Officials to assess campus diversity with external audit – The GW Hatchet

The University will commission its first-ever diversity audit this semester before using the findings to roll out diversity policy reforms targeting areas such as faculty composition, financial aid, and police relations on the job. campus.

In a statement on Friday, University president Thomas LeBlanc and president Brian Blake said they would seek an outside firm to lead the audit in the coming weeks, and they expect the study be completed by the end of spring. Officials said they would use the audit to create a “diversity action plan” that includes “goals, actions and regular reviews” to track progress both on campus and in the greater area. off DC based on the audit findings, the statement said.

“Our continued commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is essential to the future of our university and the impact of our teaching and research on the world,” the statement said. “We must be unwavering in moving forward, together as one community, in the direction of progress – ensuring that all members of our community have the support they need to learn and lead. “

Officials said they expected the results to overlap with ongoing diversity policy reforms regarding faculty composition, financial support and police engagement – some of which have already been implemented. implemented and others that may arrive in the coming weeks. The statement said officials plan to improve faculty diversity through new hiring policies that “will enhance opportunities for diverse applicants,” such as new hiring requirements, search boards and interviewers.

Officials said they also plan to review the financial aid policy and continue to improve the GW Police Department’s relationship with the university community and “especially” students of color. GWPD chief James Tate rolled out a series of reform measures during his first year in the department, launching body-worn cameras, revamping training requirements and focusing on relationships with the community.

LeBlanc said in an interview that the audit should serve as a “comprehensive” assessment of diversity in all aspects of university life, including experiences in and outside the classroom, such as athletics and student events. He said he hopes the audit findings will help officials address some aspects of campus life that lack diversity with the help of members of the GW community.

“Speaking with students, faculty and staff, and maybe even alumni and community members, I know we want this to be complete,” he said. “We hope to shed light on all aspects of our community that are not welcome and inclusive, and this will give us the opportunity to see what we can do about it.”

LeBlanc said the hiring freeze launched during the COVID-19 pandemic has given officials more time to draft policy changes to their hiring process regarding diversity.

He said several recommendations outlined in the Black Student Union’s “State of Black GW” report released last fall have helped officials identify three focus areas where they could improve diversity. He added that officials communicate with BSU on an “ongoing” basis to understand student of color diversity issues, such as the GWPD’s tendency to send more police officers to black student events than to white student events.

“I’m very aware that we don’t all experience University the same, and it’s not just because we are different individuals,” he said. “And I think a student of color will experience college differently than a white faculty member, for example.”

To kick off diversity reform, Blake said the University’s financial aid policy that benefits students in need could change as early as the next few weeks, just ahead of the distribution of financial aid programs to the new class. 2025.

Blake said the University will include a committee of student leaders, experts and other members of the GW community who can recommend which company might be best to conduct the diversity assessment.

Blake added that members of the Faculty Senate and GW’s Jewish community have stressed the need for more diversity measures across the University. The Faculty’s Senate passed a resolution last summer urging civil servants to improve diversity training and affirm their commitment to tackling structural racism.

“I think that’s an important part of that – is that we just take an introspective look at ourselves and where we can improve and continually make improvements and hopefully get closer and closer. of the diversity and inclusiveness that we aspire to, ”said Blake.

Devon Bradley, president of BSU, said he expects the audit to reveal “many areas for improvement,” including a lack of faculty diversity and financial aid grants. He said he hoped the results would help foster a “campus-wide awareness” of the needs facing groups vulnerable to GW.

“Students shouldn’t be in their third year, fourth year, have a black teacher for the first time or a black female teacher for the first time,” he said. “It’s just extremely problematic.”

Bradley said diversity audits are common at other schools like Drexel University, and officials should continue to use them in the future. He said he hoped the results would prompt officials to hire more minority faculty.

“What I really hope to see is a significant increase in black faculty in response to this and black counselors, black mental health doctors, just more minorities in positions of power and influence on campus. “, did he declare.

Shirlene J. Manley