The Inclusion and Diversity Task Force was created to ensure that Austin College continues to nurture, celebrate, and support differences in race, sex, ethnicity, class, religion, sexual orientation, abilities, and gender identity. The Task Force brought together a variety of stakeholders and provided summaries and recommendations to share with the campus community. In Fall 2017, the Task Force was organized as the President’s Inclusion & Diversity Committee.
The College adopted mandatory employee training so anyone working on campus would understand Title IX expectations about anti-discrimination, harassment, misconduct, reporting processes, and how to receive support. The training, required of all new employees, continues bi-annually for all staff and faculty to learn the latest and best practices in this evolving field.
The President’s Committee on Inclusion and Diversity was formalized to work with President Steven O’Day to make recommendations that meaningfully strengthen an inclusive, diverse culture in all aspects of curriculum and campus life. The Committee evolved from the Inclusion and Diversity Task Force, established in 2016.
Reviewed, revised, and updated the College’s existing Title IX policy. Because of this work, responsibilities were reorganized, and staff was increased by adding and filling a Title IX Deputy Coordinator/Compliance Officer position. Policies and operational guides across campus were reviewed and updated, along with extensive training of faculty, coaches, staff, new hires, and students.
Continued efforts to intentionally diversify hiring practices to positively impact the diversity among staff and faculty. Over the past decades, faculty diversity has increased in people of color, immigrants to the U.S., LGBTQ+ community members, people with disabilities, and those who were first-generation college students.
The Compass Curriculum requires students to complete at least one course each in Global Diversity and in Systems of Power, Privilege, and Inequality. These requirements are met in a variety of courses taught across disciplines. This was an early recommendation of the 2016 Inclusion and Diversity Task Force that was subsequently researched, vetted, and adopted by faculty.
Campus orientation programming included new, first-year cohort groups for people of color, first-generation college students, and queer students. Engaging new students with current students, faculty and staff from the same cohort encourages community and gives new students folks to contact as needed.
Board of Trustees made a renewed commitment to diversify the Board membership with intentional nominations and approvals to positively impact the diversity among Board members.
Embraced the latest Title IX policies from the U.S. Department of Education by training the Austin College Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator/Compliance Officer and extending training to all employees. This “next level” training moves beyond simple orientation to include web videos, sports team interactive sessions, and workshops. The campus community has easy access to instructions on how to effectively move through the Title IX process.
Staff members were reorganized to form a new division, Institutional Marketing & Communications (IMC), to oversee, analyze, and coordinate all marketing and communication materials. This division strategically consults students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the marketplace to ensure consistency in brand and messaging with particular attention to inclusion and diversity in internal and external communications.
Alumni Board renewed its commitment to diversify the Board membership with intentional nominations and approvals to positively impact the diversity among board members.
The role of the Student Success and Transitions Director is to work with campus resources, such as Health Services, Residential Life, and the Academic Skills Center, to develop individualized assistance for any student in need of support. It is especially meaningful to underrepresented populations and first-generation students who are struggling academically, socially, or with their overall health and well-being.
The Academic Affairs Committee researched and developed policies consistent with non-discrimination laws to promote the goal of increasing the representation of underrepresented groups among the faculty. These guidelines include a hiring-for-diversity checklist for faculty searches and information about barriers to faculty diversity. Parts of the checklist were rolled out in fall 2020. All faculty searches will be required to follow all of the guidelines starting in fall 2021.
Work has begun to incorporate the newest Fifth Circuit case law and federal government EEOC expectations and guidance by reviewing and updating our anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. These updates include clear ways to report a problem, well-defined expectations of the process, helpful explanations of available support, and a transparent resolution process for discrimination and harassment complaints.
The Johnson Center will sponsor voluntary Learning Communities to study anti-racist allyship beginning Spring Term 2021 and continuing through the summer using relevant materials, such as So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.
Along with continuing unique cohort groups for new students to building community within, the new programming will include resources and support regarding how to recognize and report discrimination, harassment, and misconduct.