On October 7, 2020, Watts College submitted its initial plan to advance an anti-racist college. This work was prompted by the murder of George Floyd and the national reckoning that racial violence and discrimination is a part of our daily lives. To realize ASU's Charter and undue 400 years of racism in this country, we must all take active steps to dismantle systemic oppression and create inclusive environments in our own communities. The initial plan communicated our commitment to this work. Updates were provided on 4/27/2021 and again on 7/11/2022. We are now ready to move to the next phase of this important work.
Over the past two years, we have made meaningful progress. The first step was to expand our commitment from an anti-racist approach, to one that is also anti-oppressive. Engaging in specific actions that are anti-racist remains essential to our ability to move forward, because adopting an anti-racist lens centers race when considering oppression; it acknowledges and seeks to combat our nation’s long history of violence and discrimination against Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Asian communities. Our commitment to approach our work on a daily basis from an anti-racist perspective must never cease.
Over time, we further developed our approach. We all have multiple overlapping identities. The concept of intersectionality reminds us that our identities, as they relate to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and/or spirituality, immigration status, ability and class are not just important, but they are essential to truly understanding the complexity of our lived experience. And yet, these identities can also lead to experiences of violence and discrimination. By saying we are advancing an anti-racist, AND anti-oppressive approach, it allows us to call out the need to ensure safety, respect, and inclusion of students, staff, and faculty as it relates to multiple identities that can lead to oppression. We are working to advance a truly welcoming and inclusive work and learning environment across the intersecting ways we define ourselves.
As we initiated the implementation of this commitment to an anti-racist and anti-oppressive approach, the most important early action was appointing an associate dean of Inclusive Design for Equity and Access (IDEA). To support her work, a set of graduate students were appointed as IDEA scholars to work with Associate Dean Chandra Crudup to advance initiatives that combat racism and oppression in the college. These student leaders not only expand our capacity, but they bring perspectives that have been essential to understanding how best to move forward. The creation of this role and office has allowed us to move from talking about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging to engaging in actionable steps that allow us to advance this approach.
To provide just a few examples of this implementation, Associate Dean Crudup along with Dr. Mary Mathis Burnett created the Inclusive Pedagogy Toolkit, providing in-depth educational resources for our faculty and staff regarding anti-racist, anti-oppressive approaches to teaching and learning. This resource is a tangible way we are working to infuse an equity and inclusion lens in our classrooms, advising, and student engagement activities.
The IDEA office also created a mini-grant program that invites faculty, staff, and students from across the college to submit proposals for a modest level of seed funding to support ground-up work to help create an inclusive work environment. This, coupled with the Race Talk Circles initiative, has created space for our community to have important conversations about race, a topic that is often avoided.
To advance an anti-racist and anti-oppressive approach in our work and learning environments, we have to first be able to have open and honest conversations about race. All of these efforts have created not just space for conversation, but also ideas that are leading to direct actions that seek to dismantle systems of oppression and name and address micro-aggressions that occur in work or learning spaces.
I am so pleased with the efforts of the IDEA Office, and also the way our broader Watts community has responded. Many members across the Watts community have taken on this shared goal, confirming my belief that it will take all of us.
Advancing an anti-racist and anti-oppressive college will require a level of resolve that is uncompromising and unapologetic. It will also require diligence and perseverance, meaning, we cannot grow weary nor allow the passage of time to dissipate this commitment. And, we must accept that we are all responsible for accomplishing this shared goal. Despite the progress, this is just the beginning. Like other organizations across the nation, we are grappling with the task of undoing 400 years of discriminatory practices embedded in not just our policies, but in our own thinking and reactions.
Advancing an anti-racist and anti-oppressive college involves ensuring the micro- and macro-level activities are welcoming to all, free of bias, equitable and fair. This means that the students, staff, and faculty of the Watts community must collectively adopt this shared commitment if we are to truly realize this goal.
