Cultural Competency Work Group
On August 29, several members of the Cultural Competency and Ally Training committee met to discuss the survey sent to the campus community last spring. Alongside of ongoing discussions, and the expertise and the experiences of committee members, the survey feedback is providing invaluable information as the committee develops its recommendations, which will be presented in the coming months. Below you will find some of the key themes/observations about the survey results:
While the survey indicated some resistance to the implementation of systemic trainings and the importance of this committee’s work, often indicating misunderstandings about key concepts, as well as an understanding about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, many respondents made clear that there is both a need for institutional change and support for increased efforts in this regard. It will be imperative that the entire campus understands the issues facing the university community and the reasons behind the change and that leadership articulates its importance both in words and investment.
The question around sustainability was raised. Do we have enough experts to continually review trainings throughout the years to ensure that trainings reflect the latest in research and pedagogy? Will WSU hire more experts, or will it grow its own? If the latter, what does that investment look like from the university? The survey made clear that the best trainings require ample preparation, specific curriculum tailored to different communities/constituencies, follow-up, repetition, and ongoing conversations. To fulfill its potential requirements investment.
Respondents made clear that faculty/staff/students should understand: privilege; equity versus equality; inclusive language; intersectionality; empathy; racism, sexism; homophobia; allyship; implicit bias and much more. More than having mastery, it is imperative that the WSU see the integration of understanding into their behavior, into policies, into everyday interactions, etc. Knowing what white privilege is, or the importance of GLBTQ inclusive language is one step, but creating a campus culture that is responsive to these critical issues, that is empowering to all, is what is needed
Many respondents noted how WSU needs to move beyond thinking about cultural competency but instead focus empathy, humility and intervention; many made clear that the need is for the creation of a campus devoid of a culture that marginalizes and disempowers, that silences and injures, that perpetuates inequality and that results in a campus climate that isn’t empowering to all. It is about understanding different experiences, power differential, privilege, and inequalities, and working to transform in an effort to create an empowering experience for all
Respondents highlighted the desire for resources outside of trainings. The committee is developing a resource page for the entire campus. We would also like to further note that there are many resources on campus, most notably faculty (and curriculum) in Comparative Ethnic Studies, Women’s Studies, and Teaching Learning; in the Women’s Resource Center, Multicultural Student Services, and Diversity Education.
A consistent theme within the survey results that WSU demands more of its students than faculty and staff with respect to cultural competency, cultural humility, knowledge about equity and inclusion; there were a number of comments how faculty, staff, and administrators create a campus climate and culture that breathes life into exclusion, unjustice, university, hurt and marginalization. Moreover, respondents noted that this climate runs counter to WSU’s mission and the Drive to 25, emphasizing how through increased leadership, potentially mandatory trainings, and other sorts of investments/mechanisms of accountability more should be expetected of faculty and staff
Respondents noted that trainings become dated: it is, therefore, important that there is an assessment of material, trainers, and the trainings themselves. Moreover, trainings must be evaluated by experts on campus and the campus administration must both empower and resource those who are doing this work
Departments, faculty and staff must be expected to continue their education; 1 training twenty years ago is not sufficient
There needs to be evaluations/feedback from training participants that can be used to garner feedback on trainings but also assess continued gaps, challenges, and shortcomings within WSU. University leadership must also hold units accountable toward fulfillment of a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion
Trainings that are longer (over multiple sessions); sustained; complimented by other trainings; interactive; repeated; flexible; and based on/in university examples are essential elements in effective trainings; participation in multiple learning opportunities, especially when encouraged and made part of the culture and responsibilities of the university community, should be embraced.
Continuing education and trainings that are specific to the university and specific parts of university far more successful. An effort to use specific examples and best practices that are grounded in the university is essential
Faculty, staff and administrators need to accept responsibility and lead: modeling behavior that reflects investment in equity, inclusion, and justice