do in Seattle?

I love going to Seattle Bouldering Project for climbing. which is a great workout for your body and your mind. It’s extremely social too when you go with friends and meet new people. Plus, they have yoga, which I just tried and loved, as well as other fitness classes and lifting equipment. They have lounge areas for homework and reading. Going out for lunch/dinner and a beer after a great climb is the best.

Outside of class and work, how do you like to spend your time?
Besides climbing and staying fit, I spend my free time pretty relaxed. I love TV and movies as well as playing video games with friends. I’m definitely a day time adventure kind of guy who enjoys trying new things and learning. If you need a buddy for any activity, let me know and I will find time.

Fun fact: I am a dual citizen of the United States of America and Ireland.

SUSDA Member of the Week: Kari Berkas

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Name: Kari Berkas

First Year or Continuing Student: First Year Student

Current Job: Graduate Assistant at the Albers Placement Center in the Albers School of Business and Economics, Seattle University

Why are you passionate about student affairs?
I think it is important to provide opportunities and guidance outside of the classroom so that students can get the most out of their college experience. In addition, I have had multiple professional experiences with international exchange in the past few years, so I am particularly passionate about working with study abroad programs and supporting international students.

What is your favorite place to go or thing to do in Seattle?
Eating at a seafood restaurant on the waterfront.

Outside of class and work, how do you like to spend your time?
Besides spending time with friends, I like to exercise outside – usually that means walking or running (but I love to play tennis any chance I get). I also enjoy going to coffee shops, listening to music, playing piano, and watching comedy TV shows.

Fun fact: I used to live in Japan.

SUSDA Member of the Week: Tiff Hayes

hawks

Name: Tiff Hayes

First Year or Continuing Student: Continuing Student

Current Job: Academic Advisor in the College of Arts & Sciences, Seattle University

Why are you passionate about student affairs?
Being able to see and sometimes engage with students going through the development process while pursuing higher education is my favorite part of student affairs. I love watching students figure out who they are, what they’re about, and why they do the things they do – this is where my passion comes from!

What is your favorite class you have taken at SU?
Leadership in Education 1 with Monica Nixon

What is your favorite place to go or thing to do in Seattle?
This is a really hard question. There are so many great things!! I really love Golden Gardens and Volunteer Park when the weather is nice… when it’s not so nice, I like anywhere with a fire place!

Outside of class and work, how do you like to spend your time?
I am a lover of live music so whenever I have the chance to see a show, I take advantage of it! I also love to bake and cook, explore new areas of Seattle, go on road trips, and I’m obsessed with crime shows, so any time I need a break from real life, you can find me watching Law & Order, SVU, NCIS, Criminal Minds, etc. (you name it, I’ll watch it).

Fun fact: I auditioned for Jeopardy when I was in high school!

What Defines My Year…

I have successfully finished my first year of graduate school! I am halfway to my Masters of Education in Student Development Administration!! Writing that feels weird, so just imagine how I feel when I say it. I have accomplished something I couldn’t have ever imagined, but no accomplishment comes without a long road and a few bumps.

I set out the school year with a plan to blog throughout and to reflect on things as they came, but as this year continued to hit me with bump after bump that became too hard. This has easily been one of the hardest years of my life; maybe even the hardest year of my life.  I set out on this journey in Seattle on August 10, 2013 and thought I was ready for whatever I would experience. Oh how wrong I was. From being called the N-word to feeling completely alone in Seattle to being sexually assaulted to my grandma passing away to my friend trying to commit suicide, this year has hit me with an amount of pain that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Let’s be clear, I am not sharing my experiences with you so you can sympathize or even empathize with me but as a means to continue in my healing. To say these things to someone is one thing, but to write them on the internet makes these experiences even more real as they are now permanent.

Domonique Crosby

When I see it all in a list like that it’s hard to believe I am still standing. The truth is there were so many amazing experiences and people who helped me over each one of these hurdles. These bumps do not define me or the time I’ve had here so far. It’s the HRL staff that took me in as family and ensured I would get through it all that has defined my year. It’s the staff meetings every week where my RAs kept me constantly laughing and proud to work with them that define my year. It’s the insatiable amount of love and support I received from my current RD, Christina, that defines my year. It’s the cohort of 24 amazing individuals who challenged and supported me that defined this year. It’s the visit from two of my best friends that define my year. It’s the 300 student leaders that benefited from a 3 day off campus training that I poured my heart into that defines my year. It’s the straight A’s I’ve earned each quarter that define my year. It’s the fact that I, an African American girl who was told in the 9th grade that Black kids don’t go to college, am here pursuing a Master’s degree that defines my year. It’s the fact that my mom, who worked 2 jobs to support us while I was growing up, gets to tell me each week that she’s proud of the woman I’m becoming. It’s these great experiences that define the amazing 1st year I have had.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am still healing from the pain but I WILL NOT let it define me or the experience I’ve had here. This year has been a roller coaster ride, but it has changed me in the most positive way. My first year of graduate school was good, bad, ugly, and beautiful but worth it. I get to look back at this year and say “Damn, that was the hardest time ever but I made it.” This is what defines this year for me. This was the year of resilience, thanks to a dear friend for teaching me this, as I continued to plow through all the hard times. I have come out of this year a better professional and a stronger person. Thank you to those who helped me through it all. Time to get ready for my next adventure which hopefully will teach me just as much as this year.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Dr. Maya Angelou

