Diversity and Inclusion are core values of Central Washington University. CWU employees and students, regardless of ethnic, racial, political, gender, religious, intellectual, and geographical background will benefit when they are exposed to those who are different than they are. An inclusive environment welcomes diverse points of view and supports different ways of perceiving and feeling. An inclusive environment embraces varied cultures because they enrich campus discussion, education, and student life. A campus that is truly inclusive fosters a productive, positive, and respectful campus. . Research shows that students thrive in a diverse and inclusive environment. Students are more satisfied in their learning experiences, are likely to have stronger cognitive development, are more engaged in their learning, and develop stronger intellectual skills. Faculty also benefit from an inclusive environment. Faculty have more opportunities to be innovative, critical, creative and are more satisfied with their environment
It is important to take into consideration the multitude and complexity of the factors associated with campus climate. Campus climate is comprised of a multitude of factors, including issues of retention, research and scholarship, group interactions, curriculum, and university service and university policies. All of these interact with issues of inclusion and diversity.
Equally important is to understand perception is an important factor when creating opportunities for inclusion—even when perceptions and reality don't sync. Certainly, the campus climate varies by settings, for example, universities are different, communities are different and student experiences are different. Universities are different in a variety of way, size of student body, residential or non-residential, size of classrooms; opportunities to interact with each other vary, whether the focus is on teaching or research and the geographical area in which they reside. All of these factors influence the experiences that students have in the classroom and outside of the classroom.
In May, 2013 the Washington State Achievement Council published a report “Educational Attainment for All: Diversity and Equity in Washington State Higher Education.” The report emphasizes the importance of identifying ways that universities in the state of Washington are meeting the needs of the changing diverse population of Washington State and addressing the degree attainment gap. One of the mechanisms that promoted student success is inclusivity and diversity on the college campus. Central Washington University is continuing to address these issues and is identifying way to increase the degree attainment of traditionally under-represented and underserved groups, which benefits all students. Students benefit from an inclusive environment that supports academic excellence, as we move into a more diverse global society it is important to prepare students for success not only throughout their college career but also beyond college. Therefore, it is important to share this report with the university community and the public
MEASURING THE CAMPUS CLIMATE
CWU has conducted several studies on campus climate. Some of these include:
- People of Color Participation and Diversity Plan (1995)
- Campus Climate Task Force (1996), which found that although we had some successes there were some opportunities for improvement. The report addressed issues faced by traditionally underserved groups, the need to develop mechanisms for reporting bias incidents, and the need for all to feel that they belong.
- Diversity Council Recommendations (2005). The focus of this report was on developing Institution wide initiatives that focus on diversity and inclusiveness, including the funding and development of programs that address diversity.
The findings of these reports point to the challenges and opportunities Central Washington University faces in diversifying the campus and creating an inclusive environment. For example:
- Individuals who answered the survey felt as if they had no avenue to express their opinions and were not heard when they did try to express their opinions.
- The university was seen as uncommitted to GLTBQ issues.
- The university was seen as uncommitted to gender issues and the use of gender neutral language.
- There was a need to highlight training that addresses prejudice, harassment and discrimination behavior.
- The university was seen as not addressing the needs of non-traditional students
- Several findings were related to job experience, salary inequity, and safety issues.
- The campus lacked as sense of community and intellectual environment.
More recently, CWU participated in The National Survey of Student Engagement/Faculty Survey of Student Engagement This 2012-2013 surveys faculty and first-year students and seniors. The survey was not designed to look at issues of inclusion, but contains questions about inclusion and diversity. It appears as if about half of the faculty incorporate diverse perspectives in their courses. The survey measured "diversity of perspectives" by determining whether or not courses included discussions, readings and experiential learning. The study found that about half (49 percent) of CWU faculty who teach lower-division courses think that international study is important; 40 percent of those who teach upper-division courses think that an international experience is important. Faculty generally believe that diversity and inclusion is important, according to the survey. About 80 percent of students say they have positive relationships with students who are different than they.
