Campus Culture

Campus Culture Strategic Goal: Advance efforts to create an inclusive, accessible, and welcoming culture on campus.

On this page, you will find updated information and current activities within the Campus Culture goal. For more information about the goal and specific objectives, click here.

Written by Jennifer Margulies and Ana Ixchel Rosal

The Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) Education Program offers workshops and professional development training to ensure that students, staff, and faculty on campus have accurate information about LGBTQ people. In the 2013-2014 academic year, GSC staff and student presenters provided 20 departmental trainings and presentations, 51 classroom trainings and presentations, 14 trainings to student organizations, 11 trainings and presentations in residence halls, 4 trainings to Resident Assistants, and 5 trainings outside of UT campus, for a total of 112 presentations to 2,778 people. The GSC is recognized on campus as a valuable educational resource; all but seven of these 112 presentations were specifically requested from the GSC. The training sessions included 21 Ally Toolkit workshops, which teach people how to include and advocate for LGBTQ people at UT. In 2013 and 2014, GSC staff offered two “open ally” workshops for any interested participants across campus.

GSC also offered 24 workshops through Peers for Pride, a student-led theatre for social change program. Student educators in Peers for Pride complete a year-long class on LGBTQ issues, in which they write and perform monologues to illustrate the challenges facing LGBTQ people. With the support of GSC staff, students facilitate discussion about the issues raised in their monologues.

A testimonial from a faculty member received after a Peers for Pride presentation in a career counseling class: “[We] really appreciated your willingness to spend time with the class, even going above and beyond the anticipated time. What a gift! I appreciated all aspects of your presentation. The Peers for Prides scenarios and the students’ presentation of them were a great kickoff to illustrate the multiple levels of issues related to career. I also appreciated your narrative – the narrative touched on many issues that are relevant for career counselors, including identity. Thank you again for your time, energy and insight.”

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From the Office of Institutional Equity, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement

The University of Texas at Austin is committed to providing an educational and working environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors that is free from discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, inappropriate consensual relationships, and retaliation.  As part of this commitment, the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) has partnered with the Office of the Provost, University Compliance Services, and colleges and departments across campus, to establish a plan for reporting such concerns.

The initiative is designed to help ensure that the university is aware of any concerns of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, or inappropriate consensual relationships that are raised against a university employee, faculty member, or visitor/affiliated worker, and to ensure that these concerns are addressed promptly.

The mission of OIE is to provide leadership and support on matters relating to equity, diversity, respect and inclusiveness for all members of the university community.  OIE has been authorized to investigate allegations falling under the university¹s policies.  As part of the initiative, OIE plans to meet with representatives from across campus to provide training to ensure that all units are aware of their responsibilities under federal and state law in responding to issues of harassment and discrimination.  In the coming months, this group of representatives will work with OIE, in collaboration with University Compliance Services and other interested units on campus, to develop a plan to rapidly respond to situations where there are urgent and/or highly sensitive concerns of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and inappropriate consensual relationships that need to be addressed as an institutional priority.

To learn more, please visit the OIE website:  http://www.utexas.edu/equity

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By Kelli Bradley

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Meet and Greet: On Wednesday, September 24th, SSD hosted its 2nd annual Deaf and Hard of Hearing Meet and Greet. Approximately 40 people were in attendance, including faculty, staff, and students.  This was held during what is traditionally Deaf Awareness Month and was the kick-off event for Disability Awareness Month (DAM) in October. The Meet and Greet was an opportunity for Deaf/HH and other individuals to meet and network with one another.  Introductions and brief presentations were given on the ASL Program in the Dept. of Linguistics, Longhorn College Bowl Team, and Signhorns.  Many attendees left the event with newfound knowledge about Deaf/HH and its community and met some new colleagues.  We look forward to hosting our 3rd annual next year!

Students On the Spectrum Group: After a successful first meeting of the fall, SSD’s Students On the Spectrum group will continue to meet monthly throughout the semester. Upcoming meetings will be held on October 21, November 18, and December 16, at 5:30pm in the SSD office. Students On the Spectrum is a support group for UT students with Asperger’s syndrome and other autism-spectrum disorders. Meetings are an opportunity for these students to gather and share experiences, challenges, and ideas.

Brown Bag Discussion, Disability and Accommodations at UT: On October 1, SSD held its first open brown bag session in the SAC. We are planning on scheduling these events more often with each brown bag focusing on disability-related issues.

White Cane Day: SSD participated in White Cane Day on October 15. The march started at the Texas State Capital to City Hall. A speech by the mayor was followed by a celebration at Republic Square Park.

disABILITY Advocate training : Open DAP trainings are held once per semester and allow individuals to be trained as disABILITY Advocates. On October 8, an open-to-all training was held, and on October 15, an open instructor training was held.   The School of Social Work faculty members will be trained on October 17, and on October 22, the Student Employee Excellence Program is scheduled for training. disABILITY Advocate trainings are typically provided at the request of UT groups, organizations and departments. Participants engage in learning and discussion and leave with ideas and action steps they can implement within their role at UT to make campus a more welcoming, accessible, and inclusive environment for people with disabilities.

