Today's Update: Monday, July 27

July 27, 2020

Dear Student Life Team, Last month, in light of ongoing instances of racial injustice in our country, you will remember that I created a Commitment and Action Planning Team in Student Life. I stressed that we must come together and reaffirm our commitments, identify critical elements of change and create a plan for action that will illuminate our dedication to diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and racial justice. 

Their charge was to explore our current diversity, equity and inclusion offerings, benchmark best practices at other institutions, identify gaps in our programs/services/support and make specific and actionable recommendations for change. Most important, the team was to develop a bold, solutions-focused and data-driven commitment statement that will inspire and guide our DEI work now and into the future. 

The co-chairs of the team are Sorority and Fraternity Life director, Dr. Kim Monteaux De Freitas, and Student Life Multicultural Center executive director, Dr. Todd Suddeth. I am very grateful for the work they put into this important project, and thank them along with the members of the team: Jesse Fernandez (Undergraduate Representative), Magdalena Garcia (Residence Life), DaVonti’ Haynes (Graduate Representative), Ahmed Hosni (Student Wellness Center), Daren Lehman (Facilities), Tori Rehr (Center for the Study of Student Life), Aaron Reistad (Student Conduct) and Angie Wellman (Multicultural Center). They are all Scarlet and Great.  

The initial report is now complete, and I am very interested in your thoughts. Please send your feedback to Todd and Kim by Thursday, July 30, at noon.  

Our next phase will be to prioritize tactics for completion this fall. There is a great deal of work ahead of us, but the Student Life Leadership Council and I are very excited about where this is heading.  

Here are the recommendations from the team:  

The Student Life Commitment and Action Planning Team (SLCAPT) was charged with identifying gaps in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and services throughout the Student Life division. SLCAPT has identified the items detailed in this report as next steps in Student Life’s priority to strive for inclusive excellence. Recommendations are divided into three overall priorities, which are then delineated into specific action items intended to foster sustainable change within Student Life. Next steps for implementation include identifying a timeframe for each action item and gathering organizational and individual support for these initiatives. Ideally, we recommend using CAPT as the implementation team for these recommendations moving forward. 

Priority 1: Build shared values and space around DEI in Student Life. 

  1. Develop affinity spaces for Student Life staff based on shared identities. 

  1. Craft a diversity statement to articulate Student Life values and commitment to DEI efforts. 

  1. Develop shared language among staff and students around diversity, equity and inclusion. 

  1. Schedule quarterly meetings between leadership of DEI efforts, leadership of existing Communities or Practice and other multi-unit Student Life committees. 

Priority 2: Mandate DEI training and professional development for staff and students. 

  1. Require annual trainings, including modules on implicit bias and inclusive excellence, for student organization leaders, student organization advisers and SL student employees. 

  1. Integrate DEI professional development goals and training into Student Life performance reviews. 

  1. Create an Inclusion Innovator role (similar to Wellness Innovators) to foster DEI programming and development within SL units and departments in consultation with unit leaders. 

Priority 3: Implement strategies to drive long-term change within Student Life hiring practices, programming and culture. 

  1. Implement a DEI-focused dialogue series that addresses contemporary issues in higher education and student-identified topics. Regional campuses must have access to dialogues 

  1. Administer a Student Life Climate survey to all part-time and full-time members of Student Life to better understand staff experiences of organizational culture and trends from previous administration of climate surveys. 

  1. In partnership with Student Life Human Resources, form a working group to develop new guidelines and processes for ensuring just and inclusive hiring and retention practices, specifically with attention to implicit bias. 

  1. Audit existing Student Life programming and traditions through a DEI lens. 

Again, please send your feedback to Todd ( and Kim ( by noon on Thursday (July 30). We look forward to beginning implementation in strengthening our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and racial justice.  

Thank you for supporting this Scarlet and Great imperative.