Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
It is important for all universities to promote diversity, social equity, and inclusion. The 2020 police killings of George Floyd and other black citizens highlighted long-standing injustice and systemic racism. We must continue to teach critical race theory and to educate students about social justice issues. We also need to work actively to provide support for people who identify as LGTBQIA+. Additionally, it is important to draw upon universal design techniques to make classrooms and materials more suitable and accessible for students with disabilities.
These large societal issues have an impact on every campus in the day-to-day lives of students. As IUP English Chair, I have sometimes had students come to my office upset, angry, or frustrated because they feel that they are being treated unfairly by a faculty member or other member of the university community. This situation may have arisen because of an insensitive racial comment or an assignment that the student felt disadvantaged them because of their religious or political views. In these situations, I listen carefully so that the person knows they are being heard and then I work collaboratively with the student and faculty member to find solutions that are fair and equitable.
In the IUP English Department, promoting social equality is a top priority. I have worked with other English faculty to ensure that our curriculum focuses on teaching about race, gender, and sexual orientation. I provide support and funding for a film and speaker series that promotes diverse viewpoints. I have coordinated diversity training workshops for all English faculty. In addition, in 2020 I worked with our Director of Undergraduate Writing to overhaul our writing placement procedure for new IUP students to make it fairer and more equitable for diverse students while also ensuring that it remains effective and cost efficient.
Beyond my work at the departmental level, I have been involved in discussions to develop a required diversity training course for IUP students and taken part in IUP’s Diversity and Inclusion Summit and student information sessions. I also write about diversity and gender issues in my own research on popular culture, narrative theory, and technology.
Below is a link to a variety of DEI resources that are highly useful: