Race & Equity Initiative

Actions and updates

UW Race & Equity Initiative fall 2016 update

Entering its second year, the UW Race & Equity Initiative continues to foster an institutional culture in which all members of the University community hold themselves and each other accountable for engaging in open and respectful dialogue about systemic inequities and for working toward solutions in a transparent, collaborative manner. Over the past year, students, faculty and staff from all three campuses have done just this by raising their voices, expressing their points of view in meetings, events, listening sessions and committees, and making calls for change. Our work continues, as exemplified by the following:

Criminal background and admissions

The application for admission to the UW currently asks individuals to answer a very focused question on felony violations. The Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment Management, student leadership and faculty will convene in the winter about discontinuing the use of criminal background questions beginning with the 2018 admissions cycle.

Campus climate assessment

In spring 2016, the R&EI commissioned an external tri-campus climate assessment review, which generated key findings and recommendations for further study of campus climate at the UW. This work will inform climate studies called for in the 2016-2020 Diversity Blueprint.

Bias advisory group

In response to a recommendation made by the Taskforce for Bias/Discrimination Reporting & Response, the development of an online tool for individuals to report incidents of bias and request assistance was accelerated through the R&EI. This tool is currently available.

Policing

Last spring, the UW Police Department (UWPD) met with students, faculty and staff who identify as African American/Black on the Seattle campus. These affinity discussions will resume fall quarter. UW leadership, in consultation with Chief Vinson are developing a community advisory plan. It is currently in review and more details are forthcoming. We have asked Chief Vinson to share this plan at the next affinity meeting. Additional information will follow this fall. Meeting details will be sent to Black/African descent faculty, staff and student organizations. Last spring members of UWPD participated in “anti-bias” training and we will continue to discuss what further training may be necessary.

Police data

UW faculty are in the process of analyzing UWPD police data. The purpose of this is to explore potential racial/ethnic disparities in police stops or arrests and support UWPD in implementing best practices for accountability. This work will continue through the 2016-2017 academic year.

Divestment

The Board of Regents is in the process of developing a divestment and shareholder advocacy policy to guide board consideration and action on various proposals of interest to the campus community. A draft policy will be considered at the October board meeting.

New committee for the Board of Regents

The Board of Regents has officially established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee. The advisory committee enables the board to more directly support and advance the University’s goals on equity and inclusion and bring an equity and inclusion focus to pressing issues (e.g., procurement, contracting).

Student participation

In summer 2016, a group of students convened to assess the R&EI programming of the previous year. This R&EI student programming committee exists to support and fund student centered R&EI programming moving forward. All proposals for student programs will be vetted by this committee. The committee is led by student leaders on the R&EI steering committee. They will hold regular meetings throughout the year and meeting notes and schedules will be posted on the R&EI website.

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Workshops and trainings

Last spring, the Race and Equity Initiative piloted 20 workshops serving over 450 staff and faculty. The trainings focused on topics such as micro-aggressions, unconscious bias and cultural fluency. Evaluations of the workshops and trainings were positive and demand was greater than the supply. For 2016-2017 school year, the committee proposes to double number of trainings and explore alternate formats for training.

Recognition

In consultation with the UW Tribal Liaison, the UW now has official language to acknowledge the Coast Salish land on which it sits at appropriate convenings and ceremonies. To further this recognition, streets near wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ are being reviewed with the Intellectual House Advisory Committee and the UW Tribal Liaison for potential renaming opportunities.

Diversity Blueprint

The original Diversity Blueprint was established in 2010 after campus community calls for the creation of a comprehensive plan that would guide the university toward achieving its stated goals for diversity and inclusion. The 2010-2014 Diversity Blueprint focused primarily on the UW student experience. Although a number of the 2010-2014 blueprint goals were attained or exceeded, others require additional attention. There is room for continued improvement in the areas of student, faculty, and staff diversity, diversity research, campus climate and diversity leadership.

The 2016-2020 Diversity Blueprint has been led by the Diversity Council. The council is co-chaired by the vice president for the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity (OMA&D) and associate vice provost for Faculty Advancement, and includes representatives from all schools and colleges (including students) and many administrative units across campus. The blueprint is meant to guide the university towards achieving its stated goals for diversity and inclusion. The blueprint is currently in review by UW leadership and will be rolled out in 2016. As the R&EI progresses, its projects and activities will also align with the goals of the blueprint.