Breaking the Silence: On Tuesday, October 21st in the Texas Union Ballroom from 7-9 pm, SSD and Voices Against Violence will co-hosted Breaking the Silence. Survivors and allies were given the opportunity to speak out about experiences of relationship violence. This event featured keynote speaker Ammie Morgan, Ms. Wheelchair Alabama 2012 and a survivor of relationship violence. The event included performance, on- and off-campus resource fair, free refreshments, and an open mic speak-out.

For a complete listing of events, visit the SSD website: http://ddce.utexas.edu/disability

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By Dr. Sherri L. Sanders

In late June, the Fine Arts Diversity Committee delivered its Strategic Diversity Plan Proposal 2014-2019 to Dean Douglas J. Dempster. The plan reflects two years of the committee’s work to establish a comprehensive five-year plan that clearly conveys the college’s commitment to diversity and communicates the critical role that all individuals within the college play in creating a more inclusive culture. The committee utilized a multi-stage process developed by Campus Diversity and Strategic Initiatives staff within the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

The three goals for the five-year diversity plan focus on recruitment and retention of diverse faculty, students, and staff; the academic curriculum and creative programming; and the college’s climate and culture. The foundation for each goal is supported through a goal rationale and outcome-oriented objectives. Implementation proposals and performance standard criteria also accompany each objective. The plan and its implementation served as a focal point of the annual College of Fine Arts Chairs and Directors retreat in late August.

Strategies are currently under development for launching the implementation of the year-one priorities identified in the diversity plan. Strategic Initiatives (SI) staff will be working closely with the FADC in order to ensure a successful launch of the plan’s implementation and an in-depth evaluation of the pilot planning process. The multi-stage process and the insight gained during the pilot will provide the foundation for SI’s diversity planning efforts with other academic colleges and schools and administrative units across campus. A diversity planning toolkit, currently under production, will serve as a blueprint to guide diversity and equity committees as they engage in a process to create a plan to advance their priorities to create a more inclusive culture within their organization.

The FADC and DDCE would like to express its appreciation to Dean Dempster for his support and insight throughout the diversity planning process. His leadership serves as a role model for others on our campus as he actively and intentionally demonstrates his expectation that the College of Fine Arts serves as “a leader at UT in achieving the heterogeneity that is so essential to what we are and do” and in carrying forward “a promise of inclusion that is conditioned only on evidence of talent, accomplishment, and determination.”

 

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By Ixchel Rosal

This year the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) within the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement has begun a research project to examine the impact of its Peers for Pride program.  The Gender and Sexuality Center provides opportunities for all members of the UT Austin community to explore, organize, and promote learning around issues of gender and sexuality. The center also facilitates a greater responsiveness to the needs of women and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and ally (LGBTQA) communities through education, outreach and advocacy.

The primary goal the GSC’s Peers for Pride (PfP) program is to train peer facilitators to lead workshops about sexual orientation and gender identity across the UT campus. Students in PfP earn academic credit for their participation in the year-long program. During the fall semester they take a course entitled, “Confronting LGBTQ Oppression: Exploring the Issues and Learning the Skills to Communicate Them,” where students learn basic facilitation skills while taking an in-depth look at some issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals. During the spring semester course, “Facilitating Dialogues on LGBTQ Oppression: Peers for Pride in Action,” peer facilitators have the opportunity to fine-tune their facilitation skills and lead workshops across campus.

The research study begun this year explores the narratives of Peers for Pride peer facilitators.  Through the lens of Harro’s Cycle of Socialization, the following research questions will guide the study:

  • How do facilitators conceptualize their participation in Peers for Pride?
  • Were facilitators able to develop a sense of agency and capacity?  In what ways did participation as a facilitator provide students with a greater sense of confidence that they could impact change and be effective leaders?
  • What implications emerge in terms of identity and peer leadership development?

Harro’s (2010) Cycle of Socialization articulates the process by which we are each born with a myriad of social identities (i.e. our social identity profile) related to gender, age, skin color, ethnicity, ability status, sexual orientation, etc, and are then socialized to play certain roles prescribed to those identities by an imbalanced social system of oppression.

This qualitative case study seeks to investigate the impact of participation in the Peers for Pride Program on peer educators by interviewing former Peers for Pride peer facilitators from the past five years.  According to Merriam, qualitative researchers are “interested in understanding the meaning people have constructed, that is, how they make sense of their world and the experiences that they have in the world” (2001, p. 6).

Two primary data collection methods will be used: semi-structured interviews with former PfP facilitators and document review. One-hour semi-structured interviews will be conducted with the participants. The semi-structured interviews were designed specifically for this project and will focus on how the facilitators conceptualized participation in the program, as well as how participation was situated within the context of the institution.  The interview will help establish rapport with the participant, collect base-line data, and address the study’s research questions.

SI research fellow Dr. Kiersten Ferguson and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Stella Smith, are working closely with GSC staff on the design and implementation of the study.  Results from the study are anticipated to be available in fall, 2014.  For more information about the study please contact Ixchel Rosal (Director, GSC) at rosal@austin.utexas.edu.

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