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Checking in with DEI: fall semester recap and what to look forward to

In June 2020, Miami University President Greg Crawford created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) task force which compiled a report of 43 recommendations to help create a more welcoming community at Miami. According to the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI) Task Force Recommendation Updates page, 22 of those recommendations have been implemented while 20 of them are in progress.

The DEI Task Force organized these recommendations under five pillars: Dialogue and Allyship, Cultural Consciousness, Advocacy and Partnerships, Structural Support and Resources, and Inclusion and Accountability. 

According to Cristina Alcalde, vice president for OIDI, Miami will continue its mission to advance an inclusive community through policies, initiatives and programming during the spring semester.

“Our DEI efforts remain strong and vital on campus and have been recognized with several national honors,” an email from the University Communications stated. 

These honors include the 2021 Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education award, a 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award and a 2021 Inspiring Programs in STEM award for the Bridges Program.

“The Presidential DEI Task Force did an amazing job of identifying and recommending areas that continue to move Miami forward on our inclusive excellence path and core commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Alcalde wrote in an email to The Miami Student.

In the fall 2021 semester, OIDI established an Academic Diversity Officers Leadership Council to embed DEI approaches across committees. The council addresses Recommendation 5 of the Structural Support and Resources Pillar which ensures shared communication of DEI priorities and initiatives within each academic college and division. 

OIDI also created a new religious observances and inclusive scheduling webpage to help avoid scheduling important events, activities and deadlines on observed holidays. The webpage welcomes additions and edits and expands on Recommendation 10 under the Structural Support and Resources Pillar. Recommendation 10 ensures that the University recognizes and acknowledges observed holidays. 

The task force examined the use of the land acknowledgement which recognizes the connection between Miami and the Myaamia people. They created a land acknowledgement webpage to share its historical significance and added an informational footer to university web pages. This addresses Recommendation 7 under the Structural Support and Resources Pillar which solely focuses on the land acknowledgement. 

OIDI expanded their “Behind the Scenes” Town Hall series which features deans and other guest speakers to provide details on how DEI is incorporated into the practices of each academic division. This falls in line with the Recommendation 3 of the Inclusion and Accountability Pillar.

In February, two new directors will join the OIDI team to expand programming initiatives. OIDI will also welcome undergraduate social media interns and establish a new DEI Student Council to emphasize student perspectives. This follows Recommendations 1 and 2 of the Structural Support and Resources Pillar. 

OIDI will launch a new DEI Officers Leadership Council for nonacademic units, and in March, a new DEI Module Series Certificate will launch for alumni. The module focuses on DEI knowledge and strategies, and addresses Recommendations 13 and 15 on Structural Support and Resources Pillar as well as Recommendation 4 of the Cultural Consciousness Pillar.

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Nikki Lescano, a junior kinesiology and pre-med co-major and president of Alpha Psi Lambda fraternity, appreciates the work OIDI does to increase diversity on campus and its persistence through the pandemic. 

“Usually, especially with things like diversity and inclusion, it takes a lot longer to make things happen because there are a lot of different things that come up,” Lescano said.

Lescano enjoys reading the Weekly Three emails from OIDI but hopes to see more partnership between DEI and student organizations in the spring.

“I haven’t seen any collaboration between multicultural and Black Greek life and the DEI task force,'' Lescano said. “If there’s not a connection between the two, I think that could be a really great addition.”

Although Alcalde did not say whether OIDI would be partnering with any student organizations, she did say OIDI will continue to build upon its efforts further this semester.

“As we begin the spring semester,” Alcalde wrote, “I continue to be impressed with Miami students, faculty and staff and am even more excited about the possibilities moving forward.”

@alicemomany

momanyaj@miamioh.edu

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