Aug 25, 2016 | Atlanta, GA
Co-chaired by Institute Diversity Vice President Archie Ervin and Student Life Vice President and Dean of Students John Stein, the Black Student Experience Task Force presented its 11 recommendations to President G.P. “Bud” Peterson late last spring. All recommendations were approved and will be implemented over the next three academic years.
“While the task force was formed at the start of fall semester 2015 following allegations that several black female students were racially harassed on two separate occasions on campus, the group’s charge was to examine the broader issues of climate and culture at Georgia Tech,” said Stein.
Recommendations were based on the research findings and report from an independent consultant, who conducted more than 130 interviews—both focus groups and one-on-one discussions—with undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and staff. Student members of the task force also gathered feedback directly from the student body to form a list of issues for the Institute to consider.
“After reviewing the collective research findings and the consultant’s report, the task force outlined 11 recommendations that fall into four broad categories: programs; trainings; physical spaces; and planning and assessment,” said Ervin.
The 11 recommendations can be summarized as follows (not ranked by priority):
1. Challenge – Expand OMED’s Challenge enrollment from 75 to 175 underrepresented minority and women students per program over the next three years. Challenge helps prepare incoming freshmen for a successful college career, both academically and socially, during a five-week intensive summer program.
2. FASET – Orient all new students and their parents, families, and guests to issues of diversity and inclusion and share campus resources that support Georgia Tech’s commitment to diversity. At least one new session at FASET will highlight the successes of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff at the Institute.
3. Intercultural Student Programs – Create and support collaborative intercultural student programs that foster interactions and learning among diverse student communities at Georgia Tech.
4. Reporting System – Create a data infrastructure or submission tool that allows students to submit information detailing any experienced discrimination on campus. Submissions would remain anonymous.
5. Community Orientation and Training – Launch online and in-service training for faculty and staff that addresses issues of gender and ethnic diversity, equity, and inclusion within the student experience. Following this training, faculty and staff will serve as ambassadors for an equitable and inclusive Georgia Tech.
6. Cultural Inclusivity Leadership Training – Expand and modify leadership training for leaders of student organizations to include modules on cultural inclusivity and managing student diversity. Incorporate these modules into GT 1000 classes and other opportunities.
7. Greek Education – Create a subcommittee of fraternity and sorority members who will plan programming on issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, and sexual assault for members of Greek Life. This subcommittee will also be tasked with evaluating the current state of Greek Life at Georgia Tech.
8. Multicultural Center — Create spaces where all students feel welcome on campus, in support of students’ overall adjustment and well-being.
Planning and Assessment
9. Strategic Plan – Examine how student diversity is operationalized through Georgia Tech’s Strategic Plan. Prioritize and fund proposals that enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion experiences for students.
10. Campus Climate Assessment – Conduct a broad-based campus climate assessment by an independent entity to obtain a deeper understanding of the concerns and experiences of all students at Georgia Tech.
11. Institutional Climate Change and Growth – Establish a joint student advisory group to advise and recommend actions that enhance diversity and inclusion experiences among Tech students.
“I applaud the work of the Black Student Experience Task Force members who volunteered their time and experience to create a more inclusive academic environment,” Peterson said. “Diversity is a community value at Georgia Tech, and embracing different perspectives is critical to the success and vitality of our campus community. These recommendations will help us enhance a culture of close collaboration, global perspective, and intercultural respect.”
The Black Student Experience Task Force comprised 13 student, faculty, and staff members. Student Government Association President Nagela Nukuna was one of those members: "Working with such a dedicated group of student leaders and administrators on the task force helped push forward the recommendations. Finding actionable solutions to a problem that also is a societal issue was not easy, but I think we're taking great steps toward progress."
Moving forward, an implementation team from Institute Diversity, Student Life, and Undergraduate Education will meet regularly to monitor progress on these recommendations. Additionally, the Student Intercultural Advisory Committee was recently established to offer guidance on diversity and inclusion and to participate in these implementation meetings in the future.
For any questions about the Black Student Experience Task Force and/or its recommendations, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit diversity.gatech.edu/blackstudentexperiencetaskforce.