One year ago, the CCIM Taskforce on Inclusive Excellence held its first Diversity Dialogue, asking undergraduate students to share their perceptions of the diversity and inclusion efforts in our College. The taskforce is now planning a second Diversity Dialogue and once again invites undergraduate students from all CCIM majors to participate.

The upcoming CCIM Diversity Dialogue will be held Wednesday, April 7, and Thursday, April 8, 2021, from 5-6:30 p.m. on Zoom. Participants must register by Thursday, April 1 at this link.

Thirty-four students participated in the inaugural CCIM Diversity Dialogue, held in February 2020. These focus groups were the College’s first endeavor to assess students’ perceptions of inclusivity within the College.

Students largely reported a positive experience in the College. They indicated that they felt welcomed by CCIM leadership, faculty and staff and generally safe in CCIM’s physical spaces. They also recognized faculty initiatives that address diversity in their classroom environments.

Specifically, participants expressed appreciation for:

  • CCIM’s efforts to address diversity, equity and inclusion;
  • Faculty who promote an inclusive environment, value dialogue participants and offer opportunities for safe discussion of issues of inclusion;
  • Faculty who address issues of equity and inclusion in their classes;
  • Advisors who recognize and are sensitive to students’ needs; and
  • Small classes that promote an opportunity to have deeper conversations.

Participants did express some physical and psychological safety concerns regarding their experience within the College, including:

  • Large class sizes that inhibit comfortable sharing of opinions and identities;
  • Lack of emergency response buttons in studio-based classrooms; and
  • Desire for more discussion and training on bias reporting.

Additionally, women and students of color shared concerns specific to their perspectives and experiences as well as a general concern about the lack of diversity among student leadership, faculty and staff in the College.

  • Women and students of color expressed concerns about feeling welcome in student media organizations as well as a perceived absence of diverse content in student media, but they reported they felt included in other student organizations within the College.
  • Some students of color reported feeling overwhelmed with requests to participate in departmental and College organizations and events while other students of color are not included. Specific terms used included “tokenization” and “underrepresentation.”
  • Students of color also asked that the focus of efforts change; specifically “we need to change the vision from diversity to equality.“

Additionally, transfer students expressed concerns about difficulties accessing advisors and integrating into the College.

Participants recommended a number of actions the College could take, including:

  • Holding regular climate dialogues;
  • Establishing and increasing inclusive excellence training for student organization leadership, faculty, and staff;
  • Casting a wider net to involve more underrepresented students in departmental and College organizations and events;
  • Assessing best practices related to safety and evacuation practices;
  • Continuing efforts to diversify faculty and staff; and
  • Being transparent about funding and resource allocation related to student organizations.

Thus, the CCIM Taskforce on Inclusive Excellence is proceeding with several efforts that emerged in the 2020 Diversity Dialogue, including:

  • Holding a second undergraduate Diversity Dialogue in April 2021;
  • Holding continuing conversations with advisers and leaders of student media organizations regarding shared space and community building;
  • Using data collected during the 2019-2020 College’s Curriculum Mapping process to assess curricular efforts related to inclusive excellence;
  • Offering on-campus training for selected faculty to facilitate Intergroup Dialogues among students, faculty and staff;
  • Creating a new inclusive excellence course (i.e., COMM 100: Foundations of Intergroup Dialogue); and
  • Providing additional resources (via the College’s Inclusive Excellence Pedagogical Toolbox) for faculty who seek to promote inclusive excellence in their classrooms.

In addition, CCIM is proud to report that the enrollment of minority students in the College has increased from 6.5% in 2012 to 25.5% in 2020. All CCIM search committees now participate in Inclusive Excellent education, complete the Inclusive Excellence Search Checklist, and must demonstrate a diverse, proactive recruitment plan. Finally, the College is working on collecting a list of scholarships for the College website that promote diversity and inclusion.

Don’t forget to register to participate in the next Diversity Dialogue on April 7 and 8!