Semester coming to an end

The class experience has changed throughout the semester for me, which it has changed for the better. When I first enrolled in the class, as many of you know, it was a requirement to take this class. When I first starting to come to the class, I was dreading every moment of it because it was almost three hours long on a Tuesday night. However, after a few weeks I started to enjoy this class because it brought many new perspectives to my eyes that I never even really knew about before this class. I did not have a lot to say on most of the topics, but I enjoyed learning about intersectionality and learning about other issues in that are all around higher education. I believe this class was a very important class that should definitely be made a requirement for other majors, so that other students can also be taught the ways we can change our higher education system and the nation for the betterment of society. This course also has helped me be more prepared moving forward within my degree, but also when I go into the industry to become more inclusive of my peers and superiors. Finally, I am looking forward to our last project because I think it will be an important experience to hear the issues that we as a class were able to come up with in our own degrees  and ways we believe can help influence a change.

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The Last Post: A Farewell

After reading the prompt for this last blog post, “a summary of my class experience”, I decided to look back at my first real blog post of the semester. This was the post that asked what I hoped to get out of the class.

The Goals:
In this blog post, I had stated that “I hope to learn about [the students’] life experiences and how it has shaped who they are today. I also hope to get the opportunity to share my experiences and thoughts relating to topics covered in class”.

Throughout this semester, I feel as though I have accomplished both of the points above. All of the people in the class were so eager and willing to share their stories. I am so grateful that everyone in the room felt safe and comfortable enough to share their personal experiences. In each class meet up, I got to take a little peek into what shaped the person who was sharing and sitting around the tables with me. Even though I personally am not the most talkative or outspoken person, I appreciated the encouraged talk time when I thought of some idea that I needed to communicate. I am so very thankful for the safe space created by everyone in the room because without it I would not have been willing to share.

Another goal of mine, stated in my earlier blog post, was that I had hoped to be sponge-like, absorbing any and all discussed content. I feel as though I accomplished this goal very well. I did my best to actively listen in class and take in all of the ideas people provided, as well as the weekly readings assigned on Canvas. I pride myself on being open-minded and I believe I stayed that way throughout the semester by taking in all of the information.

The last goal in my blog was to gain practical knowledge and “to be overall more inclusive and willing to talk about the issues that are common and constantly seen surrounding diversity, on and off campus”. During this class, I gained fantastic practical awareness about how to approach topics surrounding diversity and how important it is to do so.

Key Insight:
Throughout the semester, I learned a ton of extremely valuable insights into diversity, equity, and inclusion. I think the concept that came as the most shocking to me was how poorly we are approaching the topics in regard to higher education as a whole. Now don’t get me wrong, there are people, like Dr. Grimes, who invest time and energy into these topics, but they seem to come few and far between. If we are going to change our cultural views on diversity, equity, and inclusion, then we need to reach more people. A greater population of people need to be required to take a class such as this one and want to share their new knowledge. In order for there to be change, there needs to be shared knowledge as well as the willingness to learn. One day I hope that is the case.

As for my personal contribution, I will try my best to bring up concepts regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion where I see fit. I will not be afraid to respectfully speak my mind when I encounter something unjust or a situation where equity is not being applied.

Overall, I really am thankful for all the tools this class has given me and will forever continue to add more to my diversity, equity, and inclusion toolbox.

-HD

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Semester in Retrospect

Three big takeaways from the semester:

      1. Comfort in conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion

      2. Expansion of ideas around identity

      3. Acceptance of my privileged status

Comfort in conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion

After spending the semester reading about and discussing a variety of issues surrounding diversity and inclusion with a roomful of mostly strangers I can confidently say that my comfort in engaging with such conversations has grown tremendously. At the same time as this class I have started in the Graduate Teaching Scholars program through CALS at VT and have spent the semester alongside this class talking about the challenges of university teaching today. Many times I would connect points from our diversity class discussion to my teaching seminar, and start similar discussions with those classmates. Getting practice doing this all semester has planted a desire to work such discussions into my coursework in the future.

