The 2015 Diversity Strategic Plan outlined five major goals to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion at UMass Amherst. The Diversity Strategic Planning Steering Committee broadly defined these terms as follows:
- Diversity is the presence of various and different characteristics, experiences, identities, and ideas within the community.
- Equity is the opportunity and access for all individuals to achieve full potential.
- Inclusiveness is the opportunity for all individuals to join and participate fully within the community.
Use the navigation sidebar (to the left) to track our progress on implementing the recommendations.
Recent Efforts in Campus Climate
UMass Amherst’s core values of social progress and social justice as well as diversity, equity, and inclusiveness inform our expectations for campus climate. These values address both life within our community and our educational mission. Creating and maintaining a campus climate that supports and celebrates diversity is therefore a matter not only of what we experience while we are here, but also of why we are here. Achieving the University’s mission relies on success with respect to both. Learn more about our ongoing efforts to create an inclusive campus climate below.
Fall 2016 Campus Climate Survey Complete, Analysis Ongoing
The University conducted a Campus Climate Survey that closed on December 4, 2016 with an outstanding participation response rate of 41.4%. A survey design and analysis team comprised of institutional researchers and faculty experts led by Professor Enobong (Anna) Branch, Elizabeth Williams, and Martha Stassen created the survey and is analyzing the results. An abridged report was released to the campus community in May 2017. A comprehensive report will follow in fall 2017. Prior to the release of the comprehensive report, data will be shared with campus leaders to facilitate timely, data-driven change efforts throughout the organization.
New Signage and Expanded Gender Inclusive Bathrooms
In summer 2016, Student Affairs and Campus Life (including Residential Life and the Stonewall Center), Facilities, the Chancellor's Office, and other units created a restroom and bathroom working group to discuss strategies for expanding the number of gender-inclusive facilities, to decide on standardized signage for such facilities, and to develop a training about the University’s restroom/bathroom policies. Currently, more than 200 gender neutral restrooms exist on campus, the updates in signage to the new standard of “restroom” has been completed for all existing gender inclusive restrooms, and have been added to nearly 40 additional restrooms that have been converted from gendered single user to gender inclusive restrooms. Additional locations have been identified with plans for potential renovations.
New Training in Bathroom/Restroom Sensitivity
In the 2016-17 academic year, almost 100 trainings for 90 departments and offices have been conducted by the Stonewall Center – A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) Resource Center. Trainings were provided for most faculty members across campus and staff in Student Affairs. Faculty and professional staff received “Necessary Practices for Supporting Trans Students,” which addresses misgendering and other forms of anti-trans harassment. Classified staff received “Restroom/Bathroom Policies and Practices,” which focused on training. The training is currently being converted into a Moodle course for new faculty and Student Affairs staff members. Materials about policies and gender inclusive bathrooms have also been added to the new employee orientation packet.
Diversity Emphasis added to Move-in Weekend New Student Orientation
In September 2017, the incoming class will again be treated to "Many Voices. One Community." This successful event, which began in September 2016 showcases the diversity of the UMass student body, demonstrating the complexity of individual identities and emphasizing themes of inclusivity and active ally-ship as core values of the UMass community. The evening includes performances by members of performance troupes and impactful stories about personal and political challenges students have encountered, campus resources that helped them to navigate these struggles, and new discoveries they’ve made about themselves, other students and/or their community in their time so far at UMass. A spoken word performance is planned based upon the thousands of responses of the incoming class to the question: "What is unique about your voice?"
Emphasis on Climate and Support for International Students
There is a long-standing partnership between the Student Affairs and Campus Life and the International Programs Office (IPO) to build intercultural awareness of the international community at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A major part of this collaborative work provides support and advocacy for international students’ wellbeing and successful integration on campus. Campus initiatives and programming are ongoing to support sustained interactions between domestic and international students of color. Chancellor Subbaswamy formed an Immigration Task Force to closely monitor executive actions, initiate outreach to impacted members of the campus community, identify needs and resources, and provide regular updates on developments.
Enhanced Student Programming
As part of enhanced student programming increased funding has been provided to bolster ongoing efforts. For example, UMass SoulFest 2017, a long-standing week of several events led by student cultural organizations with the Office of Student Activities and Involvement to support an inclusive environment, has grown in recent years. This past April, we welcomed 3,000 Black students including several young alums to campus. SoulFest featured community service, brunch, picnic, and fashion show as well as a concert sponsored by the University Programming Council (UPC). In addition, the Center for Multicultural Affairs and Student Success celebrates and organizes Be Heard- Black Heritage Month, Latino Heritage Week, the Native American Film Festival, and Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and other events to celebrate art, culture, music, and history.
