Frequently Asked Questions

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Who is ACPA and what is our purpose?

The mission of the Association is to support and foster college student learning through the generation and dissemination of knowledge, which informs policies, practices, and programs, for student affairs and student services professionals and the higher and tertiary education community. ACPA leads the student affairs profession and the higher education community in providing outreach, advocacy, research, and professional development to foster college student learning.

What is the purpose of the Frequently Asked Questions?

The purpose of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is to ensure that ACPA is being open, responsive and transparent in regards to the questions that have arisen in regards to our 2018 Annual Convention scheduled in Houston. The FAQ also provides an opportunity to document the different questions that we have received. This resource will continue to be updated until Convention.

When did ACPA contract to host the convention in Houston?

The ACPA Governing Board approved the selection of Houston as a convention site for 2018 in September of 2013. Contracts were signed with the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Hilton Americas Houston, and other supporting hotels in November 2013.

How far in advance does ACPA select Convention sites? What is the process and the criteria?

The International Office staff issues a specifications overview, similar to a RFP (Request for Purchasing). The staff then conducts additional review and shares the top options with Governing Board for approval.  This process has historically happened five – seven years ahead of the convention date. ACPA currently has convention locations booked through 2022.

What work has ACPA done since the contract was signed?

ACPA Executive Director Cindi Love and Deputy Executive Director Tricia Fechter Gates visited Houston in January 2016, shortly after the HERO (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance) was defeated. Meetings included the Mayor of Houston, representatives from the Police Department, the ACLU, Trans Texas and Equality Texas and several human rights organizations in Houston. The overwhelming sentiment was that ACPA was welcome in Houston, and our advocacy and commitment to social justice are needed now more than ever. Recognizing that we cannot control local or state regulatory or legal changes, we worked with our attorney to develop a new Force Majuere clause to provide contractual protection in the future.  We now require all site providers to agree to these conditions.

On March 28, 2016, we provided tangible ways for our members to engage in advocacy in Texas.

On January 7, 2017, we worked with several organizations, including the American Society of Association Executives, to provide feedback to the Texas legislature regarding the introduction of Texas Senate Bill 6 – otherwise known as the “Bathroom Bill”. In this communication, we reaffirmed our commitment to our colleagues in Texas, highlighting that we wanted to work alongside them in supporting trans students and colleagues. We launched a fundraising campaign to send copies of Dr. Z Nicolazzo’s book Trans* in College to every member of the Texas Legislature. Thanks to the many members who supported this effort!

Executive Director Cindi Love traveled to Texas twice during the Senate hearings to provide testimony against SB6 and included input from ACPA members.

At the ACPA17 convention in March 2017, the ACPA18 team coordinated a postcard-writing effort to encourage members to send their feedback to members of the legislature. The postcards also served as an educational tool about Houston.

On May 12, 2017, we sent a communication to members with information about Texas Senate Bill 4.

On June 27, 2017, we sent a communication to members with information about the recent ban in California on using state funds to travel to Texas and 7 other states.

We launched the Where Respect Happens campaign with our peer student affairs associations and the American College Health Association and encourage our members and campuses to participate.

At the July Leadership Meeting in Houston, participants will have the opportunity to continue our postcard campaign to members of the Texas Legislature.

If you’d like to request postcards and addresses, please contact Tricia Fechter Gates at pfechter@acpa.nche.edu

What are the current outreach strategies in Houston?

In addition to the action listed above, the ACPA18 team will begin coordinating engagement with local organizations during the July Leadership Meeting held in Houston. Additionally, the team is creating a list of racial minority owned and queer owned businesses for attendees to frequent during convention. It is our hope that members will support businesses that align with the values of ACPA, those of equity and inclusion.

What would the financial penalties be if ACPA decided to leave Houston for another Convention location?

If we withdrew from Houston and cancelled all our contracts, the current penalty due would be $776,527.25.

Why isn’t ACPA moving locations?

The Governing Board decided to not change venues.  Our decision is based on our desire to support our colleagues in Texas and to engage in advocacy efforts alongside them. Over the last two years, Cindi Love, Executive Director of ACPA, has worked with advocacy organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU), ACPA members in Texas, and local activists to better understand the climate and culture of Houston and Texas and to anticipate outcomes of the legislative sessions. Local community organizations and ACPA members in Texas have urged that ACPA remain in Houston for #ACPA18 and utilize its many platforms, including its largest, Convention, to push for repeal of anti-LGBTQ, immigrant and other discriminating regulations.

How can I support the advocacy on the ground?

This year, the Convention Planning Team created the position of Advocacy Chair who serves on the Equity & Inclusion Committee. This person is charged with coordinating advocacy efforts and helping us think about how we might engage with local communities in Texas. You can read the Advocacy Chair’s latest blog here. Please visit the ACPA18 Blog frequently for updated information regarding advocacy.

I don’t want to spend money in Texas. What are my options?

We understand that some people may choose to not spend their money in Texas. We’re working on several options for Convention, including live stream options, and hope to be able to share details once we’ve secured all our major speakers and permissions required.

I am worried about my safety in Houston. How is ACPA going to ensure my safety?

ACPA cannot fully guarantee the safety of its participants in any location.  However, are working to ensure that we can provide as safe of an experience as possible for members while they are in Houston. As part of the convention planning process, there is an Equity & Inclusion (E&I) team. This team is engaging in conversations currently about ways to provide support (e.g., walking escorts) to members as they move between convention locations.  Additionally, working closely with the Governing Board and International Office, this group responds to any bias events that occur during the convention. The E&I team for ACPA18 is currently working on finalizing their efforts and ways to educate/prepare attendees to coming to Houston.  Also, we have worked directly with the Mayor’s Office to ensure that our event is top of mind.

What about the concerns of our international colleagues and their ability to travel and gain entry into the U.S.?

ACPA is committed to the needs and concerns of our International members that will to enter the United States. We are aware of the ongoing concerns in regards to recent federal government actions on travel to the United States by individuals from certain countries.

We are working with our Commission on Global Dimensions on Student Development and the Assembly Coordinator, International Divisions to ways to ensure that the convention is accessible for our international members.

ACPA does provide letters of support for international colleagues that are attending the annual Convention.

With the talk of the Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice, why is staying in Houston not against our values as an Association?

We actually believe that staying in Houston aligns the Association with the new Strategic Imperative.  The imperative urges us to intentionally and directly engage with issues of race and racism at their intersections of identity, including nationality, gender identity, immigration status, socioeconomic status, disability, geography, and other dimensions of identity.  It encourages us to think about the ways that race and racism shape the experiences of those in our institutions and those who strive to obtain a higher education and innovatively and boldly about how we will confront those problems.  Part of the historical struggle for racial justice has been taking a proactive, ongoing position through advocacy and activism against racist structures that oppress us all, and particularly communities of color. Before the continual adoption of legislation that has negatively affected some of our members through this convention, and many others who live their everyday lives in Texas, ACPA has engaged in actions that oppose discrimination.  We will continue to do this work from now until March 2018 and hope to leverage our resources and time in Houston to support Texans and our members to do more work beyond March 2018.