Office of Diversity and Equity
The ideals of the SUNY Geneseo community strive to broaden understanding, heighten awareness, awaken empathy, and foster empowerment of all individuals.
We believe that our differences make us stronger and together, we commit ourselves to sustaining and expanding the diversity of our community and to making equity for all members of our diverse community a measure of our success.
The Office of Diversity and Equity strives to cultivate and uphold an inclusive and diverse campus. We aim to create an environment that educates, empowers, and inspires our students, campus, and community here at SUNY Geneseo.
DEI Updates Fall '20-Spring '21
April '21 Updates
Future Plans for Diversity Summit
In response to one of the demands from BIPOC students this past summer, the President and Provost have advanced to the College Senate Executive Committee a proposal that would allow the Diversity Summit to be held on a class-free day, and that proposal is currently under review.
Memorial for Victims of Racial Violence and Injustice
Students are working with the Office of Student Life to create memorial artwork dedicated to victims of racial violence and injustice. It will be displayed temporarily in the Kinetic Gallery within the MacVittie College Union while a more permanent location is explored. This is in addition to the racial justice mural project that Xiara Colon of Student Association has been coordinating.
All Gender Bathrooms Update
The College has recently converted all single-use bathrooms to all-gender bathrooms, putting 16 more online. We now have 74 total on campus. Some of the new locations include additional all-gender bathrooms in the Clark Service Building, Mary Jemison Dining Hall, Schrader Hall, Steuben Hall, Letchworth Dining Hall, Newton Hall, Merritt Athletic Center, Putnam Hall, Blake Hall and several in the Brodie Fine Arts building.
Campus Climate Survey and Faculty Focus Groups
All students will soon have an opportunity to complete the Campus Climate Survey. The results will help us understand the experiences of students, faculty, and staff, in particular those of minoritized groups, establishing a baseline that will help inform our efforts and measure progress. In addition, Academic Affairs, in partnership with Dr. Sasha Eloi-Evans, co-chair of the diversity commission’s Climate Study Subcommittee, is hosting focus groups for faculty of color to better understand climate issues and make informed improvements.
Results from these assessment methods will help inform implementation of some of the BIPOC student demands related to supporting, uplifting and protecting current BIPOC students, faculty, staff, and administrators.
DEI Training Update
All Cabinet members, as well as the executive director of Campus Auxiliary Services, are currently participating in the Advancing Cultural Competency Certificate (ACCC) program, through which each leader will develop an action plan. In addition, 53 faculty and staff are on track to complete the ACCC program this month.
The faculty and staff leadership program is also under way with its first cohort of participants who are leaders from across the campus community. The inaugural session includes a three-hour training on Equity-Minded Leadership, as well as other areas of leadership development, and is designed to promote relationship building and foster collaboration skills, as well as increase awareness and appreciation for various campus roles and responsibilities.
Division and Unit-Level DEI Plans
The Student & Campus Life division is currently updating its mission, vision, and outcomes to include DEI and anti-racist values and themes. See a larger list of department/division-level action plans and statements of support for racial justice here.
March '21 Updates
Diversity Summit (Theme: Creating an Antiracist Community)
I am thrilled by the level of engagement at Tuesday's Diversity Summit, as well as the daily programming during the week leading up to the Summit. There were over 400 members of our community engaged in several sessions over the course of the day, as well as many individuals unaffiliated with the College participating. I'd like to express my gratitude to the organizers, presenters, and volunteers who made it possible, and those of you who attended sessions in pursuit of Creating an Antiracist Community.
Curricular Design Working Group Update
The Curricular Design Working Group (CDWG) submitted a new curriculum proposal, "A Geneseo Curriculum for a Connected World" to the Senate for the review process. This proposal, which includes a “diversity, pluralism, and power” requirement in the revised general education program, has been developed in response to feedback from the community. We invite you to review this proposal and to share your feedback via the CDWG Wiki page.
New Living-Learning Community in Erie Hall
A new living-learning community is being established in Erie Hall. Umoja House will create an engaged intellectual community where students of diverse backgrounds can come together in a supportive environment to celebrate their identities while nurturing their leadership skills. There is an informational session for returning students scheduled for Friday, March 5 at 6 p.m. via Zoom. Register here.
New Public Art Policy Completed
In response to the demands issued this past summer by the Concerned Students Coalition, the Student Association is leading a mural project, under the leadership of Xiara Colón. This initiative has prompted the College to develop a public art policy that would create a pathway for project ideas like this to be officially proposed and approved. The policy has been completed and a committee, which will include student representation, is being formed now.
