In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and other unarmed Black men and women, colleges and universities across the nation are beginning to rethink and expand their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
This week, Ohio Wesleyan University—the private liberal arts university located in Delaware, Ohio—unveiled a new initiative aimed at improving diversity, equity and inclusion on its campus. Titled, “Stand Together and Work For Change,” the initiative will focus on four areas: structure and policies, teaching and learning, recruiting and retaining students and employees, and campus climate.
“It is time—no beyond time—for us to turn words and outrage into action,” said Dr. Rock Jones, president of the university that has about 1,600 students. “The horrific killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks have rightly outraged millions of Americans and people around the world.”
Jones said that the recent killings are not isolated incidents “but follow a long legacy of violence, oppression, and police brutality toward Black Americans.”
According to Jones, key components of Ohio Wesleyan’s initiative include:
- Conducting a full review this summer of public safety operations in relation to work with students of color.
- Examining student conduct practices to uncover areas that may foster bias.
- Reviewing and updating business procurement policies to reduce barriers for the growth and success of local and regional businesses owned by people of color.
- Diversifying the university’s curriculum and ensuring that OWU faculty are equipped with the skills necessary for inclusive excellence in pedagogy.
- Instituting a universal test-optional policy for admission and all scholarship consideration to remove barriers to access for students of color, students from low-income families, and students with disabilities.
- Developing new donor-funded scholarship programs to support the recruitment and retention of Black students.
- Improving job search and hiring practices to enhance the recruitment of diverse pools of job applicants to grow a more diverse staff.
- Instituting universal diversity, equity, and inclusion training for faculty and staff.
- Implementing a new Campus Climate Response Protocol to provide clear guidance for responding to incidents of bias with appropriate accountability.
“In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to examine our core structure, policies, and day-to-day practices to make OWU a more inclusive and equitable place for all students, and in particular for Black, indigenous, and people of color,” Jones said. “We also will continue to create opportunities for students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members to engage in dialogue and work together for change.”