Expansion of ideas around identity

Prior to this class I had not really thought about what makes up an identity. When asked to consider my identity I would list my race, gender, sexuality, maybe age. Dr. Grimes really pushed us to consider other aspects that make up your identity in ways akin to a background story. This really hit me when I started listening to Michigan radio’s new podcast Same Same Different, because at the beginning of the show the host invites all of the guests to take 10 seconds to list all of their different identities. The first couple are usually race and gender but they guests broaden to add things like: son, aunt, artist, dreamer, etc. I have come to realize that identity is more than what is skin deep, it is your history and because your identity is individual to you. This view was reinforced when we talked about intersectionality and stereotypes in class, because we discussed how individuals fit into multiple boxes and as a result have different experiences. I also feel that as result of this that one can always find commonalities with someone as long as they try (more of my thoughts). I appreciate the expansion to my idea of identity because now I can see ways to connect with those trying to divide us.

Acceptance of my privileged status

In addition to expanding my idea of identity, this semester I have leaned into the fact that I come from a very privileged background. In most aspects of my life I have dominant group identities: I am white, grew up in the upper middle class as a practicing Christian, I am well educated and so are my parents, I have no student loan debt, I own my own car, and I have traveled to different countries in the world. Before this class it was uncomfortable for me to accept that I have had a very privileged life. I used to justify my status by saying “I worked really hard for all of this” or “I earned this” which is true but I was also born into a life where I am encourage and supported to succeed. I felt it was degrading to accept the privilege that my identities afforded me but I have come to realize that it is actually enabling. It humbles me and reminds me to stop and reflect on what I am doing and how can I better use my identities to advocate for things that I believe in. As uncomfortable for me as it still is to accept that I am privileged, I appreciate this class for challenging me to embrace that side of my life and I hope to continue learning how to utilize this new identity as privileged.

Good-Bye

This has been a busy semester for me, I have been a bit overextended with my research, teaching, and extracurricular activities. But as busy as it has been I have appreciated coming to the graduate school every Tuesday evening to spend immersed in discussions around identity and inclusion in the setting of higher education. I am not sad to see the semester end ( I really need a break) but I am sad to lose this set time to come and talk about these issues with all of you. I hope to see all of you around campus or run into you somewhere else in the future. Have one last chicken for the road.

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DEI for Global Society Final Reflection

What a semester and a privilege to immerse myself and learn about the many facets of diversity and the principles of inclusion and equity. Taking this class, Diversity and Inclusion for a Global Society, has radically changed my perspectives and outlook on DEI. I am a little bit wiser in that I now have a better understanding that diversity is truly expansive and beyond traditional factors such as race and gender. It is all encompassing and includes many ascribed attributes and selected factors. Diversity is really the thread of humanity, and the essential ingredient that makes people, situations and life more beautiful, enriching and enlightening. We must embrace diversity and the unique differences we all bring to the table to complement, uplift and stimulate each other.

Inclusion requires proactivity and involves taking individual and collective responsibility to create spaces and environments where everyone feels valued, affirmed and a sense of belonging. It goes beyond mere representation but promotes a system of togetherness and interdependence. When we understand that everyone and each group or community has something of great value to offer and that we all can benefit and learn from, then I believe we can experience real growth and edification. Exclusivity on the other hand is the thief of enrichment.

Furthermore, equity is ensuring fairness and equality of opportunities and access by having a level playing field. Understanding there is more to gain in removing barriers and allowing everyone to rise to greatness and make society a better place.

Indeed, this class was very enjoyable, thought-provoking, stimulating and enlightening. I feel inspired and challenged to be intentional in acknowledging, respecting and advocating for DEI initiatives. Certainly, the people and groups affected by DEI issues are important, and their challenges significant in addressing, for the greater good of society.

