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Winter 2024 Office of Diversity round-up

As 2024 heads into its third month, several updates regarding various diversity resources, curricula and initiatives have been announced. These include reports on the First-Year Dialogue Seminar and the Advancing Racial Equity initiative as well as a spotlight on the UIC Office of Diversity, Equity and Engagement (ODEE)’s Equity Dashboard Project.

The UIC Dialogue Initiative–a social justice education program designed to facilitate learning about social inequality, social identities and engaging across differences–released a report on their First-Year Dialogue Seminar (FYDS; Dialogue 120 course) in December 2023. The FYDS is a keynote program of the Dialogue Initiative, which is a collaboration between UIC Student Affairs and UIC Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

The mission of FYDS is to foster the co-creation of knowledge in pursuit of more just and equitable relationships, communities and institutions through dialogue, which it achieves by using a process-centered curriculum to move students through the four stages of dialogue. The report examined the history and structure of the course and highlighted the demographics and outcomes for the students and facilitators.

Since 2012, rigorous assessment of the FYDS revealed that students consistently showed improvement in recognizing individual and structural forms of inequality, confidence in discussing issues of diversity and social justice, confidence in taking actions to combat inequality and knowledge of race and racism. Additionally, the majority of students indicated that the course increased their awareness of their own privilege, awareness of social issues, concern about society, awareness of their own identities and sensitivity toward others’ identities.

In November 2023, the ODEE released their Advancing Racial Equity (ARE) Academic Unit Report, which outlines the goals and objectives set by campus academic units in support of the UIC Advancing Racial Equity strategic planning process.

UIC’s Advancing Racial Equity (ARE) initiative is a response designed to address the institutional and structural racism that impacts the campus and neighboring communities with an overarching goal to engage in the hard work that is required to become a campus where BIPOC students, faculty and staff are always valued and can reach their full potential. It was launched in 2020 with crucial input from student and faculty members regarding student life and support, community engagement, staff recruitment and retention and the Public Safety Board. These plans were then reviewed to identify themes, which are examined in this report.

ARE has five goals as its pillars: centering student equity and inclusion, advancing faculty and staff inclusive excellence, collaborating with community, promoting an atmosphere of care and concern and ensuring accountability. The report analyzed each of these priorities based on the academic unit plans.

Within the report, units highlighted the importance of recruiting, developing and supporting a diverse applicant pool and faculty, ensuring students feel a sense of belonging, providing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) education, enhancing advising and internship support, developing inclusive courses and curriculum and improving community partnerships and programming.

Units also identified current barriers to an inclusive environment and emphasized the need to address them, including raising awareness of bias prevention trainings, strengthening or creating a DEI committee, providing mentorship and having students participate in ARE planning.

In response, the report recommended several steps for helping units to implement their plans as well as ways to ensure accountability.

The next step in this process is receiving and reviewing the plans from nonacademic units at UIC, which is scheduled to be completed soon.

The Equity Dashboard Project–developed in collaboration with ODEE, the UIC Office of the Vice Provost for Academic and Enrollment Services and the UIC Office of Institutional Research–is an online tool that compiles campus-wide data in an objective way for reporting in a disaggregation (separated into component parts) format. This allows for comparison across various student characteristics or attributes with the goal of assisting in understanding where inequities exist without extrapolating reasons for the disparities.

The project consists of a series of dynamic Tableau dashboards presenting key indicators of student success along four dimensions: access, achievement, inclusion and engagement. Core filters are included to offer different and more refined results within various demographics.

The Equity Dashboard Project is designed to raise awareness of equity gaps between students at UIC and support colleges in bridging those gaps by focusing on the ways in which UIC, as an institution, is promoting and/or hindering student success. The hope is to encourage a deeper understanding of the complexity of student success by shifting conversations from deficit-minded perspectives towards equity-mindedness perspectives.