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Syracuse University releases status report on diversity and inclusion recommendations

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Half of the 18 short-term recommendations made by the Chancellor's Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion have been completed, while the other half are currently "in process."

Syracuse University on Friday released a status report on the short-term recommendations made by the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion. Here is the current status of the 18 recommendations made by the workgroup:

1. Establish a Diversity and Inclusion Council — Status: Complete

In November, Chancellor Kent Syverud created a Council on Diversity and Inclusion to advise him on matters of diversity and inclusion. The council will review and advise on diversity and inclusion matters, including issues related to campus climate, implementation of recommendations from the chancellor’s workgroup and additional steps related to increasing the diversity of students, faculty and staff. The council will also be a resource for academic and administrative units.

2. Establish an Ombuds Office and official ombudsperson — Status: In Process

The preliminary recommendation for the establishment of an Ombuds Office — whose mandate would be to serve as an informal and confidential resource for faculty, staff and students — was made by the Office of the Provost in fall 2016. The office is currently looking into ombudsperson services at peer universities after reviewing the International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. The recommendation will continue to be reviewed through this summer and will include discussions with members of the University Senate, the Office of Graduate Studies and a representative of the Graduate Student Organization. The final recommendations will be submitted by June 30.

3. Restore staffing positions at the Slutzker Center for International Services and the Native Student Program to previous levels and reinstate the position of assistant provost for equity and inclusion/associate dean of the Graduate School  — Status: In Process

The workgroup recommended strengthening the staffing at the Slutzker Center to help the university recruit and welcome international faculty and staff.

To support the assistant director of the Native Student Program during the 2016-17 academic year, the university funded a graduate student to avoid disruption of critical supportive services to Native students. The Office of the Provost and the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience will complete data collection and analysis to finalize staffing needs for the 2017-18 academic year.

The Office of the Provost will strengthen the scope and reach of the Office of the Vice President for Research by tasking OVPR staff with planning and coordinating success programs for women and historically underrepresented students across scholarly disciplines.

4. Offer free tutoring for all undergraduates to address inequities and to support and retain undergraduates from marginalized and underrepresented groups — Status: In Process

The Center for Learning and Student Success was introduced in Bird Library, offering academic support services like individual tutoring and help with study skills. In the 2017-18 academic year, the free group tutoring offered by CLASS will be expanded. Free one-on-one tutoring for historically difficult courses will be introduced in fall 2018.

5. Adopt a university-wide policy on Information and Communication Technology accessibility and hire permanent, full-time Information Technology Services staff who focus solely on u accessibility and assistive technology — Status: In Process

Throughout the spring 2017 semester, the IT Accessibility Task Force hosted a series of forums and discussions to discuss the proposed draft policy following a review of the policy by the provost and the senior vice president and chief human resources officer. The draft policy was updated based on feedback from the forums and online submissions and has been submitted to the Office of University Counsel to continue with formal approvals.

Costs for ensuring all electronic materials, courses, websites and programs are accessible and that Communication Access Realtime Translation and American Sign Language is available for every activity will be high, according to the document. The task force recommended and senior SU officials agreed that implementing the policy outweighed waiting to allocate all funds to comply with the new policy. The task force also recommended piloting a Course Design Seeds Grants program in the amount of $50,000, which would give five faculty members financial support to make their course materials fully accessible. The provost agreed to pilot the program.

There is a dedicated ITS member tasked with handling technology accessibility matters, and a dedicated technology support staff assisting with library-based technology accessibility matters who was hired by the Division of Libraries.

6. Create a centralized budget for faculty/staff disability accommodations — Status: Complete

In September 2016, the university established a fund to help schools, colleges and other responsibility centers and administrative support units pay for faculty or staff accommodations identified under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

7. Commit appropriate and permanent financial support for the Women in Science and Engineering program and merge WISE with SU-ADVANCE. Consider whether these personnel and principles can be extended to support the diversification of other fields — Status: Complete

The best practices of the SU-ADVANCE program will be spread across campus under the direction of the Office of the Provost as federal funding for the program concluded. The Office of the Vice President of Research will begin a campus wide effort to promote persistence for women and historically underrepresented students by stressing research, professional development and programming to build strong communities and social networks.

SU-ADVANCE staff will move into the Office of Faculty Affairs and will continue to work on issues at the cornerstone of the program. The associate provost for faculty affairs will continue to support the mission of the WISE program through ongoing programming within the provost’s office and has met with the leaders of WISE.

8. Require attention to diversity and inclusion as key components of all faculty and staff evaluations. Require an expanded statement on diversity and inclusion in all syllabi — Status: In Process

The provost’s office will revise the annual curriculum vitae update form to include a question asking faculty members to share how diversity and inclusion issues were included in their teaching, research and service. Future discussions about including diversity and inclusion in reviews of faculty performance will be given attention.  

The Office of Human Resources created a set of guidelines to distribute in schools, colleges and units, and senior HR business partners have been giving advice and counsel to the schools, colleges and units to include diversity and inclusion efforts in their daily work. To emphasize diversity and inclusion, formal training programs were led by the Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion and Resolution Services, HR and the Office of Faculty Affairs. Department of Public Safety Officers were given “Implicit Bias” training.

