Southwestern University

Progress on DIBE Initiatives

In February 2023 members of Southwestern’s Black Student Union (BSU) provided the University with a list of proposals and initiatives aimed at advancing diversity, inclusion, belonging, and equity (DIBE) on campus. The section below is a progress report on items from the BSU list as well as other initiatives being implemented or planned by the University. Please check back regularly for updates.

Student-Requested Initiatives and Actions Taken by Southwestern

Immediate Requests

Initiative Actions Taken

Fund additional surveillance cameras in/around first-year residence halls.

  • Complete. Approximately 40 surveillance cameras operate on campus. New cameras are installed around campus, including a minimum of one camera on every first-year residential floor. 

Complete Student Life’s “bias response protocol and team.”

  • Complete. Dean of Students Shelley Story led of a workgroup to create a report detailing “bias response protocols and a team.” The report was completed on May 4. A webpage, the precursor to the protocol, is now under development.

Create an anonymous survey including questions, “How can the University better support you?” and “Do you feel safe where you are living?” Act on the thematic recommendations registered in the surveys.

  • Complete. This was included in the advising survey, and results are being implemented.  

Announce to the community the range of sanctions possible for violations of our bias policies.

  • Complete. Vice President for Student Life Brit Katz reviewed the entire Student Handbook and its policies and procedures. An updated student handbook was made available in July 2023.
  • The recently updated Southwestern Student Code of Conduct provides a succinct process for holding students accountable. A preponderance of evidence (or 50.1% likelihood or “more likely than not to have transgressed”) is needed to hold a student accountable.
  • The conduct process will not distinguish “complicit” from “responsible.” Sanctions will be imposed on all responsible parties. From the Student Handbook: “Sanctions for students found responsible for violating the Student Code will be determined by multiple factors, including the nature and severity of the behavior, the scope of the behavior’s negative effects, the student’s ability to recognize and take responsibility for any harm done, and the student’s disciplinary history.”

Offer rewards for information identifying persons responsible for bias incidents.

  • Complete. For more information about the rewards, contact Dean of Students Shelley Story or Coordinator of First-year Housing Autumn Lange.

Repeatedly announce Southwestern’s core values and beliefs on flyers and posters in all residence halls.

  • Complete. On Feb. 22, 2023, flyers were posted in Residence Halls and messaging was added to campus digital signage that included Southwestern’s core values. 

Create a telephone tip line for anonymous reporting of bias violations.

  • Complete. Tip Line: 1.866.943.5787

Create an expanded and more centralized operating space for the JEDI Center.

  • In progress. Senior Staff has secured space on the third floor of the McCombs Campus Center to expand the JEDI Center once the Bookstore moves to the first floor. 

Create a reporting structure for acts of intolerance, including a clear set of guidelines for student understanding.


Long-Term Proposals

Initiative Actions Taken

Hire a chief diversity officer.

  • The Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging and Equity (DIBE) Commission drafted a position description and title, Vice President for Equity, Accountability and Inclusive Excellence, to add to the senior staff to be in place by July 2024. 
  • The commission conducted a scan of nationwide DIBE positions, titles and programs as this rationale details.
  • In the course of our deliberations, the Commission also developed an institutional inclusivity statement. This statement may be useful as the Strategic Planning Committee considers revisions to our current diversity statement approved in 2010. A second version of the statement, included here, has been officially adopted for use by Human Resources and is currently included in all position descriptions.
  • Comission members include trustee and alumna, Dr. Elizabeth Medina, Drs. Alicia Moore, Maha Zewail-Foote, Brit Katz, and Ron Swain, and James Gaeta, Rachel Thompson ’23 and Aleksander Gomez ’24.
Invite faculty and staff to hold classroom discussions regarding race and ethnicity. 
  • Southwestern University’s core values include fostering diverse perspectives, respecting the worth and dignity of persons and promoting activism in the pursuit of justice. Southwestern requires all students to complete one course that provides them an opportunity to understand how difference is used in the maintenance of structures of power (e.g. institutions, discourses, etc.) and inequality, as well as the activism in which people engage to promote social justice.
  • Students taking an FYS or AES class will be required to attend the module “The Return of the JEDI–Learning how to build inclusive environments” during Welcome Week. The module discusses how Southwestern is home to people of countless cultures and identities. Join the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Center for fun games and critical conversations about building a safe and welcoming campus.
Continue staging panels, student support groups, campus gatherings, and speakers regarding marginalized populations such as queer and gender non-conforming students, BIPOC students and religious minorities.
  • The Counseling and Health Center currently hosts weekly support groups, facilitated by psychotherapists and health educators, for Students of Color and students who identify as Trans or Gender Non-Conforming.