NSSE/FSSE does not contain demographic information but does assess the degree to which individuals feel that they have positive relationships with diverse groups of people. Nearly half of faculty say they encourage contact among students from different economic, social and racial or ethnic backgrounds. This assessment, however, is not supported with the experience first-year students and seniors report. Less than 30 percent said they interacting with people different from themselves.
Faculty Survey of Student Engagement Faculty
University emphasizes contact among students from different economic, social, and racial/ethnic backgrounds
In academic coursework emphasize understanding people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds
Class discussions or writings that include diverse perspectives (different races, religions, genders, political beliefs etc.)
Have serious conversations in courses with students of a different race or ethnicity than their own
Throughout the 2012-2013 fiscal year qualitative data was collected from students involved in eight organizations of the Equity Service Council (ESC):
- Access, Belonging, Learning and Equality
- Black Student Union
- Equality Through Queers and Allies
- Filipino American Student Association
- First Generation Student Organization
- Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan
- Native American Student Association
- Violence Intervention and Prevention
The council represents student diversity interests; maintains appreciation and understanding of diverse social and cultural heritage; and educates students on issues affecting student equity.
Students from Movimiento Estudiantal Chicano/a de Aztlan MEChAA and Equality through Queers and Allies (EQuAL) described how they experienced the campus climate and presented this information to the Director of Inclusivity and Diversity, Dr. Delores Cleary. Many of the experiences reported by students are identified as challenges under-represented groups face on campuses throughout the country.
There were general conclusions reported by some CWU students that included:
- “Racial language being used and conversations regarding racial and political issues being held in the classroom that causes a strenuous learning environment.”
- “In my English class last summer my professor made some comments that made me and two other students very uncomfortable. One comment from my professor that I still remember today was, 'I understand that this isn’t your native language and why you have trouble with the assignment,' I found it to be very rude and uncalled for.”
- “In my English class I am the only Latina in the class. The professor sometimes makes derogatory comments like 'colored people' and that is WRONG.”
- “When I ask questions of professors, they respond differently towards Hispanics than they do the rest of the people in the class. They treat me like I can’t understand unless they speak more clearly."
- “Two times randomly throughout the quarter my professor asked me to remove my hat. There were other guys, but I was singled out.”
More specific examples of challenges identified in the diversity in higher education literature and identified by students at CWU include the following:
Professors not standing up for students in the classroom.
- “I did experience an awkward situation in my sociology class where a student was specifically targeting the Hispanics in the room with their language. I felt the professor handled it well, but more professors don’t.”
- “In class, students sometimes make jokes about Mexicans that I consider to be discriminatory and they have the gall to think that I think that they are funny jokes.”
Minority people feeling outnumbered in the classroom.
- “On a daily occurrence, I am surrounded by the casual “you guy.” It is a very gender exclusive…”
- “As a minority at CWU I have experienced discrimination because I am Chicana. I don’t see many students on our campus that are Latinos. I would like to see more Latino students at CWU because I would feel more at home.” “I would like to see more Latino/professors.”
- “I feel awkward being the ONLY Chicano in all my classes. It is hard enough being almost the only male student in most of my classes. Not a lot of males or Chicanos are in my program.”
- “I noticed at CWU that there are a limited amount of students from different ethnicities and races. In my Philosophy class of 30 or so students, I am one of the two Latinas in the class.”
- "While at CWU, I have noticed that there are not many Latino/as”
Minority students feeling like “the other”
- “At a departmental office, I noticed the secretary was rude to me, yet polite to a white person. “
- “When my friends and I go to social events, we get looked at like we do not belong.”
- “Girls don’t play videogames. Wasn’t the last girl who tried to be a guy burned at the stake.”
- Walking around campus I hear racist remarks about Hispanic, more specifically about Mexicans. The students that are saying them around me because they don’t perceive me to be Mexican or they just don’t care that I am.”
