The blog of Academe Magazine. Opinions published here do not necessarily represent the policies of the AAUP.
Student Veterans of America (SVA) is a national organization dedicated to helping veterans “succeed in higher education and following graduation.” The SVA has a strong emphasis on student leadership and building connections between veterans in higher ed to help them adjust to life out of the military and in school. That’s why SVA leaders were so alarmed that forty for-profit institutions’ chapters are seemingly run by administrators, not students. Those schools—which were not named by the SVA—have had their chapter memberships revoked.
It may not seem like such a big deal to list a staff member rather than a student as the contact for a school’s chapter, but in the case of the SVA, being staff-led defeats the purpose of the organization as a way for veterans to meet and work together. According to an SVA press release, having a staff contact “raises questions as to the legitimacy of the organization and goes against SVA policies. Student veterans’ organizations seeking SVA chapter membership must be run by and for student veterans. ”
Unfortunately, some of these schools may have had a less than altruistic motive in creating these SVA chapters. As I’ve documented before, many for-profit schools have a strong financial incentive to sign up as many veterans as possible (update, 4/11: Many other writers have also documented this, including Pulitzer-Prize-winner Daniel Golden). SVA’s concern is that some for-profits “may be using the SVA brand to legitimize their programs because having an SVA chapter is often synonymous with a campus being labeled ‘veteran-friendly,’” according to their press release.
It’s encouraging to see the SVA defending its reputation from schools that may be trying to exploit it.