Our senior leadership team understands and embraces our specific responsibility in ensuring all decisions, actions, and policies are equitable. This requires approaching our roles with humility and a sincere openness to feedback from students, staff, and faculty. For this reason, we have created several new and ongoing mechanisms for providing feedback. We will not just solicit these ideas; we will hear them, consider them and act.
As we begin the fall semester of 2022, I do so from a place of hope. We have made a lot of progress, which means more growth is indeed possible. We have an incredible group of people in our community, all of whom join this college to be a part of advancing our mission: to build more vibrant, healthy communities. Starting this year, that mission statement will have a significant addition – we will now claim our commitment to build more vibrant, healthy, equitable communities. And that mission starts with us.
I know the work before us is not easy. I also know the people of this college are ready to take on this charge. I aspire for us to model how to truly embrace difference, honor our intersecting identities, lead from a place of cohesion, and move forward with a shared passion to make the world a more just and equitable place.
Dean and President's Professor
We will contract with an external consultant to advance an evaluation of the work climate of the college as it relates to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. The consultant will launch an anonymous climate survey by the end of January 2021. We are prepared to make changes to policies and practices that emerge from the feedback gathered from our faculty and staff through this confidential mechanism. We are prepared to invest in providing anti-racist training that can be implemented for all employees of Watts College, including our senior leadership team, which remains committed to modeling lifelong learning as it relates to eradicating systemic racism; this training will be informed by the feedback that emerges from the survey.
04/27/2021 UPDATE: With the help of our Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), we identified and advanced a contract with MGT Consulting Group in December 2020. An ad hoc committee of CDI was formed to work directly with MGT on two phases of this project. The first phase involved conducting interviews and focus groups with Watts employees (faculty, staff and student workers) to inform the develop of an equity and inclusion climate survey. Phase 1 was completed in March and a report with findings will be provided to us in May. An initial draft of the equity and inclusion survey instrument was developed by MGT and the CDI ad hoc committee that was informed by findings from the interviews and focus groups. The draft of the survey was submitted for university review in early April but revisions based on feedback could not be completed for distribution prior to the end of the spring semester. We will be working with the university this summer to revise such that survey will be administered in September of 2021.
07/11/2022 UPDATE: The anonymous, online inclusion survey was revised during the fall semester of 2021. This survey was administered in March of 2022. A working group consisting of the associate deans, Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff was formed shortly thereafter. That group is responsible for analyzing data generated from the closed- and open-ended items in the survey. Recognizing that not all employees are comfortable responding to an online survey, we also invited faculty and staff to provide any additional feedback in virtual listening sessions that were hosted in April of 2022. We will report the findings from the survey and listening sessions to the Watt College Community in September of 2022. This will include a list of action items coming directly from these findings. In the upcoming academic year, we will be hosting listening sessions with students to make sure we are understanding their experiences as well.
We moved information regarding reporting of discrimination and other Title IX offenses to a more prominent place on our website. The "Reporting Discrimination" page publicservice.asu.edu/reporting-discrimination was created to provide faculty, staff and students with information about reporting. We will increase the frequency of our communication regarding reporting. We aim to secure spaces for faculty, staff and students who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx or from other oppressed groups to help foster connection and empower resilience.
04/27/2021 UPDATE: The website work is complete and we have increased the cadence of communications on how to report discrimination. One theme that emerged during the focus groups and interviews cited concerns employees shared regarding reporting discrimination. We will be holding a training with all supervisors this summer to reinforce ASU’s policy https://www.asu.edu/aad/manuals/acd/acd401.html that prohibits any negative consequences that result from reporting concerns related to discrimination and to reinforce the mandated reporting by supervisors of all Title IX violations https://www.asu.edu/titleIX/. We will host a second version of this training in the fall semester with supervisors who are faculty who are not on contract during the summer. More work may be done regarding this concern once the equity and inclusion survey is complete but we did not want to wait to address this – having a work environment that is free of retaliation is not just consistent with ASU policy but also an expectation that is fundamental to our functioning as a college.
