The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity recently announced its intention to create a new Student Equity and Diversity Council, which will bring student perspectives to the office’s efforts to advance its institutional mission, wrote Shontay Delalue, vice president of institutional equity and diversity, in a community-wide email Oct. 16. The student council’s undergraduate, graduate and medical student representatives will work with the OIED’s Administrative Equity and Diversity Council to form the inaugural Steering Committee for Equity and Diversity.
The SEDC will “keep the VP (of the OIED) abreast of the student experience … around equity and diversity,” Delalue told The Herald. “It would also be a chance for the office to vet new initiatives through a representative body.”
A variety of student groups and identity centers — such as the Undergraduate Council of Students, Graduate Student Council, Medical Student Senate and the Brown Center for Students of Color — nominated individuals to sit on the new council, Delalue said. Student nominees had to demonstrate “a dedication to equity and diversity and a willingness to be open-minded and to share ideas,” she added.
Representation on the council from the undergraduate, graduate and medical student bodies will be relatively proportional to their respective student populations, Delalue said. The council’s first meeting is scheduled for this November, she added.
While University adminstrators have been informally meeting on a monthly basis to discuss diversity and equity on campus, Delalue said she sought to formalize these conversations through the creation of the AEDC. The administrative council, which consists of eight members from various schools and divisions within the University, held its first official meeting in March, she added.
Ultimately, the administrative council meetings have given University faculty and staff an opportunity to “discuss diversity work within their units,” said Jennifer Hunter, a council member and the associate director of athletics for diversity and inclusion initiatives.
In addition, the OIED will pool student and administrative perspectives through the creation of the Steering Committee for Equity and Diversity, which will consist of members from the SEDC and AEDC.
“The Steering Committee is important in that it creates an additional structure to promote the continued prioritization of equity and diversity work on campus” by encouraging “collaboration and information sharing regarding successes and areas for improvement,” wrote Erin DeBobes, assistant vice president for institutional equity and diversity, in an email to The Herald.
As one of its responsibilities, the Steering Committee will take on the work of the Title IX Oversight and Advisory Board, which was dissolved during the summer. The Steering Committee will update the goals of the Title IX Oversight and Advisory Board by allowing the community to consider Title IX concurrently with equity and other issues affecting students’ senses of belonging on campus, Delalue said.
With its ability to oversee the University’s handling of issues such as race and disability, the Steering Committee will possess a more holistic function than the former Title IX Oversight and Advisory Board. Citing the Title IX Oversight and Advisory Board’s June 2016 report, Delalue added that board members felt their “charge was too limited.”
Prior to joining the Steering Committee, student representatives sitting on the SEDC will be interviewed by Title IX administrative coordinators to prove their understanding of Title IX policy, Delalue said.