Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Activism in Higher Ed

Hi, all:

Our discussion in class last week about the successes vs. the failures of the institution was really interesting to me. I think it’s easier to talk about what we’re doing incorrectly, because there is a lot and they tend to be salient, than it is to sit back and recognize the progress that we ARE making. I started looking for some information on this topic and found an article on Inside Higher Ed (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/11/16/nsse-2017-finds-students-enrolling-inclusive-courses) that talked about how student social activism has increased recently, especially since Trump has been elected. This years survey focused on diversity and inclusion because of the political climate and the findings illustrate that students are responding by increasing involvement and social activism. This in itself is a victory that I think we should recognize. Then the article goes on to discuss the demographics about the students who are active and how student activism is associated with positive outcomes. 38% of activists were students of color (compared to 28% of students of color who were nonactivists) and 23% labeled themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (compared to 8% who were nonactivists). Students who reported social activism also reported that they felt they had stronger relationships with faculty members and were engaged in learning. McCormick, the director of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) said that he thinks these are the types of students that universities should aim to recruit because they are so engaged in their roles as students.

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars (NSA), disagrees. The article goes over Wood’s point of view that “student engagement” has been conflated with “diversity and inclusion” and that these ideologies have nothing to do with quality of education. Further, that this sort of focus emphasizes feelings and intuition rather than “disciplined inquiry”. What do you think about this? Are student engagement and diversity inclusion the same thing? Does focusing on diversity and inclusion take away from the educational value of the institution?

Another interesting point that the survey and the article address is about first-generation college students. The results of the survey indicated that first-generation college students participated in less in certain opportunities (such as studying abroad) less than other students. McCormick says that he thinks this might be a money issue. I think he’s right. I also think that people tend to think less about the inequity that first-generation college students face, especially when these students are not students of color. Socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity are not the same thing. That’s something that can be easy to forget when the popular notion is that people of color are of lower socioeconomic status.

What are your thoughts?

Erika

 

 

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The Lost Art of Disagreement……

I had the privilege of attending an excellent speaking engagement put on by VT on Wednesday in Squires.  It was supported by the Veritas Forum and was primarily concerned with addressing the task of handling difficult conversations (social, political, religious) with grace and understanding.  Is it possible to encourage an environment of mutual respect and shared understanding even in the academic arena?

The two main speakers were Dr. Christian Lundberg (UNC) and Dr. Christian Matheis (VT).  Both gentlemen were fantastic and cautiously approached the subject matter in the beginning, but, as time went on you could sense an ease of interconnectivity happen and an almost symbiotic relationship take place.  Dr. Matheis graced the stage with his presence and mastery of his knowledge in the theory base.  The audience members all seemed to really enjoy the conversations and even the questions at the end were fairly vague and non threatening.

Overall, I would encourage this type of speaking engagement again because it put issues at the forefront which might not be addressed or spoken about if otherwise not done in such an organized and structured fashion.

Thanks!

Cheers, Lehi

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Diversity and Inclusion with Children

Hi, all:

This week I taught about children’s moral development in my developmental psychology class. We talked a lot about how at a young age, children absorb prevailing social attitudes, particularly about power and race/ethnicity. Additionally, these views may directly oppose parents’ views. This was an interesting topic because with a lot of aspects of development, parents are one of, if not the most, impactful sources of information that children learn about the world. With race however, sometimes children obtain beliefs that will surprise parents.

Recently, a sociologist from Mississippi State came to Virginia Tech to give a talk about White racial socialization. During this talk, and from conversations with her, I became familiar with the work on White families that indicates that White parents tend to not explicitly discuss race with their children. White parents also report that they do not recognize that they have race. I thought this was a really interesting concept because I think that is how I used to think about race. In that case, if I were a White parent, I probably wouldn’t talk about race either. In our society, the messages that we send about race are generally about how people are different than the majority. So of course we don’t think about White people as having race. But that sort of thinking creates this problem. If race is conceptualized as being the inverse of majority and privilege, then it feels like a negative thing.

