Diversity Mapping Project motivates campus to strive for next level of inclusion

Diversity Mapping Project motivates campus to strive for next level of inclusion

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By Sydney Shabacker

CSUSM is striving to create a campus environment that is committed to diversity, and is taking in some constructive criticism in order to improve overall inclusion efforts.

In the Fall semester of 2014, Halualani and Associates was hired to do a diversity mapping of CSUSM in order to take an in-depth look at CSUSM’s diversity efforts over the last four years.  The results are now available, and while CSUSM is strong in many areas, there are still improvements to be made.

Rona Halualani, Principal and Founder of Halualani and Associates, remarks that this critical analysis, “[Takes] a very deep look at the nature and quality of diversity….It’s not how many things you’ve done, it’s the quality and effects that we’re able to analyze.”

What Halualani was looking for was a level of effectiveness in two areas: Diversity Efforts and Diversity Courses.  Diversity Efforts is anything outside the classrooms such as events, programs and initiatives that relate to diversity, inclusion and culture.  Diversity Courses are Undergraduate and Graduate programs that appear in the most recent catalogs that either feature or mention diversity.

The analysis was presented to President Hayes in December 2014 in the form of a slide cast, which can be viewed at http://www.csusm.edu/equity.diversitymapping.html.

There are seven maps that are included in the project and Halualani notes several key themes. Within these themes, it is shown that while the University holds a commitment to diversity, there are still some issues that need to be addressed.

“All of these [issues] will impede CSUSM’s progress,” Halualani said. “Since while everyone is on board, they don’t look at how inclusion is connected to inequality.”

Students had much to say on the subject of campus diversity during this study.  An overarching comment is that there needs to be more action by administrators regarding diversity action, and more recognition and assistance dealing with microaggressions, a form of unintended discrimination, in the classrooms.

This student sentiment was reflected by almost 82 percent of the faculty that participated in the data collection. The faculty wants more training on how to deal with microaggressions while teaching, as well as how to deal with difficult topics and critiques of discipline in terms of diversity.

Given the wide range of these findings, the question is whether CSUSM is in fact “making diversity happen.” Halualani’s response to this question is yes, in part. Of the study’s four diversity ranking orders, with 1 being only a mission statement and no effort and 4 being culture changing, CSUSM is a second order campus. This means CSUSM has good intentions, but does not, at the present time, qualify as having sustainable diversity efforts.

This shows that there are many ideas which are intended to address the issue of diversity, but these are not necessarily organized or strategized. According to the study, 97 percent of the university’s diversity efforts are programs that are driven by departments rather than by the university itself, to such an extent that such efforts are being paid for out of departmental  budgets. This approach lacks any cohesion, so it is not sustainable. The goal approach needs to be an overall university resource allotment.

One of the strengths that have been emphasized through this project is that CSUSM is intrinsically motivated, rather than being motivated by external factors such as potential lawsuits, to promote the school’s diversity efforts. Of these efforts, 88 percent are primarily geared towards diversity as opposed to diversity as a subtopic. However, we have more events promoting diversity than we have programs actually striving towards strategic diversity inclusions.

In addition, the campus seems to have a vague notion of diversity, with its efforts being focused on all students, but have very few issues being addressed on the behalf of the faculty and staff members. More inclusion of these members within these efforts would seem to provide a better overall campus result.

In terms of diversity within CSUSM courses, the focus is typically on undergraduates, specifically at the 300-400 course level. As it currently stands, there is insufficient diversity exposure in lower level undergraduate courses.

“I was surprised by the relatively low number of offered courses at the 100-200 level, and that we offer fewer domestic diversity courses than we actually do,” said Arturo Ocampo, Associate Vice President of the Office of Diversity, Educational Equity & Inclusion University Ombuds.  “I was under the impression we had more domestic diversity courses, but we actually have more international/global courses.”

The full Diversity Mapping Project report will come out in a couple of weeks, which is when President Hayes will begin to charge different units and departments with the next steps to take.

“It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of folks analyzing the curriculum and co-curriculum to get to the third order,” Ocampo said.  

But CSUSM has tremendous potential and a lot of well-intentioned, highly motivated and committed people. With the study providing specific areas to address, CSUSM can began to progress effectively toward real diversity inclusion for every person on the campus.”

“But CSUSM has tremendous potential and a lot of well-intentioned, highly motivated and committed people.  With the study providing specific areas to address, CSUSM can began to progress effectively toward real diversity inclusion for every person on the campus.”

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California