By Elishea Borin, NIRSA Communications
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By Elishea Borin, NIRSA Communications
As part of the Association’s long-standing commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion — and to advance our strategic priority to strive for inclusive excellence with an anti-racism and equity lens — in January 2021, NIRSA retained 122 Consulting Group to conduct a climate study assessment of NIRSA’s culture, climate, and structures.
Based on the results and recommendations of that assessment, the NIRSA Board of Directors committed to taking a range of action steps which will be led by the newly appointed NIRSA JDEI Climate Study Implementation Team.
“I am thrilled that the JDEI Climate Study Implementation Team has been formed and will begin executing the findings of the 2021 Climate Study,” says Mila Padgett, Director of Campus Recreation and Wellness at the University of South Carolina Aiken and current NIRSA President.
“NIRSA’s strategic priority to strive for inclusive excellence with an anti-racism and equity lens is vital to the advancement and success of our organization. As a leader in higher education, NIRSA’s work to enact change begins now that the evaluation stage has been completed. And it is inspiring to see our members respond to the call,” she adds.
Meet NIRSA’s JDEI Climate Study Implementation Team
The ten-member implementation team is co-chaired by Victoria Lopez-Herrera, Senior Associate Director at The University of Texas at San Antonio and NIRSA At-Large Director; Cara Lucia, Chair and Associate Professor at Elon University and NIRSA Past President; and Pam Watts, NIRSA Executive Director. The following NIRSA and NIRSA Headquarters staff members complete the roster:
- Austin Anderson, Assistant Professor, University of North Texas
- Elishea Borin, NIRSA Headquarters
- Marc Iturriaga, Executive Director, Mohawk College and Mohawk Students’ Association
- Rodo Leone, Director University Recreation, Appalachian State University
- Hannah Stewart, Aquatics and Safety Coordinator, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- Abby Van Note, Assistant Director of Inclusion, Club & Community Programs, University of Wisconsin–Madison
- Mirum Washington-White, Director of Athletics & Intramural Sports, Curriculum Chair for P.E, Faculty, St Cyril of Alexandria School
Focus and approach
The following action steps are not exhaustive—they are a jumping off point—and will be executed directly by the NIRSA JDEI Climate Study Implementation Team or by committees or other volunteer groups managed by the implementation team:
- Building a clearer process to report grievances or concerns about exclusionary behavior
- Creating organizational focus on cultivating relationships with minority-serving institutions (MSIs)
- Developing a set of shared norms and language for JDEI
- Diversifying NIRSA’s membership through inclusive recruitment strategies
- Expanding robust curriculum for JDEI education
- Reviewing all policies for equity concerns including language
- Setting standards for inclusive hiring practices
In our commitment towards transparency, the NIRSA JDEI Climate Study Implementation Team will regularly connect with other leadership groups activating this work including the three NIRSA Boards of Directors, the Member Network, the NIRSA Assembly, the NIRSA Championship Series Social Justice Task Force, the Health & Wellbeing Task Force, the HBCU Coalition, and the History Task Force to ensure that we hold ourselves accountable to our promise to address past hurts and identify and dismantle systemic inequities while moving forward with those steps that will create a place of belonging for all.
We recognize that this work is continuous, and that progress will require intentional dedication from NIRSA Headquarters staff, volunteer leadership, and engaged members. Our aspiration is to foster a climate that supports both professionals and students, members and nonmembers, underrepresented communities, and minority serving institutions to learn and then model best practices within NIRSA so that others will be inspired to influence and implement action on their own campuses or at their own institutions.
Opportunities to serve on action teams will soon be available. “The call to service isn’t over and the action teams that will be created under the leadership of the JDEI Climate Study Implementation Team are just as fundamental to NIRSA’s activation in creating a place of belonging for all,” says Mila.
Support from the NIRSA Foundation
The NIRSA Foundation remains committed to funding this very important work and we deeply appreciate the generosity of donors to the NIRSA Foundation’s Mission Advancement Fund.
Elishea Borin is the senior executive assistant at NIRSA.