The topics discussed in class were riveting. I learned a lot of invaluable and important information from the course content, discussions and interactions. I gained recognition about gender pronouns and how I can respectfully and appropriately address myself and different people. Additionally, I gained knowledge about microaggressions and how to detect them. I also learned about implicit biases, stereotype threat, and the 5 different forms of racism and how these pervade and perpetuate in people and society. Moreover, I learned about the many identities people can have and the privileges awarded to the dominant groups in society. Most importantly, I learned that I need to be mindful and aware of my own conscious and unconscious biases and how to examine my own stereotypical perceptions, behaviors and reactions to avoid enacting them onto members of society. The topics reviewed and discussed were very helpful in allowing me to see how I can identify and personally debunk such mindsets, behaviors and attitudes towards others.

Interestingly, the insights from the topic of intersectionality was impactful in that I learned that people are a totality of their experiences and cannot be viewed from singular lens. People are made up of diverse identities and we must do our best to communicate to people with this awareness in order to better understand and relate to each other. Furthermore, the issue and topic of diversity extends beyond the U.S. borders. Many countries around the globe must engage with DEI and work towards making their institutions and society more tolerant and forbearing. I can confidently say that I feel a greater sense of internal and external awareness and I gained a deeper level of growth and development after taking this class and interacting with the content and my peers.

Also, Dr. Grimes was a great facilitator for the class and he really challenged and encouraged us to think outside the norm and to absorb, digest and engage with the controversial material and commentary in a respectful manner. I very much appreciated the classroom environment and I am grateful for the experiences and discussion shared by my classmates and their unique perspectives on DEI to enhance my learning and understanding.

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Saudi Arabian Higher Education and Saudi Arabian Women Challenges in Higher Education

Saudi Arabian Higher Education and Saudi Arabian Women Challenges in Higher Education

I am very happy to take the diversity class with my class mates and Dr. Justin. I have learned a lot form this class including diversity definition, identities, power, privilege, diversity statement, race, microaggressions, intersectionality, equity, racism, and diversity and inclusion in higher education. As I presented with my class mate about South Korea higher education and I saw my friend presented about her country. I would like to write about Saud Arabian higher education. Saudi Arabia is a country in the middle east (Arab Region). In 1932, Saudi Arabia was formally founded. The Saudi Arabia land area is 2,150,000 Km2. The population of Saudi Arabia in 2019 is 32,218,169 [1]. The system of government in Saudi Arabia is monarchy. The current currency is Saudi riyal (SR). The education in Saudi Arabia is important in the past century. The education is free to every Saudi citizen at all levels. The education system is under jurisdiction of the ministry of education. The education is divided by two main paths general education and higher education. The general education is divided by four levels pre-primary education, primary education, secondary education, and high school education. The higher education involves Diploma degree, Bachelor degree, Master degree, and PHD degree. There are private, public, and private international education in ministry education in Saudi Arabia. The female and male education are segregate which means there are male schools and female schools [2].

The higher education in Saudi Arabia focuses on the teaching, support the academic community, and researches. The higher education has 79 education centers including universities, community colleges, and institutions for male and female. According to the ministry of higher education, there were more than 757,770 students enrolled in Saudi universities between 2009-2010 which 56% were females and 44% were males. The largest student enrolments for both male and female are at the bachelor’s and associate levels. Then, the second level is master’s and doctoral degrees. The non-Saudi students focus on PHD level enrolments in Saudi universities. Usually the higher education receives fund from the government (state funding). All Saudi universities have both campuses for male and female (male campus and female campus) except two of them KFUPM (male campus only) and PNU (female campus only) [1]. The diversity rate in my home country, Saudi Arabia, is very low.

In the past years, women position in Saudi Arabia was almost ignored from the Saudi Arabian community. The general public in Saudi Arabia indicates that a Saudi women’s place is in her home only which is wrong in these days. However, the Saudi Arabian women play role in making decisions in the country in the last 4 years. The percentage of women working outside the home is 5% and these women are in the teaching and health sectors. However, the percentage of women working outside the home has been increased in last 10 years. Women’s education in Saudi Arabia must take into account development plans. Saudi Arabian women have the largest university in Saudi Arabia (Princess Noura Bint Abdul Rahman University) which is a female campus only. The women diversity rate in Saudi Arabian higher education is also very low [3].

Here are some of the Saudi Arabian women challenges in higher education [2,3]:

1- Women are still not admitted to engineering, law, petroleum, and political science.

