A Behind-the-Scenes Look At the ASA Student Forum
by Karina Havrilla, ASA Minority Affairs Program
The ASA Student Forum, started in 1997, provides resources for graduate and undergraduate students, helps develop valuable networks among student members, and facilitates student participation in ASA through professional development and service. Individuals who join the ASA as student members automatically become members of the Student Forum, receive all electronic communications, and have access to Student Forum programming.
A History Lesson
Ten years ago, a group of student members, under the advisement of past ASA Honors Program Director Duane Dukes, approached ASA Council with a proposal to create an advisory board of students to represent the growing student membership. In the past, student activities within ASA were limited to the undergraduate Honors Program, leaving students few avenues through which they could raise their issues in the larger organization. Upon reviewing the proposal, Council approved the establishment of and a budget for the Student Forum Advisory Board (SFAB), and requested that they elect officers during the next Honors Program business meeting.
Since the establishment of that first Advisory Board, elections have been held each year to rotate the SFAB members, who typically serve two-year terms. SFAB is made up primarily of graduate student members, but there are also undergraduate student representatives, and a staff liaison from the ASA Executive Office (the current liaison is Jean H. Shin, Director of the Minority Affairs Program).
SFAB communicates with its students via the Student Link, an e-newsletter distributed to the student member listserv. The newsletter links to information about what SFAB is working on currently, call for papers for the sessions it is organizing for the Annual Meeting, as well as updates on regional association activities, conference announcements, funding opportunities, and invitations for suggestions from student members on what else SFAB can do for them. The Advisory Board also has two websites with back issues of the Student Link, more information about the Student Forum, and contact information for current SFAB members.
SFAB at the ASA Annual Meeting
Each year, SFAB works to organize sessions and events for the ASA Annual Meeting. The Student Forum is typically allotted three regular paper sessions, one roundtable, and one professional workshop. Since a primary mission of SFAB is to encourage student participation at the Annual Meeting, these sessions are an opportunity for the students to present their research and obtain crucial feedback and experience. Each Student Forum session is organized by and presided over by an SFAB member.
At the 2007 Annual Meeting in New York, the Student Forum-sponsored professional workshop, "Demystifying the Publication Process: Editors Speak with Students," attracted a standing-roomonly audience. At this workshop, three invited journal editors answered questions students had about getting their research published, as well as discussed what firsttime submitters should anticipate when submitting, and common problems editors see with manuscripts.
Finally, the Student Forum also hosts the Student Reception each year. In the past, the purpose of the Student Reception was to give students a chance to mingle with other students and enjoy some appetizers. At the 2008 Annual Meeting in Boston, SFAB hopes to make this event a bit more formal by introducing its members to the students in attendance, explaining the purpose and mission of the Student Forum, and recognizing the winners of the annual Student Forum Travel Award.
Student Forum Travel Awards
Each year, the Student Forum grants approximately 30 students a small monetary award to assist with their travel costs to the Annual Meeting. Applicants must be students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in sociology at a college or university. Applicants must also be current student members of ASA at the time of application. The student must demonstrate financial need and their search for other financial support. The applications are sent to the Student Forum Travel Award committee, which determines the winners of the award. The application must be submitted by April 1 of each year, and notifications of the committee’s decisions are announced by May 15.
For more information about the Student Forum Travel Award, visit the ASA website and click "Funding." To learn more about the Student Forum generally, visit the ASA website and click "Students," or visit socstudentforum.org, or contact current SFAB chair Danielle Hidalgo (firstname.lastname@example.org). Finally, the Student Forum needs more student participation so feel free to contact Danielle about any ideas and volunteer work that you or your students may want to contribute.