A Letter from Dean Jenemann
For the University of Vermont Honors College, diversity is fundamental to the definition of who we are. With students from every undergraduate college, and nearly every undergraduate major and academic discipline represented, the HCOL is necessarily intellectually and academically diverse. However, we would fail in our obligation to being a “community of inquiry” if we did not also cultivate and champion diversity in other registers. The Honors College endeavors to cultivate multiple perspectives and gives its students the tools and the space to develop as both critical thinkers and as global citizens. Hence we strive to be a welcoming, nurturing, and inspiring place for students and staff not regardless their identity, beliefs, or places of origin, but as an intentional consequence of the many different individuals and backgrounds that make up the HCOL.
But diversity is only one part of what makes the Honors College, because diversity without a diligent cultivation of equity and inclusion isn’t always a community. For us, the terms “equity” and “inclusion” not only mean that every member of the Honors College has a voice and a role in our community, but also an equal share in the responsibility for making the HCOL a safe, welcoming, and just environment where students can learn and reach their full potential as young scholars and young adults. We take this obligation seriously, because the empowerment of each individual to express and discover themselves strengthens the community as a whole. We strive to be a leader in creating a just, equitable, and inclusive learning environment, because the students we encounter in the Honors College will help ensure that we have a just, equitable, and inclusive world tomorrow.
A Letter from the Student Equity Action Committee
Fellow Honors College Peers,
The Honors College (HCOL) can be described as a community with an abundant source of academic curiosity and intellectual diversity. Despite this, our community continues to be a reflection of the demographic homogeneity of UVM as a whole. It is important that we acknowledge this fact because marginalized communities are already at risk in diverse contexts — even more so within the realm of higher education. This is why we must work hard to support and uplift underrepresented voices. We strive to do this through institutional advocacy, programming, self-education, and open, meaningful conversations.
That being said, the UVM community is not a safe haven where issues cease to exist. The fight for equity isn’t over merely because many of us acknowledge its existence; it is an ongoing effort which necessitates continued hard work, listening to student voices, and coalition-building. It is key to identify issues which affect students of marginalized identities, and to then construct actionable plans with targeted policies specifically designed to help support these students. It is often the societal assumption that it’s the duty of individuals of marginalized backgrounds to educate their peers on their identity, but this often emotionally draining, and time-consuming task should not be their sole responsibility. Therefore, extra effort must be placed on educating students on diversity and inclusion within structured courses.
Overall, it is within the power of the students to be the change for a better and more equitable future and it is the role of faculty and staff to be mentors who aid students as they develop and transition into that role. We want to empower and support students to get involved. It is the community's responsibility to have respectful, open, and supportive communication in addressing injustice. The Student Equity Action Committee (SEAC), strives to maintain and encourage this dialogue on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in order to help develop a more culturally competent environment, and to inform students on how we can dismantle systemic injustices. It is through these efforts that HCOL can achieve its goal of creating globally responsible citizens.
Honors College Committee on Equity and Inclusion Committee Charge, 8/1/2021 through 6/30/2022
Areas of Emphasis:
- Engage the Honors College (HCOL) community in HCOL’s DEI initiatives
- Advise and collaborate with the Student Equity Action Committee (SEAC)
- Work with the leadership team to apply findings from spring 2021 student focus groups; collaboratively plan spring 2022 focus group sessions
- Participate in the development of a new HCOL Equity Action Plan
Student Education and Engagement
- Advise and support SEAC student leaders. Meet separately with SEAC co-chairs regularly to support their planning efforts and leadership development.
- Assist the Dean in organizing community-wide forums and communications sharing findings from the Office of Institutional Research’s (OIR) spring 2021 focus groups about the culture and climate of inclusivity in HCOL.
- Collaboratively plan and organize a second annual focus groups campaign for spring 2022, to be conducted by OIR, on the climate and culture of inclusivity in HCOL.
- Continue to incorporate intercultural competence as a core component of the Peer Mentor program through consultation, occasional participation in Peer Mentor meetings, and arranging diversity trainings.
- Serve as allies to students with marginalized identities seeking support and resources.
- Collaborate with campus partners to organize regular affinity spaces for students of color.
