Dear Members of the Loyola Community,
Loyola has a deep commitment to issues of equity, inclusion, and social justice. Expressing that commitment in words is important, but even more important is how those words match the actions and the work we are doing as a community.
In planning for concrete action steps, the office of equity and inclusion approaches these issues with an integrative model of leadership, which draws its strength from partnerships and collaborations extending to every division of our university. The work of diversity, equity, and inclusion doesn’t sit in any specific office at Loyola. This is the work of all of us.
Creating Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan
The President’s Council on Equity and Inclusion is leading the development of the diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan. This plan will have measurable outcomes in the following areas:
- Education and Assessment;
- Inclusion and Accessibility; and
- Defining what it means to be an Ignatian citizen in the context of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
These measures are being developed as we speak and will be rolled out in the fall with a three-year plan that will challenge and engage our whole institution.
Equity Audits: A Key Element of the Plan
Embedded in the plan will be equity audits, which will help move past the surface-level interventions to understanding and correcting the systemic issues. Equity audits compel us to pause as a community and look at the enduring policies and practices that may have been invisible but because of our use of probing research questions and analysis of disaggregated data are now more clearly seen. Equity audits uncover those policies and practices that have been hindering and preventing all of us—faculty, staff, administrators, and students—from succeeding on an equitable playing field.
The Value of Student Voices and Perspectives
Our undergraduate and graduate students are essential to this integrated approach. The office of equity and inclusion has relationships with the Student Government Association, with students of ALANA Services, and with other student leaders. Our office will continue to seek out and cultivate relationships with students. Students are an important voice. I invite students who want to be part of the conversation to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through our mission and the faith tradition of our institution, we have a call to hear the voices of the unrepresented and to create space at the table for those voices. The integrative model for our office of equity and inclusion provides an avenue for those voices, our relational approach to the work creates open doors for those voices, our student-centered high-touch approach to instruction and engagement allow for avenues for the articulation of those voices and for moving forward.
Immediate Action Steps for Antiracism and Allyship
The recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and the many others of who have been victimized by racist acts call us to immediate action. Resources for our community can be found in our collaborative resource guide.
Our Counseling Center is offering a large array of supports through the Empower group for Students of Color (follow the Counseling Center on Instagram for updated scheduling information); restorative resources for Black and African American community members and people of color, as well as information for those seeking to promote anti-racism and engage in allyship; and additional workshops and groups for self-care and wellness and remote counseling services.
Additionally, many departments, programs, and offices throughout the institution are sharing discipline specific resources; providing opportunities for students to come together for town halls or community conversations; and continuing to review policies, procedures, and practices to ensure equity and inclusion.
Be Ready for Transformational Change
I understand that the pain and hurt of the past few weeks and our longstanding and entrenched history of systemic racism have been devastating. We stand with and for each other in our pain.
I also understand that it is frustrating and slow to walk the path of a companion: to talk and be with each other in these most difficult moments. If we don’t sit with each other, listen to each other, open ourselves to each other in trusting relationships, however, we will get this wrong. Without these key steps and dispositions, we will not get to systemic change that is meaningful and transformational.
In this moment, we need to be ready for transformational change. We must lean into our mission while always aiming for greater levels of accountability, transparency, and communication. We also must provide space for each of us to make mistakes, learn, grow, heal, and pledge greater collaboration and true, sustained commitment to our common goals.
Cheryl Moore-Thomas, Ph.D., NCC
Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer
Professor of Counselor Education