Dear Michigan Community:
Student Life has achieved significant progress in Years One, Two, Three, and Four of our Five-Year Plan to improve Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Michigan. Beginning in 2015, Student Life engaged a broad cross-section of students, staff and research to ensure a grounded and informed plan to be implemented over the next five years. Connections were made early in the planning process, including town halls and individual and group sessions with students, student leaders, student organizations, student employees, and with our staff. Building off this strong foundation of stakeholder involvement, our plan continues to be inspired by ongoing student and staff insights and has shaped our strategic and iterative priorities to improve diversity, equity and inclusion at Michigan as are summarized in the Student Life DEI Plan framework of Strengthen, Innovate, Assess, Enhance and Engage. Over the past four years Student Life has committed to robust and strategic investment in:
strengthening existing advocacy, support and education and the first year experience, improving DEI partnerships with schools/colleges, and launching the Trotter Multicultural Center on State Street;
encouraging innovation to develop a more global and inclusive student mindset;
improving assessment capacity to ensure our DEI work is more data-informed;
enhancing current staff DEI skills while developing inclusive hiring practices and building equitable onboarding and development experiences for all new team members; and
facilitating broad and diverse student engagement with DEI efforts.
Our Year 4 efforts and Year 5 plans are heavily informed by the COVID-19 global pandemic and the impacts of anti-black racism on our campus and wider communities. As we seek to meet our community’s emerging needs, our collective work to support students and improve campus climate is more essential now than ever. In order to align our organization to these needs, we re-assessed our Student Life Strategic Priorities and Goals, including our DEI Plan Objectives, to focus on students and communities most impacted by these crises. We are committed to increasing understanding and addressing the immediate and long-term needs of our students and staff. Through resources, programs, services, and investment in necessary changes to structure, policies, and practices, it is our goal to continually advance Student Life as a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization.
Though we are entering Year Five of our five-year DEI Strategic Plan, this does not mean our work ends with the conclusion of the fifth year. In Year Five, we will continue our commitment to the robust sets of Student and Staff Plan Objectives we have been advancing and, additionally, we will be investing in:
building a culture of community care, inclusive of education and training, informed by current student experiences and needs in relationship to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of interpersonal and institutional racism; and
educating our community on sexual and gender-based misconduct prevention in an effort to promote a safe and supportive environment for all members to work, learn, and thrive.
In spite of the extra challenges that we continue to face both as a Division and as individuals, we are hard at work to deliver on all aspects of our Strategic Plan and integrate successful initiatives into the Division of Student Life to transform the Michigan experience and sustain the progress we have already achieved for many years to come. None of this work is done alone, however, which is why we celebrate these accomplishments achieved in partnership with staff and students across campus as a strong foundation for the innovation that lies ahead.
Sincerely and on behalf of our Student Life Team,
Martino Harmon, Ph.D.