“Victors Vote”: Engaging, Empowering and Exciting Student-Athletes About the 2020 Election
Guided by staff from the Leadership Development Team, a committee of student-athlete leaders formed the Victors Vote committee to address needs and inform fellow students about activities and engagement opportunities in advance of the 2020 election. The committee recruited internal and external partners—including U-M’s Ginsberg Center and its Turn Up Turnout initiative, the Big Ten Conference, the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) and the Secretary of State’s Office—to host six workshops between July and October. Topics ranged from the history of voting and ballot basics to the voter registration process. Additionally, in conjunction with NCAA legislation (announced September 16, 2020), Michigan Athletics introduced a departmental policy prohibiting athletic-related activities every year on Election Day. Finally, a 100 percent Voter Registration Challenge was launched on social media, resulting in 14 of 29 varsity teams registering all their eligible voters. Student-athletes also sought opportunities to volunteer on Election Day.
Rackham Graduate School
Rackham Graduate Students with Disabilities Needs Assessment
In 2020, Rackham partnered with ADVANCE to conduct a first-in-the-nation study of the needs of graduate students with disabilities. Findings and recommendations generated by the report were posted on the Rackham website, and a case study was accepted for publication in A Practitioner’s Guide to Supporting Graduate and Professional Students (Routledge, forthcoming). Rackham is currently collaborating with the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA), Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD), the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Office and other campus partners to enact recommendations generated by the study and subsequent report. This group will likely form the core of an advisory committee charged with supporting the implementation of those recommendations.
School of Information
Religious Holidays Online Fact Sheets
The goal of this staff-initiated, multi-year, team project was to create a set of online fact sheets that supplement the Office of the Provost’s list of religious holidays, sent annually to faculty and staff. Each sheet includes a brief description of the holiday, a link to an online pronunciation guide and a sidebar featuring holiday dates, appropriate greetings, dietary restrictions, unique observances among various sects and other facts. Due to the magnitude of the project and a challenging timeline, additional UMSI staff were recruited to complete the project. Collaborating remotely over many months, the team worked with local religious leaders to verify facts—providing draft materials in different formats to facilitate editing. By better understanding how religious holidays are celebrated, these fact sheets foster mutual respect for faith observances within our diverse community and help advance U-M’s goal of creating a more inclusive and welcoming campus. In Summer 2021, the project team, led by Executive Assistant to the Dean Barb Smith, was recognized with an annual UMSI DEI award.
Link here to view the fact sheets along with project highlights.
Rackham Graduate School
Creation of the Juneteenth Symposium
After hosting a successful Juneteenth event last year as part of the Rackham Staff Forum, Rackham’s Strategic Action Lead Team (SALT) began planning a 2021 celebration of Juneteenth. This effort quickly grew to include partners across campus, including the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS), the Association of Black Social Work Students (ABSWS) and the Center for Social Solutions, in consultation with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and the Center for the Education of Women’s (CEW+) Women of Color Task Force (WCTF). The event became a community-university partnership as well when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Ann Arbor Branch joined the effort. During a week-long series of events, the inaugural Juneteenth Symposium offered both online and in-person activities. To date, online content has been viewed by over 2,000 individuals; racial justice-themed workshops were attended by more than 80 participants; and the NAACP-sponsored march to Ann Arbor’s Wheeler Park drew over 250 participants.
College of Engineering
DEI Culture Shift: Community Teams for DEI Education
The goal of building a truly inclusive process for DEI education began with five proposals that established a framework to administer educational opportunities for all COE faculty, staff, postdocs and students. Through community teams, subcommittee teams, townhalls, surveys, small-group meetings of the dean with students, faculty and staff, and focus groups, we brought together the diverse perspectives of administrative leadership, faculty, staff and graduate and undergraduate students, thus assuring that all constituents had an opportunity to shape the training, educational goals and modes of delivery. These and other efforts by the DEI Culture Shift Community Team led to the development of a Change it Up! Bystander Intervention workshop focused on stopping anti-Black racism. To date, more than 700 faculty, staff and students have participated. A DEI education and training model has been established incentivizing faculty and staff for their commitment to DEI, creates a formal mechanism to track progress toward creating and maintaining an environment where all people are valued and stresses the importance of DEI within the field of engineering.
School of Music, Theatre & Dance
Sexual Misconduct Prevention Toolkit
To promote a safe and supportive environment where all members of our community can work, learn and thrive, staff in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) Office of DEI worked to create an SMTD-specific toolkit on preventing sexual misconduct in the performing arts, in collaboration with with members of the Faculty and Staff Allies Network (FASAN), Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC), Office of Institutional Equity (OIE), Office for Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR) and other units. The intent was not to replace live or online-based training, but to supplement ongoing training and educational efforts. Among key areas addressed were: definitions and expectations, boundaries and power dynamics, the reporting process, training offered on campus and additional campus resources. Since physical interaction is integral to the performing arts, the kit includes SMTD-specific scenarios as well as syllabus language on physical touch in the classroom. The toolkit was made available to all faculty and staff and is being used as a template for other units on campus. It will continue to be updated on an annual basis.
