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Implementing diversity initiatives on campus

by Kiara Alfonseca - Editor-in-Chief
Tue, Jan 31st 2017 11:00 pm
Emma Misiaszek/PHOTO EDITOR
PRESIDENT'S INITIATIVES President Macpherson's (above) focus on diversity, equity and inclusion covers a wide set of programs and committees targeted towards an inclusive campus.
Emma Misiaszek/PHOTO EDITOR PRESIDENT'S INITIATIVES President Macpherson's (above) focus on diversity, equity and inclusion covers a wide set of programs and committees targeted towards an inclusive campus.

 On January 26, The College at Brockport President Heidi R. Macpherson discussed the draft of her strategic plan with students and faculty, with a great focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. 

"Building a Better Brockport" is the theme of this five-year plan, and one effort being made to achieve that "better Brockport" is through the new Bias Reporting System. 

According to Interim Chief Diversity Officer Megan Obourn, reports will go to one team that sends the feedback to the best resource on campus to handle it, such as academic departments or disciplinary committees. 

The college has many resources meant for reporting incidents or providing support for students, but lacked one central system of communication. 

The form can be filled out anonymously, or students can give information in hopes of being contacted for further investigation or support. The form gives students the opportunity to cite details of the incident reported, such as the involved parties or the nature of the matter.

This gives the college a better sense of the campus climate; when the information is gathered in one place, Obourn explained, it allows for an organized collection of all data. 

Although there will be a spike in reporting after the system's implementation, it will take years to properly assess the data and whether programming and training in response to incident trends diminishes bias and discrimination on campus.

"We have the student behavioral team, we have student conduct, we have University Police," Obourn said. "There are lots of places where people could go with a complaint, but there is no one single place to go to and say 'I experienced bias' or 'I witnessed an incident of bias.'"

Many incidents of bias don't come to public awareness, according to Obourn. Because of this, the Bias Reporting System makes administration aware about the state of campus life. 

Bias can reach a wide variety of topics and issues, from race to gender, veteran status to socioeconomic status, and covers the different modes of discrimination, from online bullying to physical assaults. 

What is gathered here will be implemented in the next strategic plan, according to Obourn.

"Our current plan is up and our current plan is implementing this system," Obourn said. "One place it will end up is in our next strategic plan to say 'here's what we saw over the last five years. Here's what we have implemented. And here's what we will do in the future.'"

When trends are seen in types of incidents reported, the college will put forward programming and events targeting those issues and how to better prevent them, creating the inclusive campus Macpherson describes in her strategic plan draft. 

It is one of a broader set of initiatives set to target diversity, equity and inclusion. There will be events for students, faculty and staff that are designed to facilitate dialogue and productive conversations about hot social topics. 

On Thursday, Feb. 2, and Friday, Feb. 3, there will be a showing of "I'm Not Racist ... Am I?" with time for discussion following the film. Thursday, the screening will be located in Edwards 105, 4 to 6:30 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, it will show in Edwards 104, 1 to 3:30 p.m., 3:30 to 6 p.m. For more events like this, visit brockport.edu/diversity/events.

Although students currently won't see direct results from the Bias Reporting System in the overall campus community, they can expect individual responses from the system's team and seek out help through the reporting system. 

"Since I've been here, there hasn't been a bias system here completely," Obourn said. "[We want students to know] you will be heard. You will be supported."

Macpherson's strategic plan will run through 2022 and contains four "value pillars" of which the document revolve upon. Community, engagement, excellence and transformation are the pillars used to gear the plan's missions statement of building a "better Brockport."

There are no clear step-by-step plans in the strategic plan, simply a list of goals; "To be a great college at which to learn" or "to be a great college at which to work," as the document states. 

According to Macpherson on January 28, there will be plans under the umbrella of the strategic plan laid out to execute these plans. 

Diversity, equity and inclusion, mentioned often throughout the document, will play a key role in the next five years under Macpherson's new plan. 

The draft can be found at brockport.edu/about/strategic_plan.