DEI consultant leaves key recommendations for UP administration

The Expected report by the Adviser for Diversity, Equal Opportunities, Inclusion and Equity (DEIJ). Elizabeth Ortiz was released on March 10th.

The report listed several recommendations, including budget changes to increase financial support for DEI work, a pay equity analysis to ensure competitive salaries, and annual reports prepared for the school to monitor DEI progress evaluate, among other suggestions for DEI support.

Ortiz anonymously interviewed nearly 80 members of the community in November, including students, faculty and staff. Many reported that the climate at UP was not inclusive for minority groups such as LGBTQ+ and BIPOC people.

This led to Ortiz’s list of 10 recommendations for Acting President Herbert Medina and Deputy Provost for International Education, Diversity and Inclusion Eduardo Contreras to consider as they navigate the responses.

Here is a list of the report’s other recommendations:

  • Start DEI training for students, faculty, staff and administration.

  • Develop consistent hiring practices and training for hiring committees.

  • Create an online prejudice and discrimination reporting system.

  • Develop support for students with disabilities and members of minority groups.

  • Develop support for staff and faculty members who are part of the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ community.

  • Request DEI implementation plans from each university unit.

  • Working with the Congregation of Holy Cross on DEI issues to build a cohesive union between the groups.

The report contained abbreviated quotes from some of the respondents.

“When you speak up, you become microaggressive,” one faculty member reportedly said. “You’re told you’re a nuisance and a troublemaker.”

“If we don’t have proper education, [DEI] The education falls to the students,” a staffer said in the report. “We don’t have the capacity to meet the demand.”

The investigation was sparked by a comment by former Vice President of Human Resources Sandy Chung describing her experience as a woman of color at UP. Chung’s guest post encouraged dialogue about DEI issues on campus, and with the departure of psychology professor Sarina Saturn and diversity and inclusion programs coordinator Yuri Hernandez Osorio, the conversation about DEI continued at UP.

College campuses across the country are expanding their DEI programs to reflect the needs of their communities. Some top-flight universities have made commitments to DEI – Yale recently unveiled a five-year plan to promote diversity and inclusion about their campus, as reported by Yale News. Others have already developed strategic plans for inclusion, like the University of Michiganwhich, according to The Michigan Daily, is currently drafting its second five-year strategic plan.

In connection with UP, a smaller liberal arts college, US News a comprehensive list based on 2020 undergraduate information from universities in the western regional area that rank racial and ethnic diversity on campus. UP ranked 0.64 on a scale of zero to one, with one being a more diverse student body. This can be compared to Lewis and Clark College, another liberal arts college in Portland, which scored a .48.

Although UP is a predominantly white institution, it has a significant diverse student body and staff who seek support from DEI staff and programs. The freshman class of 2025 is 54% black students, the highest percentage UP has seen to date. In autumn 2021, 47% of the student body were black.

“The [Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] The employees are great, but they don’t have the power or the resources,” says Ortiz of an anonymous employee. “[OIDEI] has a small fish budget, [OIDEI] is a new initiative that includes DEI work but without funding, staff and people compensated for their time.”

The administration has not yet acted on the recommendations, but thanked Ortiz for the report and noted her reporting on DEI matters.

“We recognize that the report was largely shaped by members of our community associated with Dr. Ortiz and shared their concerns and observations about where our community stands (and does not stand) on DEIJ matters,” Medina and Contreras said in the email.

UP will host a Town Hall at Dundon Berchtold Hall Brian Doyle Auditorium on March 17th from 4pm to 5:30pm or on zoom with Ortiz and members of the Presidential Executive Cabinet. You can find more information about this event here.

Kate Cuadrado is the sports editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at cuadrado24@up.edu.

Austin De Dios contributed to this story. He can be reached at dedios22@up.edu.

Leave a Comment