L’shana tova—Happy New Year—to Jewish members of our community! A reminder to all of us that the second of the High Holy Days, Yom Kippur, will be observed this week beginning the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 4. Later this month, Hindu, Jain, and Sikh members of our community will celebrate Diwali, an annual festival of lights celebrating the spiritual victory of good over evil. Happy Diwali!
We have so much religious diversity on our campus, which means so many ways for all of us to expand our learning and grow our attention to inclusion. I encourage you to check out Drake’s very own The Comparison Project for such wonderful opportunities to connect with each other and with diverse communities in Iowa!
Also, October is National Disability Employment Awareness month. The 2022 theme is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” I’m mindful we continue to have work to do to ensure disability and access are an increasingly visible and strong part of the equity equation at Drake (that “we” includes me!).
The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement right here at Drake University is a national and international leader in advocating to strengthen rights and increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. I encourage you to participate in the fantastic programming Harkin brings to campus and explore the many opportunities they create for students. Learn more on their important work on this topic on the Institute's website.
Last year, Jazlin Coley, director of Equity and Inclusion, developed a training module to support our entire campus in growing our shared understanding of disability and accessibility. And, for those of us teaching (in person and online), Stanford Law School has developed a resource hub that includes checklists we can draw from to ensure we are developing inclusive course materials.
In May 2022, Deputy Provost Renée Cramer hosted three days of pedagogical workshops, with half of the time devoted to helping faculty learn how to make course design and materials more universally accessible through digital teaching platforms like Blackboard Ultra. Drake’s Center for Teaching Excellence can offer referrals and assistance to faculty interested in learning more.
There are a lot of other noteworthy things happening in the Office of Equity and Inclusion. Twenty-two Drake students, staff, and faculty recently concluded a three-day in-person training with the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI). The Identity-Based Labor Task Force is launching a third year of work. And Jazlin and I continue to be involved as part of the team working to strengthen the connections and relationships among first year students through a week of facilitated “community conversations” as part of the BLUEprint for success course.
You’ll be hearing more! I hope you’ll stay tuned and plugged in . . .