This past March, in an effort to re-center focus on diversity at Case Western Reserve University, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) passed legislation that serves to make diversity training mandatory for not only all students, but also more faculty and staff. The training is intended to foster a more inclusive campus climate and reduce implicit bias in the classroom setting.
“[This resolution] stems from the fact that numbers of domestic students of color, in terms of retention, had been falling over the past about six to seven years, if not a little before that,” said Prince Ghosh, the vice president of Academic Affairs in the USG. “Those numbers of retention had been falling and a large part of it, from what we found, was simply because students of color and students of diverse backgrounds didn’t very much feel comfortable on campus a lot of the time.”
Diversity 360, the campus-wide training program that was instated in the fall of 2015, was developed in collaboration with the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity. According to the program description, over 4,000 students, faculty, staff and university leaders have gone through the training and now many more faculty and staff members will be required to do so.
Diversity 360, which can be customized into cohesive modules, is meant to foster inclusivity on campus. The modules are intended to improve participants’ abilities to engage in dialogue with members from diverse backgrounds, in addition to improving their understanding of concepts associated with diversity like privilege, marginalization and microaggressions.
“After much thought, much research and much detailed planning, we … ended up voting on legislation that would make Diversity 360 training mandatory for all faculty and staff,” said Ghosh. “That was done … in conjunction with another resolution that called amongst enrollment management at University Admissions to allocate more scholarships for students of underrepresented minorities and students of diverse backgrounds in order to improve diversity as a whole on campus.”
According to Ghosh, the Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative (UDC) played a large role in “gathering information and gauging students’ feedback and gauging how the undergraduate population felt about a lot of these decisions that were made.”
Ghosh describes it as a collaborative effort that sprung from a collaborative decision from both organizations.
“Diversity is an issue that … has always been somewhat of a challenge, not just for us, but for a variety of universities nationally,” said Ghosh. “I’m sure there’ll be continued efforts throughout this upcoming year to improve diversity to … really inculcate even more training amongst faculty, amongst staff and amongst administrators.”