Oregon State University has been actively and intentionally involved in advancing diversity since the mid 1980’s. Its faculty, staff, administration and students have worked diligently to further the institutional value of diversity through a variety of initiatives. It strives to build and sustain a diverse campus environment that is welcoming, supportive and inclusive of students, faculty and staff. While we strive daily to sustain such an environment, we are also aware that there are times when our efforts fall short of intention. Such was the situation in the spring of 1999 that spurred a multicultural task force of students and faculty to propose recommendations to improve the racial climate at OSU. The TEAM Task Force (see page 8) presented recommendations to the President’s Cabinet during fall term 1999 to set the campus community back on a path of actions to create and sustain “a place of safety… welcoming, supportive and inclusive of its students, faculty and staff (of color).” (Task Force Report, Introduction.) In addition to accepting the recommendations that focused on five themes, the President’s Cabinet agreed to take immediate action to initiate their implementation. The major themes are
This report summarizes completed, ongoing and new initiatives that have taken place in the past two years in academic, administrative and student services arenas in response to the recommendations.
Race sensitivity and diversity training and development were recommended for all employees as the means for developing the requisite knowledge, skills and understanding to provide the desired campus environment. It was also recommended that vendors serving OSU also receive race sensitivity and diversity training. In recognition of the diversity of learning styles and stages of diversity development, a number of learning opportunities were made available.
Faculty were provided with workshops and presentations that covered such topics as Social Distance Among University Students: Implications for Teaching and Learning; Creating a Culturally Sensitive Classroom; Excellence and Innovation in Language Diversity, Assessment and Learning Communities; and the Difficult Dialogue Series which addressed issues of race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social class, ability, and religion. Faculty volunteering to teach Odyssey classes received targeted diversity training to use in teaching the First Year Experience course.
Other opportunities include
Presentations by Dr. Emily More and Dr. Herman Blake (Iowa State University) on issues of diversity in the classroom (available to academic and professional faculty.)
Boundaries and Borderlands II, a curriculum and faculty development project of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) that provided opportunities to study the latest scholarship on diversity, examine curricular models being developed at institutions across the country, learn the latest research on the impact of diversity on student learning, and develop skills in fostering intergroup dialogue and learning (available to academic and professional faculty.)
“Educating All of One Nation” Conference which focuses on diversity issues, sponsored by the American Council on Education (available to faculty and students).
Workshops on Prejudice Reduction, conducted by the OSU Chapter of the National Coalition Building Institute (available to faculty, staff and students.)
Student Affairs Diversity Summit which covered disability, religion, gender, sexual orientation, class, African American issues, Asian and Pacific American issues, Latino-a issues, and Native American issues (available to faculty, staff, students and community members.)
Presentations and workshops by Tim Wise, nationally known expert on racism (available to faculty, staff, students and community members.)
Presentation by Morris Dees, Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, on understanding racism and teaching tolerance (available to faculty, staff, students and the community.)
University administrative divisions (Academic Affairs, Finance and Administration, Research, Student Affairs, and University Advancement provided department specific training that related diversity and racism issues to each department’s respective roles and responsibilities.
Training for law enforcement and public safety staff was provided through a series of orientation presentations and targeted training on racism. Participants included the OSU Department of Public Safety, on-campus Oregon State Police, Corvallis Police Department and Benton County Sheriff’s Office. In addition, OSU Public Safety and on-campus Oregon State Police, in partnership with the Corvallis Police Department, Benton County Sheriff’s Department and the local branch of the NAACP are collaborating on a law enforcement and racism related program for spring 2002.
Sensitivity training has not yet been provided for vendors who have a campus presence, such as the food concessionaires and the Bookstore
An important measure of a climate that is supportive and inclusive is the degree to which students of color are included and involved in student activities.
To improve and encourage involvement, specific recommendations were made to secure increased participation by students of color on two key student government committees, the Student Activity Committee and the Student Conduct Committee. These recommendations have been carried out.
Review of available data to support the recommendation to increase the involvement (hiring) of students of color on the staffs of student recruitment and retention programs revealed that participation rates of students of color as a group were higher than their percentage in the student body. This is a commendable achievement. However, the figures do not indicate whether there was representation from a range of racial/ethnic groups. Diversity among students of color is as important as diversity among the entire student body. Data collection by racial/ethnic group is recommended.
