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The individual I
interviewed for this assignment is Kate Bates, the associate director of
Leadership and Volunteer Services in the office of student engagement. While
conducting the interview, Kate hinted that she is familiar with the student
affairs and educational leadership curriculum, which I interpreted as she
having a degree in this particular field of study. Kate also has years of
experience in this and similar roles in higher education which makes her an
expert in what she does. She has direct responsibilities for student leadership
and volunteering efforts on the campus; she also supervises the staff for the
RSO design center, oversees RSOs campus programs and is the current advisor to
the Graduate Student Association.

Kate is knowledgeable
and always ready to give advice or direct you to where you can find information
with regards to students’ engagement and leadership programming, policies and
procedures on campus.

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            In how laws, ethics and general legal issues directly
impacts her job, Kate shared that it does in numerous ways including, freedom
of speech on campus, how RSOs are formed, how the university regulates and
treats with RSOs and their program executions and contracts. She lamented that
freedom of speech is a major issue that she deals with in the supervision of
the campus’s RSOs as they are at leverage to have their voices be heard but in
a manner that is in accordance with university and safety procedures.

Kate shared that while
RSOs are important to university life, the university has allowed them to be
self-governed thus operating independently of the university. This is important
as they get to manage their affairs instead of the university directly being
involved, however, they must adhere to university standards and

            Kate shared that society in general has become more
reactive as the fear of being sued or being liable for any actions that may be
damaging to an individual or entity. With this, she shared that higher
education laws has evolved putting more responsibility on universities to
ensure that they take into account issues that may arise on their campuses and
the implications they may have. This allows the university administrators to
develop and put systems in place that prevents any liability on their path and teach
it constituents to be mindful of these.

            She states that this came about in the 1960s -the civil
rights era- where the U.S. Supreme Court held that college students have First
Amendment rights of association, press, speech and free exercise of religion
(Lake, 2011). This also caused a shift in the relationship of universities and
their students as it moved from the in
loco parentis doctrine, which allowed universities to exercise great discretion in developing the “character” of
their students without respect to their constitutional rights (Lee, 2011).These
she said has been major changes in the landscape of higher education law which
has influence where we are today.

            In relation to her job, Kate shared that laws and legal
issues is of particular interest when handling contracts with student
organizations. She shared that how student organizations carry out their
duties, especially in inviting persons of interest or concern on campus is
important. She states that this is where mechanisms has to be put in place, to
protect and accommodate the invited speaker and the guess/patrons at these
events-especially those with disability. These are major part of her guidance
and advising to student organizations daily.

            Higher education laws also play a part in the governance
structures within universities. Kate states that since the inceptions of new
legislative framework that governs higher education, institutions have put in
place different structures and personnel that handle specific issues of concern
on campuses. Kaplan and lee (2014) states that governance structures and processes
provide the legal and administrative context within which issues and disputes
arise and the framework within which parties seek to resolve problems and
disputes. This allows the university to have structure in addressing any
potential legal issue.

            When faced with any issue that may have legal
implications, Kate shares that she contact the university legal counsel to get
advice and direction on how to proceed or not. She states that the legal
counsel is an important arm of the university as its roles and functions helps
to protect university and its agents.

            Kate shared that most recently, there has been the
establishment of the flagpole area to be used for freedom of speech on the
campus. She lamented that this came from a legal issue against the institution by
one of our student organization. This is something that I have learnt in doing
this interview. I also realized that when settlements are made regarding
implementing policies on campus that it is important to note how these new
policies will be communicated to the university community. The university has a
moral duty to ensure that it does due diligence in properly implementing new
policies, making them known and accessible to all.

Kate also states in
relation to her job, the university has developed policies which put steps and
procedures in place for student organizations and their responsibility of
funding and providing security for their events.

            When asked what advice would she give to new higher
education professionals she said, they we should never stop learning and
keeping ourselves abreast with new laws and policies in higher education and
especially your focus area as things shift easily. This is evident as we have
seen where in the past 60-70 years the drastic changes that has been made general
but also in higher education.

            This interview was informative, there was a lot of
concepts from my in class readings that jumped at me, there were new
information too that has allowed me to understand more the need for legal
framework and parameters in higher education especially in today’s society
where things have become extremely complexed. I was also impressed with the
enormous knowledge there is to know about higher education and to note that
apart from the general campus wide legal issues such as free speech and title
X1, that each functional area has its own sets of laws, rules and policies that
has been influenced by either external entities such as the federal government
and state or internals by the norms and customs of the institution.

I look forward to
immerse myself more into new information that will help me as I continue to
develop my skills and competencies as a higher education professional.Reference:Kaplin, W. A., &
Lee, B. A. (2014). The law of higher education: student version (5th
ed.). San     Francisco: Josey-Bass Lake, P. F. (2011). Foundations of higher education law and
policy: Basic legal rules, concepts,    and
principles for student affairs. Washington, D.C.: NASPA Lee, P. (2011). The
curious life of in loco parentis in
American universities. Higher Education in   Review,
8, 65-90 

WMU Sacrifices Students’ First Amendment Rights to
Keep Settlement Agreement Secret.          (2015,
June 12). Retrieved January 28, 2018, from     sacrifices-students-first-amendment-rights-to-keep-settlement-agreement-secret/

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