The 14 ACM colleges launched consortial anti-racism initiatives to address the institutional and structural forms of racism that have contributed to the differential experiences and outcomes for students, faculty, and staff.
The colleges of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) have a longstanding commitment to educational access, diversity, and other dimensions of equity in higher education. Each is committed to the fact that teaching, learning, and civic life are enriched by increased exposure to a broad and diverse range of perspectives, both within the curriculum and among faculty, students, and staff. Current events call on the ACM colleges to intensify their focus on the structures, institutional practices, and policies that evidence this commitment.
The 14 ACM colleges launched a consortial anti-racism initiative to address the institutional and structural forms of racism that have contributed to the differential experiences and outcomes for students, faculty, and staff. For purposes of this initiative, institutional racism is the result of biased procedures, unfair practices that result in inequitable or disparate outcomes, and other institutional policies. Although these policies are often benign in design and rarely mention race, they highlight the gap between intent and impact when inequitable or disparate outcomes result. Separately, structural racism describes the disparate societal outcomes between white and non-white people – e.g., wealth inequality, educational outcomes, wage gaps, unequal access to health care, and digital divide. Structural racism is relevant to the mission of ACM colleges where it affects access to these educational communities and/or creates barriers for students, faculty, and staff to fully employ their education and scholarship in the world.
Targeted Anti-Racism Activities
The ACM colleges committed to launch these targeted activities during the 2020-2021 academic year:
The ACM consortial office developed anti-racism skills and knowledge to enhance teaching and learning with the following audience-specific activities:
- For Faculty and Staff: Curated and hosted monthly ACM workshops designed to ensure that interracial and intercultural understanding inform the colleges’ curricular and co-curricular programs. Early sessions during the fall semester/term focused on microaggressions, inclusive discourse, and culturally responsive student mentorship. A full roster of workshop topics is available here.
- For Administrative Leadership: Developed a collaborative, research-informed process through which consortial groups (e.g., Registrars, Admission Directors, Financial Aid Directors, etc.) could assess their processes and related student touchpoints to determine whether they resulted in any unintended disparate impact.
The ACM consortial office enhanced community and well-being among faculty, staff, and students of color with the following audience-specific activities:
- For Faculty and Staff: Hosted a series of consortial virtual convenings, organized around topics identified as salient by campus-based partners; and
- For Students: (Still in progress) Coordinated with campus-based multicultural/intercultural centers to explore consortial convenings for student affinity groups.
Data Collection and Analysis
The ACM consortial office coordinated with the 14 colleges to identify and understand current and past institutional practices that have created disparate impact among faculty, students, and staff of color. This work proceeded in two steps:
- An inventory of existing commitments, programs and practices on each campus that support diversity, equity, and inclusion, with the goal of identifying best practices and areas for improvement; and
- Data gathering and analysis to illuminate the landscape for racial equity across ACM campuses. Data included enrollment and persistence of underrepresented students, financial aid packaging, student support structures, faculty and staff recruitment and retention, and campus procurement practices.
The ACM anticipated developing the full scope of this work iteratively, over time, as the full range of campus-based aspirations and needs are revealed. In the short term, the ACM consortial office:
- Leveraged the power of the consortial approach by developing infrastructure, providing access to resources and expertise, and coordinating collective efforts that the colleges would not be able to do alone; and
- Collaborated with the Office of the President at each college across the consortia to ensure that these initiatives complement each college’s ongoing anti-racism programs.