- Domonique Crosby

Read more from Domonique’s own blog at: http://amireallyagrownupnow.blogspot.com/

Being an Outsider to a Class

Over the last ten weeks, I have had the opportunity to take a class outside the typical Student Development Administration (SDA) curriculum. I was taken outside my comfort zone, walking anxiously into a classroom not knowing anyone– I guess this is how it must feel for non-SDA students walking into a class full of us, I thought to myself.

The class is titled Education Policies and Leadership in Political Context, and it’s a required class for students in the Master’s in Education Policy program at the University of Washington, or as they like to call it, “the MEP program”. Yes, I had to use Google to find out what MEP was short for.

While I thoroughly enjoyed learning all about political processes in education and how policy windows open when certain situations align, among other theories, I also learned to understand what it means to be the odd one out in a class. That first day, more than half of the students introduced themselves as being in “the MEP program”, afterwards going on to say who their political hero is. What sort of cult is this? Political heroes!?

I ended up declaring Suey Park and Paulo Freire my political heroes before Googling “the MEP program at UW”.

This experience has definitely helped me realize that there are times I get carried away with using unique SDA/student affairs language, throwing out terms and acronyms like GA, GAships, SEVIS, FERPA, TPC, SES, CRT, NUFP, NASPA, etc. without realizing who the audience really is. I’ve also been guilty of using student affairs concepts during in-class group discussions with non-SDA students, and getting frustrated when they just “don’t get it”.

It’s about time I learn to be more aware of my audience and take opportunities like these to be an educator. I’d like to encourage my fellow SDAers to do the same whenever there are interactions with people outside the field and even with the next batch of incoming SDA students because I remember how intimidating it was. The next time you’re introducing yourself in class, be proud to declare that you’re a student in the “Student Development Administration program or SDA for short”.

 

Cheers,

Thad

8th Edition of MAGIS

The 8th edition of MAGIS: A Student Development Journal has been updated, and the final version is now available to view. You can find the journal HERE.

MISSION

MAGIS is the peer-reviewed academic journal for the Student Development Administration (SDA) program at Seattle University. Published annually and entirely student-run, the journal showcases scholarly and reflective writing by SDA students, alumni, faculty, and student affairs professionals. Following the Jesuit tradition of academic inquiry, MAGIS is committed to creating the premier forum within Jesuit higher education for dialogue on the theory and practice of student affairs.

VISION

The vision of MAGIS is to represent the Seattle University College of Education and Student Development Administration Program as a scholarly and reflective resource for student affairs graduate students and professionals in Jesuit higher education.

Yes, I am a MAN in HEELS

Yes, I am a Man. Yes, I am in Heels. Yes, I am a MAN in HEELS.

This past November I decided to start wearing heels. I simply replaced my black men’s dress shoes with a pair of ankle boots that have a 2” heel on them, and I’m just now just starting to understand why I decided to put them on in the first place. It was an unusual thing for a man to do, but now I have several pairs of heels. I think they have become a part of who I am. I am confident when wearing them. I stand tall both literally and as a self-assured professional. I want to share this experience with others, both the struggles of showing up differently than the norm and the beauty of liberating myself from a constricted idea of masculinity. A part of my personal and professional journey has become to challenge gender norms and endeavor to dismantle the gender binary. I choose to do this by simply being me. I hope that my actions will inspire other people to engage with this positive change as well, most specifically other males like me.

I am a Man in Heels

I am a man. I also wear heels. I am a man who wears heels, and somebody who has become pretty aware of what it means to be male and wear heels. Let’s talk about being a man first, and then I will come back to wearing heels. I understand that being male means I identify with the gender I was assigned at birth (which means I am cis-gender). This means the doctor was right when they looked at my genitalia and labeled me as a boy. My hormones, appearance, biology, and identity all align with what it means to be a male. What I know to be true is that my male identity does not come from what I wear, how I act, or how I feel on any given day. This is my gender expression, which often changes, but is always an expression of my male identity. The Genderbread person info graphic has helped me understand the complexity of gender and come to this place of understanding. I want to explain what I believe to be a problem with having such a rigid idea of what masculinity is and how that perception reinforces the systematic power that all cis-gender males possess.