2- Women do not enjoy full access to the facilities, such as some libraries and recreation centers.

3- Women do not receive the same quality of education as men because teachers for men are better trained.

4- Libraries for women only are extremely small and often poorly equipped.

5- Women scholarship opportunities are lower than men opportunities.

6- Women cannot travel outside the country without their parents. This issue is resolved in 2019.

7- Women cannot drive to their campuses inside the country. This issue is resolved in 2019.

8- Women cannot study at the night inside the campus because the culture against this issue. This issue is resolved in 2019.

 

References

[1]- https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:ElectronPdf&page=Education+in+Saudi+Arabia

[2]- Smith, Larry, and Abdulrahman Abouammoh. “Higher Education in Saudi Arabia.” Netherlands: Springer (2013).

[3]- Hamdan, Amani. “Women and education in Saudi Arabia: Challenges and achievements.”

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Diversity for global society

When anyone talks about diversity, the very first thing that comes to our mind is either gender or ethnicity differences. However, diversity includes a much wider range of factors such as differences in socio-economic status, abilities, languages, sexual orientation, and so on. It is significant to be familiar with all types of diversity in order to better understand dissimilar individuals. Furthermore, using the word diversity with inclusion and equity makes a difference compared to using diversity individually. In other words, we might have a diverse environment without considering and including everyone, but, if we create an inclusive environment, we can have diversity, too. In my point of view, it is also important to understand the differences between equity and equality to be fair when addressing individuals.

Before taking the class “Diversity for global society” I had the same understanding of diversity as many other individuals have. This class broadened my perspective by encouraging me to think beyond the general information I receive from my day to day life. Knowing how every single word that I use, even unintentionally, can be some type of microaggression made me to behave more cautiously to avoid impacting other individuals. I understood that I should be more aware of typical words that I use day to day and even notify others when they use inappropriate words to address other folks. On the other hand, I also learned that it is not usual to accept and allow others to mistreat me because of my differences.

The other word that I learned in this class was privilege. We are benefiting every day from certain features that we have. Examples of privilege would be being a while male who is heterosexual. The benefits received by such person can be better understandable when comparing him with a black female who is bisexual. Privilege can be defined as unearned, unrecognized, and culturally taught characteristics. Being part of a privileged group, individuals might not be aware of advantages they are receiving by believing that they have somehow earned it. Therefore, we should put our effort to make changes to such cultures and modify people’s beliefs. Also, we might not be aware of the implicit biases we have towards certain groups. Understanding both of these can greatly impact our situations and the way we behave towards dissimilar individuals. It can impact our decisions while intending to provide more equitable environments.

A great part of this class was the discussions that we had about the topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I could learn about everyone’s ideas, opinions, and feedbacks in class which lead me to dig deeper into related areas and enhance my thoughts. I learned how to be involved in such discussions and that how significant can be to participate in events related to these topics. I tried my best to learn how to talk about diversity, when to address inclusion, and how to educate others about these topics. Although increasing our knowledge and understanding such topics is prominent, in my opinion, it is significant to transfer our knowledge to the community.

 

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Faculty Diversity in Higher Education

One prevalent issue within higher education is the rate in which faculty are hired and retained within the academy. Predominately white institutions (PWI’s) especially have lower percentages of faculty from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. In addition, the rate in which all genders outside of males is disproportion to the rate in which male faculty members are hired. Higher education was founded for wealthy white males to gain access to education to ensure their own upward mobility and retaining their wealth. However, as higher education aims to address its own oppressive structures, the access to higher education must be addressed.

The article that I chose to discuss for this blog post was an article shared on Inside Higher Education. The article focused on  federal data on the rate of diversity within tenure track faculty within varying institutions. What their data analysis uncovered was that research and doctoral status institutions were especially lacking in racial and gender diversity within the hiring of faculty members. The number of Black and Hispanic faculty only accounted for less than 6%. This is with Black faculty representation only increasing by 0.1% and Hispanic faculty increasing by only 0.65%. These rates were marginally larger at master status institutions, but again the rate in which tenure track faculty is not increasing. In addition, the rate in which women from the years 2013-2017  increased by only 1.7%. The majority of tenure track faculty hires are held by white males.