Faculty Equity and COVID-19
The U-M ADVANCE Program focuses on four areas relevant to the success of a diverse and excellent faculty: recruitment, retention, climate and leadership development. In an effort to identify and address faculty needs specific to the pandemic, ADVANCE reported on the equity concerns for faculty that were exacerbated by COVID-19 and made recommendations to campus in a report: Faculty Equity & COVID-19: The Problem, the Evidence and Recommendations. This work was based in part on our survey of U-M faculty: The Effect of COVID-19 on U-M Faculty Life: Results from a Limited Survey, 2020 as well as the broader literature, i.e. growing evidence that the pandemic is exerting a differential impact on faculty. One recommendation suggests that metrics be developed to assess the impact of the pandemic on faculty by race, gender and rank. Other recommendations highlight ways to support faculty in their research, teaching, service and caregiver roles.
Dentistry, Michigan Athletics, Law, Social Work
Advocacy, Support and Policies
Despite the pandemic, units across campus implemented programs, policies and practices to increase awareness, promote social and racial justice and engage activism. Among the many efforts, the School of Dentistry organized a new series of schoolwide discussions, the first examining the impact of racism and racial injustice on individuals, communities and society. Presented on June 25, “A Listening Session on Race, Anti-Racism and Racial Healing” drew more than 130 online participants. Additional sessions focused on “Impactful Allyship” and “Charting the Path Forward.” In Michigan Athletics, Wolverines Against Racism (WAR)—a student-sponsored organization launched in summer 2020—led the push for inclusion of the equality patch and calls to action on team uniforms and equipment. WAR also co-sponsored Athletics’ Juneteenth and MLK celebrations. At the Law School, the dean formed an independent Advisory Board on Race and Racism with the goal of helping Michigan realize the promise of a diverse, equitable and inclusive legal education experience. The Advisory Board is charged with 1) examining any issues of racism and disparity in the Law School community based on race and ethnicity and 2) issuing actionable, transformative recommendations for eradicating any systemic, institutional racism and discrimination and providing guidance for engaging issues of race in constructive ways. In 2020, the School of Social Work created an Anti-Racism Fund in response to concerns among student groups. The resulting anti-racism grants are available to support individual and group activities and projects for anti-racism work, with a focus on confronting and combating anti-Blackness, racism against Indigenous peoples and White supremacy.
Duderstadt Center, U-M Museum of Art, Life Sciences Institute, Michigan Medicine, Ross School of Business
Anti-Racism Initiatives: Educational Programming
Spurred by national events and activism on campus, many schools, colleges and units across campus began investing in anti-racism work, in particular through educational activities. Among many examples, all programming at the Duderstadt Center had an anti-racism theme, and DEI learning opportunities were offered in both Fall and Winter semesters. The most popular program was a weekly Podcast Club featuring discussions around the Scene On Radio Series, “Seeing White” (Fall) and “Men” (Winter). At the University of Michigan Museum of Art, more than 70 members of the Docent Volunteer Corps completed a yearlong “Anti-Racism Teaching in the Museum” course, mandatory for those who will guide tours when the museum reopens. Docents gained a broad understanding of how to present anti-racist educational programs and how to work through biases during visitor interactions. Members of the Life Sciences Institute community gathered twice a month on Zoom for the Learning Spaces for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program. Conversations centered around books, podcasts, documentaries and articles that address the roots of racism, anti-racist actions and the impact of systemic racism. Michigan Medicine introduced Getting Uncomfortable, a set of tools and educational experiences that address racist behavior within the health care work environment. Resources include a Toolkit for Leaders, community spaces acknowledging issues affecting the AAPI community and a core course for MM faculty and staff on anti-racism. Also noteworthy, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business dedicated its entire 2020–21 Business and Society Speaker Series to issues regarding race and business. Topics included DEI Through C-Suite Activism; Toward a Racially Just Workplace; and Overcoming Systemic Barriers to Entrepreneurship.
Online Exhibit of Native American Photography Opens Up New Narratives
A major goal of Year Five was to present ongoing exhibits and displays that made traditionally underrepresented groups and DEI themes visible to visitors and researchers. Initial plans called for a physical exhibit based on the Pohrt Collection of Native American Photography that would travel to libraries, historical societies and museums statewide. With the onset of COVID-19, the focus shifted to an online exhibit created by two U-M student interns. Titled “No, Not Even for a Picture: Re-examining the Native Midwest and Tribes’ Relations to the History of Photography,” the virtual experience presented the riches of the Pohrt Collection in an accessible yet rigorous way. At every step of the process, from writing a land acknowledgment to creating a glossary of terms, DEI commitments were at the forefront. This online exhibit has made the stories contained in these photographs available to Native communities across Michigan, and to scholars and students around the world, far exceeding what an in-person exhibit could have achieved.