- “A former classmate asked me if 'all Mexicans were/are undocumented.'”
- “White people constantly refer to African Americans as N*****."
- “You look too pretty to be a lesbian.”
Lack of understanding of the many cultures here at CWU that causes the majority to belittle or look down on minority groups.
- On a daily occurrence, I am surrounded by the casual “you guy. It is very gender exclusive.
- “As a minority, I have experienced uncomfortable situations here at CWU. Classmates who have never been exposed to cultural experiences feel okay about stereotyping. They especially stereotype the Latino community. “
NEXT STEPS: MOVING INCLUSIVENESS FORWARD
Several initiatives are in place to inform strategies to improve campus climate and to increase participation in the creation of an inclusive environment:
- Increasing awareness training and professional development
- Increasing attention to retention issues among traditionally under-represented groups
- On-going assessment of campus climate
- Increasing programming with a social justice, diversity, inclusion focus
- Developing department, unit or group awards for increasing diversity and inclusion
- Developing Human Resources Action Plans for recruiting diverse faculty and staff
Continuing College of Arts and Humanity observatory Center
- Diversity and Social Justice liaisons to the Colleges
- Increasing/continuing training for/by the Center for Diversity and Social Justice
Increasing student program development surrounding issues of inclusion
- Developing a bias reporting process
- Creating an International Task Force in the College of Business to examine the need for the creation of international business programs within the College
- Developing a diversity research institute
COACHE STUDY TO MEASURE FACULTY SATISFACTION
Finally, this year CWU will participate in the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey of the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE). The comprehensive study collects survey data from tenure-track faculty, as well as pre-tenure and tenured faculty. The survey measures 13 aspects of faculty work, including areas that directly affect campus climate, such as collaboration, institutional governance & leadership, engagement, climate, culture & collegiality, and recruitment & retention. The survey will help to identify inclusiveness issues and to generate strategies to address them.
CWU STRATEGIC PLAN
There has been substantial support, commitment and improvement to campus inclusion and diversity by the university community since 2010. Diversity and inclusion comprise one of five key themes in the CWU Strategic Plan. All of the colleges and departments will include in their strategic-plan outcomes indicators and strategies addressing this theme.
Many of those strategies already have been effective in creating an inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff, as is evidenced by 2013 data reported in the strategic plan.
Student Recruitment, Retention, and Graduation
- Increasing enrollment of students of color. Thirty percent of the first-year class of 2013 were people of color, an increase of nearly 10 percent over fall 2009 (20.7 percent).
- Developing a team to address retention rates and graduation rates of under-represented groups. Increasing the recruitment of military families. Thirty-eight veterans are enrolled at CWU for fall 2013; a total of 121 new military family members are at CWU. CWU hopes to continue this growth by piloting the "beta" version of a free mobile application and website that connects military families with information about use of benefits, including higher education benefits.
Faculty/Staff Recruitment and Retention
- Identifying areas of concern in the Affirmative Action plan, which includes recruiting diverse applicants and the complete hiring process.
- Monitoring hiring outcomes in order to measure progress toward goals.
- Hiring individuals from under-represented groups in order for employee demographics to be comparable to that of groups they serve.
An inclusive environment, which encourages people to be involved and committed, occurs in a variety of ways, for example:
- The Faculty Senate promotes civil discourse through a committee structure that develops recommendations for curriculum, budget, and other policy for consideration by the full senate.
- The Board of Directors of the Associated Students of CWU is appoints student representation on several committees throughout the university.
Although there is not a core diversity requirement at CWU, there are a multitude of courses that include a diverse perspective or focus on diverse and inclusive issues. There are over 100 courses that deal with diverse and inclusive perspectives. Keep in mind that these courses are not all taught every quarter. In addition, there are 20 departments that offer minors/classes/or specialization that deal directly with diverse/inclusive issues, some of these are pre-existing courses and some are new. This does establish a baseline from which to start.