9. Strengthen the systems, publicity and resources for the STOP Bias reporting system — Status: Complete

Throughout the academic year, the STOP Bias campaign — which raises awareness about bias and promotes a culture of respect and inclusivity — received attention. The Equal Opportunity, Inclusion and Resolution Services, the Advancing Diversity and Inclusion and the university websites were redesigned to feature the STOP Bias reporting system prominently. The Office of Residence Life and the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities also promotes the STOP Bias reporting systems. Training workshops led by EOIRS were piloted in the fall, and recommendations to fix gaps in awareness and understanding were included in the Recommendations of the Syracuse University Climate Assessment Planning Committee for implementation by the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year.

10. Enhance orientation and onboarding for international students, faculty and staff so they are aware of the full range of programs, services, and resources available to them — Status: In Process

The Office of First-Year and Transfer Programs, in partnership with the Slutzker Center for International Students, introduced a new orientation program for undergraduate international students in fall 2016. The program received $10,000 from the Division of Student Affairs to hire a full-time graduate student during summer 2016. The new orientation programming includes an optional pre-orientation program that allows early arrival international students to participate in an orientation program before the official Syracuse Welcome. Half of the incoming international first-year students are currently participating in the program.

The Slutzker Center also offers a summer pre-orientation mentoring program, an online pre-arrival video and web-based orientation programs. In addition, orientation activities such as new student arrival seminars and small group interactions will be modified to provide further language services to students who may need it. The Office of First-Year and Transfer Programs will implement recommendations of the Internationalization Council as of Aug. 1

11. Improve New Student Orientation to further understandings and forge relationships across racial, ethnic, religious and other lines. Establish a Syracuse Reads Program that feature books that foster a sense of understanding and inclusion — Status: In Process

The program will include books like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me” and readings will be succeeded by small group discussions aided by diversity educators. Beginning September 2017, the Office of Learning Communities will conduct a student learning outcomes assessment to determine how effective the program is. At the end of the 2017-18 academic year, the Office of the Provost and the Office of Residence Life will determine how to expand and sustain the program after examining the assessment by the Office of Learning Communities. The program is intended to fall in line with the chancellor’s Academic Strategic Plan and the Syracuse Core 4+4 program.

12. Conduct a comprehensive accessibility audit of all University spaces and update the Campus Access Map to include all-gender bathrooms — Status: In Process

The accessibility audit has an anticipated completion date of June 15. The assessment will include all university buildings to determine any physical barriers to access in university buildings and on university grounds. An external company will draft a Physical Access Plan using data gathered from the assessment.

13. Acknowledge that Syracuse University sits on Native land at all major public events and fly the Haudenosaunee flag wherever the American flag is flown on campus. Assure dedications and invocations at university events are nondenominational — Status: Complete

Campus Planning Design and Construction installed the Haudenosaunee flag at the Carrier Dome and permanently dedicated one of three flag poles at Manley Field House. Additional flag poles were installed at Hendricks Chapel, Physical Plant, Goldstein Student Center and the Skytop Office Building. Statements regarding SU’s place on Native land were made at major campus events like commencement, the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration and the New Student Convocation.

14. Establish Indigenous Peoples Day to honor Indigenous history on the second Monday of October — Status: In Process

In place of Columbus Day, which is not recognized by the university, SU will celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in support of indigenous students at the university and the history and culture of indigenous people. The university specifically focuses on the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Onondaga, whose land the university sits upon.

The Indigenous Students at Syracuse and the Indigenous Graduate Students organizations are charged with planning and sponsoring events for Indigenous Peoples Day and work with the university to create a dialogue on campus about indigenous worldview, cultures and histories. ISAS and IGS will also work with the university to establish Indigenous Peoples Day as a campus holiday recognized on the university and academic calendar. This year’s Indigenous’ Peoples Day is Oct. 9.

15. Create a Diversity Portal to inventory and calendar diversity/inclusion programs and activities at the university — Status: Complete

The Advancing Diversity and Inclusion website creates a portal to curricular and co-curricular activities, programs, services, officers, groups and resources the university offers. The website details information from schools, colleges and administration with research reports, upcoming lectures, videos, news and events. The website can be found at diversity.syr.edu and was launched Sept. 1, 2016.

16. Conduct a needs analysis of how to make American Sign Language and CART services available for all university events — Status: Complete

The Information and Communication Technology Accessibility Policy Task Force, with Information Technology Services, reviewed and assessed the 34 most commonly used event spaces at the university and found that 12 of the most commonly used spaces have technology infrastructure that will support CART services. The remaining 22 of the most commonly used spaces need technology infrastructure upgrades to support CART services. The task force is working with the Chancellor’s Executive Team to complete and apply proposed policy and subsidiary recommendations.

17. Provide transportation to La Casita and community sites to bring access to the Syracuse community to students — Status: Complete

La Casita will be added as a stop on the Connective Corridor bus line as of the first day of classes for the fall 2017 semester. The Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience, in conjunction with the Mary Ann Shaw Center for Public and Community Service, Parking and Transit Services and DPS will decide on other community sites in Syracuse that would benefit from bus lines.

18. Offer inclusive food options at university events where food is provided — Status: Complete

Inclusive food options include kosher, halal and vegetarian/vegan options. While these options are already provided at university dining centers, they are now included at events where food is offered. SU Food Services requires event planners in University Catering to ask whether event attendees have any dietary restrictions or needs. Large scale university events like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Dinner and Commencement Brunch offer inclusive meals.

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