We also discussed “color-blind ideologies” in my class about the impacts of not talking about race can have on children’s development. Not talking about race is still talking about race. Just because parents don’t explicitly discuss race with their children does not mean children will grow up without thinking about or considering race. Instead, they will form their own beliefs, which will be impacted by societal views. In other words, color-blind ideologies still send messages about race. We watched this video (first four minutes or so) to help stir the conversation:

I’m really interested in how families talk about race, either their own or race in general. I think this is an extremely important research area and should be built on, especially given our current political climate.

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Week 12: Ethics and Personal Ethos

What is faith? Faith is the belief in our world, in happiness, in values, etc. Do we need faith while living? I think the answer is yes. Everyone has his/her own faith. Why people need faith? I think when people have faith, they can be simple and happy. We living in this world, people who have faith have a sense of belonging, the sense of belonging will give us worth, safety and happiness. Since I was little, my parents taught me that I should treat each individual equally, do more good things, and try my best to help others. I think lack of faith could be interpreted as a lack of familiarity with ego, understand the world and others, which are very immature. I do not have my own religion, but I do believe in Buddhism. “People to perform good deeds.” This is an old saying in Buddhism, but also the common world of human nature, as long as we communicate with each other, we can find that the impossible becomes possible.

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Week 11: The State of Higher Education Today

After watching the video “A Vision of Students Today”, I came with a lot of thoughts on our current education. The video seems taking under a large lecture environment. I think almost everyone experienced the large lecture class. Each lecture contains hundreds of students and professors do not even know all the students’ name. Under such large lecture environment, some students are hardly focus on lecture and they are not even listen to the lecture. Few students may not come to the class because professors do not take rolls. These are typical phenomena in college today.

For the video “ Decline by Degrees”, I have different thought than the video. In the video, students barely complete their reading assignment that required by the professors. Although these circumstances may happen in college, but I found out these does not happen too often in business school. Almost my every graduate accounting class requires student discussions. Some other classes require students read the materials before class. If I do not read the required materials, I will not able to participate in the class discussion next day. As a graduate student, I need to take my responsibility for my own life by mastering the self-discipline.

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Week 10: Disciplinary Code of Conduct

For all the CPA, the professions code of conduct is developed by AICPA(American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). AICPA outlines CPA’s ethical and professional responsibilities and establishes guidelines for auditor. It is very important for an accountant to be independent. All AICPA members must follow the guidelines and regulations, which required them to act with integrity, maintain client confidentiality and remain independent while working with clients.

It is important to be independent when an auditor provides more than one service to the same client. Section 101 of AICPA Code of Professional Conduct has various requirements to build auditor independence. Why is independence so important? Because when an auditor does not work independently on an engagement, audit opinion may be biased and affected by the relationship between the auditor and client. The worst case, the auditor may result in evocation of member status as a CPA. Further, auditor’s independence will be impaired if the following situation takes place:

  • Auditor has financial interest in the client
  • Auditor leaves the auditing firm and then worked for the client

Section 101 discusses even more detailed on independence and it is so important because auditors are expected to give an unbiased opinion on financial statements.

 

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How much can I expect out of my education?

I recently had a wonderful conversation with Dr. Wornie Reed about racial health and medical care disparities. We eventually got to talking about influential black intellectuals in the 1900s into the 2000s and “black history” in general (I put black history in quotes because it’s really not a separate set of history, it’s just a portion of US history that is less frequently discussed). I realized how little I know despite the fact that I was extremely interested in all aspects of black history. Every story he told me was intriguing and made me feel better knowing that I had expanded my knowledge of the history of people living in the US that looked like me.

We started talking about why I didn’t know more than I do because I had always been interested and he said something that really stuck with me. He said that when he was in school, he didn’t expect to be taught black history in school. Their strategy was to go out and experience different aspects of history themselves. They learned from experience, which is why he so naturally was able to talk to me about specific figures and phenomena. He asked me if I expected to have access to classes teaching or incorporating black history and I said yes. Ideally I would be able to learn black history in school. But I started to wonder whether that was a reasonable expectation….

Should I expect to be taught or at least have access to black history content throughout my education or is it my responsibility to seek out that information? What is the responsibility of the K-12 education system and the responsibility of universities in the US to educate all students about non-Eurocentric histories? Should I actually expect that responsibility to be met within my lifetime? Questions I still need answers to…

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Do I really belong in that tax bracket???