Sometime ago you would have heard me say, “Women have more options for what they get to wear.” I have come to realize that actually I have more options. I can wake up and put on my suit, tie, a pair of men’s shoes (my masculine uniform), and fit in throughout the entire day. I can do that without even giving it a second thought. That is my privilege, to show up and automatically be accepted as the norm. I do not have to think about how my presence needs to mirror others in the room so that I will fit in and be taken seriously. Why I think men have more options is because we can choose to wear “feminine” attire with little to no push back from colleagues. It is likewise our decision to continue wearing the same three piece suit on all business occasions. I keep italicizing the word choose because it is a choice that I make as a male (probably as a white, heterosexual male). I’m am not required to dress in a certain way in order to fit in, which is exactly why I hope to inspire other men to shed the shackles of traditional masculinity along with me. I want to come together to extend systematic power to all genders. I think this begins with men, like myself, using power to challenge the norms that are benefiting us and serving as a detriment to all other genders. I want to end a system of oppression where my partner is told not to wear sparkly business attire by a female colleague because they won’t fit in or be taken seriously. This hurts, and is why I want to engage men in this conversation. People should not have to assimilate to norms for which I can so easily wake up and utilize every day without even noticing.

What People are Saying

Often I walk around campus or Seattle and receive such affirming comments: “Nice shoes… I love your shoes… Where did you get your shoes?” The compliments really rain down upon me as if I have uncovered some secret way of receiving affirmations. I really get quite a few complements which is really not what most people assume is a common response to a man in heels. I tend to have conversations with people who care for me; they worry that people are making assumption about me that are incorrect. This hasn’t really happened. Instead I get other fascinating comments (mostly from other men), and all while having very perplexed expressions on their faces. “Those are different… How do you walk in those? I could never do it.” These comments make sense to me. If I had seen the same thing a year ago, I would have been just as confused. This confusion is what I want to invoke in people. I want to be a part of an uncomfortable conversation about what it means to be masculine, and yes, I do think I am just as much of a real man as any other man. Unfortunately though, the most common response is silence. There is not verbal remark but I know they are engaging in an internal conversation as I clearly see them stare at my feet as I walk by. This is what I want my impact to be. I expect confusion and their questions do not bother me. I like to think that most people are just surprised and if they process what I’m doing for a bit, I think that brief observation can lead to positive change.

Navigating NASPA & TPE

I decided to wear heels during the NASPA National Conference and TPE, where I participated in just under twenty interviews. This conference have over 2,000 Student Affairs professionals in attendance. I feel like I introduced myself to them, and the field, in a way that is most authentic to me. While I was there I actually received an overwhelming amount of support. Most people who commented on my shoes explained how happy they were that I was wearing them and others just complimented me as I passed by. One person even affirmed me during the interview days by saying, “There is more than one way to do this (referring to wearing my heels, pink shirt, and corresponding tie).” Most people I spoke to before leaving for the conference did not think I would receive so much support for wearing heels, and honestly, were afraid I wouldn’t find as much success in my job search process.

Unfortunately affirmations were not the only comments I recieved while I was interviewing. Although they were the only comments I was directly receiving from people, I have to wonder what everybody else was saying after I left their interview tables or breakout sessions. Were they seeing a male in heels and rethinking what they understand as gender expectations or thinking about how they weren’t going to offer me a second interview? I found out just recently that at least one university that I interviewed with was indeed having trouble understanding why I was wearing heels. A past mentor of mine was chatting with some professionals that I had interviewed with. Those professionals were confused about why I, as a male, was wearing a pair of heels.  It sounds like there was even a larger conversation going on among many of the universities I interviewed with at TPE. One of the professionals questioned my heels, “What the hell? What’s up with that?,” and my mentor told them they didn’t know but had a couple of guesses. They said Justin is either trying to challenge gender norms or possibly just figuring out what his gender identity is. I really appreciate my mentor for addressing the situation and I mostly agree with those two statements. That mentor was told that I just didn’t fit in overall at their institution. My first thought was of course I don’t fit in. That is the point: to break the mold. My second thought was what that particular institution boasts about their high diversity. I wonder if I indeed do not fit in or if they do not. This just illustrates how some people don’t fit in and that is why the gender binary does not work.

