Reflections from CSJE Past-Chair Stephanie Bondi

My name is Stephanie Bondi, and I am the past-chair of the Commission for Social Justice Educators (CSJE). I wanted to take a moment to share my experiences of being part of the Commission for the last eight years and what it means to me as I head to ACPA Annual Convention in Montreal in a couple weeks.  I identify as a white, cisgender, heterosexual woman currently without disabilities from an upper-middle class background who is agnostic.  I am a faculty member at University of Nebraska – Lincoln having previously worked in residence life and conference services.

I got involved in CSJE because I wanted to take more responsibility for working towards social justice in my life and world.  I also wanted connections with people who were like-minded and could nudge me to expand my perspective, community, and tools.  I had been involved in ACPA for a number of years, and it felt like a large organization. I knew generally what to expect at Convention and had my friends from previous jobs and graduate school to catch up with, but I still felt disconnected from the organization.  Joining CSJE gave me a home where I was a part of decision-making, events, and a smaller community interested in social justice. If you have a similar interest, maybe running for a directorate position in the fall would be a good idea for you.  Anyone with interest and time for the commitment should run. CSJE was founded to give members from various functional areas and with varied social identities a place to focus on social justice education.

Through my involvement, first as a directorate body member, and then as a vice chair, and eventually as chair, CSJE became my home in ACPA.  When I started, I was unsure of what to do on the Commission and whether I was advanced enough in my knowledge of social justice to be involved.  Every step of the way, there was someone who could help me understand the role of the Commission, and after a year of involvement, I began to see that I could really be involved in shaping the Commission if I wanted to put my energy into it. I soon took a vice chair position and was involved in decisions about how the Commission would go about its work.  I’ll admit that working in a volunteer organization like ACPA has its challenges that are different from work I’ve done with employees on campus (e.g., our meetings are mostly virtual, people have competing priorities they are paid to do), but it has also offered me connections with colleagues and access to opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise.  I was involved in conceptualizing the Institute on Social Justice, hosting webinars, shaping the design of a book on social justice facilitation, and being a part of the ACPA strategic plan implementation process.

I hadn’t really thought about my volunteer role in CSJE as a professional development opportunity, but others describing it as such had made me think more about it.  Reflecting back, I have learned a great deal about myself, the world, and those in CSJE through the process.  CSJE is not much of an activist organization yet my participation in CSJE has been very important in my life and my continuing journey to embody social justice.  Because I am an instrument of oppression and liberation, I believe that I am required to be always on a journey to grow. The members of the Commission, in particular the other directorate members, have taught me about building community, assumptions that I make about what others need, and specific issues in social justice education (e.g., multipartiality, gender normativity and identity, research and publication of non-dominant work, responding to bias incidents).  My educational efforts in the classroom and on campus are now informed by these relationships and events.

So, this post has mostly been a trip down memory lane for me. Yet, I hope that it also has given readers a sense of the possibilities that are available through participation in CSJE.  We have opportunities to get to know us at Convention including CelebrACPA on opening day, our open session, and our social.  Please come and introduce yourself to us or attend one of our sponsored educational sessions.  You can find the schedule here or get more details about them in the Convention program by searching for CSJE sponsored programs.  If you want a more significant involvement, nominate yourself for a directorate position.  These positions are for a three-year term and involve at least monthly virtual meetings plus a specifically assigned area of responsibility (e.g., programming, member services, social media, etc.). CSJE could be your home within ACPA.

Stephanie Bondi is the past chair of the Commission for Social justice Educators. She is currently Assistant Professor of Practice in the Department of Educational Administration at University of Nebraska – Lincoln and teaches in the student affairs program. Contact her by email or on Twitter.

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