The University of Texas at Arlington Diversity Week: It's a Maverick World

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1 Award Title The University of Texas at Arlington Diversity Week: It's a Maverick World Awards Categories International, Multi-cultural, Cultural, Gender, LGBTQ, Spirituality, Disability and related Executive Summary Located in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution whose enrollment has grown dramatically in recent years to a current record 30,000 students, more than 5,000 students compared to only two years prior. In the campus publication Power of Diversity: A University for the 21st Century, UT Arlington President James Spaniolo states "We embrace and celebrate the diversity of our campus community in all of its forms. It's a defining characteristic of our university." In fact, U.S. News and World Reports listed the institution as 16th out of 200 national universities scored on racial diversity in its college rankings. Students hail from all corners of the United States and 120 countries. UT Arlington has a higher percentage of African-American students in comparison to any other University of Texas System institution. The campus has been named one of the top universities in the nation for Hispanic students by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Approximately 10% of our students identify as Asian/Desi/Pacific American and another 10% are international students. With over 52% of the student body identifying as an ethnic minority, The University of Texas at Arlington is considered a majority-minority serving institution. The rich cultural diversity of our rapidly expanding student body provides an excellent opportunity to engage students, faculty and staff in intentional learning outcomes that may increase multicultural understanding and appreciation amongst one another. In addition, establishing a venue in which members of the institution can come together to acknowledge and celebrate various identities has potential to positively contribute to community building efforts. Capitalizing on this, the Multicultural Affairs office, a unit of the Division of Student Affairs, founded UTA Diversity Week in spring Held the first week of March, our annual Diversity Week is a campus wide celebration of the multiple cultures that make up our Maverick community. Each year, a series of events have been coordinated in collaboration with organizations and departments from across campus including the Office of the President, UTA Safe Zone committee, Office for Students with Disabilities, Human Resources, Counseling Services, Honors College, Movin Mavs Wheelchair Basketball team, Student Congress and multiple student clubs. Featured events educate students and many others on issues regarding disability, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and religious diversity. The university Diversity Lecture Series is a flagship event held during Diversity week. In its short history, the program has quickly expanded in popularity and impact and has become a new campus tradition.

2 Helpful links: Power of Diversity US News & World Report article Arlington-is-diverse.php Coverage from campus newspaper, The Shorthorn Award Description As an institution that takes tremendous pride in the diversity of our student body and employees, the campus conducts a variety of initiatives to support multiculturalism and social justice education efforts. By providing educational, research and campus life opportunities to celebrate and educate others about our differences and similarities, UT Arlington is committed to encouraging the understanding of others. However, prior to 2008, the campus was lacking in the presence of one major initiative that focused on acknowledging our diversity in a collaborative way across the institution. Recognizing that an annual venue for celebrating our rich heritage as a campus was needed, Multicultural Affairs established the UTA Diversity Week program in order to further school pride and to build a stronger sense of community. In addition, the following anticipated program outcomes for the endeavor were established: --Diversity awareness: Provide opportunities to celebrate and embrace the rich cultural diversity at UT Arlington through events such as Native American Pow-wow, cultural performances; 3 on 3 Wheelchair Basketball Tournament with disabled and able bodied student teams. --Education: Increase understanding of cultures and systems that impact society and challenge participants to be agents of positive social change within the community. To be inclusive of all members of the university community, the educational workshops also include sessions for faculty and staff. --Leadership development: Empower students to serve as advocates in the community and foster respect and collaboration amongst individuals and groups, activities includes Women in Leadership and the Leaders Educating About Diversity programs. From the program s inception, Multicultural Affairs staff outlined a deliberate goal in our 3 year strategic plan to gain the support and participation of other units on the project. The hope was to emphasize that all UTA students, faculty and staff were welcome to participate in events. In addition, by including events that recognized facets of diversity beyond race and ethnicity, the intent was to broaden people s perspectives of the definition of diversity. The collection of main Diversity Week posters listing all events can be viewed here:

