Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
It's Time to ActDiversity, Equity & Inclusion
In June 2020, Student Affairs leaders made a commitment to take 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.
View the 'Time to Act' communication from June 2020
Our Calls to Action
Engage in self-guided forums and small group discussions to assist us in better understanding racism and the experiences of Black lives on this campus.
Lesley Esters facilitated racial justice discussions over the course of four weeks in July 2020. Topics covered included:
- Systemic Racism, Racial Injustice, Privilege
- Allyship, Intersectionality, Self-Care
- Black Student Experiences at PWIs
- America’s Broken Social Contract with Black People
Discussions groups will continue in Spring 2021, facilitated by Vicki Highstreet, who has accepted an interim role as our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) special projects manager.
Identify and engage a student advisory board on inclusivity to ensure we hear from and are responsive to Black students and other marginalized student populations, to establish how we can more effectively serve students, and to identify tangible outcomes.
The student advisory board was organized in August and met every two weeks throughout the Fall 2020 semester. Students were nominated by Student Affairs' directors, and seven of those students participated on a regular basis. They identified the following action items for Spring 2021:
- Identifying and implementing a required student training program on diversity, inclusion and equity
- Working with ASUN to explore required inclusion course to university curriculum
- Collaborating with Student Affairs staff and marketing services to strengthen the Student Affairs’ equity and inclusion messages in all communications, digital strategies and print materials and ensure that visual images, language and viewpoints convey our commitment to diversity and inclusion
- Ensuring student representation in a proposed Bias Incident Reporting committee
Establish content standards that can be applied to professional development programs and student-centered learning exercises to address key topics such as privilege, systemic prejudice, implicit bias, deficit thinking, etc., and to ensure all are welcomed and included on campus.
A cross-functional team, led by Dustin Rollins, Vanessa Vaught and Jess Wagner, worked throughout the fall to review social and racial justice professional development content standards and how we might thread them into our staff development and training. The team is preparing to launch a brief survey to internal UNL student affairs departments to better understand what is being offered as well as any expectations or standards our units offer in this area. The team also is gathering information from our peer institutions to as a benchmarking strategy. Finally, taking a curricular development approach, the team is beginning to identify learning outcomes to recommend for adoption by the UNL SA senior team. Once the benchmarking has been completed, the curricular development group will continue developing recommendations for training, standards, and evaluation around social and racial justice.
Require social justice and inclusion training as part of the annual performance review process for all Student Affairs staff.
Social justice and inclusion training have been combined with efforts of the work group focused on content standards and training.
Increase accountability and transparency efforts to diversify staff working at all levels in Student Affairs (identify a baseline, set target goals, and assess metrics on an annual basis).
The staff diversity team, led by Jenny Seamans and Allen Vaughan, has identified four areas that need to be sufficiently examined and possibly reimagined:
- Recruitment, from the job description to recruitment to the selection process
- Pre-boarding, from the point of contingent offer to starting the job
- Retention. The goal is to identify how we can recruit and retain a more diverse staff, which includes engagement and inclusivity throughout the entire process.
The team has immersed themselves in research on the hunt for best practices, both internally and externally, and have familiarized themselves with UNL’s current practices. They also will soon distribute a survey to all Student Affairs hiring managers and those who have served on search committees to gather feedback on the processes and experiences in creating a diverse candidate pool and staff. When their work is finished, they will provide a final report with recommendations.
Audit current policies, practices and structural decision-making processes to ensure they promote and provide equitable access to Black students and staff.
After initial research, the Policies, Practices, and Processes Audit team, led by Josh Overocker and Kat Grier, has developed an audit tool designed to review the inclusiveness of policies, practices, and decision-making processes across the division and at different scales, ranging from a whole department to a single process. The tool includes four themes: Inclusivity, Accessibility, Cultural Sensitivity, and Financial Barriers, each with a variety of questions for departments, programs, or units to consider. The team is piloting the audit in December 2020, and will put forth final recommendations and strategies by the end of January 2021.
Be Part of Our Efforts
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. Those staff members interested in serving on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) committees should contact our committee leads.