“The bus is leaving the station and either you’re on it or you’re not,” said Dr. Frank Gilliam, Chancellor, UNC-Greensboro

These words resonate with us as we see more and more members of the Gonzaga community getting on the equity and inclusion bus. As representatives from the College of Arts and Sciences, we are heartened by President Thayne McCulloh’s recent appointments and reorganization to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at GU.

Now seems to be a great time to share the efforts that we have undertaken in the College to support sustainable actions that are aligned with our mission to empower students to be people for others. 

In September 2020, the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (Caño) invited faculty, staff and students to join a new council charged with identifying obstacles and opportunities to create a more inclusive community in the College.

One of us (Monlux), along with more than 40 other College faculty, staff and students across disciplines, ranks and identities have come together with the purpose of achieving this goal. We named ourselves Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in the Arts and Sciences (IDEAS) in Action. The “action” part of our name shows that we value action and accountability—ideas are not sufficient to advance inclusion.

Shortly after convening, the members of IDEAS in Action collectively crafted a mission and values statement that describes our anti-racist approach as well as our appreciation and welcoming of people with diverse identities and lived experiences.

In addition, each member identified the area of work that most energized them. Members with shared interests formed working groups focused on the following work in the College: curriculum and course design, faculty-staff-student interactions, diversity in STEM undergraduate programs and faculty/staff hiring and retention.

We collaborate with other units on campus that address DEI including the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, and are fortunate that the new Chief Diversity Officer, Robin Kelley, serves as an ex-officio member of our group.

Since its inception, IDEAS in Action has been busy identifying short- and long-term goals in each of these domains. We meet monthly as a large group to share ideas and problem-solve and each of the working groups also meet monthly to identify goals and share the results of their data gathering.

We expect noticeable changes in the coming academic year as a result of these efforts. But we understand that, in the meantime, our behind-the-scenes work may give the impression that we are not doing anything. Out of a desire to encourage and reassure those frustrated in our campus community, we are experimenting with ways to share our work with others in the College and across the university.

We held our first town hall in January, which began with Caño sharing her experiences of marginalization as a Latina, first-generation college student at a private liberal arts college followed by mini-presentations by representatives from each of the working groups, who outlined their work so far.

We also launched a website on April 1 that will be updated with our progress quarterly. 

While we want to get the word out, we are not interested in just one-way communication. We want to hear from you too! If you have questions, ideas or feedback after reviewing our goals and projects, please feel free to email

gucas@gonzaga.edu

Or join Dean Caño at one of her coffee hours for students to share your thoughts about what we’re doing or not doing (email Tara McAloon for more info). For those who are able to commit more time and energy to this work, we welcome additional student members who are College majors or minors to join IDEAS in Action in the fall. 

As we continue this work in the College, it is important to us that we hear from as many voices as possible. After all, building inclusive community means that we seek out and welcome diverse opinions. We want everyone on the bus as we leave the station.

Annmarie Caño is the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Melina May Monlux is a senior biology student. 

 

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