Antioch Supports Students’ Demands for More Anti-Racist Actions

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The Council for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (CEDI), a grassroots graduate student/alumni-led and run cooperative organization, has recently asked Antioch University to take additional steps to become a more anti-racist institution. CEDI’s mission is to drive anti-racist action and propel systemic change across the University in order to advance Antioch’s commitment to racial, social, economic, and environmental justice. CEDI members recently joined Antioch’s monthly Messy Conversations to discuss their experiences at Antioch and to introduce a petition, which includes a set of formal recommendations for the University’s consideration.

Antioch’s Cabinet commends the CEDI members for their honesty and willingness to come forward and to work to improve the University’s climate. The University is committed to developing a diverse, inclusive, active, and engaged community of students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Also, to advance its role in dismantling institutional racism and in leading change for a more just and antiracist community, nation, and world.

From: William Groves

Date: May 26, 2023

Subject: Re: CEDI Concerns

Dear CEDI Students,

I want to thank members of the Council for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (CEDI) for coming together and demanding that this University fulfill its mission of being an anti-racist, pro-inclusive institution of higher learning. As Chancellor of the University, I recognize the critical importance of what you have shared and what you are demanding. After lengthy discussions with the University Cabinet, I want to let you know, above all else, that we are listening and will take action. In some cases, we have taken some critical action steps already that I want to be sure to share with you as well.

Let me first address your recommendations:

Actions Already Underway 

  • An active search is underway for the inaugural Head of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (HEDIB) at Antioch University, to be completed this summer. The search committee includes faculty, staff, and student representation. Candidate reviews and interviews will begin in the next few weeks, and the Antioch community will have the opportunity to meet the finalists and to provide feedback in the coming months. With community input, the HEDIB will develop an Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Strategic Plan to outline our strategic priorities and track progress toward our shared goals.
  • Climate Survey to launch October 10, 2023. The Anti-Racism Task Force ARTF) recommended a Climate Survey to be administered university-wide. Antioch has engaged with Rankin Climate, a leading consulting firm in this field, to develop a climate survey to gather information about the community’s perceptions, including perceptions of inclusion and belonging at Antioch. The Climate Survey Working Group includes students, faculty, staff, and senior administrators.

CEDI Recommendations

The following chart includes a summary of CEDI Recommendations and the University’s Ongoing Efforts and Progress toward our shared DEI goals.

CEDI RecommendationAntioch Ongoing Efforts & Progress
Add “racial” justice to the University’s mission statementCompleted. The Chancellor presented this recommendation to the Board of Governors in 2021 after forming the Anti-Racism Task Force (ARTF). The Board was poised to approve it. However, the University Academic Council (UAC) shared a concern that this action, without more work and intention, would appear performative. As a result, the Board agreed to defer approving this recommendation until the community and administration had more time to engage in reflection and study.  

The Chancellor recently recommended the change to the Board of Governors, which approved it at its June 9, 2023 meeting.
Implement ongoing, mandatory, quarterly, experiential training and skill-building workshops on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-racism for all Students, Faculty, Staff, Administrators, and Board MembersOngoing. The ARTF recommended DEI training is provided to all community members. During the last two years, and on an ongoing basis, efforts to provide training and opportunities for discussion and reflection on a variety of DEI topics have taken place across the University in different programs and with different stakeholders. 

We agree that it is time to broaden this effort in a more deliberate and strategic way, including a combination of voluntary and mandatory training. A decision was made in mid-May and announced in consultation with the ARTF to move forward with this recommendation. This effort will be the responsibility of the University’s Office of Human Resources (OHR), with support coming from the new HEDIB, once that position is filled this summer.

Additionally, the ARTF recommended the development of an AU-wide Student Orientation. The University-wide orientation will include DEI training and is planned to launch this fall.
Require that all classes are up-to-date with Social Justice and Anti-racist focused curriculums, textbooks, resources, teaching methods, and relational practicesOngoing. All Antioch programs should bring a critical and anti-racist lens to the fields of study and professional training.   Decolonization of the curriculum and inclusion of more diverse voices in syllabi is work that a number of departments are currently engaged in and an effort we expect to expand across the University. 
Examples of programs that have already worked on or are working on (since there is never a final end point!), such curriculum reviews include the PsyD in Clinical Psychology in Seattle and New England and the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in Seattle & New England.  

Our curriculum needs to educate our students to achieve their professional goals and to further justice and equity, to effectively challenge their professions and communities to be more just and inclusive. In addition, annual program reviews require that all programs examine their progress toward this goal. The Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs is working with deans, academic administrators, program chairs, the Accreditation Steering Committee, and the University Faculty Senate in this effort.

