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Social Justice Education, Bias Prevention and Community Building

An update from Executive Director of Student Experiences & Engagement Damoni Wright and Associate Provost & Dean of Students Kevin Dougherty

Since the addition of Diversity & Cultural Engagement to Student Experiences & Engagement, we have been able to identify areas where our work can collaboratively and positively impact students of color and other underrepresented and marginalized students on our campus, while also identifying the gaps that exist in our service to students. To collectively do our best work and minimize service gaps, we are researching and developing new positions to increase our ability to serve students across identities. Working more intentionally within and between departments, we are vetting an intersectional identity coordinator position to assist our departments and campus in creating more supportive spaces and a sense of belonging for all who hold multiple and intersecting identities, including but not limited to identities related to ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, (dis)ability, sexual orientation and veteran status. We are also working with partners in the Office of International Services to reconstruct positions that can better support our international students from a more centralized location.

Social justice work cannot be done in a vacuum and cannot be done only in one or two departments, it must be understood, committed to, and integrated into every facet of our work, and we are dedicated to continuing our efforts to make this happen. The positions that we are creating and the work that we are doing will only be effective if we are also able to partner with our student affairs colleagues and collaborate with colleges and community members in more meaningful ways. If you have collaboration ideas on how to better serve students, please reach out to Student Experiences & Engagement staff so that we can partner to provide even more diverse and inclusive programming and education that fosters a climate of social equality, community and understanding.

The recent Defamation Experience event provided an opportunity for the Division of Student Affairs to engage in critical conversations about race, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, power and privilege. Since that experience, numerous conversations have been held geared toward our ongoing commitment to inclusivity and diversity training for professional staff. A group of leaders within student affairs has been formed, meeting monthly, to help design this training for the division. The leaders will utilize division feedback along with data from the Campus Climate Survey (for faculty and staff) and the Campus Inclusivity Survey (for students) to help inform these efforts.

Through our work together, we will continue to positively change our campus and support student success.

— Damoni Wright and Kevin Dougherty