Office of Enrollment Management
Thanks to the support of our campus community and using remote delivery options, the Office of Enrollment Management (OEM) made great strides in implementing innovative DEI programming for all OEM staff this past year. Leveraging the talents of existing campus partners and resources, the OEM DEI Committee offered expanded DEI programming options, including 15 virtual programming opportunities in which OEM team members could participate. These included events covering social identity and ethnicity, a virtual discussion group focused on the “Nice White Parents” podcast from the New York Times and a fireside chat with Dr. Anthony Abraham Jack discussing efforts to recruit and enroll low-income students within the state of Michigan. One highlight that illuminated OEM’s campus partnerships was the virtual Vets Week programs such as the Michigan Medicine Veteran Panel, which was hosted with our partners in Michigan Medicine and explored careers in health care for veterans. Resources including videos, guided readings and events from campus were shared to supplement OEM programming.
Matthei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum
Internship Program in Food Security, Access, and Justice
In Year Five, the U-M Campus Farm, in collaboration with D-Town Farm (part of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network) and Detroit-based Oakland Avenue Farm, was awarded funds from the United States Botanic Garden and the American Public Gardens Association’s Urban Agriculture Resilience Program. The award will help to create an inter-farm, inter-organization internship program for U-M students. Building on a previous version of the internship led by the U-M Sustainable Food Systems Initiative, the goal is to increase capacity, collaboration and information sharing within and among participating farms/organizations, and to advance their missions around food security, access and justice while creating an immersive educational opportunity in urban agriculture. This award facilitates tangible engagement with Black- and Brown-run community-based farms and organizations engaged in food justice and access work in southeast Michigan. In addition to producing genuine community-driven outcomes, these collaborative opportunities will also generate high-impact teaching and learning opportunities for students from a wide range of academic fields on topics relating to urban agriculture and food access/justice work. To date, five interns have been selected—four from the Ann Arbor campus and one from UM-Dearborn.
Graham Sustainability Institute
The Water@Michigan Collaborative
A chief goal of Year Five for the Graham Sustainability Institute was to carry its strong commitment to DEI into its work and into communities through significant partnerships and collaborations. One outstanding example is the Water@Michigan Collaborative, which focuses on working with predominantly BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities across Michigan that have been disproportionately affected by issues such as unsafe or unaffordable drinking water, surface water pollution and neighborhood flooding. The Collaborative acts as a gathering table, bringing together the university’s multidisciplinary water network to co-produce new knowledge about water with community end users, developing just, equitable and sustainable approaches that address communities’ water priorities. It is supported by a strong partnership with SEAS and the Ginsberg Center, a diverse Steering Committee with connections across university units and initiatives and external organizations engaged in community-centered work.
Office of University Development
Data Drives DEI in Philanthropy: Alternative Wealth Screening and Data Acquisition
In pre-campaign planning conversations with schools, colleges and units, the question often arises of how to diversify donor pipelines. During the first three years of its DEI plan, OUD encouraged development staff across all three campuses to diversify both donor and volunteer bases. As a first step, OUD leveraged its new policy on constituent affinity and identity information to diversify its donor base and direct donors toward DEI and other funds that speak to their interests, backgrounds and experiences. In Year Five, OUD continued its data acquisition, strategy and usage efforts to explore mitigating bias in wealth screening for prospective donors. With support from an ODEI Diversity, Democracy and Structural Racism Grant, our Prospect Development and Analytics team (PDA) and Data Science & Decision Support team analyzed in-house and vendor data to consider indicators that will help diminish bias in current wealth screenings, for instance accounting for U.S. history of redlining when using real estate data. Because of the project’s focus on both identifying untapped prospect potential and creating industry-leading best practices around wealth screening, it will have a direct impact on how OUD builds its campaign pipelines both in the short and long term.
School of Kinesiology
Body Politics and Movement Toward Racial Empowerment
During Year Five, Kinesiology served as the host of a three-part MLK webinar series sponsored by U-M Health Sciences units that focused on the topic “Where Do We Go From Here: Body Politics and Movement Towards Racial Empowerment.” The series was well attended and featured panel discussions, a keynote presentation, a recitation of creative writing, a mental health meditation and a movement demonstration of Afro-beats. Based on participant feedback, the sessions were informative and inspirational in illuminating the myriad ways in which bodies are racially politicized, and highlighting movement as racial empowerment. The webinars, which were both interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, showcased the critical role of health sciences in addressing and combating racism in theory and practice to promote wellness social justice for communities of color.
Information and Technology Services
Words Matter Task Force Creates Recommendations for Inclusive Language in ITS
In the past year, Information and Technology Services (ITS) appointed a Words Matter Task Force to enhance work culture by opening up dialogue around how language is used in their workplace. Recognizing that the meaning of words can change over time, the task force was charged with identifying terms used within the technology landscape that are, or can be construed to be, racist, sexist or non-inclusive, and to propose alternative words and phrases in the nomenclature and terminology of its daily work. In addition, the team was asked to provide guidance on future technology-related naming policies, principles and implementation procedures across ITS services. After several months of work, the team created a set of recommendations to highlight the importance of inclusive language, suggest new artifact-naming standards and provide guidance for further organizational development. The recommendations were shared with staff in December 2020, and continued organizational development training materials are in development.