Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Building Capacity for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Three smiling students outside at Club Fair booth

Student Affairs is committed to taking an active role in creating and supporting a more unified and inclusive campus. To improve ourselves and the community we create, we are committed to listening, supporting and advocating for what is right to confront racism and to promote racial justice, inclusion and equity.

Building capacity is defined as the “intentional and planned development of an increase in skills or knowledge” that allows an organization or its individuals to advance their mission effectively and productively (Betrim, E.M. & Henning, G.W., 2015). Capacity building is an ongoing and evidence-based process associated with a conceptual framework that results in measurable and sustainable actions.

As educators, we build capacity for diversity, equity, and inclusion work by developing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that contribute to and create equitable, inclusive, and diverse communities.

Goals for Building Capacity in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

A graphic indicating Goals for Building Capacity in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Demonstrating self-awareness
  • Understanding and valuing others
  • Interacting effectively with a diversity of people
  • Fostering equity and inclusion
  • Embodying ethical professional practice
  • This all leads to increased abilities for organizational recruitment and retention.

Initiatives & Progress

The list below provides an overview of multiple actions that Student Affairs is taking to foster a culture that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion through belonging and engagement. By documenting our actions, we will be transparent and accountable about the progress we’ve made and the work that still needs to be done.

To review our strategies for continuing to build capacity in the next academic year, view the 2022-23 Action Plan.

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Symbol Meaning
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Click each line of text for more information
Cultivate a sustainable and inclusive community where every person and every interaction matters.
Status Description

Audit current policies, practices, and structural decision-making processes to ensure the promotion of and provision for equitable access to historically excluded students and staff.

  • Fall 2020, a Diversity & Inclusion Audit Action Team was established and began the process of reviewing policies, practices, and structural decision-making processes.
  • Spring 2021, the D & I Audit Team did a pilot study with 5 units to establish a foundation for the utilization of the audit process on a regular schedule for all units.
  • May 2021, the Action Team presented their findings to the Senior Leadership and Directors.
  • Spring 2022, the development of an audit schedule to be implemented in Summer 2022.

Gather feedback, suggestions, and ideas for programming and outreach related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Identify and engage a student advisory board on inclusivity to ensure we hear from and are responsive to historically excluded student populations.

  • Fall 2020, the VCSA Student Advisory Council was established and is made up of representatives from key Student Affairs units and student communities. They meet monthly to provide a student voice and perspective about diversity, equity, and inclusion issues on campus.

Assess divisional/unit culture to identify gaps, strengths, and weaknesses related to DEI.

Create the Inclusive Climate Support Network along with protocol and team to respond to incidents of bias and provide resources for our community when incidents of climate or bias occur.

Include DEI competencies in annual performance assessments.

  • Summer 2021, questions were added to the Managerial/Professional annual performance document to include opportunities for the staff members to discuss their progression of learning based upon the goals set with their supervisor.
  • FY ’23 will incorporate the DEI component in all annual performance assessments.
Frame building capacity as an ongoing commitment to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion in every action and decision we do.
Status Description

Create a framework for building capacity that includes a common understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • Spring 2021, the Student Affairs Change Team was established. Members represented the units across Student Affairs. The charge was to begin the process of developing the DEI Framework structure and identify key goals to begin building out the structure components.
  • Fall 2021, the SA DEI Council presented a draft rubric for four of the five goals.

Establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Staff Council to assist in building capacity for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • June 2021, the Council was established with representation from a variety of units across the division.
  • The Council utilized the workings of the previous Change Team to continue work on building out the newly established framework, goals, outcomes, and strategies.
  • Fall 2021, the Student Affairs DEI Framework was finalized by the SA DEI Council and presented for approval to the Senior Leadership Team.

Goals, outcomes and strategies guide staff in the fulfillment of building culturally competent members.

  • Fall 2021, the Council placed the framework on the newly renovated Student Affairs DEI website to be used as a resource for all Student Affairs units.
  • Fall 2021, the SA DEI Council will present a draft rubric for goals 1-4 to the Senior Leadership Team.
  • Spring 2022, the SA DEI Council will draft the rubric for goals, outcomes and strategies for Goal 5.