3 Collaborators for past year s events included: -Office of the President -UTA Women s Athletics - Freshman Leaders on Campus -Office for Students with Disabilities -Women s History Month committee -Collection of Brothers -Native American Student Association -Honors College -UTA Safe Zone committee -Gay Straight Alliance -Movin Mavs Wheelchair Basketball Team - Counseling Services -Tarrant County Community College (local partner) -Human Resources - Leaders Educating About Diversity Also part of the initial strategic plan for Diversity Week, Multicultural Affairs wanted to identify 2-3 units to become standing partners for week and 2-3 events that could become signature events. This goal was not necessarily to develop new programming for the week but rather identify programs that could benefit from increased exposure. Thus, students, faculty and staff could become more aware of valuable resources and opportunities for learning at UTA that they could continue to tap into in the future. For example: --the founding of Diversity Week coincided with the founding of a UTA Safe Zone committee. As the committee has become more established as a resource on campus, a partnership has been born so that each year opportunities for Ally training and LGBT awareness education to promote a more welcoming campus atmosphere for our LGBT community. --In spring 2008, the first Diversity Lecture Series open event was hosted during the week. The Diversity Lecture Series was established as a result of President Spaniolo s response to the report of the Committee on Diversity and International Understanding. This task force had been established after high profile racial tensions had arisen on campus between 2002 and The series provides a venue to bring nationally recognized speakers whose topics highlight critical social justice issues. Held twice a year, Diversity Lecture Series came to prominence and name recognition as a result of being publicized as the flagship event of the week and is now considered one of the flagship lecture series of the university through the support of the President s Office. --Maversity, a series of diversity education workshops that allows participants to engage in dialogue about hot diversity issues. Topics focus on racial/ethnic diversity, power, privilege, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and other social justice issues. Maversity is peer facilitated by the Leaders Educating About Diversity (L.E.A.D.), a specially trained group of student diversity ambassadors who have presented at staff trainings, conferences, residence halls and for student organizations. L.E.A.D. have also emerged as the host student organization for Diversity Week in L.E.A.D. have traditionally hosted and partnered with guest lecturers to present 2 Maversity workshops during the week. --Finally, UTA takes tremendous pride in our most successful sports team, the Movin Mavs Wheelchair Basketball team. Recognized as one of the top 3 universities in the country for a wheelchair athlete, UTA is home to the Movin Mavs who have won seven national championships and whose players include nationally recognized Olympic para-olympians. By hosting an annual 3-on-3 Wheelchair Basketball tournament pairing able bodied and students

4 with disabilities (all who play in wheelchairs), the Movin Mavs helped to dispel negative misconceptions about what a person with a disability is capable of doing. View photos here: and Shorthorn coverage here: However, the most notable achievement for the progress and future potential for Diversity Week occurred in its third and most recent year. Although Multicultural Affairs and Office for Students with Disabilities had collaborated on smaller events for the week in the past, a major change was made in spring For the first time, Multicultural Affairs collaborated with the Office for Students with Disabilities to combine Disability Week and Diversity Week programming. The weeks had been previously hosted separately in the fall and spring semesters respectively. Another major achievement for Diversity Week 2010 occurred with the establishment of the inaugural MAVfest, an official outdoor diversity festival featuring cultural games and activities plus special talent performances by multicultural student organizations. Making an impact yet again, an anchor for MAVfest was also a wheelchair obstacle course hosted by the Movin Mavs Wheelchair Basketball team. The combined efforts of these Division of Student Affairs units helped to secure additional funding through a Campus Grant from the Target Foundation. In addition, opportunities were established for student organizations to become actively involved in the planning and hosting of several of the week s events. The Multicultural Affairs student design team also contributed their talents to effectively market the week through social networking, videos, list servs and photo galleries. That Diversity Week had gained a higher profile on campus was reflected in the extensive news coverage that the campus newspaper gave. Plans are already underway for 2011 to include new collaborations with -- UTA Volunteers to establish a service project --International Student Organization partnering with Movin Mavs to create a week long tournament of adapted sports --UTA Leadership Center to continue their Critical Conversations diversity dialogues conducted at annual Fall Leadership Retreat --Art & Art History to continue UTA Identity Project hosted in previous semester as a component of the fall Diversity Lecture Series with Kip Fulbeck highlighting bi-racial and multiracial identity --Also new educational components added for religious/spiritual programming and socioeconomic diversity.

5 Samples of marketing & campus news coverage can be viewed here: Promotional video: y_week.flv E-News (now archived online): MAVfest post video (utilized at appreciation ceremony for MAVfest participating organizations) st+slideshow+-+web+version.flv Main scrapbook: Pre-event article: Comedy Night: MAVfest pre-coverage: MAVfest post-coverage: Diversity Lecture Series coverage: Assessment Data The vision for Diversity Week was to establish a program that would reflect the university s commitment to promoting an inclusive campus community. The goals of Diversity Week align with the missions of the university, Division of Student Affairs, and sponsoring units. UT Arlington s value of multiculturalism and diversity are reflected in the following statements that served as guiding principles for defining both administrative and learning outcomes for Diversity Week programming: From the university mission statement: The diverse student body shares a wide range of cultural values and the University community fosters unity of purpose and cultivates mutual respect. From University Planning Priority #6 out of 11: Promote a culturally diverse campus community - Goal 1: Value diversity at all levels on campus

