Equity and Inclusion update from Erin Lain
Dear faculty, staff, and students,
This newsletter marks the first of what is to become a quarterly communication. We want the Equity and Inclusion campus newsletter to become a regular way of highlighting the various equity and inclusion initiatives across campus. This idea came out of a series of conversations that took place with a group of students, faculty, and staff after the murder of George Floyd about how we can lean more into equity and inclusion work on campus. Through these conversations, we talked about how a lot of work is being done, but our silos sometimes get in the way of sharing about our progress. This newsletter is one tool for publicizing what might otherwise remain in those silos.
There are three initiatives I’d like to highlight that we have been working on in the Office of Equity and Inclusion, including the mentorship program for CORE scholars, the faculty committee on invisible workload, and the overhaul of university equity and inclusion policies. These three initiatives exemplify the many projects our office has going to help the institution deliver on its equity and inclusion commitment. I hope you enjoy reading about the various programing and projects happening around Drake and reach out with ideas, initiatives, and accomplishments of your own. We in the Office of Equity and Inclusion would especially encourage you to get involved by attending the upcoming town hall at which we will present the results of the 2019 climate assessment, and by participating in the small group discussions that follow.
CORE Scholars Mentor Program. The CORE scholars program supports area high school students of color to prepare them for college. High School students who participate in the program are automatically admitted to Drake and receive a scholarship. This year, we implemented a new mentor component to the program, where 18 current Drake students are engaging the high schoolers in everything from how to apply for student loans to how to pick a major. This program has been an opportunity to encourage area high school students of color to consider Drake and it provides a way for our current Drake students to engage in the Des Moines community.
Faculty Committee on Invisible Workload. The climate assessment results from 2015 highlighted issues of invisible workload for many faculty and staff from marginalized identities. As a result, the Provost has called together a taskforce of faculty representatives from around campus to come up with best practices for evaluating invisible workload and bias in teaching evaluations. This committee, which I co-lead with Tonia Land, will seek to help departments revamp their T&P policies to navigate these two issues that impeded equity and inclusion.
Overhaul of University Equity and Inclusion Policies. The Office of Equity and Inclusion along with the Title IX office has compiled all of the diversity, equity, and inclusion policies into a handbook. We are currently in the process of overhauling them to be in line with current state and federal law, best practices in higher education, and our institutional commitments. The students who came up with a list of ideas surrounding equity and inclusion in the wake of the murder of George Floyd encouraged the institution to look at these policies and practices. This work will help our campus to be prepared to respond quickly and effectively to issues that work against our commitment to equity and inclusion.
Associate Provost, Campus Equity & Inclusion/Associate Professor of Law