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UCS votes to create University community engagement committee, discusses DIAP Phase II

AVP Ryan Davis presents on DIAP’s next steps, introduces DIAP student ambassador program for the fall

Ryan Davis, associate vice president for institutional equity and diversity, discussed Phase II of the Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan at the Undergraduate Council of Students’ virtual general body meeting Wednesday.

The Council also voted to create a new University committee dedicated to addressing Brown’s impact on the wider Providence community and advocating for policies that would further engage the University with Providence.  

“A lot of the work and most of the policy changes that Brown does directly impact the Providence community,” said Chief of Staff Melissa Lee ’20.

The proposed Brown University Community Engagement Council, to be composed of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, administrators and staff members, would “review current large scale activity of the university and advocate for ways that Brown could be more supportive/accountable to the wider Providence community,” according to the Council’s document outlining the scope of the new committee. Examples of the BUCEC’s responsibilities might include reviewing the University’s donation history to the Providence Public School District and examining how Brown supports student community engagement.

The University hired Davis to fill the newly-created position in January following the departure in August of the former Director of University Inclusion Programs Lynn Hernández, The Herald previously reported.

“I’m co-leading this effort in terms of Phase II of the plan to really understand the extent to which the original plan has been affected,” Davis said. DIAP was created in 2016 with “the expectation that, as time goes by and we learn from experience, more actions will be needed,” according to the plan.

“There aren’t many universities around the country where every department has a DIAP plan,” Davis said, noting Brown’s leadership among American universities in diversity-related policies. Still, he added, “I noticed a couple of gaps we needed to fill.”

As the second phase of the DIAP commences, Davis has begun efforts to distribute a survey to department heads to ask “what decisions does each department make related to the things we care about at universities,” he said, noting the need to identify how elements of the DIAP have been implemented at a departmental level thus far.

Currently, Davis is leading the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity in developing individual diversity rubrics for each University department. “We’ll have departments complete a self-assessment checklist to assess if they’re doing these things and, if they aren’t doing these things, why (not)," he said.

The survey and assessment process will occur over the summer, with a report summarizing the plan’s findings to be released in the fall. Additionally, Davis will hold a virtual forum on Phase II open to the student body at the end of April, with details to follow in a Today@Brown announcement.

A DIAP student ambassador program to begin in the fall is also being established for “students who want to be engaged in the process, have a voice, and have input,” Davis said. Ambassadors will undergo an extensive training program to enable them to effectively voice student concerns in DIAP-related matters.

Chair of Student Wellness Shivani Nishar ’20 asked Davis if there were accountability measures established in the second phase of the DIAP. In response, he said that “serious weight (will be) given to all perspectives when making an informed decision about things.”


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