Equity and Inclusion Plans for Coming Year

From: Antonio Farias
Date: Monday, September 4, 2017 at 4:25 PM
Subject: Equity and Inclusion Plans for Coming Year

Dear Wesleyan Community,

After four years at Wesleyan as the Vice President for Equity & Inclusion/Title IX & Sec.504 Officer, I continue to be encouraged by the desire of our living-learning community to expect an educational environment that values and respects everyone and is attentive to those most at risk by the rise in bigotry. I am equally encouraged by the willingness of students, staff, faculty, and alumni to be active partners in the change-making process. Over the years, I’ve gained an increased understanding of the complexity of the Wesleyan community’s needs and aspirations to move the equity, inclusion, and social justice agenda forward in practical, meaningful ways.

Here I offer a brief sketch of what the Office for Equity & Inclusion (OEI) is planning in the coming year. Our goal is to strengthen student support, to establish a clear direction for progress, and to create space for continuous, actionable feedback on how we are doing. We aim to be a more equitable and inclusive living-learning-working community that fully embraces “independence of mind and generosity of spirit,” without forgetting historic and persistent inequality.

What follows is a brief summary of changes that seek to enhance OEI’s ability to serve the campus.

  1. The current criminalization of undocumented students in our country leaves me speechless, but not without hope. Although the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program’s nearly 800,000 beneficiaries is uncertain, our policies and practices are in place to support students, regardless of citizenship status. We have made legal consultations available to students directly impacted by immigration policy changes and we will continue to do so. Please review President Roth’s recent reaffirmation of our continued support of undocumented students here.You can find updated resources here. In addition to chairing the Undocumented Student Support Committee, I will be hosting a Connecticut Students for a Dream (C4D) UndocuAlly training for staff and faculty on September 29 in order to continue to infuse practical competencies in the educational workforce that serves our undocumented students. I am also in the planning stage of bringing back the C4D Educator’s Conference in early December, so stay tuned for more information on how you can attend and participate. Staff and faculty are encouraged to sign up by clicking here. I encourage all who wish to demonstrate their support for those who continue to be marginalized because of citizenship status to continue to make your voices heard. Let’s create a united front with university efforts to create a more equitable environment at Wesleyan and beyond our campus.
  2. In collaboration with and building on the Student Affairs #NotAtOurWes campaign, a team from the Anti-Defamation League’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute Rwill facilitate a student-focused peer advocacy training titled #HowNotAtOurWes during the last week in September. The purpose of this skill-building workshop is to equip students and staff to facilitate dialogue using action-oriented strategies based on the bystander intervention model. Sign-up information will be forthcoming. As a reminder, I previously posted available resources (and welcome your additions) to combat discrimination and bigotry here.
  3. This year, in collaboration with Human Resources, we will run three 2-day Crucial Conversations workshops designed specifically for faculty and staff to learn practical techniques that allow us to have productive, outcomes-based discussions, when emotions are high, views are opposing, and the stakes are high. Those dates are set for October 23/24, January 8/9, and March 19/20. Staff and faculty can click hereto sign-up for a session.
  4. Tailored climate and culture surveys will be sent out to students, faculty, and staff this fall as the initial step in assessing a baseline of where we find ourselves. This data will then be augmented through focus groups, and finally, under the auspices of the Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee (EISC), as well as following the bold pathway set forth by the Equity Task Force Report, will be the basis for developing a comprehensive and timely equity and inclusion campus strategy.
  5. The Annual Report on Sexual Violencewas released early this year, and includes links to a new website as well as information about changes in investigation and adjudication of student cases.  In keeping with past practice, we will be hosting briefing sessions dedicated to explaining the significant changes in policy, new initiatives, as well as what the data is telling us. The dates and locations are:
  1. Tuesday, September 12 (11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.), Judd 116
  2. Wednesday, September 13 (12:15 – 1:00 p.m.), Judd 116
  3. Thursday, September 14 (6:00 – 7:00 p.m.), Judd 116
  4. Tuesday, September 19 (6:00 – 7:00 p.m.), Judd 116
  1. Sixteen months ago, I created a campus-wide accessibility committee dedicated to scanning the campus for continued accessibility barriers in the digital, physical, and educational domains. This committee has representation from staff, faculty, and students, who will, come the fall, be working on creating a comprehensive accessibility strategic plan and accompanying policy changes designed to move us increasingly closer to the principles of Universal Design.

Ultimately, the work of making Wesleyan a more equitable and inclusive community rests on our shared values and willingness to work toward common goals. However imperfect the outcomes may be, what matters is our commitment to continuous improvement, seeking what will work best for us on this unique campus. I very much look forward to continuing to work with you. Even in these troubled times, I’m excited about what is possible at Wesleyan.


With gratitude,

Antonio Farias

Vice President for Equity & Inclusion/Title IX & Sec. 504 Officer