The Greek system has significant influence on campus climate. It was recommended that fraternity and sorority members be held accountable for living up to their publicly stated commitment to the values of “virtue, scholarship, ethics, justice and friendship.” While there have been some beginning efforts, more work needs to be done in this area. Recent transitions in leadership in the Office of Student Involvement and the appointment of a Dean of Students should provide the focus needed to respond to this recommendation.
All areas of student government and student involvement should be reviewed to determine whether outreach efforts are needed to encourage participation by students of color and whether the quality of their experiences need improvement.
Improving our ability to address race issues is an ongoing responsibility. While we can build upon experience, there will always be more we can learn as we strive to become more knowledgeable and skillful. The significant annual in and out migration of students, faculty and staff informs us that there will always be someone to teach and someone from whom we can learn. The following responses are applicable to this recommendation.
A plan for timely, comprehensive and coordinated University response to racial or ethnic incidents on campus have been developed by a diverse group of individuals representing a wide range of offices throughout the campus. It is ready to be put into action. The plan outlines procedures and practices for 1) the President, his Cabinet, and other OSU Central Administrative Units (including the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity); and 2) the Student Affairs Administrative and Response Team-2 (STAART-2). STAART-2 membership includes Diversity Development, Educational Opportunities Program, International Education, Minority Education Offices, Public Safety and Oregon State Police, Student Conduct and Mediation Programs, Student Health Services, University Counseling and Psychological Services, University Housing and Dining, and the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.
A number of opportunities have been and continue to be provided to assist members of the campus community in developing skills to hold conversations and dialogues about race, and to not only speak out, but also to listen and move toward action and resolution. The sessions were open to students, staff and faculty. These include
The Faculty Senate Diversity Forum for faculty during which students of color described their classroom experiences and faculty and students discussed desirable changes in classroom interactions and how they might be achieved.
The Difference, Power and Discrimination Program series “Difficult Dialogues” which utilized a panel to engage the audience in considering issues of race from a variety of perspectives.
Student Affairs sponsored conversations throughout the campus on race and prejudice, a two-day Diversity Summit that included workshops and discussions on a variety of topics including race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability, and class, and dialogues on diversity.
Office of Multicultural Affairs convened a campus and community forum to discuss the effects of misplaced blame based on race, ethnicity and religion in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Emir Mohamed Siala, leader of the local mosque, served as the resource person.
University administration sponsored a daylong conference on campus diversity. Dr. Jeff Milem provided information and evidence on the value of diversity in higher education. The May 30th Workgroup was formed to follow up the conference to propose strategies for improving cultural and ethnic diversity at OSU. Recommendations have been made to the President’s Cabinet to require “demonstrated commitment to diversity” as a qualification for administrative and other leadership positions and as a preferred qualification for classified positions.
The University established a 2000-2001 performance indicator to increase the enrollment of students of color, for which it would be held accountable by the Oregon University System. The indicator established goals for increasing the total headcount for U.S. graduate and undergraduate students of color, not including international students. This goal is unique to OSU and was set by choice and not mandated. Fall 2001 enrollment figures provide evidence that this goal was achieved.
Faculty Senate created a Diversity Council 1) “to provide a forum for communication among campus groups participating in OSU’s diversity related activities;” 2) “to promote, stimulate and develop strategies for improving community-wide diversity;” and 3) “to proactively help the campus move toward a more diverse university.”
Recommendations indicate that improved access to information and resources would help students feel more welcomed and supported. In addition to traditional brochures about academic programs, the Difference, Power and Discrimination Program, Minority Education Offices, cultural centers, and a variety of student services, the following resource are available:
“Diversity Resources at Oregon State University,” describes diversity-related resources and services. Student experiences were utilized by PROMISE (Professional and Managerial Internships in State Employment) Program interns to create a user-friendly poster. Produced through collaborative efforts by University Marketing, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Memorial Union Programs Council, Student Affairs and University Publications, this resource has been widely distributed to students throughout the campus for the past two years.
The 4th Edition of The Multicultural Resource Guide for Advising Students of Color was published and disseminated by the Office of Multicultural Affairs. It is also available on its web site at http://oregonstate.edu/oei/ The publication contains extensive information about academic programs, scholarships, on and off campus resources, and student organizations to inform all members of the campus community of the broad range of diversity-related programs, activities and resources and how to access them. In addition, the publication includes “Connections,” a directory of faculty, staff and community members who are interested in providing opportunities for students to make connections with others associated with OSU in addition to their faculty advisors and classroom instructors. The Office of Multicultural Affairs publishes the Guide.
