In his remarks to the University Senate Meeting, held virtually, Chancellor Kent Syverud addressed the University’s COVID response, plans for the Spring Semester and progress on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. He also provided updates on enrollment, the University budget and…
University Updates Campus Community on Status of Several Diversity and Inclusion Recommendations
The University continues to implement new initiatives and policies as developed from the recommendations of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion (CWDI) to create a more diverse and inclusive campus.
Members of the Universitywide Council on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), which developed out of one of the CWDI’s recommendations, note several points of progress. The council gathers on a regular basis, with its latest meeting on April 26.
“As a campus community, we must and will do better in order to have a diverse and inclusive campus. These initiatives will make a difference as we seek to create a more welcoming environment for all,” says council co-chair Diane R. Wiener, director of the Disability Cultural Center. “We as a community of students, faculty, staff, alumni and city residents—among many others—must continue to work together, purposefully foregrounding often marginalized perspectives, as we seek to raise awareness and encourage each other in this deliberate, ongoing and vital process. An important aspect of the work has been community dialogue surrounding issues of diversity and inclusion, such as at the April 25 Campus Conversation at Hendricks Chapel.”
The latest short-term recommendations that have been completed are the following:
- Free group tutoring was established in fall 2017. One-on-one tutoring is under review as part of the Office of Academic Integrity’s strategic planning process. This follows the recommendation to offer free tutoring for all undergraduates across campus to address inequities and to support and retain undergraduates from marginalized and underrepresented groups.
- Beginning in the fall semester, new students will participate in a shared academic experience to explore together themes of diversity, inclusion and belonging. The University will launch the Syracuse Reads Program, a shared reading program coordinated by the Provost’s Office. The book selected for the 2018-19 academic year is “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood,” a memoir by Trevor Noah, South African comedian and host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” Noah, who was born in South Africa to a black South African mother and a white European father, recounts his childhood growing up during the last days of apartheid and the opportunities and adventures with his mother in the period that followed. All first-year and transfer students will receive a copy of the book and then discuss the book and work on a common assignment in first-year writing courses in the College of Arts and Sciences. They will also have further conversations surrounding the book in peer-led discussion groups. The program was part of a recommendation to improve new student orientation to deepen understandings and forge relationships across racial, ethnic, religious and other lines.
The latest on the long-term recommendations that have been completed or are soon to be complete are the following:
- By June 30, 2018, an interim chief diversity officer (CDO) will be appointed. A search will be underway for a CDO, who will report directly to the Chancellor and will be a member of the Chancellor’s Executive Team. The CDO will provide executive leadership, oversight and vision in the administration of a range of services, programs, policies and procedures related to advancing the institution’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
- Faculty and staff development programs on issues of race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, sexual harassment and religion are being created. Opportunities for such development include the recruitment process, enhanced onboarding and orientation, workshops, and campus conferences.
- Effective Jan. 1, 2018, Syracuse University began providing paid family leave to all staff and eligible students in accordance with the New York State Paid Family Leave (NYPFL) Act. New benefits are available with the passage of the NYPFL law, providing paid leave for eligible staff members to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition or prepare for a family member’s call to active military service.
- A campuswide audit of physical barriers to access was completed in December 2017, and a Physical Access Plan is in development. The Physical Access Plan will provide a roadmap for the elimination of barriers to access across campus. Additionally, Universal Design principles will be incorporated as part of all new construction and major renovations.
“Through these projects and initiatives, the University is taking steps toward a more inclusive, accessible campus,” says council co-chair Barry L. Wells, special assistant to the Chancellor. “The recommendations have provided a benchmark, a starting point, but the University community must give higher prioritization to implementing meaningful and systematic changes that will benefit all members of our campus.”
Established in fall 2015, the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion developed the wide-ranging recommendations aimed at creating a more welcoming, respectful campus climate. A critical part of advancing the recommendations, the Council on Diversity and Inclusion serves as the primary advisory committee to Chancellor Kent Syverud on matters of diversity and inclusion and also serves as a resource to academic and administrative units.
To learn more about the University’s efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion, please visit http://diversity.syr.edu.