Working Approach to Advance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism

"Equity and inclusion serve as the engine for excellence and innovation. A commitment to racial justice and to equity across all aspects of diversity propels our students, faculty, and staff to reflect upon and work to build fair, open and welcoming institutional structures, values, and culture." — From the College’s mission statement

This working approach aims to articulate a vision for change at Bryn Mawr College. This vision encompasses positive aspirations and goals and draws on principles and values that are evident in the College’s mission statement and that resonate with the campus today.

The College continues to honor the commitments it made in response to the student-led strike in fall 2020, and that work has inspired additional investments and has connected to previously existing efforts in synergistic ways. To maintain our continued forward focus, this is a moment to envision a proactive, work-in-progress approach that articulates higher-level goals and aspirations and associated actions to support them. This is a living document, one that will evolve and grow over time.

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The working approach centers on four main goals to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism (DEIAR). 

These goals are overlapping and synergistic. Together they create a narrative for future progress. Building a better understanding of the processes by which power, privilege, and oppression are sustained will lead us to address structural barriers to equity and inclusion more effectively. When the College addresses structural barriers, more members of the campus will be able to thrive and contribute strong narratives of belonging.

Below you will find examples of efforts the College will undertake this year (2021-2022) that translate the goals to actions.*  Fostering the College as a learning community that supports the respectful and rigorous exploration of diverse viewpoints is critical to this approach.  In that spirit, this approach and the associated actions are offered with openness and humility and will evolve and benefit from the input and implementation of students, faculty, staff, and administrators who do this important work.  Inevitably, not all of these listed actions will be immediately effective at achieving the College’s goals.  Part of the College’s work will be to assess its efforts and to make adjustments as needed.

It is important to see the current approach and associated actions in the context of the work that has been accomplished at the College by students, faculty, staff, and administrators since the College began publishing annual DEI plans and year-end reports starting in 2015. The student-led strike in Fall 2020 in particular inspired action and accelerated change Since many of the actions listed below are framed as continuing, please see the November 2021 progress report of actions recently completed that support these goals.

*Items preceded by an asterisk denote actions in direct response to demands from the student-led strike of Fall 2020.

The Working Approach

GOAL: Raise community understanding of structural racism, and the processes by which power, privilege, and oppression in many dimensions are sustained.

  • *Continue to support teach-ins through compensating presenters and providing organizational support.
  • *Provide other forms of professional development and programming that educate about ways that structural racism forms (such as through institutional policies and procedures, power dynamics, unconscious bias, microaggressions, etc.) and about the intersectional elements of oppression, including racism, ableism, gender bias, etc.
  • *Implement and assess the new THRIVE curriculum (designed by paid student consultants and the First Year Experience Coordinator) that aims to increase understanding of white supremacy culture, racism and other forms of discrimination, and the history of exclusion at the College.
  • *Continue exploration of a potential curricular requirement through an independent study opportunity for students, and a working group of students and faculty that will develop proposals to be shared with Curriculum Committee for faculty consideration.
  • Offer larger scale community opportunities for learning such as invited speakers for the full campus or facilitated discussion around important issues.
  • Offer a College Land Acknowledgement as an initial step to increase awareness of land stewardship and the history of settler colonialism and begin to build a relationship with the Lenape people.

Possible Outcomes: Campus-wide participation in programming; positive impact and learning as measured by impact surveys of programs; improvement in perceptions of campus climate.

GOAL: Address structural issues and barriers to equity and inclusion for students, faculty, and staff.