Expanded Financial and Economic Support for Students in Need
As a component of #UMassGives2017, the Student Care &Emergency Response Fund has been created to combat economic insecurity through a compassionate community. Through the Fund, students encountering difficulty meet with a Dean of Students case manager and explore a range of support services, including possible emergency financial support.
Expanded Mental Health Support for Students
As part of expanding existing health support and services for students, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (CCPH) has developed a Postgraduate Diversity Fellowship, new support groups for LGBTQ graduate and undergraduate students, international students and students of color in collaboration with Stonewall Center , IPO and CMASS. As of 2016, CCPH has also hired LGBTQ and additional clinicians and trainees of color, developed cultural competency trainings for Student Affairs and Campus Life staff, and improved tracking mechanisms with potential for targeted outreach.
Increased Health Services for Transgender Students
University Health Services (UHS) has continued its collaboration with the Stonewall Center on trans-affirming culture across patient services and increasing access to transgender medical care, including hormone therapy. Cindy Hildebrand, RN, facilitates care and service needs of trans patients, and serves as Title IX Transgender contact person for UHS. Dr. Ilana Schmitt offers skillful and culturally sensitive care to meet the medical needs of most transgender patients without leaving campus.
Focus on Climate and Support at University Health Services
Pierre Rouzier, MD, has been allocated as a diversity patient advocate to assist any student experiencing racial or ethnic discrimination, either within the healthcare setting, or in their personal scholastic experience that results in health repercussions. Informed by a survey and needs assessment for diversity climate at UHS, Diversity Training for all UHS staff was conducted in conjunction with CMASS.
Enhanced Support for Diversity in the Classroom
The Institute for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development (TEFD) regularly hosts programming to support intercultural teaching including Teaching and Diversity Professional Development Workshops, Discussion Series for international instructors, Interactive Panel Discussions, and individual workshop presentations. TEFD has created educational materials including “The Inclusive Syllabus”, “Responding to Bias”, “Facilitating Difficult Discussions and Managing Hot Moments in the Classroom”, “Expanding the Comfort Zone Model” and “Teaching Controversial Issues Now”.
In spring 2016, TEFD launched the Teaching for Inclusiveness, Diversity and Equity (TIDE) fellowship program with its first cohort containing 12 fellows from 12 different departments across campus. A second cohort has been announced for 2017-2018.
Implicit Bias Training and Diversified Staff at UMPD
In 2016, all UMPD officers and police officers from neighboring agencies participated in a three day training in Fair and Impartial Policing, a nationally recognized training emphasizing the issue of implicit bias by police officers in their day-to-day interactions. UMPD officers were also provided training by the Stonewall Center in transgender Issues. UMPD has an ongoing partnership with the Stonewall Center via engagement in events as well as regular communication with the Director in matters related to the Center and when UMPD receives reports of gender or sexual bias on campus. UMPD participates weekly in programs that engage officers with students of color. Engagement with student and community groups (ex: Student Bridges, Veteran’s Services, the Center for Women and Community and many more), offers opportunities for face-to-face interactions and relationship building. In the past two years UMPD has significantly diversified its staff, extensive outreach to encourage underrepresented groups to apply for the UMass Police Cadet program resulted in a diverse cohort of cadets. UMPD is currently in the process of hiring 10 full time police officers. This diverse group includes three persons of color and five women.
Increased Focus and Formalized Diversity Training Residence Life Staff
As part of the efforts to increase focus on diversity and formalize diversity training for live-in residence life staff, Residential Life closed the 2015-16 academic year with diversity trainings for all full time and graduate staff, RA candidate, RAs, RDs, Residential Education Leadership, Residential Hall Association Executive Boards, new residents, and administration. Trainings included Building Intercultural Competence, Developing Inclusive Communities, Diversity and Inclusion: Our Critical Context, Allyship in Action, Responding to Bias, LGBTQIA Workshops, Understanding Religious Diversity, Balancing Civility and Free Speech, and Student Activism, among others. In spring 2016, Student Affairs developed a comprehensive bias response protocol and presented the guidelines to SACL leadership.
Enhanced Collaboration to Support and Enhance Defined Residential Communities
Collaborative working groups were established for all of the Defined Residential Communities; working groups included Residence Education staff, Residential Learning Communities staff, and academic and campus partners. The working groups planned initiatives for the communities, recruited and selected community members for the 2016-17 academic year and supported the needs of the communities. As a result of these efforts, the Kanonhsesne Native American Student community, which was not active for previously is currently active, the Asian/Asian American community had the highest number of applicants ever, the Harambee community continued its growth, and the creation of a Latino defined residential community is being explored.
