The Student Government Association (SGA) hosted the Office of Diversity and Inclusion on Sunday evening in Kennedy Union Ballroom to discuss its role at the university and the AIM4 Community Excellence Survey that was sent to students, faculty and staff.
SGA representatives Maya Smith-Custer and Tongyu Guo facilitated the discussion with the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Lawrence Burnley, and the Executive Director for Inclusive Excellence Education and Professional Development, Tiffany Taylor Smith. More than 100 students attended the event.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion hopes to create spaces on campus that reflect the diversity in the world. Burnley commented that this can create challenges, but also opportunities to grow.
Burnley said that as the workforce becomes increasingly more diverse, the university must reflect this in the student body, administration, staff and faculty.
One of Smith’s goals is to help faculty effectively navigate discussions in the classroom about different experiences and histories. She helps to prepare professors to talk about topics such as sexual orientation, socio-economic class, religious beliefs, race, gender and ability.
The AIM4 survey is a result of this push to promote diversity and inclusivity on campus.
It “sets out to examine the campus climate and campus experiences of the University of Dayton members in terms of matters of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.”
The survey is a collaboration with Halualani & Associates, an external diversity consulting firm. This means the survey data is received by an outside consultant, not UD. Therefore, it is anonymous and meant to encourage honest answers.
The goal of the survey is “to identify information about how UD campus members experience the University of Dayton and to pinpoint areas that need improvement.”
“Everybody doesn’t experience UD in the same way,” Burnley said. “There is a dominant culture.”
He emphasized that this survey is for everyone, not just for people of color. It is meant for all to have their voice heard and to express their reality at UD.
According to Burnley, the survey is not just concerned about race. It is interested in intersecting identities.
Answers from the survey will shape the strategies of the office moving forward. Every perspective helps to inform how the office can best utilize its resources.
Smith stated the “why” behind the survey is to get a sense of where UD is as an institution regarding diversity. It will serve as a benchmark for how UD can continue to improve.
The survey closes today. By the end of January there will be an event to discuss the results.
Burnley hopes to “create spaces that reflect the mosaic of God’s creation.”
UD says it is an institution for the common good. With information gathered from the survey, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion can work toward including everyone in that vision.
Photos courtesy of Carolyn Kroupa.