Independent diversity, equity and inclusion audit conducted over UM System

The audit is part of a series of initiatives launched by the UM System Board of Curators in November 2015.

Tori Aerni / Graphic Designer

The UM System is currently undergoing an independent audit of diversity, equity and inclusion policies and programs as part of a series of initiatives announced by the UM System Board of Curators in November 2015.

The goal of the audit is to “examine existing efforts, to highlight effective practices and to determine where there are gaps in what is provided to students, faculty and staff,” according to a summary of the audit provided by the UM System website.

Interactive Business Inclusion Solutions Consulting Group is conducting the audit. The firm has already gathered inventories of all relevant policies and has conducted staff focus groups, as well as sent out a unit-level survey to all deans, department chairs and administrative leaders.

The point of the unit-level survey is to find “ways that members of our university community are already working to make this place a more diverse and inclusive place to be for everyone,” said Emily Love, a UM System Title IX program consultant who is working as a coordinator for the audit.

“A lot of those [diversity, equity and inclusion programs] are funded by the department, or maybe they’re not funded at all, but they’re going on,” Love said. “Ultimately, when you find out about all those programs then you can figure out strategies for resources.”

Within the next few weeks, selected students and faculty from across the UM System will begin to receive emails inviting them to participate in focus groups as well.

Although the participants of these focus groups will be randomly selected and notified by email, the groups themselves will be organized demographically.

“This method has proven to be the most effective in fostering comfortable and candid discussions,” according to the UM System audit website.

At each UM System campus, there will be 16 focus groups of 15 participants each: eight groups for faculty and eight for students. The already-completed staff focus groups were similarly structured. Additionally, there will be four focus groups for UM System employees.

“Our hope is that we can garner enough attention and have enough people know that the audit is around and what the purpose of it is so that they do participate and they do come share their experiences and their voices,” Love said. “The random selection is important because you don’t want to just get the same voices that have been talking at the table. You want to pull from all areas of the campus.”

Students who are not chosen for focus groups but still want to participate in the diversity, equity and inclusion initiative will have the opportunity to respond to a campus climate survey in October. The climate study is not a part of the audit; it’s a separate project.

“The information we use from the audit and the information we use from the climate survey will go to the [diversity, equity and inclusion] task force and will inform leadership going forward,” Love said. “Yes, there will be people participating [in the audit] who were randomly selected, but ultimately everybody gets a say.”

The audit was first announced in a joint email signed by UM System President Mike Middleton and all four campus chancellors in May. In the email, the administrators said that with this audit, the UM System has the “opportunity to leave an enduring legacy.”

“We face these challenges and opportunities together as countless individuals and organizations look to us to model change in our state, nation and world,” the administrators wrote in the email.

IBIS Consulting Group is scheduled to submit the final report of the audit to the UM System in mid-November.

“I don’t see this as a report that’s going to sit on a shelf,” Love said. “I see this as a road map for how we can strategically address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion and how we can make all of our spaces as inclusive as possible. This is not the end-all, be-all, this is really a starting place for this foundation of information that we can use to inform our work going forward.”

Edited by Claire Mitzel | cmitzel@themaneater.com

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