VP Message - Diversity Update - Dec. 17, 2020

Dear, DSA,

As we come to the end of the year, I want to thank you all for the work you have done to further the cause of diversity and inclusion in our division and university.

You have taken the time to educate yourself. Whether through training, serving on committees, reading, watching relevant films or maybe most importantly listening — to a podcast dealing with systemic racism or to a colleague, friend or family member sharing their perspective.

Whatever shape your work has taken, it is a vital step in making our division and university a more inclusive, welcoming, and supportive environment for our students, staff, and faculty.

At a division level we have accomplished the following since June:

•    Launched a diversity and inclusion website. 
•    Bethany Evans, Director of Clinical Services in the Counseling Department and director of the Program for Counseling Diverse Students, was named a co-chair on the DSA Diversity Council giving us a long-overdue Black voice in a leadership role.
•    Launched the DSA Diversity Library and offered to purchase a book for each staff member in order to encourage and support a healthy dialogue that leads to action regarding systemic racial inequity.
•    I met monthly with the Division of Student Affairs Black Professional Network executive board members to keep a pulse on staff issues.
•    The DSA Diversity Council developed an Implicit Bias Training. Each DSA search committee will be required to watch the video at the start of their process, even if members have seen it previously. This training will provide tools to help adjust automatic patterns of thinking, and ultimately eliminate discriminatory behaviors.
•    I met with the Black Student Union President one-on-one instead of through the Student Advisory Board each month.
•    Formed the Program for Counseling Diverse Students and named Bethany Evans as director of that program in addition to her role as Director of Clinical Services in the Counseling department.
•    In response to President Smatresk asking each division to determine a required number of training hours for staff to complete related to diversity, inclusion, and equity topics, the DSA Diversity Council worked with me on a diversity training Personal Development Plan. 
•    Shared our Diversity Training Assessment Results based on a survey many of you filled out this summer regarding the three diversity trainings the division completed earlier this year.
•    I asked that Division directors sponsor/lead small group discussions related to topics like white fragility, white accountability, and other race-related issues.
•    Desiree Padron was named director of the newly-formed First-Generation Center. Desiree has spent the past 11 years as a member of our TRIO team.
•    I met with the Black Lives Matter group bi-weekly and also started meeting with our Latinx student leaders on a monthly basis.
•    Monthly diversity updates were shared with the Division.
•    Held two DSA Diversity Council open meetings to give everyone in the division a chance to hear the work the council is doing and share their thoughts.

As you can see, we have accomplished a lot but there is much work to be done. I hope you will join me as we continue this journey together.

I hope you all have a restful holiday break filled with all the things that bring you joy.

Take care,
Elizabeth With, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs