Office for Equity and Inclusion Celebrates Recent Successes

Since the arrival of Vice President for Equity and Inclusion/Title IX Officer Alison Williams ’81 six months ago, the Office for Equity and Inclusion (OEI) has made several updates and changes and is celebrating noteworthy successes.

“As we are cognizant of the many societal challenges we face, we continue to work in partnership with (other campus offices and programs) to ensure that our community strives to be free from discrimination, harassment, and obstacles that prevent everyone from being successful at Wesleyan,” Williams said.

Among the office’s recent updates are:

Pathways to Inclusive Education

The Pathways to Inclusive Education (PIE) programs include the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Program (McNair Fellows); Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows (MMUF); Wesleyan Mathematics and Science Scholars Program (WesMaSS); Upward Bound Math-Science Program (Upward Bound); and First Things First (FTF).

This program also provides support to all members of the Wesleyan community who are marginalized or disenfranchised. Guided by Teshia Levy-Grant, dean for equity and inclusion, Wesleyan’s undergraduate students are busy searching for graduate school programs, applying for summer internships, and attending conferences. The annual PIE conference will be held on April 25 and will feature a panel of alumni speaking about navigating thoughts of disappointment, identity, and career crisis to finding your career path.

Specifically, the Upward Bound program has developed community partnerships with Middletown, Meriden, and New Britain high schools, working to help at-risk students matriculate to college through tutoring, mentoring, and college visits. For the first time, the Upward Bound Math-Science—Meriden/New Britain (UBMS) grant achieved all six of its US Department of Education–mandated project objectives for the 2018–2019 program year.

“The goal of these programs is to provide holistic support, access, and services to students to help them move into the University, move through, and move on with hopes of graduate education or professional careers after Wesleyan,” Williams said.

Equity Compliance
The State of Connecticut recently enacted the Times Up Act that went into effect on Oct. 1, 2019. This law is not part of Title IX and applies to all employers. The Times Up Act expands Connecticut’s sexual harassment laws by requiring that all employees must receive two hours of anti-sexual harassment training by Oct. 1, 2020, regardless of when they last participated in any training.

“We’ll be offering an online training program for all employees during the spring semester and ask everyone to do their part to make Wesleyan 100% compliant,” Williams said.

The Office for Equity and Inclusion also is anxiously awaiting the controversial new Title IX Regulations due to be released by the federal government this month. These regulations may force Wesleyan to overhaul its adjudication processes. For more information on compliance-related updates, contact Debbie Colucci, equity compliance director and deputy Title IX coordinator at dcolucci@wesleyan.edu.

The Resource Center
The Resource Center is now under the direction of the Office for Equity and Inclusion. The Resource Center’s mission is to support, empower, and engage students with underrepresented and marginalized identities at Wesleyan through dialogue and coalition-building. The center is under the directorship of Demetrius Colvin and is located on the corner of High and Church Streets. The center provides a number of services including hosting events, a lending library, conference and study rooms, clothing and food banks.

Campus Partnerships
OEI continues to partner with Human Resources to offer training through the Success at Wes program. Upcoming sessions include: Understanding Implicit Bias, held 1:30 to 4 p.m., March 3, in Usdan 108; and Title VII/IX – Harassment Prevention Training (a one-time requirement for all faculty and staff), held from 4 to 6 p.m., March 9, in Boger Hall 112 and from 12:15 to 2:15 p.m., April 22, in Usdan 136. For more information or to sign up visit the Human Resources website.

OEI is working with Academic Affairs and Human Resources to incorporate best practices for hiring faculty and staff, and is collaborating with the Resource Center, Gordon Career Center, Office of Study Abroad, Financial Aid Office, and the Fries Center for Global Studies on expanding access and representation in Wesleyan programs and services.

OEI also is spearheading Wesleyan’s efforts on the second annual Middletown Pride celebration which will be held on June 20.

Digital Accessibility
OEI’s subcommittee on Electronic Information Technology Accessibility is formalizing policy and creating a plan for increasing access for all digital materials. Once completed, OEI will provide a policy and training so all departments will be capable of maintaining web pages that are in compliance with federal regulations.

OEI is also in the process of revising its website and making it a better resource for easy access to policies, regulations and procedures, and supporting undocumented and DACA students; and more.

“We encourage you to keep us abreast of your efforts to build a more equitable and inclusive campus for all,”  Williams said. “All members of our team have an open-door policy, and we encourage everyone to take advantage of it as we proactively reach out to our broad and diverse community.”