Steps Towards a More Inclusive Lawrence
Lawrence has always been dedicated to the issues of diversity and inclusion. Given the current national political climate and trends in campus culture across the country, Lawrentians are thinking about the future and issues of inclusivity now more than ever. Lawrence is committed to supporting a student body with diverse backgrounds and is working to distinguishing itself as an institution of inclusive excellence. To better serve the needs of students and create a supportive work environment, Lawrence University has taken significant steps in increasing its commitment to “fostering a diverse and welcoming learning community that embraces all members, including those marginalized by aspects of their identities”. Examples of visible steps that Lawrence University has taken to foster diversity include the introduction of new faculty and staff in diversity related positions, new courses on issues related to diversity, opportunities for personal and professional development and updates to university technology and procedures.
The start of the 2016-17 Fall term brought a wave of new leadership in the areas of diversity and inclusion. New positions authorized by the university include: Kimberly Barrett as Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Dean of the Faculty, Linda Morgan-Clement as Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life, Kimberly Jones as Title IX Coordinator, Chris Vue as Diversity Center Coordinator, and Monita Mohammadian Gray as Dean of Academic Success. Several faculty members have also contributed to these efforts. Through a grant from the Mellon Foundation and the work of the President’s Committee on Diversity Affairs, Lawrence has developed, implemented and offered training in a process for actively recruiting strong, diverse applicant pools for faculty positions. Due to another grant from the Mellon Foundation, the Pedagogy Taskforce continues to actively search for ways to diversify curriculum and support all faculty in adopting pedagogical methods suitable for a diverse student population. Additionally, students saw two new courses pertaining to Native American identity, history and culture, a new course in Latin@ Studies taught in English, and a new faculty member, the first fully dedicated to Ethnic Studies, at the start of the 2016-17 academic year. These opportunities enhance the student experience by encouraging interdisciplinary thinking and exposing students to real world challenges and concepts.
In January of 2016 Lawrence invited the consulting firm InciteChange! to provide training to students, faculty and staff by engaging them in conversations relating to cultural competency and social justice. More than 120 individuals participated in these workshops designed to help Lawrence obtain the tools necessary to strive towards becoming a more inclusive community. Additionally, in March of 2016 Lawrence entered into a yearlong partnership with Sustained Dialogue, an organization that helps build institutional culture around inclusive leadership, facilitation and conflict management. Training continued into the fall when Dr. Placida Gallegos of Jones and Associates led a Diversity and Inclusion Workshop at the Fall 2016 Meeting of the Board of Trustees. These trainings and workshops enable students, faculty, and staff and alumni to more cohesively work together to address relevant social problems.
One such concern brought forth by students involved the ability to update one’s preferred name and pronouns in the Voyager system. Students are now able to control, where legally possible, the name that appears on their academic records and student ID’s. New students are able to input their preferred name to help in generating email addresses, and questions regarding gender neutral housing have been added to the new student housing questionnaire. These important steps are key to supporting students and recognizing identity. Other procedural changes include the launching of
the online bias incident report. This form is meant to serve as an educational tool to help Lawrence better identify and monitor incidents of bias on campus, and to provide a means of discussing and working through incidents.
Lawrence is dedicated to supporting students and continuing to foster an inclusive environment where all can thrive. The primary way of achieving this is through authentic dialogue across our differences and recognizing the need for continuous improvement. In encouraging dialogue we can continue to learn from one another and become a more welcoming campus every day.