InclusiveVT Initiatives in the Graduate School – Review

Last Monday, graduate students gathered to discuss the new InclusiveVT initiatives and the needs of graduate students at Virginia Tech.  Here is a brief summary of the topics discussed.  Post your comments and resources related to these topics in the comments section!

Minority Students

Concerns:

  • There is a lack of minority faculty/leadership on campus who can serve as mentors to minority students.
  • Inherently, minorities are burdened with many responsibilities beyond those of the majority, which makes it more difficult to achieve career goals (i.e., promotion and tenure).
  • Minority allies are often not properly equipped to take on additional responsibilities.
  • A system to report and follow up on issues raised with specific faculty, staff, or students either does not exist or is not publicized.

Suggestions:

  • Mandate training at all University levels (executive, administrative, faculty, staff, graduate students, undergraduate students) that presents overarching topics as well as provides solutions to level-specific issues (i.e., explain how a faculty member regained control of the classroom when a threatening situation arose.)
  • Each program/department could have an advocate with whom faculty and students could discuss issues and create action plans to mitigate future situations.  
  • Develop and advertise a method for the community to provide “tips” on individuals who have acted against the University’s Principles of Community.  
  • Add external auditing to current in-house checks and balances to ensure an unbiased review of the University. 

International Students

Concerns:

  • Language barriers make it difficult for international students to make friends with students who don’t speak their language.
  • Public transportation, especially outside of Blacksburg during breaks, is difficult to find.
  • International students can feel transient, at at times unwelcomed by domestic students, and therefore not partake in programs.

Suggestions:

  • Establish connections between international and domestic students for cultural and language exchange.  
  • Allow international students to opt-in to a listserve with other students from their home country.
  • Provide information about campus-wide culture, clubs, organizations, and activities during orientation.

LGBTQ Students

Concerns:

  • Are graduate teaching assistants protected by the VT anti-discrimination policy?
  • A student’s identity in the classroom may different from their identities elsewhere.
  • University forms often inquire about a student’s sex.
  • Many people use non-inclusive language with regard to sex and gender.

Suggestions:

  • Provide training to teaching assistants and faculty regarding gender expression and gender identity with regard to curricula, controlling a classroom, and overall VT policy.
  • Eliminate questions regarding sex on university forms other than for purposes of identifying anatomy, where necessary (i.e., Schiffert Health Center).
  • Educate the community on when to use what language with regard to sex and gender.