“What’s Next” was part two of a workshop series aimed at helping faculty and staff to transform the campus from discussing diversity to focusing on full inclusion. Simply stated, this shift is a move from “counting heads” to “making heads count.” In part one of this discussion, facilitators and participants took part in a dialogue to lay the necessary groundwork for part two. A meaningful discussion on the different contexts that shape the way terms such as “underrepresentation,” “diversity,” and “inclusivity” are understood by participants was an important part of the first conversation. Prior to attending the session, each attendee was asked to complete an Implicit Association Test (IAT), to learn about how implicit bias can directly impact a person’s vocabulary and affect how someone understands inclusive language.
The second part of this workshop taught participants practical strategies to create a more inclusive campus climate. The conversation was split into three separate sections. Section one provided statistical data about underrepresented populations on TCU’s campus. Section two focused on a discussion of individual and institutional strategies to create a more inclusive environment at TCU. The final section of this conversation featured a role playing game called Situation Action Results.
In order to shift from focusing on diversity to discussing full inclusion, it is important to be able to contextualize data concerning representation at TCU. For instance, according to the TCU Office of Institutional Research, the university student population is forty percent male students (4,192) and fifty-nine percent female students (6, 202). Based on this information, TCU is slightly above average for gender diversity as compared to other universities. However, TCU ranks below average for racial and ethnic diversity. Over seventy percent of students on campus identify as white (7,372). Black or African Americans students compose around five percent (517), and Hispanic/ Latino’s compose another twelve percent (1,258) of TCU’s student body population. Both the numbers and the percentage are important to understand when comparing TCU’s ethnic diversity to other universities. For example, TCU has the same percent of racial/ ethnic diversity for African Americans as the University of Texas at Austin (4%). A key difference between the two universities is how the four percent of the African American functions as a part of the overall student body population. There is a substantial difference between four percent of the University of Texas at Austin’s student population of 40,000 and four percent of TCU’s population of only 10,000 students. Thus, the four percent of African Americans at a school like TCU can feel more marginalized because they see fewer people who look like them on campus. Understanding the demographic breakdown of different levels of diversity at the university can make it easier to implement strategies to create a more inclusive campus climate.
There are both institutional and individual strategies that can be used to create a university-wide move towards full inclusion. Selective targeting is one institutional strategy that can be used to facilitate this transformation. In this case, selective targeting means more intentional outreach towards demographic populations that are below average at TCU when compared to other universities. This includes more effective targeting for transfer students, low-income students, and racial and ethnic minorities. Another institutional strategy is to create education partnerships between the university and high schools. The College of Education and other departments and programs of interest can help to develop college-readiness curriculums for area high schools. At the individual level, faculty and staff can work to empower the diverse groups that are already on campus. One of the key ways to empower students is to validate their experiences. Validation on a college campus occurs when a faculty or staff member within an institution takes an active interest in students and takes the initiative to reach out and support them. These actions make the student to feel capable of learning and valued at the institution. Validation is also a way that faculty and staff can be actively inclusive.
The final portion of this conversation gave participants the opportunity to practice what they learned about inclusive strategies and TCU demographics through a role playing game called Situation Action Results. Each participant was given a hypothetical scenario in which s/he had to think about how s/he would empower a student. At the conclusion of this workshop each participant was able to identify strategies to engage with the diverse populations across the university.
Texas Christian University 2016 Fact Book: Student Data
This article was written by Jessica Hazard, Assistant Athletics Director for Student Athlete Development and Rich Thomas, Athletic Academic Service Center Tutor and Doctoral Candidate, for the Spring 2018 Issue of Insights Magazine.