I’m sure most people have heard about the tax bill that has been proposed. Usually, I wouldn’t pay a huge amount of attention to tax bills because I don’t make much money and am used to a depressingly high percentage of my stipend being deducted for taxes. However, this one caught my attention because from what I understand it will GREATLY affect graduate students. My initial reaction was: “I already don’t make any money, why are you trying to make me poorer?!” Even after further thought and reflection, I still feel basically the same way. The fact that we even received an email from our department with phone numbers and emails of our representatives to contact about the bill was extremely concerning. The email gave the following explanation and example to help explain the potential impact of the bill:

“What the bill says: Currently, U.S. tax law exempts tuition that is effectively provided for free to Ph.D. and other graduate students. The proposal would lift that exemption, making graduate students liable for their tuition, which would be taxed as income.

  • For example, David Walsh, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in history at Princeton, tells Axios that he receives a $32,500 stipend every year, while grants cover his $49,000 tuition.
  • Under the GOP bill, his income would rise to roughly $81,000. After new deductions also included in the tax proposal, his taxes would be around $10,000 a year, he figures.
  • But that is about four times his $2,700 tax bill last year.”

Reading that example in addition to everything I had previously heard made me question what their thought process was…seriously. I make less than $25,000 a year. How on earth does it make sense for me to be taxed as if I make $70,000+ a year? And what exactly is the end goal of implementation of this tax plan? To restrict the number of international students who can afford to attend graduate school? To restrict the overall number of students who seek out graduate degrees? What benefit could this bill possibly have to the general, scientific, and intellectual populations? How is this bill not going to be an enormous detriment to our society.

I just don’t get it.

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Diversity in Schools

In primary and secondary school (K-12), I had one teacher who was not white. One. Out of how many? Probably well over 100, as once in middle and high school, I had as many as 8 teachers a year (1 for each course). Sadly, I highly doubt I ever really thought about this growing up because I am white. Thus, having only teachers that looked like me seemed normal and not something to cause second thoughts.

Although I only had one black teacher growing up, I had tons friends who were not white. And my schools were always pretty diverse in regards to the races/ethnicities of the students. By why was there little to no diversity in regards to the teachers? Is teaching not a popular profession for racial minority groups? Or is our society so messed up and prejudiced that it is harder for people of color to be hired as teachers? I don’t know the answer to this. But, kids tend to think about the careers they see people like them doing. So, if there are very few black, Hispanic, Asian, etc teachers, students who are black, Hispanic, Asian, etc may subconsciously think teaching is a job option for them.

While pondering this, I came across an article published last month titled “Want students to succeed? Hire more teachers look like them, reports says.”

http://www.macon.com/news/specialreports/disintegration/article179945276.html

The article states that the percentage of students in K-12 is becoming more and more diverse, with 49% of public primary and secondary school students being from a racial minority. This stands in stark contrast to the mere 18% of public school teachers being from a racial minority. A school district in Georgia is specifically examined – the number of white students is decreasing, while the number of black, Hispanic, and Asian students rising. The number of non-white teachers has remained relatively stagnant in comparison.

Image result for teacher diversity in schools

This article states that having more diversity in the classroom is imperative to the success of ALL students. “It’s important for kids who are traditionally underserved to see people in positions of authority who look like them. You need to feel like you’re not relegated to the sidelines. You need to feel important” (Kate Walsh; http://www.macon.com/news/special-reports/disintegration/article179945276.html). The article also states that having a diverse group of teachers is imperative, even in schools that have a non-diverse student base. Teachers with diverse backgrounds and experience “can provide perspectives that children may not otherwise be exposed to” (http://www.macon.com/news/special-reports/disintegration/article179945276.html). While having teachers who are similar to the student base is also important, as it enables students to feel like their backgrounds are understood by someone in an authority position.

I, for one, agree strongly with the sentiments presented in this article. What are others’ thoughts and experiences about teacher diversity in K-12? In higher education? I am curious if my experience in school is as common as it appears?

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Voters Embrace Diversity in Latest Local Elections

This year’s election cycle saw an overwhelming increase of diversity in local government and politics. American’s throughout the nation elected immigrant, transgender, women and persons of color in areas that have not been traditionally as open to diversity.

Elections like this past one offer a glimmer of hope towards a more inclusive future in America. I hope that each of these newly elected officials will work to be truly representative of their constituents. I am excited to see what the future holds.

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