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March 25, 2010- Improving Campus Climate and Inclusiveness

March 25, 2010

President Haynes Outlines Action Steps for Improving Campus Climate and Inclusiveness

In my March 12 message regarding the recent hate speech incidents on campus, I agreed to share with you some specific actions we would take to advance our goals for inclusiveness and diversity. Over the past few weeks, I have met with several members of our campus community to listen, to gather input and to generate ideas.

Last Wednesday evening, I met with a group of our student organization leaders. While I was proud of their courage to share their personal stories, I was deeply saddened to hear of the pain they experienced not only from these recent incidents, but also from other experiences that caused them to feel unwelcomed by their peers or by our campus. I appreciate those who have stepped forward with information, observations, and advice.

As I have said over the past two weeks, we will not allow these recent acts or any acts of hate or bias to set us back. We will use the dialogue that has resulted from them to take the next steps. Given our forward momentum in recent years, I have also taken this opportunity to reflect on and review the progress of recommendations brought forward from the Educational Equity Task Force, the Foundations of Excellence initiative, the Social Justice and Equity Project, and our diversity forums. That reflection and the experiences that you have shared over the past week made it very clear to me what our next steps should be.

As a campus community, we recognize that the work to ensure our core values of inclusiveness, individual and cultural diversity, respect and openness will be ongoing and must be part of everything we do. We know our efforts to create a sense of belonging for everyone must always continue. We have made a commitment to foster a diverse and open campus environment that welcomes those who are willing to recognize and respect others. I offer my thanks and admiration to the many individuals on campus who have committed so much to this ongoing process and whose collective work provides a foundation from which to build on. It is now time to act upon their recommendations. The action steps I outline below move us further toward the campus that we envision.

During our Foundation of Excellence review, the diversity sub-committee composed of faculty and staff made recommendations that included evaluation of general education at CSUSM. Their recommended action items included review of our GE philosophy and development of learning outcomes and objectives with diversity of ideas and world views in mind; reviewing the content of GE classes for diversity, especially "first year" courses such as GEL and GEW; reviewing GEL and other areas of the curriculum, to also include transfer students, to determine if issues of diversity can be better integrated; and, continuing to promote diversity in the classroom and respect of others' differing attitudes and opinions in an explicit fashion.

I will charge the Academic Senate to make these recommendations a priority, to engage with the Social Justice and Equity Project to conduct the reviews and to adopt the necessary curricular changes.

Diversity and Multi-Cultural Awareness Training
I will charge Human Resources and Equal Opportunity, with advice from our Staff Appreciation and Development (SAND) committee, to develop a plan for implementing diversity and multi-cultural awareness training for staff. I will charge the Faculty Center to develop a plan for implementing diversity and multi-cultural awareness training for faculty.

Institutional Practices
I will appoint a working group to review institutional practices to ensure climate, inclusiveness and equity are embedded throughout our organizational structure and processes that guide our university. They will, within a reasonable timeframe, conduct a broad review of practices affecting students, faculty and staff, and recommend any needed changes in policy or practice.

Diversity in Hiring
In November 2009, I appointed a committee on Diversity in Hiring and asked that group to focus on our goals for increasing diversity hires, particularly for faculty. The committee will produce an action plan to address both staff and faculty hires, retention, and support for career development.

Assessing Campus Climate and Furthering a Sense of Belonging
For the past few months, Student Affairs has been working with my Campus Climate Advocate to develop a survey on student's perspectives on diversity and inclusion. The survey administration will begin on April 12. I look forward to seeing the results and recommendations from that survey.

Committee on Campus Climate
While we have had a Campus Climate Advocate for five years, most recently Scott Gross, I will now also appoint a committee on Campus Climate to recommend ideas and programs which raise awareness on campus climate, including diversity issues affecting the campus and creating a sense of belonging for faculty, staff and students. They will regularly assess campus climate by maintaining networks of communication which will provide access to the variety of perspectives and opinions.

Student Engagement
I also call upon our Associated Students, Inc., the official voice of our student body, and our Student Life and Leadership Office to lead a campus-wide effort to connect first-year students to diversity and multi-cultural events on campus, increase student participation in activities, and encourage and host activities that promote diversity of ideas and world views.