The Diversity at OSU web site at http://oregonstate.edu/oei/ informs the campus and community about diversity and multicultural interests and encourages commentary from students. Its intention is “to reveal what happens when an educational institution makes a sincere effort to address among the most difficult issues any person or organization could attempt-to create a diverse educational institution in which the cultures, gifts, histories, and life situations of all members are embraced, appreciated, and respected.” The site is maintained by Student Affairs.
Calendars of multicultural programs, activities and events are available at several web sites Access to knowledge of events and activities is critical to involvement and inclusion..
The Diversity at OSU web site at http://oregonstate.edu/oei/ includes a calendar of multicultural events taking place on and off campus.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) maintains the calendar for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at http://oregonstate.edu/oei/
OMA also maintains the 2001 and 2002 Multicultural Resource Calendars that contain detailed information on national and international civic, cultural and religious observances, many of which are observed by members of the campus community. Also included are descriptions of food (with recipes) associated with the observances. The calendar also provides biographies of historic persons from countries throughout the world. The calendars are found at http://oregonstate.edu/oei/ or via the Calendars link on the OSU home page at http://oregonstate.edu
Interactive learning experiences were recommended as significant influences on enhancing classroom learning.
Criteria adopted by the Faculty Senate in June 2000 require that Difference, Power and Discrimination courses be taught using interactive learning experiences. Faculty enrolled in DPD training will acquire necessary skills.
During 2001-2002 the Difference, Power and Discrimination Program is implementing a new teaching strategy project, “Diversity in the Curriculum.” The program is designed to recruit, train and support faculty outside of the College of Liberal Arts who want either to initiate a Difference, Power and Discrimination course or to include discussion about diversity in their classes. They also will gain skills to serve as diversity or Difference, Power and Discrimination resources within their departments.
Due to limited enrollment in the program, additional avenues for teaching these skills are needed in order to encourage wider use of this teaching strategy throughout the campus. Current courses should be updated, and the development of new courses using interactive learning experiences is recommended.
Workshops for faculty and graduate teaching assistants through the Professional Development Opportunities Related to Teaching and Learning Program emphasize using a variety of teaching methods, including interactive learning experiences. For example, Creating an Active Learning Environment offers “tips and strategies for creating an active classroom learning environment that addressed a variety of learning styles.” Related courses include Teaching Strategies and Student Learning Styles, Inside Teaching: Excellence and Innovation in Language Diversity, Assessment and Learning Communities, and Teaching Conversation Groups which covered issues that arise in daily teaching experiences, including instruction dilemmas.
The Faculty Senate Advancement of Teaching Committee sponsored teaching improvement workshops for faculty including several that demonstrated interactive learning techniques for the classroom.
Six faculty representing Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, Women Studies, Educational Opportunity Program, Extension Services, and Student Affairs Administration were selected to participate in Boundaries and Borderlands II, a curriculum and faculty development project of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U.) The project provided the faculty team with the opportunity “to engage in sustained study of the latest scholarship on diversity, examine curricular models being developed at other institutions across the country, learn the latest research on the impact of diversity on student learning, and develop skills in fostering intergroup dialogue and learning.”
Recommendations were made 1) to provide quarterly reports on the status of race relations on campus, 2) to hold a yearly open forum on the progress of diversity at OSU and 3) to conduct an annual evaluation each spring term of the past year’s progress.
President Risser disseminates an annual report each fall term, The Status of Racial/Ethnic Diversity at Oregon State University. He also gives a report at the annual University Day program at the beginning of each academic year.
While a yearly open forum has not yet been held, President Risser makes it a practice whenever and wherever possible to discuss the status of diversity, including pertinent data, the importance of diversity to the educational mission, and the University’s commitment to sustaining successful diversity efforts. Venues for such discussions include
Recommendations were made by the TEAM Task Force to address the need to build and sustain a supportive, welcoming, inclusive and safe campus environment for students of color. While students, faculty and staff of color may be seen as the primary beneficiaries of successful implementation of the recommendations, in reality, all members of the campus community benefit from being at an institution that values diversity, fosters cultural awareness and sensitivity, is proactive and not merely reactive, and supports diversity with intentional initiatives toward full inclusion and full participation in the educational endeavor.
These recommendations reach every corner of the University and touch every student and employee. We must ensure that each recommendation has been fully implemented, recognize those that require continuous and ongoing efforts and remove obstacles to their integration into the institution’s policies and practices.