Follow-up to June 11 Message: Action Steps

By Daniel DiPrinzio | June 26, 2020
Dear Community,

Last week, we developed action steps to support, protect, and improve the Arcadia experience for our Black community members. I want to thank the many community members engaged in a series of discussions as a community of practice, composed of students, alumni, faculty, staff, Student Government Organization representatives, and administrators (including Faculty Senate and Staff Council). We came together to discuss academics; policies and procedures; campus climate and culture; training, learning, and development; justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI); and local, national, and global impact opportunities.

Based on your feedback, the initiatives below represent an updated draft of the action steps I sent to the community on June 11. The community brought forth areas of need that we must address as we move forward. As we continue to develop action items, we must also develop accountability measures, timelines, and workflow plans. With community input, I hope to share my thinking about how best to move these projects forward expeditiously to effect systemic change at Arcadia.

Domain #1: Academics
Explore how diversity, with a specific focus on race and ethnicity, can be further advanced and infused in the academic life and educational and scholarly structure of the institution.

Establish a Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity:
○ Explore ways to integrate and infuse diversity into the curriculum, with a specific focus on race and ethnicity.
○ Enhance our core curriculum to include studies of Justice and Pluralism as an academic requirement for the entire undergraduate population.
○ Build academic programming to study the historical, political, social, and cultural realities of America’s diverse ethnic populations, including regular course offerings, and possibly a minor or major.
○ Work with key stakeholders to examine the socio-political and economic contexts of sexual, racial, and other forms of violence to promote a public health agenda for the University.
○ Develop an “open course” (non-credit) in the fall semester, explicitly focused on race in America.
○ Diversify recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, students, and trustees, including efforts to explore faculty fellowship lines in departments lacking diversity.
○ Support the Office of Social Impact and Innovation and the Open Expression Committee to foster community-wide engagement in new ways of knowing and understanding related to race and ethnicity.

Domain #2: Local, National, and Global Social Impact
Pursue our work around social impact and innovation acknowledging that issues of race and conflict are present in local, national, and global contexts, and that there exists a deep interdependence and interconnectedness at every level.
● Resource the Office of Social Impact and Innovation (SI2), which was launched in fall 2019, to support and develop students as change agents who seek positive transformation locally and around the world.
● Through SI2, work closely with key stakeholders, including student leaders and the inaugural cohort of Civic Scholars, to advance our work in the following areas:
○ Combating white supremacy and police brutality;
○ Combating local, national, and global violence perpetrated against the Black community;
○ Supporting advocacy work to end systemic racism and violence, including community organizing, protest/dissent, electoral engagement, and legislative and policy changes.

Domain #3: Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI)
Reform systemic policies, procedures, and practices that hamper our progress in enabling Arcadia’s commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Implement ways to educate the community around JEDI issues, and better organize support for our Black student community.
● Through a new task force, recommend ways to improve institutional support for Black students, including academic advising, career education and advising, with emphasis on those in STEM fields.
● Start a series of new prevention and education efforts over the course of the next academic year via the Office of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Education, which is supported by a grant from the Department of Justice.
● Continue efforts to diversify the Board of Trustees membership, and build their cultural competency to more effectively lead.
● Develop a senior-level position focused on local, national, and global issues of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, civic engagement, and learning.
● The work from the Presidential JEDI Commission, formed in fall 2019, will inform and provide recommendations to restructure the Commission this fall 2020. The JEDI Commission 2.0 will be more expansive in terms of membership; expand the charge to address the contemporaneous needs of our community; share ideas on how to foster a community of practice and cultural humility; and provide leadership and accountability for the initiatives described in this document.

Domain #4: Policies, Procedures, and Systems
Carefully scrutinize the University’s policies, procedures, and systems in place to ensure they support and advance our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
● Examine policies that may be a root cause of discrimination and racism.
● Change the procedural structure to centralize reporting of discrimination, harassment, and bias incidents.
○ Ensure that reports are addressed immediately, build meaningful sanctions to address incidents, and communicate rights and outcomes with those impacted.
○ Explore an Ombudsman role to enhance reporting and intervention.
○ Review and revise as needed the University’s Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy.
● Explore implementation of an “honor code” for students to review and sign to be a student leader or member of an athletic team.
● Develop an Advisory Group to include students and alumni that will be charged to review and update policies related to bias, anti-racism, and sexual assault and harassment.
● Address policies and procedures of evaluations, tenure, promotion, hiring of staff and faculty, including adjuncts.
● Identify resources to promote a research agenda to drive data-informed work to improve the experience of the Black community and other marginalized community members at Arcadia.
● Join more than 1,100 universities and colleges nationwide for a standardized-test optional admissions policy beginning with current high school juniors applying for the fall 2021 semester.

Domain #5: Training, Learning, and Development
Organize training, professional development, and educational programming for all community members on relevant topics, emphasizing racism, and anti-racist action.
● Include new educational opportunities for students during New Student Orientation about anti-racism, sexual assault prevention, and sexual harassment prevention, both in-person and online.
● Develop peer educator initiatives.
● Improve practices related to hiring and retention, leadership development, support, compensation, tied to promotion and tenure.
● Launch and expand a community of practice and action for faculty, staff, and Trustees that explores individual identity, white privilege, and systemic racism through education, mentorship, and modeling behavior.
● Develop and launch an Inclusive Pedagogy Framework through the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring (CTLM).
● Seek greater participation by minority-owned businesses for career fairs.
● Provide a digital resource hub and inventory of all existing programs and services.
● Enhance diversity programs, lectures, forums, and events on race and anti-black racism.

Domain #6: Campus Climate and Culture
Identify ways to improve the campus’ climate and culture that ensure a supportive, respectful, and welcoming place where all persons feel they belong and where they can succeed.
● Support the Black Alumni Association at Arcadia University (BAAAU):
○ Routine meetings between Executive Leadership of the University and the Black Alumni Association.
○ Create a stronger pipeline for prospective, undergraduate, and graduate students and alumni.
○ Develop an institutionally supported coalition for undergraduate affinity groups.
○ Provide a graduate/senior assistant for BAAAU.
● Create a residential living and learning space that lets students explore their multiple identities and affinities by spring 2021. Explore additional affinity- and theme-based housing communities for students.
● Explore staffing and other resource needs for Counseling Services to meet the diverse needs of our community better. More immediately, conduct a search next academic year for a position in the Counseling Center to support Black students and students of color.
● Strengthen the system of shared governance by the end of the 2020-21 academic year that fully includes alumni and student voices.
● Substantially increase the racial diversity of Arcadia Student Ambassadors to reflect the diversity of our student body beginning fall 2020.
● Create structures for underrepresented faculty and staff.
● Enhance support for student organizations dedicated to communities of color through amplified budget options, focused leadership training, and structured connections to supporting offices.
● Identify opportunities in existing student-serving units to designate positions for outreach and support of students of color.
● Review national, local, and competitor data on salaries to identify how better to attract and retain Black faculty and staff members.
● Enhance employment exit interviews through HR to review climate for faculty and staff, especially underrepresented faculty and staff, and utilize that information to address systemic issues.
● Develop a Strategic Employer Relations Plan.
● Develop more inclusive branding for the University.
● Take measures to better reflect our diverse community in development and alumni relations roles and functions.

We have a great deal of work ahead of us, but with your involvement, our community of practice will set the course.

Best wishes,

Ajay Nair
Arcadia University