07/11/2022 UPDATE: We continue to hear concerns that our employees are not clear regarding mechanisms for reporting discrimination. The Associate Dean of IDEA will continue to send an email to all employees at the beginning of each semester to reinforce this process. We will now also be sure to reinforce this messaging at all school retreats each year and will insert this as an agenda item at the Watts College All Faculty/Staff meetings each semester. We have created standardized instructions that have been incorporated into our central college syllabus template to ensure that students also have the most clear and updated information at the beginning of each semester. The Senior Associate Dean and her team have developed a “helping students” resources that also ensures faculty and staff know how to inform students regarding the mechanisms for reporting, it is provided once a semester.
We have requested an analysis of the demographic data for our college from ASU Institutional Analysis as it relates to personnel actions such as hiring and promotions to confirm our internal tracking. We will review this report summarizing the racial composition of our faculty and staff across ranks and continue to look for any discriminatory patterns in personnel actions. We are also taking a critical look at our personnel policies to identify and change any barrier to the hiring or advancement of faculty or staff who come from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. An equity statement is now required for applications of faculty and administrators hired in Watts College and for all staff applying to positions of director or above to delineate how they have and will work to advance equity in their new position in the college. We also remain committed to increasing the diversity of our senior leadership team to better reflect the diversity of our student body, and we will continue to prioritize the promotion and/or hiring of Black, Indigenous and Latinx persons to leadership positions within the college. We will require that recruitment pools for any faculty, staff or leadership positions are diverse and will require that search committees attend training regarding equitable practices in hiring. We will provide a report that will be available to the entire Watts Community regarding this examination, with plans to remove any barriers for faculty and staff of color by December 2020.
04/27/2021 UPDATE: We received a report by institutional analysis regarding the break-down of our racial composition in October. We were informed that these data could not be shared broadly considering HR data are private and many cells were small enough such that there is a risk that how individuals report their own identity could become known should we make these data public. We hired an Associate Dean of Inclusive Design for Equity and Access. Dr. Chandra Crudup started in this role on February 1, 2021. She will be responsible for reviewing data at the beginning of the academic year to identify areas of growth in the recruitment and retention of faculty and staff from underrepresented racial/ethnic populations. We now require diversity statements in all faculty hiring and were poised to extend this practice to staff hiring. However, this policy has been found to create a barrier to hiring people from underrepresented racial/ethnic populations. We are re-evaluating this policy to consider ways it helps and hinders this fundamental goal of increasing the diversity of faculty and staff who work for the college
07/11/2022 UPDATE: We have made progress in our ability to recruit faculty and staff coming from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. We will continue this commitment. We recognize that we must also focus on making sure we have the level of support needed to ensure the success of our faculty and staff. We will be providing opportunities for faculty and staff coming from diverse racial and ethnic groups to connect and build a sense of community with each other. This includes not just those who are new, but is available to any current employees. Ground-up efforts such as the Watts Women Faculty of Color space that was created by a faculty member through the IDEA mini grant program will continue to be supported. Finally, the Associate Dean of IDEA advanced Race Talk Circles, a five-week program focused on how to engage in effective conversation around race. This program is available to all faculty and staff – as we believe our efforts to advance an inclusive work and learning environment remain essential to our ability to recruit, retain and advance faculty and staff from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. She and one of our senior staff members also created the Inclusive Pedagogy Toolkit, which provides opportunities for faculty and staff to earn badges to demonstrate in annual performance evaluations their professional development as it relates to creating an inclusive learning environment.
Our four schools and our interdisciplinary degree programs will conduct a critical review of all degree programs, including our PhD programs. Curricula will be reviewed: (a) to ensure all degree programs in the college include content that addresses the specific impact of racism in their areas of study, (b) to clarify the role of public service professionals in combatting racism, white supremacy, inequity and unfair treatment of people of color, (c) to update the content to ensure our students are able to recognize instances of structural racism built into our institutions as well as their own implicit biases, (d) to provide education regarding our responsibility as public servants to stand up to unfair treatment when experiencing or observing unjust actions, and (e) to ensure content written by people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, when available, is included as required readings. Changes to the curricula remain an important area of faculty governance. With that said, it is the position of our leadership team that all schools should have a course focused on the fundamental value and importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in our society along with content regarding racism, anti-racism and a critical evaluation of the inequities that are inherent in the public service fields represented in this college. A plan for this review will be submitted to our office by December 2020, with a final report due May 2021.
