At uConnect, we categorically and profoundly stand against racism and the violence and discrimination that has been enacted upon people of color in these past months, years, decades, and centuries. It must stop now, and it is up to all of us - especially those of us who are the beneficiaries of white privilege - to participate in the long-needed change that will bring about real justice, equity, and peace.
We’d like to take the opportunity to share a few words from Dr. Daniel Pascoe Aguilar, Associate Provost at Drew University and a partner and colleague of ours, about actionable steps campus leaders can take right now to fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education:
- Learn avidly, in every way you can, about our human diversity and the power of inclusion and equity. Proactively advocate for and pursue partnerships and resources for your own and your organization’s capacity building on identity and intercultural development. We must be as ready as we can to lead and fight for social justice.
- Integrate in your curriculum, whichever you instruct or facilitate, and promote the inclusion of intercultural development in the curricula of other educators. We will not survive, we will not succeed, we will not thrive as a race and a planet if our new generation of leaders does not value and consider diversity, equity, and inclusion as an asset to our decision-making and performance.
- Proactively and concretely develop support mechanisms for as many student minority identities you can support. Do so through a robust virtual presence, vast community engagement, and scalable student engagement - all in an attempt to level the playing field and foster equity in the reach of your work and the support you offer to those who will lead us to a better reality.
- Now is the time to be the strongest advocate for enhanced diversity, equity, and inclusion on your campus. Every curriculum, every instructional method, every policy, every procedure, every practice, every program, every strategic plan, every website, every space must be reviewed for enhanced intercultural sensitivity, inclusion, and equity.
- Now is the time to partner with every equity, inclusion, and social justice organization in our communities and regions. We will not address our systemic inequities as individual institutions, but rather as a collective front that fights as one body for human rights and human dignity, especially the rights and dignity of those marginalized and currently under attack.
No time to waste, no hesitation to afford. The moment is now and it must include all of us!
An immense part of what fuels our work at uConnect is the belief that equitable access to education - and the resources, networks, and opportunities that come with it - is critical to ensuring that the next generation of leaders of every race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, and background have the chance to fulfill their dreams and realize their potential.
As higher education shifts to focus on strengthening virtual services in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is incumbent upon leadership to carefully consider how to expand capacity and improve access to education and opportunity for underserved and underrepresented students, now and in generations to come.