DU Community Shows Commitment to Inclusive Excellence
University of Denver hosts 16th annual Diversity Summit
At more than 1,200 strong, students, faculty and staff helped shatter attendance expectations. The record setting number represents the commitment by the DU community to build a more diverse and inclusive campus — a OneDU.
Doubling the attendance from last year’s Diversity Summit on Inclusive Excellence was not the only significance of this annual event. This year it coincided with the inauguration of our 45th president, the culmination of a political cycle that has been one of the most contentious in modern history and demonstrated the deep divides in our country.
This year’s summit offered an opportunity to assess higher education’s role in fostering a less divided society in promoting values of inclusion. It also featured a keynote address by Chancellor Rebecca Chopp, where she delivered a public statement on her vision with respect to diversity and inclusion.
Overcoming Challenges in Building Community
“We are here because we share a common vision of a more diverse and inclusive DU — and we cannot realize that vision without the support and work of the many students, faculty and staff members who work with love and passion to make our University and our world better,” Chopp said during her address to an audience of more than 700 people.
The way Chopp sees it, today’s change makers must straddle two different frameworks of seeing and organizing the world. One has existed for 150 years; the other has been emerging for about 30 years.
“The frameworks provide quite different contexts for thinking about how we provide an inclusive education dedicated to the public good,” Chopp said.
The Chancellor explained how the older structure is tightly ordered with complex structures that are difficult to change. On the other hand, the new era is ever changing, less predictable and decentralized.
“We might want to choose one paradigm or the other, the reality is that this period of transition requires us to live in both worlds,” Chopp said. “This means that as we work to improve our systems, structures and standards, we must also dream new dreams, join together in transformative ways, find the emergent in our midst and support these new ways of being and doing together.”
Chancellor Chopp outlined clear goals, powerful values and guiding actions that are necessary to inclusive excellence in our community. To hear more about them, watch the video below.
Issue of Immigration Remains Unclear Under Trump Administration
If there’s one thing that’s clear about how President Donald Trump’s administration will handle the issue of immigration, it’s that no one knows for sure.
That was the conclusion of a Diversity Summit lecture titled, “Can College and University Campuses Provide ‘Sanctuary’ From Immigration Enforcement?” Hosted by the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law and members of its Rocky Mountain Collective on Race, Place and Law (RPL), the lecture presented items that RPL would like to accomplish as it works to understand how immigration will be affected under a Trump presidency.
RPL is in the preliminary stage of an investigation into the consequences, if any, of a college or university declaring itself a “sanctuary” for undocumented students. Over the past few months, more than 150 schools, including DU, have issued, at a minimum, a statement on where they stand regarding the protection of students. This move comes on the heels of Trump’s promise to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and deport all undocumented persons.
RPL has formed a working group to provide a white paper and create a website that will serve as an information clearinghouse for faculty, students, staff, administrators and diversity officers. According to RPL, some of the issues institutions should consider include: security; internal policy and procedures; privacy; and support for students.
Audience members expressed concern about a number of issues: how to deal with paper trails that could be used to track undocumented students; the use of zeros on the FAFSA form when indicating Social Security numbers of parents; and the problematic use of the word “sanctuary.”
Although answers to immigration and sanctuary questions are not yet available, RPL will update its website as events develop.
Creating Inclusive, Caring Communities
In a panel discussion titled “Is It Possible? Creating Principled Inclusive Caring Communities,” four seasoned higher education administrators focused on the history of campus inclusivity efforts.
“If you think about where we’ve started, we’ve made amazing progress,” said Michael Young, former vice president for student affairs at the University of California in Santa Barbara. “But it clearly is not enough. This is a struggle that will never end, or certainly won’t in my lifetime.”
Gregory Anderson, dean of the College of Education at Temple University and former dean of DU’s Morgridge College of Education, was in agreement. “We’ve made necessary but insufficient gains,” he said. “Obviously the hard work we’ve done has changed the environment, but if you look at the data, students of color are disproportionately represented at two-year institutions and for-profit institutions.”
The panel also discussed the ways in which student affairs and academic affairs have historically been so divided. Alma Clayton-Pederson, CEO at Emeritus Consulting, explained, “If we look at the history of the interaction between student and academic affairs, there was a time when faculty said student affairs is a necessary evil.” However, she said, “We’ve come a long way since then, because it’s now considered co-curricular. People recognize that student affairs creates programming to support the learning enterprise.”
Janina Montero, former vice chancellor of student affairs at UCLA, reminded the audience that higher education’s pursuit of inclusiveness has ramifications for the world outside academia: “Throughout my years in higher education, my view has been that if higher education can’t create inclusive communities, nobody can. We have the best conditions to make inclusivity happen,” she said.
We Must Tell the True Stories of Our Community
Race, poverty, gender and community. These are four of the themes that noted journalist, author and economist Julianne Malveaux discussed during her Diversity Summit’s lecture titled: “The Story of Us: Race, Gender and Community in Trump's U.S. Economy.”
Malveaux was named Margolin Lecturer, Estlow Lecturer and recipient of the University of Denver's Anvil of Freedom award in recognition of her book, “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” released in February 2016.
“If we don’t figure out how to tell the story of community, we will end up in chaos,” Malveaux said. “Seek out the stories you know nothing about — the story of us.”
During her lecture, Malveaux emphasized the importance of telling the true stories of what’s happening in America. While the country has come a long way in the last eight years, she said, Americans are still separated by issues of race, gender and poverty.
“Everyone has not benefitted from the economic growth we’ve experienced,” said Malveaux, who cautioned that the country could be headed toward the rule of what she called “economic predatory capitalism.” She also pointed out that inequality still exists between blacks and whites and men and women, saying, “We don’t take women seriously,” and “If you knew the history of black lives, then Black Lives Matter wouldn’t offend you.”
She attributed the problem, in part, on the media, which, she said, has failed to tell diversified stories, mostly because of its own lack of diversity and shrinking resources within newsrooms. Another factor, she added, is the abundance of fake news that made headlines during the 2016 campaign.
“All media is not created equal. Our country is diversified whether you want it or not,” Malveaux said.
Moving forward, Malveaux urged the audience to be conscious about the stories told and who is telling them. To build community, she said, Americans must be willing to learn more about the different cultures that make up the country.