  • *Sustain support for the work of academic departments on inclusion and student success by providing resources and removing barriers.
  • Sustain support and encourage operational changes and professional development in departments (e.g. Athletics, the Dean’s Office, Enrollment, ARD, and LITS) that identify barriers to thriving and create alternative structures to address root causes.
  • *Improve the accessibility of the campus and campus spaces by supporting ongoing Facilities work.
  • *Partner with Access Services and with all faculty and staff to address programmatic and curricular accessibility (including universal design) and support students in thriving.
  • Examine and make additional modifications to need-based financial aid.
  • Conduct an analysis of our current benefits package for employees with a DEI lens.
  • Review the Faculty By-Laws and address structural and procedural issues that impact equity and inclusion.
  • *Committee on Appointments to review procedures and processes for tenure and promotion through an equity and inclusion lens.
  • *Continued monitoring by the Provost Office of practices and policies to ensure that faculty equity and inclusion work is valued and supported.
  • Develop a compensation strategy and refine expectations for different position levels for staff. While protecting individual privacy, provide transparent data and disaggregated data about salaries and professional development.
  • Complete the current NAGPRA repatriation process and ensure that our Collections’ policies across the College for acquisition and use of collections are ethical and consistent with best practices.

Possible Outcomes: More transparent processes and procedures. Students, faculty, and staff perceive structures to be more equitable. Representation in structures and processes reflects the diversity of the community. Equitable outcomes across all identities.

GOAL: Support thriving and belonging for all students, faculty and staff

  • *Integrate the work of the new Assistant Dean for Intercultural Engagement and the Assistant Dean for Student Support and Belonging into the Pensby Center and support their success.
  • Support faculty labor in DEIAR areas: course releases for junior faculty and three for tenured faculty; TLI partnerships; sharing resources across departments.
  • Through collaboration between the Committee on Academic Priorities, the Committee on Appointments and the Provost’s Office, sustain progress in hiring BIPOC faculty (increased from 15% to 34% from FY12 to FY21) and support their thriving at the College.
  • Assess and continue to develop the STEMLA program.
  • Through a partnership of faculty and the Dean’s Office, continue to develop a strengths-based approach to advising.
  • *Prioritize the work of Campus Safety, the Health and Wellness Center, and the Dean’s Office to reimagine approaches to student safety and student support.
  • *Through work of the TLI, Access Services, LITS, and the work of individual faculty and departments, build practices for more inclusive classrooms.
  • Use and assess re-designed hiring practices to increase diversity among the College’s staff.
  • Actively support staff professional development and advancement—and opportunities to reward staff contributions to institutional DEIAR goals.

Possible Outcomes: Reported sense of belonging increases and gaps in a sense of belonging based on identity become smaller; higher retention rates and graduation rates for all students; course evaluations reflect inclusive classrooms.

GOAL: Create narratives that support belonging

  • Facilitate deep conversations and inclusive discussions that support the development of shared principles and aspirations that can guide, build more trust in, and frame Bryn Mawr's DEIAR work. Build shared understanding around principles of anti-racism, academic freedom, and inclusive excellence that can then guide a sense of shared purpose. Be mindful that the execution and emotional labor of these conversations does not fall on BIPOC faculty, staff and students.
  • Use Bryn Mawr's collaboration with Monument Lab to gather campus input on stories that are missing from our institutional story.
  • Continue to support the work of Who Built Bryn Mawr? and other learning opportunities offered through the curriculum and through internships with LITS that recover stories about the College’s history and help to create broader narratives of Bryn Mawr’s identity and trajectory.
  • Provide proactive communication about DEI work and its impact. At the same time, develop a sense of responsibility among the community to learn about and understand this work and share that understanding with others.
  • *Use the Campus Partnership for Equity and Anti-racism to support the entire College in DEIAR work and to support accountability for progress.

Possible Outcomes: Continued development of this working approach that has community buy-in and support; a shared understanding of deep commitments; a sense of greater understanding and trust that allows us to move forward on deeper transformation; greater community knowledge of DEIAR efforts and progress; a shared understanding of the College’s history among our students, faculty, and staff.

Input on approach, goals, and actions can be sent to EquityInclusion@brynmawr.edu.

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Connect

Related Contacts

Pensby Center for Community Development and Inclusion
610-526-6592
pensby@brynmawr.edu
 

Campus Partnership for Equity and Anti-Racism
Co-Conveners: Dee Matthews (Creative Writing) and Ann-Therese Ortíz (Pensby Center)
cpear@brynmawr.edu
 

Ruth Lindeborg (President’s Office)
610-526-5157
rlindebo@brynmawr.edu