SAHE Program's Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives in 2020 Summarized

Posted on 12/11/20 5:43 PM

Diversity has been a focus at both IUP and the Department of Student Affairs in Higher Education for some time. This past year challenged us to recognize the extent racism permeates our society and our institution. It is for this reason that we have resolved to do more, and to do better.

In many ways, student affairs is a reflection of the world around it. It must consider challenges and outcomes; professionals in student affairs must therefore always be active in pursuing anti-racist action. This semester, John Mueller invited SAHE students to join the newly formed Racial Justice Advisory Board, which tasked itself with identifying areas of need in SAHE's approach to anti-racism. This started with a statement declaring our program's interest in fostering a fair environment free of barriers for our students to grow and learn. That statement can be found below:

The SAHE Department is committed to creating and maintaining a diverse, inclusive, and socially just learning environment for our students and faculty. As we observe deeply rooted and pervasive acts of white supremacy and systemic racism, particularly anti-Black racism, we affirm that it is our individual and collective responsibility to draw on our life experiences, our interactions with one another, and our education (both inside and outside the classroom) as sources of awareness, knowledge, and skills. We are committed, as individual faculty and students, to continue to expand our own multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills in this important area and to take meaningful and transformative action toward change.

As well, SAHE held a workshop event with Vice President of Student Affairs Tom Segar. This workshop was called “Race and Racism in the Student Affairs Workplace: A Conversation with Dr. Tom Segar.” Students learned how racism can be identified within our field, and how one can take an anti-racist approach to begin to resolve it. More of a conversation, the workshop allowed students of both years to engage in discussion on the nuance of race and how they will encounter and address it in their careers.

Components of the discussion included identifying racism in a variety of situations, including in the office, in written and unwritten campus policies, and in institutional legacy. As well, student were challenged to identify power structures and advantaged and disadvantaged groups, and how these identities face discrimination both as students and as student affairs personnel. Of particular note was the “notice and pan” method of prevention and response, which guided students to, upon identifying an instance of racism, analyze it in a broader context of policies, practices, and consistency.

It is our hope that these initiatives move our program as we work towards a more justice-centered effort against racism for student affairs as a field.

Department of Student Affairs in Higher Education