  • The Health Education Team collaborates with the Race and Ethnicity Studies program to facilitate student, staff and faculty panels of racial disparities on campus.

  • The Center for Integrative Learning developed Diversity Study Abroad 101 session in collaboration with the JEDI Center
  • The Center for Integrative Learning Developed “Study Abroad is for everyone” campaign (myth busters)

Expand current micro-fundraising efforts for POC student organizations.

  • The Development team is working with the JEDI Center to promote and encourage gifts to the Center during Giving Day 2023 (April 19 & 20). Associate Director of Annual Giving Jaheer Jones is working directly with the Director of Student Inclusion and Diversity Malissa Ismaila to take advantage of this opportunity.
  • Members of the major gift team have invited major gifts to support the initiatives of the JEDI Center. The plan is to leverage at least one of these major gifts as a matching gift on Giving Day 2023. 
Provide training and education for faculty, staff, and students in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

For Students

  • Completed FY 22-23. JEDI Center hosts monthly DIBE training for students.
  • All incoming students will now be required to complete online education prior to Sprog, called “Personal Skills for a Diverse Campus.”
  • Student-athletes receive diversity training from their SAAC groups. 

For Faculty & Staff

  • JEDI Center professional staff offers volunteer DIBE training for new-employees (February 24, March 30, and April 28). 
  • Dr. Leslie Zorwick provided the keynote at Fall Faculty Conference on Understanding and Addressing Bias in Evaluation.
  • Dr. Leslie Gonzales spoke to an all-area meeting about Building Inclusive Work Spaces.
  • Dr. Alicia Moore has been conducting department climate training with departments that have entering faculty of color as part of the race, ethnicity, and social justice thematic hire initiative.
  • Student Life employees (including University Police), resident assistants, orientation leaders, and student employees (including Resident Assistants, Orientation Leaders, and MOSAIC Ambassadors) receive training in bias response.
  • Interim Associate Vice President for Human Resources Katherine Whidden has created a committee to review faulty and staff training efforts.
  • Title IX Coordinator Katie Rallojay is reviewing the content for the annual online training related to diversity and inclusion.
  • Athletic coaches and administrators receive annual diversity training from their conventions, conferences, regional rules gatherings. 
New Southwestern University staff hires will receive diversity information during their employee orientation.
  • Title IX Coordinator Katie Rallojay is reviewing the content for staff and faculty onboarding related to diversity and inclusion.
Hire an additional Counseling and Health Center graduate assistant to support DEI initiatives. 
  • Complete. Shawnee Vazquez, a Latina, was hired to serve as a full-time counselor starting August 2023. 
Create the “Pirates Credo” the expression of expected students’ behaviors during their undergraduate career.
Update the Undergraduate Student Code of Conduct to include procedures for handling proven bias violations.
  • Complete. The Dean of Students completed its update of the Student Code of Conduct. 

Initiatives Already Planned

Initiative Actions Taken

Make DEI a focus for students from the time they deposit to the moment they step on campus. 

