As part of an effort to reach out to APA’s divisions and recognize how divisions are increasing student involvement in their organization, APAGS has established the APAGS Outstanding APA Division of the Year Award. This year, the award went to Division 17, the Society of Counseling Psychology. The division was nominated by Emilia Boeschen and Jessica Semler, the Co-Chairs for Student Affiliates of Seventeen (SAS), their student group. This award also comes with a $1500 prize to be used for continued student programming and outreach.
Division 17 has demonstrated a true commitment to increasing student participation in its leadership and governance. In 2007, members of the division voted to change the bylaws to include two seats on the Executive Board; the first student votes were cast in March 2008. SAS nominates students, who are approved by the Executive Board. Division members also approved having student involvement in all committees and special task groups. Currently, each committee and task group has at least one student member who participates for a 2 year term. Nine students serve on the Awards Committee, providing a great opportunity for professional development and learning about candidates for awards.
Students are actively involved in program planning for the Division. Twenty students participated in the 2008 Programming Committee, making up half the committee and providing feedback on student-oriented programming for the APA convention. Two students participated in the Steering Committee for the International Counseling Psychology Conference (ICPC), and a Student Programming Committee was created to ensure student-friendly program. At the 2008 ICPC meeting, over half of the 1300 attendees were students!
Why is student participation valuable to a division?
Membership recruitment and retention – Increasing outreach to students makes it more likely that students will join, and that they will remain members upon graduating.
Leadership pipeline – This is a great way to develop new leaders and revitalize division executive boards.
Mentoring as a bidirectional process – Students receive opportunities for mentoring from experienced division leaders and members; experienced leaders may receive mentoring about technology, social networking, and the needs of the next generation
How can my division increase student involvement?
First, identify how your division is including students in its leadership and outreach. How many students are members of your division? What are you already doing? You may be surprised about how involved students are in your division.
Identify committees/task forces that may benefit from student input, and begin or continue to include students. Often, these groups include program committees, membership, technology/electronic resources. However, APAGS would suggest that all committees would benefit from a student voice.
Include a student member on your Executive Board. This is an important step because it provides a student voice at the highest levels of the division. Participation here should include being on listservs as well as attendance at committee meetings (with funding for students to attend).
Amend bylaws to provide for a voting seat on the Executive Board. Commitment to student issues and participation benefits from having a voice that is counted when decisions are made. Creating a voting seat on the board is the biggest commitment that a division can make to supporting student involvement in the organization.
The 2010 APAGS Outstanding APA Division Award deadline is March 1, 2010. It’s not too late to get started on increasing student involvement and apply for the award!