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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Sunrise over Lincoln Park campus

College of Communication DE&I Action Plan, 2020-21

September 2020 (Updated February 2021)

We, the College of Communication, understand that we are tied to and inextricably bound to the systems of racism and inequality that shape our country, higher education, our city and our institution, and in order for these systems to be dismantled, they must be recognized, addressed, interrogated and changed on the level of policy and normalized practices.

As those who study and teach communication, we know our language matters. Words matter for the material conditions they enact and affect. Words matter for what they do, their action, their force. Yet, we understand that words without action are hollow. We are motivated. Our commitments are reaffirmed. And we recognize that we must turn this energy inwards to interrogate the ways we are complicit in these systems.

As a college comprised of faculty, students, staff and administrators, we are committed to the ongoing work of identifying and interrogating prejudice, injustice and institutionalized bias in all forms. Furthermore, we commit to taking the necessary actions to disrupt, denounce, and/or change norms and practices that work to uphold or perpetuate systems of prejudice and inequity in our college, our curriculum and our classrooms.

In April 2020, the college concluded a yearlong cross-college climate research report. Led by our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force, the project surveyed and interviewed students, staff and faculty to identify and then engage areas for improvement. Since then, the college has been actively developing an action plan, addressing practices and policies at all levels of the college. The plan has been processed and shaped through input from the college diversity advocate, the newly established diversity working group, our students, and faculty and staff from across the college. It addresses both short-term and extended goals, and remains a living document that will continually be added to, reflected upon and modified as needed in order to meet the changing needs of all our students, staff and faculty and to foster and promote a supportive, diverse and inclusive environment.

  • The college, led by the college diversity advocate, will form a DE&I working group, comprised of both faculty and staff, to institute a DE&I action plan. (Formed Fall 2020)
  • We will host and participate in anti-racist conversations with staff, faculty, students and administrators during the next academic year. (Initiated, ongoing)
  • At minimum of twice a quarter, the college DE&I working group will be holding listening sessions for all communication students. (Initiated Fall 2020, ongoing)
  • Faculty and staff are participating in an ongoing anti-racist reading group. (Initiated Fall 2020, ongoing)
  • The college will host a cross-college event that will foster and provide a platform for student leadership in DE&I work. (Tentatively scheduled for Spring 2021, virtual)
  • The college will continue to hold diversity trainings for all search committees.
  • We will begin to hold diversity trainings for college leadership and all who conduct reviews. (Approved, will begin Spring 2021)
  • The college will provide training and funding support for all faculty to further expand diversity of voices and representation within their course readings and materials, in an ongoing commitment to decolonize courses and disciplines across the college. This curricular initiative will be tied to ongoing assessment projects to identify progress, as well as areas in need of intervention. (Initiated Fall 2020, continued Winter 2021)
  • In order to better support and hold up a broad range of existing research, programming and community service related to DE&I, the college is developing a centralized DE&I web space and DE&I social media. These will help increase awareness of new and existing DE&I programs, projects and events in the college, as well as increase transparency and progress for all DE&I action initiatives. (In development Winter 2021)
  • We will continue our efforts for attracting, hiring and retaining diverse talent in the job market in all areas of faculty and staff, and supporting the diverse needs, identities and experiences of all our students.
  • During each quarterly faculty and staff meeting, quarterly college faculty meeting, and quarterly staff meeting, the diversity advocate or members of the DE&I working group will run a mandatory micro-training workshop. These workshops are designed to continually reaffirm DE&I commitments across the college and build a shared vocabulary around the work of social justice (specifically anti-racism, trans recognition, class disparities in higher education, gendered violence). (Initiated Fall 2020, ongoing)
  • The college will formalize a four-part mentoring system for all junior faculty. This will include promotion process mentoring, departmental chair mentorship and formal review mentorship procedures. Additionally, this will include a newly instituted cross-college mentorship model where each junior faculty will have two senior colleagues as mentors in the college. (Initiated Winter 2020, ongoing)
  • The college will institute a policy where all faculty going up for formal review in a given year will meet one-on-one with the college diversity advocate prior to their formal review interview. This meeting will help identify and discuss any concerns or questions for the faculty member related to DE&I, prior to formal review. (Initiated Fall 2020, ongoing)
  • All faculty in the college will now have a section added to their annual merit review that explicitly asks their reflection on their personal goals for contributing to DE&I work in the college. This part of the merit review will both reflect on the previous year’s efforts, as well as work to set goals for the upcoming year. (Approved, will launch Spring 2021)
  • The college is developing an online mechanism for students to provide timely feedback about their DE&I experiences in the classroom and in the college, in a format that allows anonymity, college mediation, and identification for training and development, as needed. (In development Winter 2021, launch Summer 2021)
  • Development of College of Communication DE&I Faculty Fellowship Program (Initiated Winter 2021, ongoing)
  • Student DE&I Fellowship Program (Initiated Winter 2021, student application process for Fall 2021 fellow to launch Spring 2021)
  • DE&I working group will host bimonthly student listening sessions for students to have an open forum to discuss their experiences, questions and feedback related to diversity, equity and inclusion in the college. (Initiated Fall 2020, bimonthly Winter 2021, ongoing)
  • Student DE&I fellow will reach out to all communication student organizations to solicit feedback, questions and suggestions related to college DE&I initiatives. (Initiated Winter 2020-21)
  • College will foster and continue supporting student organizations specifically focused on creating extracurricular groups/spaces for students of historically marginalized identities to meet, hold events and programming, and network with professional connections.
  • DE&I trainings in the college will begin a monthly DE&I social media report to increase transparency of action plan progress and foster student engagement. (Initiated Winter 2021)
  • Recognition of outstanding DE&I work being done in classes and across the college. (To begin 2021-22 academic year)

Along with these actions, the faculty and staff of the college commit to continuing to do the necessary work to advocate for all our students, to stand in solidarity with all BIPOC and all marginalized communities, and to continue to do the difficult, uncomfortable and necessary work of interrogating bias and the operations of privilege inside and beyond our walls.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding current or potential DE&I initiatives in the college, we welcome your feedback! Email us at