Full Participation, Nothing Less
Equal access to educational opportunity in U.S. higher education began in earnest as a result of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Legally sanctioned discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, and religion was eliminated and over the next 40-plus years, initiatives were undertaken to provide equity in higher education access, graduation, and employment.
With the adoption of a new mission statement in 2008, Michigan State University reaffirmed its commitment to being an "inclusive academic community" that "connect[s] the sciences, humanities, and professions in practical, sustainable, and innovative ways" to address society's needs. Inclusiveness is named as one of the University's three core values, along with quality and connectivity.1
The Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives (I3) serves as a focal point for carrying out this vital piece of the institutional mission. I3 is charged with developing and facilitating strategies to advance an inclusive university and assessing the effectiveness of those efforts.
Inclusiveness Begins with Equity
I3 is responsible for ensuring compliance with MSU's antidiscrimination policy as well as state and federal civil rights and equal-opportunity laws. Recent clarifications on Titles IX and VI and amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act prompted a university-wide review of policies and procedures related to sexual assault prevention, racially based incidents, broader forms of prohibited harassment, and accessibility issues.
Sexual violence/assault. Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972, prohibits discrimination/harassment on the basis of sex. Sexual assault is a form of unlawful sexual harassment. I3 developed new protocols for responding to reports of harassment or assault and created a multi-unit response team to ensure responses are prompt, coordinated, and consistent with approved procedures.
Racial bias. Policy and procedural changes have been adopted in response to the ongoing need to assure racial equity at MSU. Education in cross-cultural communication for faculty, staff, and students is continually offered, along with resources and staff to support MSU's diverse student population.
Accessibility. From classroom and workplace accommodations to facilities and web accessibility, MSU's efforts extend beyond what is required by law. MSU is a model for other institutions on enhancing the quality of experience for the campus community and the broader community accessing the academic, business, and recreational resources of MSU.
Fostering Quality Relationships
Education for inclusive community means acquiring knowledge about the ways in which our beliefs and biases impact the quality of our relationships. I3 uses interactive theatre, small-group workshops, large-group presentations and symposia, and e-learning sites custom designed around specific topics to carry the message.
Intercultural Education Network (IEN). IEN experts provide a variety of intercultural education and development opportunities for administrators, faculty, support staff, and students. Topics range from inclusive leadership to family-friendly work environments, the academic hiring process, inclusive teaching methods, and more. These on-campus experts lend support to outside entities in their efforts to advance diversity within their organizations or apply diversity related research in practical ways to enhance intercultural engagement in new ways.
Connecting Individual Efforts to the Wider Community
I3 partners with many campus units and organizations to connect their ideas and practices regarding diversity and inclusion with similar efforts across the University and the community at large. We do this by providing a range of opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the broader communities to come together to celebrate diversity and experience its rich influence as we connect and learn from each another, supporting community-wide efforts to infuse the value of diversity and encourage the practice of inclusion within the communities that MSU serves, and acknowledging efforts made within the campus community that express diversity and inclusion which can serve to inspire similar efforts by others.
Informing Progress: ADAPP-ADVANCE
Ongoing assessment of diversity and inclusion initiatives is the key to creating and advancing inclusive learning and working environments. In fall 2008, MSU was awarded a $3.98 million Institutional Transformation grant (Provost Kim Wilcox is principal investigator) by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program, which aims to strengthen the scientific workforce through increased inclusion of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
The ADAPP initiative at MSU is focused on changes in human resources policies and practices that can advance faculty excellence and diversity. Activities of the grant were initially concentrated in three colleges (Engineering, Social Science, and Natural Science). However, the ADVANCE grant has served as a catalyst for change across the University and in fall 2010, initiatives were expanded to 13 additional colleges. An expectation of NSF is broad dissemination of MSU's grant initiatives among the higher education STEM community.
Early outcomes include the development of instruments for and collection of data on work/environment and women's leadership, and the identification of gaps in policies and practices. A faculty mentoring policy was adopted that recognizes the importance of mentoring as a factor in faculty success, especially for women and underrepresented minorities.
The University's goal for inclusiveness is nothing less than full participation for every member of the community. The Office for Inclusion's work is not only embedded in the foundational elements of equity and nondiscrimination, but more broadly leads and supports efforts to encourage a more inclusive campus. We challenge you to think differently about your work, about each other, and about your role in the global community.
- Simon, L. A. K. (n.d.). President's statement on core values. Retrieved from president.msu.edu/statements/core-values/.