- Collaborate with campus partners to organize regular affinity spaces for LGBTQ+ students.
- Foster students’ development in intercultural competence and social justice through cocurricular programming and individual advising, including:
- Advising the Associate Dean on the incorporation of programming related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into the HCOL Common Hour.
- Consulting around peer mentor programming related to cultural holidays and other themed events.
Building Institutional Equity
- Advise the Dean on the formation of a task force to develop a new Equity Action Plan.
- Working with the task force, advise the Dean on the development of a new Equity Action Plan.
- Play an advisory role in the Dean’s integration of DEI goals and priorities into HCOL’s new mission statement and strategic priorities.
- Advocate for greater integration of DEI priorities into all HCOL staff’s responsibilities.
- Increase the HCOL community’s awareness of and engagement with our committee and with HCOL’s DEI initiatives generally.
- Advocate for greater student involvement in the curriculum development process.
- Expand on our existing efforts to address multiple forms of social inequity and intersectional oppression, including based on class, sex, gender, sexuality, and ability.
Staff Professional Development
- Collaborate with the Dean to arrange 1-2 staff development trainings related to DEI, facilitated by outside organizations or campus partners.
- Promote learning among HCOL staff by facilitating regular educational reading discussions related to identity and oppression.
- Advance our own learning and professional development through training opportunities and by collaborating often with campus partners.
Honors College Action Plan for Inclusive Excellence - Updated as of June 2019
- Curriculum Development: Implemented sophomore seminar (HCOL 185/186) proposal and vetting initiative.
- Curriculum Development: 40% of first-year and sophomore courses address issues related to diversity and also carry a D1/D2 designation.
- Professional Development: The Honors College funds staff to attend Blackboard Jungle, .EDU, and other professional development training at UVM focused on inclusive excellence.
- Professional Development: Annual Staff Retreat to include training and discussion on areas within the Framework.
- Student Recruitment: In partnership with Admissions, develop recruiting strategy for HCOL students in line with Framework.
- Evaluate programmatic initiatives: Establish Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Committee to evaluate programmatic and financial needs of our students, faculty, and staff to identify initiatives in accordance with the Pillars of Inclusive Excellence. Full committee will meet monthly, and will lead quarterly briefing and discussion with all Honors College staff. Each January revisit goals and set new ones.
Ongoing / 2019:
- Advising: Develop an action plan explicitly integrating the Framework into our advising and CARE team policies and practices. Develop culturally sensitive best practices for supporting the retention, success, and well-being of underrepresented students. Integrate the Framework into referral protocols for student success opportunities such as fellowships and undergraduate research. Projected completion date: January 2020.
- Course and Advising Evaluations: Revised course and advising evaluation questions to help better understand how HCOL advising practices are enabling and empowering students to have a better understanding of and appreciation for issues related to diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion. Projected completion date: January 2020.
- Community/ Peer Mentors: Develop diversity and cultural competence trainings to inform Peer Mentors' work with students. Projected completion date: January 2020.
- ADA Assessment: Partner with UVM facilities and ResLife to evaluate space in Honors College classrooms, offices, advising, and other spaces. Collaborate with ResLife to create protocols and plans for maximal accessibility. Projected completion date: January 2020
- Website Audit: Audit our website to make sure that it is compatible with screen readers and other tools that ensure our web content is accessible to people of all abilities, then implement website changes to ensure it is compatible. Projected completion date: January 2020.
- Course and Advising Evaluations: Continue to collect and analyze data from Honors College evaluations to understand if our classes and our advising practices are enabling and empowering students to have a better understanding of and appreciation for issues related to diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion. Projected completion date: summer 2020.
Completion Date 2020/2021
- Curriculum Development: Evaluate D1/D2 courses and assess curricular needs. Revise proposal and vetting process as needed.
- Student Recruitment: Assess Admissions recruiting strategy for HCOL students in line with the Framework and revise action plan.
- ADA Assessment: Implement ADA physical space assessment and advocating for ideal access. Projected completion date: summer 2020.
- Community/ Peer Mentors: Implement annual diversity and cultural competence trainings that enable Honors College Peer Mentors to integrate the Framework into their work with students. Projected completion date: summer 2020.
Inclusive Excellence Plan - 2017