Feedback on Action Items
On January 28, 2016 Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Sara announced initial action steps to address diversity, equity and inclusion concerns on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses. The first round of feedback and comments follows.
Feedback Submission 1
1. You may wish to consider whether the KU Ombudsman should have a greater role in the process of reviewing first-level charges of perceived discrimination. Are there some charges that could be resolved to the plaintiff's (and KU's) satisfaction in that way, e.g., an acknowledged miscommunication in the classroom, vs. a more formal and public action that risks undeserved reputational damage? I'm suggesting a procedure where appropriate confrontation leads to reconciliation (if possible), vs. recrimination.
2. This may fall outside the purview of the broader initiative, but universities are often criticized by conservatives as being hostile to faculty of that persuasion, e.g., Xxx Xxxx. "We don't interview, hire, welcome, promote or tenure them, etc." The recent campus protests nationwide have surfaced this charge again. Given that this year's state and federal elections will be bitter and polarized, and since KU is often accused - unfairly, I think - of being hostile to conservatives, you might consider whether this is something you want to address as a diversity, inclusion and climate issue in the context of academic freedom.
Feedback Submission 2
I would first like to applaud the efforts of all of the individuals involved in this process, it is clear that this topic has been taken seriously and that is reassuring. The steps outlined and programs implemented will have a positive impact on our environment here at KU and with an ever increasing interdependence and mingling between cultures, this is definitely a step in the right direction and one that is necessary. That being said, I would also like to call attention to the fact that it is not only the responsibility of those who are in the majority or in positions of power to help foster success; it is also largely the responsibility of those who feel that they are being excluded to help create an environment where they can experience success. This does not only mean calling on those in positions of power when things go awry but also looking inward to see if there are any changes we can make as individuals that will help resolve whatever issue presents itself. I am a minority student at KU in many more ways than one and I have enjoyed my time here immensely. I have had my share of success both academically and otherwise and I do not bring this up to brag, I bring it up to indicate that yes inclusion is absolutely necessary, but just because you're not benefiting from the privileges that those in other positions are enjoying it does not give one an excuse to blame others for being privileged. I strongly believe that, no matter how inclusive the environment, there will always be people who have more opportunities than you and people who have less opportunities than you, there are a lot more factors besides understanding and acceptance that play a role in determining what you get and what you do not. I think this is an important concept that should be kept in mind when moving forward as we continue to strive to create an inclusive environment. Thank you.
Feedback Submission 3
Response directed to Item under Recruitment and retention:
28. Review and develop processes to attract diverse applicant pools in all faculty, staff, and administrative hires. Responsibility: Vice provost for faculty development and associate vice provost for human resource management.
I would like to see aggressive goals established and posted for this. I understand the political benefit for establishing attainable goals, but I am impatient with the very slow progress many institutions of higher education (including KU) have made to provide equality to women. In general, women still earn less than men and are not equitably represented in positions of leadership. More women than men are receiving PhDs, yet the ratio of men to women faculty does not reflect this. I have tired of old white men occupying the majority of leadership positions here (thank you Dr. Gray-Little and Dr. Rosen for being the first to hold such positions here!). In addition, most administration jobs that pay less are filled predominantly by women. That situation reflects women's acquiescence in accepting less pay for equal work across our society as a whole. We need stronger women's programs at the university and the men in leadership/teaching positions should be required to engage in them.
Feedback Submission 4
Perhaps another way to further awareness and training in this media age, would be providing diversity related TED talks on the appropriate website?
Perhaps such could be a joint initiative with IOA, ADA, Nate (Thomas)’s Office and Student Affairs?
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Feedback Submission 5
I think this is a very solid and thorough plan and am very grateful for Dr. Rosen's clear commitment to actively creating change on this campus. If I could tweak one thing, it would be to move the CAPS hiring goal from the 2016-2017 academic year to this spring. CAPS has been under served my entire undergraduate career here at KU, and it would benefit all students to increase hiring as soon as possible. Hearing the experiences of my peers at the November town hall meeting shows that students facing discrimination and harassment clearly have higher levels of anxiety as a result and require a resource to deal with these effects. (Editors note: Three staff positions for CAPS - a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a clinical social worker - were posted on the KU Jobs site in March.)
Feedback Submission 6
The Provost's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group fails to include Native American faculty or staff. The only Native person on that Advisory Group is an undergraduate student. That is a lot of pressure to put on a student. How can this Advisory Group adequately address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion across the university without adequate representation of the groups it purports to represent? Further, the numbers of Native faculty, staff, and students are so small that we are rendered "statistically insignificant." How will that affect the outcome of the climate survey? Did the company designing the survey take that into consideration? These are the "omissions" and "barriers" I see affecting the implementation of the Diversity and Inclusion Action Steps, and more generally, implementing change for the better across the University of Kansas.
Feedback Submission 7
Stop considering, planning, and evaluating the situation. Start Doing.
There are long-standing inequities - that is not something that we have to determine. Why do you need a year to gather and analyze data from a Climate Study - we know there are serious problems. Change the way things are done.
Expand, hire, fund, create seed money....COMMIT RESOURCES. That is the first step to changing the culture here at KU.
The Strategic Initiatives have been in place for years now. Nothing has changed. We are not retaining students, retaining student of color...where are the results?
What is being done is obviously not enough. Provide real student support, support real faculty hiring, fund cluster hires, change admission procedures and fund more financial aid packages, and then provide resources when the students come.
Provide REAL accountability and grievance procedures - not the pseudo-procedures we have in place for sexual assault.
Feedback Submission 8
Please explore advising. I hate to see students who have not been connected with the proper resources left behind because an advisor who is incompetent. I think it's necessary to have students who come from cultural backgrounds to have a resource that will help support their extremely emotional yet mentally challenging journey as a college student. I know it's almost impossible to create a culturally compete advisor for every program but do realize that students do need the right services, this will help slow retention rates.
Feedback Submission 9
I'm not sure international students/programs are represented as well as they could be.
Feedback Submission 10
Feedback is denoted with an asterisk (*).
RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION
23. Assistant vice provost and director of first year experience and the vice provost of diversity and equity established a workgroup to increase retention rates for first-generation, low-income and students of color.
*It would be useful to see action steps for the recruitment and retention of graduate students, many of which could also be first-generation college students, low income, and students of color.
29. Implement comprehensive set of strategies and tactics designed to attract an academically qualified, diverse applicant and admit pool. Responsibility: Vice provost for enrollment management and director of admissions.
*We also need to diversify graduate programs -- especially doctoral programs -- if we're going to address the pipeline issue of not having enough faculty of color. Individual schools/College and Graduate Studies should be involved with developing strategies to attract a more diverse graduate applicant pool.