Anti-Racist Action Plan Creates Paths Forward for Xavier Community

Jul 22, 2021

The President's Diversity and Inclusion Action and Advisory Council (PDIAAC), established in 2015, includes various members of the Xavier community who work to ensure the University's diversity and inclusion work is enacted campus-wide. They collaborated with the campus community to create Xavier’s five-year Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan in 2017 and Xavier’s Anti-Racist Action plan in Fall 2020.

The Anti-Racist Action Plan was the response of the Xavier community in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and other violence against people of color at the hands of police beginning in spring 2020. The ongoing social unrest across the country and rising student activism on campus highlighted the need for a more focused approach to anti-racism efforts at an institutional level. PDIAAC welcomed the opportunity to lead this effort and gathered input from cabinet level positions, students, staff and faculty and drew upon survey research and data in our campus climate surveys and the Xavier’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan (2017-2021) to come up with a path forward. 

"The Anti-Racism Action Plan is part of the University's commitment to fight against racism in response to what’s happening in our country, in the city and on our campus,” says Dr. Janice Walker, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and PDIAAC Chair. “We can no longer operate in the same way. It’s time we determine what we, as a Jesuit Catholic institution, are going to do to become an anti-racist institution.”

Tracey DuEst, PDIAAC member and Associate Director of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, was part of the process of creating the plan from its inception to its completion.

“Xavier is a microcosm of what’s reflected in the world,” says DuEst. “The Anti-Racist Action Plan is necessary for the Xavier community just as it is necessary for our country to deal with the racism that has been steeped into our history for over 400 years. In order for Xavier to truly work to become an anti-racist institution, we need to stay focused, ask questions and use research so we can know where we can make the biggest impact.” 

The following actions were identified and shared with the Xavier community in the Anti-Racist Action Plan in Fall 2020: 

  • Continue to build a welcoming and inclusive campus environment
  • Use a racial equity lens to assess and audit internal policies and practices
  • Collaborate with students to create a commission for responding to the concerns of underrepresented students
  • Increase the recruitment of underrepresented students and enhance their retention
  • Increase the recruitment of underrepresented employees and enhance their retention
  • Support faculty in their resolve to create an anti-racist curriculum
  • Communicate Xavier’s diversity and inclusion story and anti-racist plans
  • Ensure campus police activities and policies are anti-racist 
  • Amplify connection between Jesuit social justice mission and civil-rights activism
  • Enhancing the diversity of external boards and councils

(Read the full Action Plan and its details here)

PDIAAC members meet monthly to track progress on action items and discuss new ideas and strategies for working toward becoming an anti-racist university. They also regularly connect with students, faculty and staff across campus to ensure the items on the University’s Anti-Racism Plan are being enacted. 

Kate Lawson, Title IX Coordinator and Anti-Racist Action Plan convener, is part of the cross-campus group entrusted with figuring out ways to use an anti-racist lens to ‘Continue to build a welcoming and inclusive campus environment.’ She works closely with Connie Perme, Vice President for Human Resources, and PDIAAC members Tracey DuEst, Associate Director of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, and Mason Rick, Assistant Bursar, and others to make recommendations to PDIAAC and the larger Xavier community. 

“PDIAAC’s work on the Anti-Racist Action Plan gives us a more narrow lens for identifying where we currently are as a university and where we want to be,” says Lawson. “This is urgent, complex work. There are a lot of people at the table collaborating to make sure the work is mission-centered and based on research and best practices.”

Since the development of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan in 2017, the perceptions and experiences of campus have been tracked through annual campus climate surveys. Survey results show that in 2021, 25 percent of students who responded to the survey believed faculty members pre-judged their ability based on perceptions about their identities or background, as opposed to 47 percent in 2016. Retention and recruitment of students, tenure track faculty, adjunct faculty and staff of color have increased from 2017 to 2021, with the biggest increases seen in tenure-track faculty from 9 percent in 2016 to 20 percent in 2020. 

As the Xavier community looks forward to welcoming a new Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion and a new Director for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the University’s anti-racism work continues through the efforts set in motion by the Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, the Anti-Racist Action Plan and the continued collaboration and engagement from Xavier faculty, students and staff.

This story was created in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Marketing and Communications

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