An update on Diversity and Inclusion efforts at Marquette

Diversity+and+inclusion+efforts+have+continued+at+Marquette

Diversity and inclusion efforts have continued at Marquette

As a Jesuit university, one of Marquette’s guiding values is to “nurture an inclusive, diverse community that fosters new opportunities, partnerships, collaboration, and vigorous yet respectful debate.” The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion has been working to increase diversity and inclusion through organized dialogues, online programs, and critical hires.

Joya Crear, acting vice president of inclusive excellence with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion at Marquette University, said she is responsible for leadership in setting a strategic direction focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Crear said a diverse campus allows community members to learn from others who have different perspectives.

“Exposure and interactions with a range of people, scholarship and experiences increase our intellect, ethical decision making, critical thinking, problem-solving and writing skills. We are limited by our experiences and learning about other experiences cultivates understanding, compassion, and develops equitable communities,” Crear said.

The Urban Scholars Program welcomes a 45-student group its first group since the expansion with 40 additional full-tuition scholarships last fall. Urban Scholars is a Marquette program that offers scholarships to high achieving low-income scholars from urban high schools, targeting the Milwaukee area. Among the 45 students are 34 students are from the City of Milwaukee.

Crear said that a more diverse campus gives students the opportunity to interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds. By understanding and interacting with other cultures, people are less likely to discriminate against one another.

Crear quoted from the American Council on Education. “Education within a diverse setting prepares students to become good citizens in an increasingly complex, pluralistic society; it fosters mutual respect and teamwork, and it helps build communities whose members are judged by the quality of their character and their contributions.”

Marquette University has also taken steps to increase diversity and inclusion among both faculty and students.

“Several critical hires have occurred over the past year; Marquette employees will participate in an online program entitled ‘Faculty and Staff: Personal Skills for a Diverse Campus’; New undergraduate students participated in ‘Brave and Bold Dialogues,’‘” Crear said.

“The Office of Diversity and Inclusion partnered with the Department of Human Resources to create a diversity hiring toolkit; Expansion of Urban Scholars Program; and Maamawi Abiwin Room dedication in the Alumni Memorial Union (Room 157),” Crear said.

“Brave and Bold Dialogues” is a one-hour interactive online course that undergraduates participated in before new student Orientation. Then a live workshop was facilitated by Rasheed Ali Cromwell, founder and president of Harbor Institute. Harbor Institute is the premier educational consulting firm committed to partnering with institutions to achieve our shared mission of student success & diversity.

Marquette has put in place initiatives like “Brave and Bold Dialogue” to continue conversations regarding diversity.

“Making sure we are continually working on our climate. The “Brave and Bold Dialogue” initiative was put in place as a structure where we’re talking about diversity and inclusion more. Mainly talking about multicultural and intercultural competency,” Cole said.

As Vice President of student affairs at Marquette, Xavier Cole works with students to connect their lives out of the classroom to their experiences in the classroom.

At student affairs, “we provide leadership opportunities and support services, from clinical and medical to academic and leadership support. We house and feed students. We are all about ‘cura personalis,’ the holistic care for the students,” Cole said.

Cole used a biology analogy to demonstrate the importance and value of diversity. He said that if everyone in the world was a replica of one person, life would not be interesting. He also points out how even flora and fauna are diverse.

“Research shows the more diverse your community, the more fruitful education becomes. Having diverse viewpoints, having viewpoints that clash and interact with each other,  and having different for thinking about things beyond how you were raised,  broaden your horizons,” Cole said.

Cole said that when students study abroad, they are immersed in a different culture that allows them to compare and contrast their own.

“Diversity makes our lives more beautiful, more interesting, more complex. It is essential to us having a more enjoyable life,” Cole said.

Through the creation of the Hispanic Serving Institution Initiative and the expansion of the Urban Scholars Program, Marquette has intentionally invited students from diverse backgrounds. Marquette’s webpage has been translated into Spanish (Marquette en Español).

The HSI Initiative was created in 2016 to “create a student, faculty and staff to be more Spanish speaking and from more indigenous, Latinx Hispanic backgrounds,” Cole said.

Through the expansion of the Urban Scholars Program, more students are able to afford and attend Marquette.

“The Urban Scholars Program is helping Marquette be more affordable for populations that may have chosen a more affordable option. This is intentionally done through intentional recruitment and intentional focus on populations,” Cole said.

Cole said that measures have been taken to increase diversity and inclusion to Marquette’s Jesuit mission.

“By diversifying our population and inviting a population who may not have thought about us or think that this is the place for them, we’re meeting our mission more directly. Jesuit, Catholic schools were built in urban cities to serve immigrants and working poor first,” Cole said.

This online course allows students to have discussions to make Marquette’s campus more inclusive for people of color. Not only are students participating in such courses, but so are faculty and staff.

“The Center for Teaching and Learning has sessions for faculty around diversity, equity and inclusion topics and how to make their classroom more welcoming, how to make their curriculum more diverse and engaging for a broader cohort of people. Getting things that speak to voices that may have been previously excluded from the conversation,” Cole said.

To continue these progressions, Crear said that the curriculum needs to be reexamined. Cole urges students, faculty and staff to give one another grace and respect.

“The university has made significant progress on campus and in the Milwaukee community. Areas where we could grow is to revisit our curriculum across colleges and departments, through and equity and anti-racism lens and revise as needed,” Crear said.

Cole said that grace is assuming that someone had good intentions until they are proven otherwise.

“Think first good intentions about the other is extremely important. This is an intentional act that can be executed by every living member of this community.  How do we treat each other with respect? How do we treat each other with grace? How are we open to something that may be different from our own experience to help us grow?” Cole said.

This story was written by Hannah Hernandez. She can be reached at hannah.hernandez@marquette.edu.