An email from the office of President Roth this afternoon announced the creation of the Making Excellence Inclusive (MEI) initiative, “to further institutional diversity and inclusion.” Here’s the first paragraph of that email:
We in the Wesleyan community have long understood diversity to be an educational asset. I am proud to announce Making Excellence Inclusive, an initiative drawn from the American Association of Colleges and Universities. This initiative is meant to assist us in identifying ways to further institutional inclusion: that is, to further the intentional engagement with diversity in ways that increase awareness and empathic understanding of differences that may divide us but that also may educate us. Many regard Wesleyan as a place of thoughtful diversity, a place at which differences are not merely tolerated but embraced. Others worry that we have developed a culture of political correctness that stifles dissent while pretending to celebrate cultural distinctiveness. It is time that we ask ourselves what diversity means for the curriculum, for co-curricular programs on campus, and for all the people who make up the Wesleyan community.
The overview on the new MEI site more clearly outlines its focus:
- ways in which students currently explore issues of difficult differences (such as racial, ethnic, and gender inequality, or continuing struggles around the globe for human rights, freedom, and power),
- engagement in learning communities such as the Wesleyan Diversity Education Facilitation Program (Wes DEF) and certain student fora,
- implementation of programs and networks that promote awareness of and engagement with diversity on campus.
The web site also includes a three year time line stretching from the past summer to summer 2012. The steps include departmental meetings, a Board of Trustees Working Group, an equity scorecard, and Affirmative Action plans in 2010 and 2012. The timing seems to be impeccable here as there has already been much discussion about affirmative action this year because of the Cardinal Conservative’s bake sale controversy. It does seem, though, that MEI was intended to address affirmative action anyway. Surprisingly–perhaps for the better–there’s no image depicting what the university imagines to be diversity on the MEI site unlike admissions propaganda (see image at the top of post).
Initiatives with MEI include Middletown’s Beman triangle (a 19th century African American neighborhood essentially on campus), compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), and of course, WesDEF.
The Presidential Task Force that will oversee MEI will be “tri-chaired” by Chief Diversity Officer Sonia Mañjon, VP of Student Affairs ‘Dean’ Whaley, and Provost Rob Rosenthal.