Strengthen the Student Affairs’ equity and inclusion messages in all communications, digital strategies and print materials and ensure visual images, language, and viewpoints convey our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

  • Fall 2021, new websites and content updates are reviewed to implement inclusive language and visual diversity across the site.

Establish a DEI Educational Rubric to provide guidance and resources for progressive learning opportunities to include the components of the framework as a guide.

  • Spring 2021, the Social Justice Action Team provided materials for the establishment of a structured approach to learning.
  • Summer 2022, the SA DEI Council will utilize the materials from the Social Justice Action team to continue to build out the progress for learning for all staff.

Create a Student Affairs DEI website.

  • Spring 2021, the website provides information on activities/events and resources for Student Affair’s units in need of information and guidance in keeping DEI in the forefront of decision making for programs, people, and processes. The website will be updated on a quarterly basis.

Create Student Affairs DEI Moments, an e-newsletter, to be delivered monthly highlighting and celebrating diverse populations and campus/community activities.

  • Fall 2021, Student Affairs DEI Moments distributed on the 2nd Friday of each month, celebrating heritage and history months for diverse populations. It also highlights activities on campus and in the community to learn more about the cultures of the highlighted populations.
Invest in continual learning, education, and training that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion through engagement of staff at all levels.
Status Description

Initiate self-guided forums and small group discussions to assist with better understanding of being a culturally competent community.

  • Spring 2021, Engage, Experience, and Expand Forums were created. There were four forums held.
  • Fall 2021, the series continued with three monthly sessions.
  • Spring 2022, three additional sessions are scheduled.

Provide monthly professional development opportunities focused on examining intrapersonal and interpersonal growth toward being a culturally competent community member.

  • Spring 2021, a series based upon Gallup Q12 Engagement was offered to all staff.
  • Fall 2021, a book discussion group was formed around the reading of “Change Your World: How Anyone, Anywhere, Can Make a Difference” by John C. Maxwell and Rob Hoskins
  • Spring 2022, the Gallup Q12 Engagement series will be repeated.
Increase accountability and transparency efforts to diversity staff working at all levels in Student Affairs.
Status Description

  • Fall 2020, a Recruitment & Retention Action Team was formed to examine current practices and research barriers to hiring and retaining a diverse staff.

    • The team received data on the demographics of the Student Affairs divisional staff.
  • May 2021, the Action Team presented their findings to the senior leadership team and directors.

    • For immediate action, units were asked to perform an audit of inclusive language in all job descriptions to include the elimination of the use of gender-specific pronouns and gender-coded terms.

    Fall 2021, a divisional team was identified to begin the process of establish guidelines based upon the result of the Action Team findings.

    Student Affairs' DEI Council

    Student Affairs values equity, respect, and inclusion. We encourage all staff to participate in virtual reflection spaces, where we can humbly acknowledge and process what has happened and look for ways to challenge and support each other through honest discussions. Our DEI Council represents numerous Student Affairs units and helps lead efforts to foster an inclusive and equitable experience.

    Alex Albers
    Student Affairs Marketing & Communication
    Portrait of Alex Albers
    Abel Covarrubias
    Nebraska College Preparatory Academy
    Portrait of Abel Covarrubias
    Vicki Highstreet
    Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
    Portrait of Vicki Highstreet
    Falesa Ivory-Horton
    Counseling & Psychological Services
    Portrait of Falesa Ivory-Horton
    Mark Joekel
    Campus Recreation
    Portrait of Mark Joekel
    Sue Moore
    Student Advocacy & Support
    Portrait of Sue Moore
    Matt Nelson
    University Housing
    Portrait of Matt Nelson
    Kristine Olson
    University Housing
    Portrait of Kristine Olson
    Jenny Seamans
    Student Affairs Business Operations
    Portrait of Jenny Seamans
    Andy Smriga
    Nebraska Unions
    Portait of Andy Smriga
    Leigh Thiedeman
    Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life
    Portait of Leigh Thiedeman
    Jess Wagner
    Campus Recreation
    Portait of Jess Wagner