As a college, we share in Oregon State University’s aim to create “a climate of inclusion, collaboration and care that appreciates and seeks diversity as a source of enrichment and strength, and is rooted in justice, civility and respect.” Understanding how students currently experience our college’s climate is vital to moving toward this shared vision.
During Spring term 2016, with the Office of Student Success, we launched an initial effort to examine student perspectives on the climate of equity, inclusion, diversity and social justice within our college. Close to a quarter (827) of the college’s 3,361 students responded to an online survey.
Most boldly, the results tell us that as we strive for inclusive excellence, we are not there yet. Although a majority of students reported generally positive experiences in the college, students identifying as a U.S. minority and graduate students reported significantly less positive experiences.
View the full Student Perspectives on Climate in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences report (pdf).
Importantly, these findings provide us with a set of actions for positive change. First among these is the need to better understand the experiences that shape students’ perceptions. Toward that end, we will host a series of focus group discussions to listen to and learn from students. Additionally, we call for the following:
Greater integration of equity, inclusion, diversity and social justice content within all CPHHS graduate and undergraduate courses. Beginning with H100, we are working to enhance content around equity, inclusion, diversity and social justice in courses across the college.
Establishment of program-level competencies around equity, inclusion, diversity and social justice to ensure accountability. We continue to ask each academic program in our college to develop competencies specific to these areas.
Evidence of a greater commitment to equity, inclusion, diversity and social justice through professional development for all staff and faculty. As one step, we are working to arrange college-specific social justice training.
Stronger supports for students, particularly those from historically marginalized groups. We are actively seeking ways to empower these students within the academic setting. The Racial Aikido Retreat model seems a promising approach for providing students with tools to actively resist injustice and to take care of themselves within the campus community.
Active inclusion of diverse students in membership and leadership roles within the college. Recruitment efforts and a realignment of qualifications for various positions (student council, clubs, peer advisors, etc.) within the college will prioritize increasing access to diverse students.
Expanded and inclusive access to high-impact experiences including study abroad, faculty led student research, cultural exchange and experiential learning. Scholarships, realigned qualifications and expansion of options will create pathways to engaging all students in transformative learning experiences.
We are confident that with the above measures in place we can move boldly toward our goal of becoming a place of inclusive excellence where everyone can thrive.