Strategic Directions

Drop Shadow

Diversity and Inclusion: Open Forum, March 8, 2005

[pdf file for printing]

Facilitators: Michelle Camacho, Cheryl Getz

Michelle gave an overview of how diversity was used at the workshop table group (focusing on ethnicity and race but knowing that the USD definition of diversity encompasses a larger view). Michelle emphasized the connection between diversity and the relationship to power. Michelle and Cheryl reviewed the major brainstorming ideas generated at the workshop, and invited attendees to comment on these ideas and to offer additional ideas.

Comments from Forum Participants

  • Important to add alumni to the list (Action Item C) – inviting alumni as guest speakers, partners, etc. The alumni board also must reflect the diversity goals of the campus. Need more market data: benchmark where we are now; define our goals; use data to diversify the alumni board.
  • Establish alumni scholarship presented at an annual dinner: help current students to gather and socialize with alumni; form interest groups of alumni who are willing to give back to the University and be models of diversity for students.
  • Data is lacking and must be improved: where is need and the funding (e.g., to establish a Latino/a alumni association, a Black alumni association). Suggestion by facilitator that the alumni office may need to take action/responsibility and own this issue.
  • Important to look at exemplary universities that have dealt with these issues: what have they down to diversify, to involve alums, etc.?
  • Need to communicate diversity message.
  • Question: why was EOP moved out of Academic Affairs where there was a connection between students and faculty? Strongly suggest that EOP be returned to Academic Affairs – traditionally at universities it is found in the academic division.
  • Important that exit interviews be taken; perception that exit interviews are not being done for all students formally. Suggestions: students may send in the information anonymously; involve the faculty in conducting the exit interviews with students.
  • Seems that exit interviews are conducted with a formal withdrawal (through Student Learning Initiatives). What about the students who just leave or who are dismissed? There is missing data on why students are leaving USD. The process and protocol should be transparent.
    • Need to interview students: Why are you leaving? What did you feel or experience while at USD?
  • Need to interview “success stories” – students of color who have stayed at USD and graduated: Why did you stay? What did you feel and experience while at USD? Probe why people stayed.
  • One attendee is USD alum and is now working in residence life: says that some of the workshop suggestions are being done (e.g., faculty in residence). May want to use the residence life structure to implement some ideas (e.g., residential newsletter highlighting diversity). Some ideas could merge easily and give direction to RDs and RAs.
  • Powerful statement shared by one USD resident: “I am leaving because I am alone.” Important to begin diversity and inclusion efforts in residence halls. Framework is already in place.
  • There should be an institutional Diversity and Inclusion committee that meets monthly. Meetings would be open to campus community and would be a place for faculty, students and staff to attend and discuss concerns and issues. The committee and open forums would be way to see that action is being taken and there is a forum to address these issues.
  • Important that people’s stories be told.
  • USD seems to straddle a gap between various definitions of diversity, not knowing what to do. The University needs to decide what diversity means, educate people on this definition and the goals to achieve a diverse and inclusive campus. There needs to be institutional commitment from the upper administration on this definition, goals, and action.
  • Important to note that the new mission statement includes diversity. Need to incorporate the mission statement and vision of diversity in all publications, newsletters, etc. The language of the mission, goals of diversity and the action targets need to become part of mainstream communication and discussion. Needs to be tied to the social justice focus of Catholic social teaching.
  • One faculty member shared having 3 black students in class: altered interaction (improved richness) of class: we are impoverished by not having diversity.
  • Questions of how to recruit and how to retain diverse students.
    • Statement that more than 50% leave after the first year.
  • May want to look at the preceptorial program: instead of being subject-focused (e.g., Math class), may want the first semester preceptorial to focus on diversity and inclusion issues (3 unit course) – that is, realistic skills development on how to function in a diverse world.
  • Dean Drinan was invited to hand out an explanation of the D-requirement and the recently-approved changes to the core curriculum. In response to the previous comment, Pat mentioned that the core curriculum committee had originally considered a 1-unit special orientation class but moved away from that idea in favor of integrating the D-requirement into other classes.
  • Important to infuse diversity at multiple levels.
  • One faculty member mentioned that English 121 (under the new core) is seen as a gateway: 1/3 of the English literature material is from authors of color.
  • Suggestions:
    • Have two weeks on specific subject (e.g., racism).
    • First semester of freshman year is very impressionable time, able to focus and explain culture of USD, expectations while at USD; address issues during orientation.