This article is critical for the conversation of faculty within higher education. The federal data was calculated during the years 2013-2017, a time in higher education where conscious efforts were made to make critical examinations into hiring practices. It comes back into a theme of higher education that I have seen where institutions state they value one thing, but the data shows otherwise. In this case, institutions claimed that their espoused values were having diversity within teaching faculty, though the theories in use within the academy were the exact opposite. Values are not concrete unless they are actually manifesting what they are saying that they value. In addition to hiring faculty, the retention of faculty remains to be critical part of addressing the structural issues in higher education. Faculty can be recruited and hired to an institutions that still oppress the people they are hiring. Thus, the rate in which faculty are retained is going to be significantly lower. These data points only further illustrate the lack of diversity and equity within higher education. Without intentional and critical changes made to hiring practices, campus climates, and overall structures within higher education, these studies on diversity within higher education will continue to reveal the same trend in education.

References:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/07/02/little-progress-diversifying-faculty-ranks-study-finds-particularly-research

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Issues Happening in Higher Ed

When it comes to issues surrounding higher education on a global scale, there seems to be a constant “abuse of power” between the faculty and their students. There are examples of professors who believe that because they are higher on the educational food chain that their research, classes, and personal lives are more important than …
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Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education

Sexual Misconduct in the Academy

With the emergence of the #MeToo movement, women have felt increasingly empowered to report instances of sexual misconduct. This movement has brought to light a number of sexual harassment cases in academia, where women (particularly at the graduate student and early career levels) have been taken advantage of by their male colleagues and superiors.

The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently released a lengthy report on the issue of sexual harassment in higher education. This report outlines the definition of sexual harassment as:

“…sexual coercion and unwanted sexual attention, which fall under the category of “come-on” behavior. It also includes the more common but usually dismissed behavior of gender harassment or “put down” behavior, defined by the report as ‘‘a broad range of verbal and nonverbal behaviors not aimed at sexual cooperation but that convey insulting, hostile, and degrading attitudes.”[1]

The report goes on to synthesize evidence from academic research that illustrates the damaging effects of sexual harassment, both psychologically and physically. Notably, only 25% of women report instances of sexual harassment in their organization [2]. Tying back to our conversations on intersectionality, it is also worth noting that these statistics do not apply equally to all women– women of color are less likely to report sexual harassment compared to white women [2].

Examples from Psychological Science

Some of the most high-profile cases of sexual misconduct in academia have occurred within psychology and cognitive science departments, making this a particularly salient issue for female trainees in these areas.

Recently, Dartmouth College has been under fire for its handling of sexual harassment allegations brought forward by female graduate students in the Psychological and Brain Sciences department. Nine women came forward to report the rape, groping, coercion, and sexual degradation that was perpetuated by three male faculty in the department. The women sued Dartmouth for Title IX violations and recently were awarded a settlement of $14 million from the university [3].

A similar case is ongoing at the University of Rochester in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department, where a number of faculty came forward with reports of sexual harassment by fellow faculty member T. Florian Jaeger. The University has been widely criticized for its mishandling of the case, and even resulted in the resignation of the president of the university. The university has actively fought to have the case dismissed, but it continues more than a year after the initial reports were filed. [4]

Moving Forward

How can we better protect female trainees from sexual misconduct by their colleagues and superiors? I don’t have an easy answer, but I hope that these recent examples where harassers are being held accountable for their actions will bring more awareness to the issue and the ways in which the environment of academia might be contributing to these problems.

[1] https://500womenscientists.org/nas-summary#what-is-sexual-harassment

[2] Cortina, L. M., & Berdahl, J. L. (2008). Sexual Harassment in Organizations: A Decade of Research in Review. In The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Behavior: Volume I – Micro Approaches (pp. 469–497). London: SAGE Publications Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781849200448

[3] https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/06/us/dartmouth-settles-harassment-lawsuit/index.html

[4] https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2019/08/30/case-against-rochester-survives-legal-challenge

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