Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

‘Ready to do the work’

“DEI is embedded in the Student Affairs curriculum,” says University Dean of Student Affairs Donna Eddleman, shown here at Commencement in 2018. (Photo by Coco McKown ’04, ’10)

During the recent Diversity Town Hall, University Dean of Student Affairs Donna Eddleman spoke to how Student Affairs is contributing to the University-wide effort to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Her remarks are below.

As Christopher [Jones] mentioned, I am Donna Eddleman, and I serve as the University Dean of Student Affairs. For context, the Student Affairs division includes: Residence Life and Housing, Community Standards and Wellbeing, Student Involvement and Success, our Campus Chaplain, Bulldog Athletics, Community Service Learning, Outdoor Programs/Intramurals, the Student Health Center and our Counseling Center. While Campus Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) now reports directly to Christopher, [CDI staff] remain very connected to all of us in Student Affairs—they attend staff meetings, and we visit with them often, because our work has so much in common, and collaborations with them are invaluable.

The [Student Affairs] Division’s mission statement is two words: “learning applied.” In simple terms, we aspire to bring to life the lessons of the classroom, which requires us to create and deliver curriculum, facilitate diverse community experiences, and, promote application.

Our learning outcomes include: perseverance and professionalism; communication; critical thinking and problem solving; collaboration and teamwork; as well as engaged stewardship.

We want our work to support students as they confront adverse and uncertain environments, as they analyze issues and make decisions to address complex situations, as they build relationships within a diverse community, and as they negotiate and manage conflict.

If, as a division, we want to live our mission, Learning Applied, and if we want students to realize the learning outcomes we aspire them to achieve, and if we want to live our values compassion, integrity, cultural humility, service, and citizenship, as well as self-awareness, then diversity, equity, and inclusion must be embedded in the curriculum we create, the diverse community experiences we facilitate, and the application we promote.

DEI is embedded in the Student Affairs curriculum. Let me share some brief examples of what that looks like.

In 2015, the restorative justice philosophy began to influence conflict resolution work in Student Affairs. In 2017, for the first time, two members of the Student Affairs team—one in CDI, one in Community Standards—were trained in restorative justice processes, an initiative supported by Char Burgess, who led the division at that time. This allowed for the formalization of restorative justice circles and other processes as resolution pathways in our community standards process. In May of 2019, the Title IX office-sponsored restorative justice training on campus and hosted two follow-up trainings in fall 2019 as well. As a result, 10 members of the Student Affairs staff can and do apply restorative justice philosophy and practice in their work with students.

The Title IX training for Bulldog Athletics exceeds National Collegiate Athletic Association expectations because, while institutions can meet expectations using an online training module year after year, thanks to the tremendous efforts of our Director of Equity and Title IX Coordinator Erica Moorer and the leadership of our Athletic Director Jeff Martinez, Title IX training for our student-athletes and coaches is in-person and year-specific, with program content building on previous trainings so our athletes don’t simply hear the same thing over and over again.

In the 2019/20 Community Service Learning (CSL) Annual Report, director Tony Mueller writes, in part, “….the violence against Blacks in America reminded me of the absolute importance of the socially just work of service. Our principles have never been more important.”

Those principles, which have guided community engagement at the University of Redlands for 30 years, are: be just, be purposeful, be faithful, respect autonomy, do no harm. The work continues with an expanded food pantry for students who are food insecure, free; now-virtual tutorial support for youth in the community; and an exciting aspirational initiative involving SURF (our sustainable University of Redlands farm), hundreds of tree saplings, and communities in need of trees.

The conversations across campus and in our extended community are a testament to the fact that there is more we must do.

In Student Affairs, we will work harder at cultivating strong relationships and grow awareness among students of color that CDI is one of many places where they can find support, where they can feel safe, where they will be heard. We will partner with Erica Moorer, Christopher Jones, and others to develop a bias incident reporting system, as well as a response protocol. We will partner with Advancement and CDI to support an Activist in Residence, likely beginning in the next academic year to allow the first of what will be an annual activist in residence to be on campus, in-person teaching and learning among all of us.

We will continue the strong and valuable partnership that exists between CDI and Student Affairs. We will continue the conversation we started with leaders of organizations that support underrepresented populations, about the establishment of a student caucus to assure their voices will be heard, and to help us as we work to make sure our policies and practices are inclusive and equitable.

For students who are wondering, “How can I be a part of the conversations?” “How can I help?” “How can my voice be heard?” Reach out to me, reach out to others in Student Affairs. Join the conversation. Inform the conversation. Lead the conversation. Our collective work will be better, stronger, more impactful.

There is work to be done. I hope others will join us. Student Affairs is ready to do the work.

Learn more about Student Affairs and the University’s DEI resources and initiatives.