Efforts launched to support diversity and a positive climate for graduate students
In 2016, the Graduate School launched the Research Enhancement and Leadership (REAL) Fellowship Program to support the recruitment of diverse graduate students. A First Generation Initiative was launched, in Fall 2016, to support community and building key mentorship networks through bi-weekly community meetings, as well as a First Generation mixer where first generation graduate students will socialize over food and drink with first generation faculty members. As of spring 2017, the Graduate School continues its summer fellowship programs to support underrepresented doctoral and MFA students and is actively involved with a consortium of universities in New England working to promote diversity among STEM graduate students and faculty. Workshops are being developed to address diversity in the context of faculty-graduate student mentoring.
Enhanced Faculty Recruitment Efforts
UMass Amherst has long been committed to improving diversity in the ranks of its faculty. Departments and colleges have continually focused on increasing underrepresented groups on our faculty as a part of normal hiring cycles. In the 2014-2015 academic year, the central administration revised the Campus High Impact Program (CHIP) and the Target of Opportunity Program (TOO) to provide mechanisms to enhance incremental hiring. The Chancellor and Provost committed 20% of the revenue previously reserved for hiring to support these two programs and created incentives for departments/colleges to become more aggressive in identifying CHIP and UMass Amherst has long been committed to improving diversity in the ranks of its faculty. Departments and colleges have continually focused on increasing underrepresented groups on our faculty as a part of normal hiring cycles. In the 2014-2015 academic year, the central administration revised the Campus High Impact Program (CHIP) and the Target of Opportunity Program (TOO) to provide mechanisms to enhance incremental hiring. The Chancellor and Provost committed 20% of the revenue previously reserved for hiring to support these two programs and created incentives for departments/colleges to become more aggressive in identifying CHIP and TOO hires in their search processes. The initial success of these programs is encouraging and for the foreseeable future, approximately 20% of the hiring budget will be committed to support these efforts.
Increased Outreach and Engagement to Support Student Recruitment
The assistant provost for diversity engages in ongoing outreach activities to communities across Massachusetts and the Northeastern regionwith the goal of building more robust pipelines of applicants to UMass Amherst. In recent years, the campus has developed connections with a number of public and private schools, and nonprofit organizations through intensive efforts including: 1) sponsoring Camp College an intensive, three-day college access and preparedness workshop designed for rising high school juniors and seniors; 2) Attending college signing days and graduation ceremonies at local high schools; 3) Engagement with the 100 males to College Program; and 4) admissions table present at the annual Powwow for northern and northeast woodland Native Americans.
Enhanced Campus Dialogues
The campus has always featured opportunities for sustained dialogues and debates within units. This year the Provost’s and Chancellor’s office invited the community to a series of lectures and panels under the theme “Engaging Democracy, Exchanging Ideas” that was promoted campus-wide. Speakers debated the concept of the free market, discussed the consequences of politicizing Islam, asked whether the sanctuary movement made sense for public universities, highlighted the forgotten history of race in America, considered the problem of access to higher education, reflected on the contradictions of women’s march and much more. Events ranged from panels featuring faculty across campus to high-profile visitors that were organized by the Chancellor’s office, student groups, departments, as well as schools and colleges.
Diversity Training Incorporated into Summer New Student Orientation
In summer 2016, all NSO Leaders participated in “Home Away from Home: Your UMASS CommUnity!”, a training designed to engage NSO Leaders on the key aspects of cultural competency and to prepare NSO Leaders to co-facilitate conversation on diversity and social justice through awareness, attitude, skills and knowledge. In summer 2017, a smaller cohort of NSO Leaders will be trained to facilitate the Summer NSO Diversity Session, “Better Together: Connecting Our Voices” in addition to the UMASS CommUnity training for all NSO Leaders.
Increased Efforts to Support the Retention of Faculty and Staff of Color
In November 2016, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva gave a lecture 'The Diversity Blues at HWCUs: Towards a Deep Diversity Agenda', where Bonilla-Silva discussed structural racism, “color-blind racism,” introduced the concept of historically white colleges and universities, and offered ideas on how we need to reframe the agenda and struggle for racial justice therein. The Chancellor’s Office hosted a reception for faculty and staff of color in conjunction with the lecture to foster community and connection.