  • New students must complete an online DIBE course prior to Sprog. 
  • Welcome week will include panels specifically aiding in the conversation of diversity and inclusion - with emphasis on antiracism and social justice. It will also include a student panel on how to treat faculty with respect and how to flourish and value the opportunity to live in a culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse community.
  • Welcome week will also include an involvement fair with sign-ups for clubs, intramurals, off-campus outdoor recreational trips, information about all sororities and fraternities, the JEDI Center, and the Student Government Association.
  • Fall 2023 First-Year Residence Hall programming will have a DIBE focus. 
  • The Center for Integrative Learning collaborated with the Center for Career & Professional Development to recruit students to participate in the Houston Methodist DEI Summer Scholarship Program.

Encourage faculty retention through cluster hires, particularly for faculty of color.

  • Thematic Hires in Race, Ethnicity, and Social Justice focused in LatinX and Black Studies—the creation of six lines in English, Feminist Studies, History, Political Science, and Sociology (x2) that focus on race, ethnicity, and social justice content. Five searches are complete; one search in English is ongoing. New faculty will enter in 2023-24. 

Organize a “President’s Corner” for all students.

  • The first “President’s Corner” was completed on Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in Bishops Lounge. (Conversation Notes, Feb. 23, 2023)
  • The second “President’s Corner was completed on April 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Bishops Lounge.

Healing Spaces workshop facilitated by Health and Counseling Staff in the JEDI Center

  • The Counseling and Health Education Team facilitated a “Healing Spaces” workshop for BIPOC students to help address the racial trauma, experienced first-hand or vicariously, and processing racial trauma with tangible action steps (breath work, tension release, and movement therapy).

Provide visual and written admissions materials and videos in Spanish.

  • In progress for the 2023–24 recruitment season. 

Measures Previously Implemented

Initiative Actions Taken

Establish hiring policies and procedures throughout the University that prioritize DIBE and retention objectives as part of candidates’ qualifications in addition to expertise and credentials.

  • Job descriptions have been revised, and job advertisements have been strategically placed to increase diversity across leadership positions and in faculty/staff hires.

Find ways for FOC (Faculty of Color) to connect.

  • FOC (Faculty of Color) connect at the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) and at SU—mentoring program for faculty of color (led by Associate Professor of Education Alicia Moore and Professor of Chemistry Maha Zewail-Foote) funded by ACS Mellon grant.

Build Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity (DIBE) efforts into the structure and processes of Human Resources. 

  • Hired Southwestern’s first full-time Title IX coordinator, Katie Rallojay, in May 2022 who provides ongoing training and educational opportunities for faculty and staff related to sex discrimination.
  • For staff hires, HR now provides affirmative action and diversity training for staff search committees.

Build DIBE efforts into the structure and processes of Academic Affairs.


  •  A new position was created, a Hispanic Student Success Coordinator, to be hired as part of Academic Success approved for 2023-2024.
  • An inclusive pedagogy specialist to be added to the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship in 2024-2025.

Build DIBE efforts into the structure and processes of Student Life.


  • New position was created, coordinator of student inclusion and diversity. Brianna Pierce was hired in January 2023. 

Pursue Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) designation.


  • ACS Mellon Fellow in the Humanities—Professor of Spanish Laura Senio Blair will begin a two-year appointment as Assistant Dean of Faculty Development and Strategic Initiatives with a focus on implementing HSI programming approved for 2023–24.

  • Five students attended the Hispanic Association of Colleges and University’s 36th Annual Conference: Adelante Leadership Institute on October 8-10, 2022
  • Joined Excelencia in Education’s Presidents for Latino Student Success (P4LSS) program.
  • Through a grant from the Davis Family Foundation, translation receivers were purchased for campus events, providing a resource for Spanish-speaking attendees.


Join associations that promote diversity and inclusion. 

  • Joined:
    • Liberal Arts College Racial Equity Leadership Alliance
    • Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities
    • President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration
    • Excelencia in Education
    • Universities Studying Slavery Consortium

Supporting Documents