That same mentor later checked in with my partner, who they knew as well. They wanted to make sure I was okay and that our (marriage) relationship was doing well. This third point is the one that worries me. I truly appreciate my mentor for supporting me, especially when I was not in the room to explain why I wear heels myself. However, this last question about my relationship is what I think one of the larger issues are that I am trying to address. When I put on a pair of heels I do not become any less of a man. As I wrote above, I think I am a more confident man with a strong sense of positive masculinity. In this comment I hear fear that my gender expression may mean that I am straying from my heterosexual orientation and my female partner should worry. Needless to say, this question caught my partner by surprise, since she has been my largest support throughout this entire process. She knows that this idea is one of the largest ones I am looking to dismantle. Displaying feminine traits does not make me less of a man. Actually engaging with what is traditionally not masculine has been what has made our relationship the healthiest. I would argue that I am able to express a deeper level of love now, than I ever could while I was confined to the rugged individualism of traditional masculinity. I think this is why homophobia is so pervasive. I grew up being told not to do so many things or people who think I was gay. That kind of conversation needs to stop, because it is not good for anyone.

My partner has been a phenomenal support from the beginning and enjoys helping me explore new ways of challenging gender norms. We now get to go shopping together. It is fun to walk into stores with Susie and look at clothing at the same time. The only downside is that we are one shoe size off from one another. Usually when we go to a store, we will begin to look at clothes or shoes and almost without fail, a sales associate will let me know where the men’s clothes are. At first this tended to dishearten me, especially when I went shopping alone. However, now I tend to thank them for letting me know and I continue shopping alongside my partner. Recently I picked up some clothes and went to try them on. When I got to the dressing room I was met with an apology because I needed to go downstairs to the men’s dressing room. I understand this. Clearly the world is not ready for this transition and it was no big deal to go down stairs. I just wasn’t even thinking about gender until I was asked to use a different room. It was pleasant to not have that weight on my shoulders. I choose to shop everywhere in the store and these kinds of inconveniences don’t really phase me anymore. That being said, I have been thinking a lot about how people feel when they don’t have the ability to make the choice I do. What do people do when they do not fall into the gender binary or when neither dressing room works for them?  I’m guessing these subtle inconveniences have a much larger impact them.

Why I Wear Heels

It is actually a relief to realize I was known as “the man in heels” at NASPA. I love this and I would put on heels if for no other reason than that. It is motivating to know that people are having conversations about my heels, hopefully even about gender norms and the binary we live in. My one additional hope is that one day it alters to “a” man in heels and other men follow along. Maybe it will then become a person in heels so everybody is welcome to wear whatever best expresses their gender identity. Until then I will continue to put heels on and imagine what it will look like. I don’t wear them just to help reduce barriers faced by marginalized communities. I also do wear them to help other men liberate themselves from the box we that confines us, and most importantly I do this for me. I am a man who will wear heels some days and a pair of men’s dress shoes the next. I do this while always being just as much of a man as I was the day before. I want to get to a point where others see that in me. My gender expression, clothes or behaviors are not what makes me a man.

I wear heals and challenge the gender norms because it helps me feel the power that I have become so accustomed to. The privilege I often I don’t even realize I have. When I didn’t put on a tie for my most recent presentation I did feel less powerful. I felt as if I wasn’t wearing what I was supposed to. I felt like I wouldn’t be taken seriously and may even be dismissed. These are the moments that help me realize what a privilege it is to be a cis-gender male. I want to explain how this has helped me realize how the gender binary is perpetuated. When I hear the words professional, executive, CEO, etc., I automatically think of a man in a suit and tie. Those are the identities, among others, that I see. For example, as if somebody said a professional walked into a dark room and I couldn’t actually seem them, I would picture a man in a suit. This is why I believe it is the norm and that systematic power resides in the three piece suit, specifically the tie (but that is a topic for another time). Until other men and I acknowledge this unearned advantage, people of other genders will not have access to this privileged space. This is what happens when I wear heels. I’m not giving up the power I have as a cis-gender male; I’m just staying aware of it.

On the contrary, I do feel a little bit of that discomfort when wearing heels as well. It is hard to continue to put on heels and wonder if I am going to be dismissed or not taken seriously when I attend professional events. This speaks to the privilege of being able to wear the same thing every day, always fitting the mold of what is professional, and never having to feel uncomfortable. I wonder if this question is in the mind of people of other genders when they are preparing for the day. It has become especially salient in light of my job search. I’m trying to find financial stability as I finish up graduate school and it is a conflict of interest to challenge the systems that are going to give me that opportunity.  I even debated wearing heels to my 2nd on-campus interview after I didn’t get an offer from the first one, worried that I will create just too much discomfort for employers to see all of the other promise inside of me.