  • Must look at diversity and inclusion at systematic level: it is everyone’s responsibility.
  • Recent article about admissions states that this department is a “gatekeeper” or “funnel” for how the culture develops at a university. Suggestion: must open the funnel at USD – that is, focus on people of color in recruitment, visitations, inquiry, follow-through and admissions processes. Example: UC Irvine has “student ambassadors” who call prospects and make human contact. Are we making that conscious effort? Are we including our students during follow-through?
    • Question: does the current admissions office make follow-up calls to prospects?
    • USD sometimes seen as arrogant: we are so good we don’t need to go after applicants… can sneeze and get 4,000 applicants.
    • Question: what is happening at USD that we have convinced ourselves that we are happy with 20+% people of color in freshman class? Why aren’t we challenging ourselves to raise that percentage each year?
  • Suggestion: create a division of the President’s Board (with representatives from admissions, Associated Students, cultural center, alumni relations) that meets quarterly:
    • Draft document that sets responsibility and goals for admissions (e.g., recruit X% of people of color by X date), faculty hires (e.g., hire X% of faculty of color by X date).
    • Set clear goals, who is responsible, timeline, assessment methods, etc.
    • Mandated by the President, reports to the President, President holds people and departments responsible to achieve these goals.
  • Must study other universities: effective and successful models. What are they doing?
  • USD must put money into a new high-level position that is in charge of diversity and inclusion goals: deal with issues of accountability; coordinating efforts around campus; make sure goals are met – and if not, holds people responsible; orientation of new students on diversity and inclusion issues; talk to faculty about the value and benefit of a diverse campus.
  • Communication is vital to effort: suggest diversity newsletter or append diversity news to Faculty News Notes. Need to focus on vital areas (e.g., admission, residence life, and faculty) – write articles that highlights benefits of diversity as well as people’s experiences at USD. Currently the environment at USD is closed – uncomfortable for some people of color. Must address this environment and change it through education and communication.
  • Develop housing that will allow people who have common culture and experience to live together. Need to identify with familiar culture.
  • Important that departments be accountable: e.g., must publish updates/reports showing facts, figures, what is being done – admissions report, EOP report, alumni report, Summer Bridge report, etc. These should be available to campus.
  • Question about the summer bridge program: embarrassing how USD uses that title for bringing privileged students to campus. This program on most campuses is identified with helping underprivileged to succeed. [Dean Drinan noted that this will change next summer.]
  • We must not assume that all students of color have financial need.
  • Admissions must travel to underprivileged areas. Also, when other employees are traveling, they should be encouraged to bring materials along and help recruit (e.g., may be home visiting family). Admissions could find people who are willing, and train them on basic recruiting skills and questions.
  • There are a large number of women professors in Engineering because the provost required these hires. Even though this may have been criticized at the time by some, the results speak for the diversity that was created. USD must set its goals, broadcast these goals, and strive to achieve them.
  • Faculty, administration and staff must be held accountable. Example: recent request for a multicultural sorority was turned down by an administrator – reason given: sororities are already diverse.
  • Admissions model creates a “Barbie doll factory.” Need to retain high standards of school but also need to consciously recruit and retain students of color. The University misses out without a diverse population – cannot learn from others about the richness of the diversity.
  • Example given of an employee’s daughter (a USD student) who experienced a faculty member calling her daughter derogatory ethnic names – 3 times. Where is the accountability? Is this an acceptable trend at USD?
    • Need place for these stories to be written so that we hear and learn from them. What is acceptable at USD? How do we learn and change?
    • Many minorities express that they feel alone in classes. Where is their experience told, backed up or supported?
  • Example of experience at UC Berkeley: student said something inappropriate in class – was not allowed to attend class the next time.
    • Should a student at USD have to write a paper about why a remark was offensive?
    • In a sociology class, the word “fag” was used in a derogatory manner. The professor put together a class lesson, turning that moment into a learning experience for everyone. Question: why isn’t this done more often?
    • Does the faculty have the skills to be able to address these issues as they arise in class?
  • Must address faculty and employee development: What is offensive? How to handle offensive situations? What does academic freedom protect?
  • Question: what about the people with no voice on campus (e.g., custodians, maintenance personnel)? How can USD include their voices as it strives to become an inclusive community?
  • Need an assessment of diversity: where do we stand (benchmark)?