In recent months, the ACUI Board of Trustees has carefully reviewed the Diversity and Inclusion Self-Assessment Working Group report and taken action related to many of the group’s findings. The working group had used the Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks for Organizations to assess ACUI’s commitments and initiatives across 14 categories from vision to research to customer service to supplier diversity. Among the 51 recommendations, many are already being implemented, such as analyzing demographic data about members, aggregating branding guidelines supporting inclusion, and involving volunteers in the hiring processes for key staff.
Many of the working group’s recommendations focused on changes to the Association’s structures supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Council for Diversity and Inclusion, an advisory group that has been in place for three years, concluded its work in September. From there, the Board of Trustees is managing the direction of ACUI’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, adding a board committee parallel to its existing ones for finance, governance, and strategic oversight. The Board of Trustees also approved a new supplier diversity policy for the Association and is working on a social responsibility policy.
In the Central Office, Elizabeth Beltramini will continue to serve as the Association’s senior diversity professional, and a new position, “diversity, equity, and inclusion program manager,” has been created to expand staffing of this area and direct some of ACUI’s student programs. Two volunteers are serving on the review team for that new hire.
To better address member education in the Association’s revised core competency of Social Justice, the board created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program Team. From an open call for applications, Coretta King, Northwestern University, and Keith Kowalka, University of Houston, were appointed to co-lead the program team. As part of their responsibilities, King and Kowalka will also serve on the Association’s Leadership Team, alongside regional directors, Education Council members, and other program team leaders. Applications to serve on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program Team will be available in September.
Also, related to education and recommendations from the working group, next month, members can participate in new online learning offerings. A new badge course will focus on creating inclusive spaces on campus, with modules featuring universal design, cultural traditions, policies and practices, and considerations for specific identities. At the end of October, the first of a webinar series focused on international student affairs will be delivered in partnership with ACPA: College Student Educators International and the International Association of Student Affairs and Services. Topics in the coming months will include how campuses around the world are addressing mental health, the role of student leaders, sustainability, free speech, gender, and race and equity.
The Board of Trustees has decided that the communities of practice structures will remain the same, and all communities are elevating their offerings courtesy of more user-friendly technology on the ACUI website. Additionally, the LGBTQ+ Community of Practice is planning to launch a Safe Zone training program online, and the Women’s Leadership Community of Practice will again have a preconference program at the 2020 Annual Conference. The Community of Practice for Multi-Ethnic Professionals and Allies will hold its preconference program at Spelman College, and during the conference, tours of Spelman and other historically black colleges and universities will be offered as well as a day celebrating HBCUs. Community leaders and regional directors also have been discussing opportunities to address community needs within regions, so some regional conferences will have heightened community engagement this year.
Also at the regional level, inclusivity coordinators will be implementing initiatives to support newcomers and solo attendees of regional conferences. They also have committed to ensuring land acknowledgements and reflection opportunities are incorporated in regional conferences this year. Many are also creating awards to recognize excellence in diversity, equity, and inclusion practice, and the inclusivity coordinators have been discussing how to better understand neurodiversity, obesity bias, and addiction recovery, among other topics.
Other volunteers and staff have benefitted from sessions on representation of marginalized identities in higher education administration, unconscious bias, cultural competence, privilege, and microaggressions as part of recent retreats and meetings. The board is committed to continuing these conversations and allocating associated funds as part of the Association’s 2020 fiscal year budget.