6 - Objective: Improve the retention of faculty, staff, and students from under-represented groups The Division of Student Affairs has listed the following amongst its core values: - Respect & Civility - Appreciation for Diversity - Free expression of thoughts and ideas - Accessible programs and services for all students From the Division of Student Affairs Goals: - Goal #10: Develop an institutional climate that creates a sense of community and inclusiveness that embraces individuals from diverse backgrounds From the Multicultural Affairs mission statement & core values/functions #1-3 of 5: The mission of Multicultural Affairs is to promote an inclusive atmosphere that embraces individuals from diverse backgrounds. Our aim is to cultivate a campus community that respects and values our commonalities and differences. -Appreciation of Diversity (Cultural Programming): Provide opportunities to celebrate and embrace the rich cultural diversity at UT-Arlington. -Social Justice (Education) Increase understanding of cultures and systems that impact society and challenge students to be agents of positive social change within the community. -Leadership (Multicultural Leadership Development) Empower students to serve as advocates in the community and foster respect and collaboration amongst individuals and groups From the Office for Students with Disabilities mission statement: The Office for Students with Disabilities at UT Arlington is committed to enhancing the experience of students with disabilities and to ensure a comprehensively accessible University atmosphere. From the Movin Mavs Wheelchair Basketball & Adapted Sports program mission statement: The Movin Mav program, including the staff members and individual student athletes within the program, is aware of and appreciates its position as a role model program for students with disabilities. This position on our campus and within our community includes the responsibilities of sharing information and educating all people about the abilities and possibilities of and for people with disabilities.

7 After careful reflection of the intended impact for the campus community, the following goals and learning outcomes were established: The goals of Diversity Week are to: -Provide an educational learning opportunity that emphasizes multiple facets of diversity -Educate the campus community on the different cultures found on campus -Cultivate common ground amongst individuals by providing venues for cross cultural learning. In the Multicultural Affairs 3-5 year Strategic Plan report, the following goal and objective are outlined as outcomes for Diversity Week: Department Goal: Present diversity and cultural programming for the university and the community. -Aligns with Student Affairs Goal: (10) Develop an institutional climate that creates a sense of community and inclusiveness that embraces individuals from various diverse backgrounds. - Aligns with University Planning Priority: (6) Promote a culturally diverse and inclusive campus community. - Department Objective: Coordinate a Diversity Week program in collaboration with other campus units that creates an inclusive environment to address racial, cultural, disability, and gender diversity. - Criteria for Success: Multicultural Affairs will co-sponsor at least 3 Diversity Week events each March as part of a campus wide celebration of diversity. Success will also be determined when at least 2 separate campus units or student organizations co-sponsor Diversity Week events each year and MAVfest collaborates with at least ten student organizations. For the events in which surveys are distributed, 75% of respondents will indicate that involvement in the activity did increase their awareness of the diversity topic presented. Assessment initiatives have been based upon the above program outcomes and objectives. Student Voice online software (www.studentvoice.com) are utilized to analyze data collected at the majority of Diversity Week events, the educational ones in particular. Collection of demographic data, Likert scale, and open ended questions are the methodologies most frequently used. The staff in turn utilize data to guide programming decisions for the next year. During the most recent UTA Diversity Week held in March 2010, the departmental strategic goal listed above was surpassed. Below is a sample of Student Voice survey results for individual events: ***The percentile listed is the percentage of respondents who ranked 4 or higher on a 5 point scale in positive agreement.

8 Safe Zone Ally Training: (100%) This workshop helped to increase my understanding of LGBT issues presented (89% ranked 5 of 5) I learned something in this workshop that I can apply in the future Diversity Lecture Series speaker Dr. Maura Cullen private Professional Development workshop for Division of Student Affairs staff (48 respondents) (90%) This workshop helped to increase my knowledge of diversity issues presented. (96%) I learned something new at this workshop that I can apply in the future. Diversity Lecture Series speaker Dr. Maura Cullen main public event (87.18%) This workshop helped to increase my knowledge of diversity issues presented. (94.88%) I learned something new at this workshop that I can apply in the future. Maversity workshop: Disability is part of Diversity! (91.67%) This workshop helped to increase my knowledge of disability issues presented. (91.66%) I learned something new at this workshop that I can apply in the future. Maversity workshop: Why G.I. Joe Enlisted Barbie (71.43%) This workshop helped to increase my knowledge of gender issues presented. (71.43%) I learned something new at this workshop that I can apply in the future. In addition, the Office for Students with Disabilities and the Movin Mavs also utilized Student Voice to conduct a Disability Awareness Program Survey to all participants of the wheelchair basketball course during MAVfest which also included simulation activities for disabilities. The numbers below indicate percentile % of participants who ranked 5 (strongly agree) in response to the statements below: 81% After attending today s program, I better understand how each person is a unique individual. 92% After attending today s program, I am more aware of those barriers that exist for people with disabilities. 73% I would like for UT Arlington to have more programs that discuss disability issues. Finally, attendance records indicate that approximately #2000 students, faculty, and staff participated in the 2010 UTA Diversity Week A total of 16 student organizations, 5 campus units worked together to coordinate 9 total events.

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