Do I hate knowing that on some level, wearing heels to interviews may set me back just a little in a candidate pool? Yes I do. I mean I want a job. I don’t want to make claim that wearing heels is why I am not getting jobs. I don’t feel that way at all. I did apply to over forty jobs though and got only a couple of 2nd round interviews in return. I do trust a process that is based on comparing applicants based on fit. I am brand new to this whole Student Affairs thing and am fully aware that there are other reasons why I may not be the best fit for an institution. I don’t feel entitled to a position at all. I just have to wonder how many offers I would have if I showed up as people expect a man to show up. The good news is that I have been interviewing with one university while wearing heels and they are checking my references now. It may only be one out of forty, but I will truly fit in at their school. Regardless, one that that has been in my mind throughout this entire process is the following: I hope that pushing the norm will provoke others to expand their understanding of what is accepted as the norm and not instead just label me as somebody who will be a pain in the butt for a new department. That is not me. I just want to help myself and all others break from the boxes that society has placed us in.

Concluding Thoughts and Motivation

I want just two things. I want everybody, including myself, to have the same access to safety and security regardless of how they express their gender and I want to continually wears heels on the days when it expresses who I am. This is the beauty of my mutually beneficial relationship with challenging gender norms and living authentically. I also see my one action influence so much positive change in communities around me. I see very inspirational conversations happening. For instance, the professionals talking about me at TPE were not talking about me. Sure they were talking about “the man in heels,” but I think they were actually talking about themselves. The conversation was about masculinity and their understanding of it. It was not about Justin Zagorski who wears heels. It was instead the constructive conversation I want other men to have about what it means for them to be men.

I also have very life-giving conversations with students about gender as if my authenticity somehow makes them feel more comfortable. I have even been around when other men put on heels and we wear them together. All of these changes are what motivate me to continue to imagine a future where gender expression is fluid and gendered attire does not serve as a way to reinforce systemic oppression. It still blows my mind that all I need to do in order to surround myself with this much positivity, is to put on a pair of heels. Even though I have spoken about struggles, wearing heels and engaging with what masculinity means for me has been very rewarding. I hope other cis-gender men (especially white, heterosexual men) find their ways to challenge the systems that oppress people of all other genders while also confining themselves. I have personally found that it takes so little effort from me, but can in turn have a huge impact.

- Justin Zagorski

Member of the Week – TAMMY JEZ

Tammy Jez

Name: Tammy Jez

Current job & location: Graduate Program Coordinator, Seattle University, College of Nursing

Why are you passionate about student affairs: I believe that anyone who desires access to education, should be given the opportunity.  As a first-generation college student, I can relate to some of the obstacles and challenges that students may face.  My passion and desire is to help students believe they can achieve their goals by providing the tools, opportunities and encouragement to aid them in their journey.

What are some of your favorite things to do or places to visit in Seattle: Perhaps it’s because I still consider myself “new” to the area, but I love to spend an afternoon in Pike  Place Market. On sunny days, I enjoy exploring Alki Beach and the wineries in Woodinville.

Outside of class and work, how do you like to spend your time: I am an avid hiker (just completed 41 weeks in a row) and runner.  Friends, family and my dog, Hula, fill up the rest of my busy schedule.

Fun fact: I hate mayonnaise. And don’t try to trick me with aioli- I know it’s just fancy mayonnaise.

Member of the Week – BRUCE MANN

Bruce Mann

Name: Bruce Mann

Current job & location: Graduate Assistant for Multicultural Leadership and Assessment, University of Puget Sound

Why are you passionate about student affairs: In a time of intense intellectual inquiry, self discovery, and search for meaning, student affairs has the potential to positively challenge, empower, and inspire students to further discover who they are and what mark they want to leave on the world. The power of student affairs is found in seeing the full humanity of students, listening to their stories, hopes and fears, and advocating for holistic student success.

What are some of your favorite things to do or places to visit in Seattle/Tacoma: First off, everyone in Seattle needs to discover the amazingness that is Tacoma and surrounding areas. There are so many amazing places to walk around and explore including Chambers Bay, Point Defiance Park, the Thea Foss Waterway, and the Ruston waterfront. In Seattle, I love spending time at Alki Beach, Discovery Park, and really anywhere that has a great view of the Sound.

Outside of class and work, how do you like to spend your time: When I think of the perfect afternoon it involves sunshine, a hammock, and a stack of books. Additionally I enjoy cycling, yoga, hiking, and pretty much anything that can get me outside and around friends.

Fun fact: I used to work as a freelance photojournalist, spending most of that time covering college sports.