Case Western Reserve University has been recognized for its diversity and inclusion efforts across campus, despite many students’ beliefs that the university has not done enough to promote diversity in the community.
This year, along with almost 80 other institutions, CWRU received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from “INSIGHT Into Diversity” magazine for the sixth year in a row. The HEED award recognizes colleges and universities that display an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion in their student recruitment, hiring practices and student retention rates.
For more than 40 years, “INSIGHT Into Diversity” has been a recruiting tool to connect employers to talented individuals regardless of their race, gender, national origin, age and many other characteristics.
“It’s great that the university has gained recognition…for its diversity and inclusion efforts,” Geneva Magsino, president of the Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative said. ”However, the work does not stop there.”
The Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative (UDC) is made up of various groups under the umbrella of diversity and serves as a platform for voicing student concerns regarding inclusion on campus.
“There’s still discrimination on this campus every single day; we all deal with it, whether it’s walking past someone on the sidewalk or a comment from a professor,” said Lilly Tesfai, former president of the UDC. “However, I do believe that the university is doing what it can right now.”
The HEED award looks specifically at the hiring practices of applicant universities. On CWRU’s faculty Tesfai said, “Because so much of our lives are in the classroom, it starts with diversifying academia: providing mentors, advisors, faculty, staff members of color and, of course, LGBT. There are absolutely not enough diverse faculty [members].”
In regards to how CWRU can improve, Magsino believes that “All organizations, including UDC, must remain active in finding ways to improve its inclusivity and diversity initiatives.”
“CWRU is probably unique in that it is a 4% African American campus in a 51.6% black surrounding city,” Tesfai says. “I think that those statistics are staggering and they speak for themselves. Maybe CWRU is doing really well in respect to other institutions, but the unique setting that we are in demands more from them.”
Tesfai encourages students to step out of their comfort zones.
“Step out and just say hello to someone,” she said. “Say ‘Hi, what’s your name?’ If we can’t even know each other, that’s the root of the problem.”