Jennifer McCary, BGSU’s Chief Diversity and Belonging Officer, intends to emphasize inclusion at the university through the Division of Diversity and Belonging.
“My goal of this division is to make sure we’ve created enough spaces where, if you ask anyone, ‘Do you feel like BGSU is a place where you belong,’ they will be able to think those spaces and say overwhelmingly, ‘yes,’” she said to Graduate Student Senate during an Oct. 25 assembly.
The Division of Diversity and Belonging was recently developed as part of President Rodney Rogers’ strategic plan – “Focus on the Future” – which presented the goal of “(enhancing) and (supporting) a culture that values diversity and inclusion.” The division is using the plan’s past initiatives to gauge effectiveness.
“There’s some things that just didn’t work at this institution, but there’s some things that did, so we need to expand on that … Belonging is an ongoing process,” she said.
One of McCary’s goals for the division is to place greater emphasis on faculty within inclusive environments.
“We want to make sure (faculty) have the language to be able to serve all the students on our campuses,” she said. “When things are happening in classwork, whether a bias incident perpetrated by a faulty member or somebody in class, we want them to be able to respond, to recognize that and to help.”
In addition, she wants to repurpose the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion structure – a board that collaborates with Rogers to meet diversity and inclusion goals – and increase funding to LGBTQ+ programs at the university.
Furthermore, the division includes the Office of Title IX where McCrary serves as coordinator. She said it has had an increased rate of misconduct reports and investigations, which from 2017 to 2018, has risen from 98 reports to 116.
“When you have 116 reports, and you start to get towards 50 investigations, now you get to start to really talk to people … When investigations go up, adjudications go up,” she said.
While McCrary said increased reports represent improved communication of misconduct, her goal is for the number to drop again.
“I hope to see by 2021 (or) 2022, that things have started to go down, because we’re actually preventing the incidents from happening,” she said.
The Division of Diversity and Belonging is implementing an online report card to show progress using what McCary describes as an “elementary” legend to display data, such as a “happy, meh or sad face” to represent the health of campus climate and stop light colors to represent the completion of recommendations.
By May, McCary wants to release strategic framework of the division’s cohesive plans for the future.
“We know what has worked, so we’re looking to really be innovative and move the bar,” she said.