SUNY Releases DEI Action Plan
Last week, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced a comprehensive 25-point diversity, equity, and inclusion plan to close the racial equity gaps, and eliminate cultural and institutional racial discrimination across SUNY. Geneseo will be enhancing its efforts to align with this new plan.
In addition to these updates we are actively exploring the feasibility of establishing a multicultural space on campus, as well as student leader training on cultural humility. The timelines for each of these initiatives vary and while neither will be immediate, we will provide updates accordingly.
January/February '21 Updates
Black History Month Events
A month-long series of events is under way in support of our ongoing effort to become an antiracist college. The events to celebrate Black History Month are organized by the Antiracism and DEI Education Subcommittee of the President's Commission on Diversity and Community with support of the Provost's Office. Our ultimate goal of becoming an antiracist institution is aspirational and therefore perpetually imperfect. However, we are dedicated to reimagining the inner-workings of the college, propelling individual and institutional growth beyond this month of programmed events in order to sustain movement towards this aspirational goal.
Cultivating Community Series to Resume February 24th
The next session in the Cultivating Community series will be held February 24, focused on the question “In the aftermath of a bias-related incident at a public institution of higher education, how might campus officials effectively communicate with members of the college community?” Case studies will be shared and discussed and participants will be asked to consider how Geneseo responds or should respond when bias-related incidents occur. Subsequent sessions will continue to engage in dialogue about ways the College, as a public institution of higher education, might best respond to bias-related instances. To RSVP, visit the Cultivating Community web page.
Update on Painted Tree and Rock
Contextual signage has been placed near the painted rock, and will soon be installed next to the tree on Sturges Quad, weather permitting. In addition, upon consultation with the President’s Commission on Diversity and Community, I have convened a committee representative of a broad array of college stakeholders, including students, faculty, and staff, to initiate and complete by April 2, a review of the College’s current painted tree and rock practices and provide recommendations on the best path moving forward.
- December '20 Updates
Antiracism in the Curriculum
Academic Affairs is taking action to increase and highlight racial justice and antiracism in the curriculum in three ways. First, various academic departments are working to develop new coursework focused on antiracism and racial justice. Many of these new courses will be taught during the Intersession and Spring 2021. Second, several departments are also endeavoring to incorporate antiracism throughout their curriculum rather than in selected courses. The Psychology Department faculty, for example, are meeting regularly to share ideas about new antiracist pedagogical approaches and materials that can be integrated into all their courses. Third, academic affairs is tagging antiracist courses every semester to ensure that students can easily find them. The list for Spring 2021 courses can be found here, and the list for Intersession can be found here.
Units Make Progress on Individual Action Plans
While the College has its own high level plans of actions and strategies, individual departments and offices on campus also have committed to unit-specific plans. Many of them are available on the Statements of Support and Action Plans for Racial Justice web page, which is updated regularly.
Deepening Personal Understanding through 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge
In addition to campus-specific initiatives, the College also participates in relevant regional activities including the recent 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge sponsored by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Greater Rochester. More than 100,000 community members and 460 organizations participated. A number of campus leaders were among them, notably the entire University Police Department, Residence Life leadership, divisional directors within Student and Campus Life, members of Cabinet and Campus Auxiliary Services employees. The initiative allowed participants to deepen their understanding of and willingness to confront racism, bias, and other social inequities.
Campus Auxiliary Services Engaging with Student Leaders
Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS) is intentionally seeking to engage with students across campus about service offerings to serve a more racially-diverse population. CAS initiated a new bi-weekly meeting with the five student directors of its Board. These ongoing meetings are focused on reviewing how CAS services support the College experience for all students, in particular students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Based on the demands issued, CAS is exploring several new opportunities, including the feasibility of establishing a hair salon on campus to better serve specialized needs that are not currently fully met in the greater Livingston County region. Mat Felthousen, the newly appointed CAS executive director, also met with the Student Association and Inter-Residence Council (IRC) this semester, and welcomes opportunities to meet with other student groups to solicit feedback on opportunities for improvement or new initiatives.
- November '20 Updates
Campus Personal Safety Committee Transitioned to Advisory Committee on Campus Safety
Recognizing that a modern conversation about campus safety must involve greater focus on law enforcement operations, accountability, and transparency, the College modified the Campus Personal Safety Committee to the Advisory Committee on Campus Safety and assigned the Committee additional responsibilities. The Committee comprises a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students. In addition to the traditional responsibilities focusing on environmental and personal safety, the Committee will conduct reviews of all University Police Command investigations into personnel complaints and use of force incidents.