04/27/2021 UPDATE: Our four schools and interdisciplinary programs submitted a plan for reviewing their curricula in December 2020. During the spring semester, faculty committees were formed to advance these plans. We expect reports from each unit in May. With that said, this is a huge undertaking that will take longer than one semester, and this is something that should remain front and center moving forward. We expect this work to continue next year and seek to identify a schedule for reviewing curricula every three years to embed this commitment as a permanent part of curricular review.
07/11/2022 UPDATE: The curriculum review process continues. The IDEA Office is serving an important function in holding our schools accountable for continuing this important work. In addition to providing an Inclusive Pedagogy Toolkit for faculty and staff interested in integrating this approach to their teaching, the IDEA office has also hosted five “explorations” in Spring 2022. These events help to intentionally initiate conversations around concepts of anti-racism and anti-oppression. They are currently working on developing a biannual review process that includes student feedback.
We recognize the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities. We understand that our approach to the accommodation process as defined by the university is a work-in-progress, and we will make adjustments as we understand the ramifications for safety and equity. We pledge to continue working with faculty and staff who are working on campus and to revise plans to meet their needs. We will provide regular communication to our faculty, staff and students as the situation changes. We will ensure Watts College employees are informed about ASU resources, including the process for accommodations, COVID testing, computers and hot spots, and counseling.
04/27/2021 UPDATE: We worked hard to provide consistent communication about the process of accommodations for faculty and staff with regular updates regarding resources available to our employees. Specifically, we provided regular updates through email sent by senior leaders, virtual townhalls, at regular meetings, and through communication through supervisors and through the business team. By increasing the cadence of communication and having communication flow through multiple platforms and sources, we worked to ensure all employees were aware of their options related to accommodations, COVID testing, access to the vaccination, and general updates regarding how the pandemic was impacting the workplace.
07/11/2022 UPDATE: We continue to adapt to the changing landscape as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. We remain committed to providing clear communication, processing needed accommodations, and providing access to testing and vaccines to ensure all employees and students have an opportunity to participate in these important health-related actions.
We look forward to contributing to and participating in President Crow’s plan to advance a list of 25 actions to support Black students, faculty and staff available at: https://president.asu.edu/statements/asus-commitment-to-black-students-faculty-and-staff.
04/27/2021 UPDATE: We have several members of the Watts community who are participating on sub-committees as part of the university’s LIFT initiative. We will continue to explore ways that we can contribute to this important work.
07/11/2022 UPDATE: In addition to having several members of the Watts community continue their participation in the University’s LIFT initiative, we are part of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA) and their efforts to launch the Black Student Success Initiative (BSSI). Our College hosted a Black/African/African American employee and student mixer as well as a Black brilliance event. This event was planned by Black students, centering on Black students for and with students and the community. We will continue to advance these efforts and build on them for the 2022-2023 academic year.
We will seek opportunities to engage Chief Thompson to assist in examining policing policies on campus regarding their potential to disadvantage Black students, staff and faculty and people coming from other diverse racial and ethnic groups. Considering our expertise in evidence-based policing, we have a responsibility to assess and support the practice of policing at ASU and look forward to infusing this expertise across our practices here at ASU.
04/27/2021 UPDATE: Director Jon Gould and faculty from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice have been working with Chief Thompson on a committee to advance evidence-based policing practices at ASU. We also hosted a virtual townhall with Chief Thompson this semester and will be meeting with him in May to follow-up on feedback provided during that townhall. We plan to host a townhall with Chief Thompson and out students in the fall.
07/11/2022 UPDATE: Our Associate Dean of Curriculum continues to serve on the LIFT committee focused on advancing evidence-based practices at ASU. We have not yet hosted the townhall with students. We are considering other ways to engage with ASU Police.