Examples of other ongoing initiatives include:

Decolonization of the curriculum has been presented at two recent student success symposia (Fall ‘21, Spring ‘23). Decolonizing Course Design, Fall 2021: Symposium/Presenters:  Abby Pasley (AUSB Undergraduate teaching faculty), Jude Bergkamp (AUS PsyD Program Chair), Kate Evarts Rice (AUNE Core Faculty and Director of Student Affairs for PsyD Program; Director of the Center for Diversity and Social Justice)
2nd Annual Social Justice Research Symposium (hosted by AUS PsyD):  focus on decolonization and research focused on the broader topic. Friday’s symposium session hosted by Melissa Kennedy and PsyD students: Setting the stage for systemic change: A social privilege and decolonial primer
A group of faculty, led by Undergraduate Studies faculty, is working on an inclusive course design guide.
Establish sweeping and systematic efforts to hire/admit, retain and create a culture of belonging for BIPOC Students, Faculty, Staff, Administrators, and Board MembersOngoing. Over the past year, the Chancellor has worked with the ARTF and the OHR to better understand where we have gaps between our diversity and that of the surrounding communities. The OHR focuses its recruitment efforts on encouraging diverse applicant pools using tools such as diversity job boards, including BIPOC professional organizations, candidate pool demographics review, and search committee education.     

During the past two years, we have increased the percentage of BIPOC faculty. In some programs, half of the core faculty are BIPOC. Similarly, in some programs, over half of the student body are BIPOC students. This is definitely not across the board and does not imply we are where we need to be. However, BIPOC hiring has been a focus of intention over the past several years. 

Searches for staff and faculty positions do not go forward without robust and diverse candidate pools. As a legal matter, our efforts at hiring diversity must focus on developing diverse candidate pools and not the attributes of individual candidates. We have a lengthy search committee policy to ensure the process is compliant with the law while also seeking to ensure that we are including diverse candidates in our search pools. We remain committed to meeting these challenges.

Administrative departments are also taking steps to increase diversity and inclusion. For example, the Marketing & Communication team started a DEIA four-phase audit in May, currently in its first phase. The Office of the General Counsel began a review of policies to ensure the language is inclusive. Supervisors are reviewing job descriptions and make sure that postings for vacancies include inclusive language and that actions are taken to retain BIPOC employees.  

During the fiscal year 2024, the ARTF, in collaboration with the OHR, will review and analyze data to identify gaps in our recruitment efforts and continue strengthening the diversity of our candidate pools in strategic and meaningful ways. Hiring and admitting are only the first steps in building a culture of inclusion and belonging that will attract and retain a diverse community.
Commit to shared decision-making, representative governance, and transparency in strategic planning to ensure that Antioch University’s actions and budget reflect its missionOngoing. In his May 26, 2023, email to CEDI leaders, Chancellor Groves shared that “Antioch University is in the midst of some major shifts in organizational structure and design. We recently formalized a University Faculty Senate, for example, as an official part of University governance. Previously, faculty voice was primarily at the campus level. Transparency in planning and budgeting is one of the goals. A faculty budget committee was put in place two years back and advises the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs on financial matters. I also established a Tuition Rate Planning Counsel, which includes faculty and staff representatives to provide input to the administration and Board. There are also a variety of other faculty-based committees and groups that are part of the new Faculty Senate structure.”  During the Board of Governors meeting on March 2023, the Board formally recognized the Faculty Senate.

Work is also underway to create a University-wide Student Governance structure to provide an institution-wide venue for students from across the university, undergraduate to doctoral, and from all six of our Schools, to have a voice in important institutional issues. CEDI has, in fact, modeled a level of engagement and challenge that sets a wonderful tone for the efforts ahead. Academic Affairs & Student Success conducted two Student Governance Forums on May 5 and 30, 2023.
Raise funds to provide scholarships to BIPOC Students to address the financial inaccessibility of Antioch UniversityOngoing. In 2022, Chancellor Groves established a Diversity Scholarship Fund to better ensure that under-represented students get the financial assistance they need to attend Antioch University. 

Some academic programs have also raised funds specifically to support students from historically marginalized communities to offset tuition and/or to support students’ research and scholarship. 

In his May 26, 2023, email to CEDI leaders, Chancellor Groves wrote: “Much more needs to be done, and I will be focusing a significant amount of the advancement unit’s attention in the coming year on building such scholarships.”
Establish restorative justice initiatives, including a protocol for reporting and addressing racial prejudice and aggressions that occur at every level of the Antioch University systemOngoing. To supplement Antioch’s existing grievance and conduct policies, Antioch is currently piloting a Climate Response Reporting System at the Antioch Seattle campus. Our plan is to study the process and use the outcomes and learnings to expand this process University-wide. 
Formalize and continually fund BIPOC Affinity, white Affinity, and anti-racism groups on all campusesOngoing. We recognize the importance of student-led organizations and the positive impact they have on students’ overall university experience.   As such, we are proud of the growing number of campus-school-program-based and University-wide student-led organizations and affinity groups. Many of these groups welcome students from across the University.

Additionally, per AU policy 6.127, students may initiate a formal student organization. This is particularly important if students feel that our current offerings do not meet their needs.  Students interested in initiating new student organizations should reach out to our student services teams for more information and support.

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