A month ago, following on the student forum Diversity University: In Theory and In Practice, I proposed to our community three priorities on which to focus for making our campus culture more inclusive. As you may remember, the priorities are: (1) improving interactions between Public Safety and students, (2) increasing the scope and intensity of the Making Excellence Inclusive program on campus, and (3) enhancing town-gown connections to increase opportunities for positive interactions between the campus and the city. Feedback over the past weeks confirms that these priorities are on the right track, and I have been especially gratified to see that those who responded expressed willingness to help with their time and effort as well as their words.
I also received a number of initial recommendations from the Committee for Inclusion and Diversity, a subcommittee of the Community Outreach Committee of the WSA; these recommendations emphasize social justice training and increased resources in academic and administrative areas that facilitate deeper understanding of social justice issues. The committee plans to continue developing its recommendations and to publish them independently next semester. I also take note of the groundswell of support among faculty for better understanding of such issues as sexual harassment and hurtful behavior stemming from insensitivity to differences based upon race and socio-economic background. Faculty, students, and the administration are all moving forward, if sometimes on separate tracks, to make our campus more inclusive.
Next steps for the administration with regards to the three priorities above include:
(1) Public Safety: Reconstitute and review PSAFE advisory committee; review alert protocols so to avoid giving the impression of targeting any particular group; engage outside consultants to conduct a comprehensive review of the department.
(2) Making Excellence Inclusive: Conduct Campus Climate survey; make Diversity the theme of new-student orientation; reinforce focus of Vice President for Institutional Partnerships and Chief Diversity Officer on campus culture; continue (and track) MEI training; focus on pipeline issues (McNair, Mellon, Upward Bound).
(3) Town-Gown: The Vice President for Finance and Administration will convene a committee to look at opportunities to increase positive interactions between campus and the city.
As I indicated two weeks ago, I will give a report on the progress we make in these areas just after spring break, and then we can schedule another forum to discuss what has (and has not) been accomplished. The desire to build a more inclusive and caring community here at Wesleyan is sincere, and we will now take positive steps to do just that.