Intergroup Dialogue Program Launches
Across the country, Intergroup Dialogue programs have been promoting empathy and awareness, and ultimately positively transforming campus climates. We have been laying the foundation for an Intergroup Dialogue program here at Geneseo. This spring, Chief Diversity Officer robbie routenberg will teach a Dialogue Facilitation Training course (XLRN 288) to prepare students to facilitate conversations that raise awareness of social justice principles such as social identity, privilege and oppression, and power and conflict. Some enrolled students will help facilitate Intergroup Dialogue courses in Fall 2021.
Election 2020 Resources
Student and Campus Life, in partnership with Academic Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Equity, executed robust programming before, during and after the 2020 Election. Recognizing the significance of the Presidential election in particular, the team mobilized to get out the vote prior to the election, and worked to support the Geneseo campus community during and after Election Day. For a full list of resources see Post-Election Allies, Programming & Resources.
SUNY-Wide Commitment to Diversity
SUNY recently launched a web page listing the various ways in which the 64 SUNY campuses are committed to diversity. The page lists 64 actions on 64 campuses and is intended to show the breadth of the system’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. SUNY Geneseo’s Cultivating Community Chats and antiracism efforts are highlighted.
- October '20 Updates
Units Develop Individual Action Plans
While the College has its own high level plans of actions and strategies, individual departments and offices on campus also have committed to unit-specific plans. Many of them are available on the website (including a video version from the Department of Biology) and many more are in development.
The student and campus life division is developing a socially just strategic plan in order to ensure the entire division is working to become more inclusive, antiracist, and is addressing systemic issues that hinder an inclusive community. This includes evaluating policies, procedures, and all student/campus services. The division’s leadership is working at the departmental level to ensure this work is taking place at all levels.
Admissions has taken steps to ensure an application review and scholarship awarding process that is free of bias. It also seeks to extend its test optional protocol to completely remove college entrance exams from the application review process.
Cabinet to Receive Advancing Cultural Competency Certificate (ACCC)
The College’s senior leaders recognize the value of further developing our cultural competency as well as participating in ongoing professional development. Accordingly, all members of the President’s Cabinet as well as our CAS Interim Executive Director have committed to complete the Advancing Cultural Competency Certificate Program (ACCC) during the current academic year. We encourage all members of our campus community to sign up for workshops, read articles, and engage in reflective conversations that contribute to your continued professional development in this arena, as well.
Antiracism Intersession 2021 Course Incentives
The extended Intersession period in January 2021 presents an opportunity for the College to offer more courses to serve our students as well as incorporate course materials that include diversity, equity and inclusion components. Academic Affairs is offering an incentive to those faculty who teach courses or incorporate course content that advance Geneseo’s pursuit of “Becoming an Antiracist College.” To further support faculty in developing content, Academic Affairs is also offering antiracist pedagogical support through the Teaching and Learning Center.
- September '20 Updates
More Accessible Engagement with Commission
We are making a fundamental change to the membership structure to allow for broader and more accessible campus engagement. Returning members to the Commission will be invited to serve as the Commission’s leadership, providing oversight to the committees and strategic direction of the Commission. Participatory membership will also be made available to all affiliated with our Geneseo community with expectations for engagement communicated to the campus by Commission leadership.
Strategic Communication Plan
The Commission will work with the Offices of Diversity & Equity and Communications & Marketing to establish a strategic DEI communication plan that includes mechanisms for sharing updates with the campus, creating a web-based historical timeline of DEI activities, and soliciting contributions from the campus.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day
As part of the Commission’s charge to educate and celebrate cultural diversity by sharing information about different holidays and traditions with the campus, they will be exploring the timing and programming associated with observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day on campus. This will be a new observance for our campus.
Campus Climate Study
The Commission will assist with the development of our comprehensive campus climate study. They will also identify and suggest ways to disseminate this information so that it can be used by the campus community to inform decisions and programming.
In partnership with the Office of Diversity & Equity and Student Association, the Commission will continue to assist with the coordination of this year’s Diversity Summit, which will take place on Tuesday, March 2. It is intentionally scheduled during a Rejuvenation Day so there will be no classes competing with the programming. Additionally, we will be expanding this event to include programming throughout some or all of the week of the Summit.