In 2016, the University of Michigan implemented its DEI 1.0 initiative, aiming to enforce the University’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The five year long plan created positions within the University’s administration dedicated to creating a safe and equitable campus and established the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to increase resources available to students. After recently concluding its DEI 1.0 program in October, the University is set to begin the DEI 2.0 initiative this fall. What will DEI 2.0 entail and what are the campus’s hopes for it?
In an email to The Michigan Daily, LSA senior Priya Varanasi, external relations and programming director of the United Asian American Organizations, said she feels the University’s messaging on DEI 2.0 is lacking.
“The institution hasn’t seemed to make info very clear or accessible regarding the matter,” Varanasi wrote. “In fact, I hadn’t heard of ‘DEI 2.0’ until (recently).”
LSA junior Lane Brodzik, president of the Society of Disabled and Neurodiverse Students, told The Daily that while they hope DEI 2.0 will work to include disabled students’ voices, they are not confident the execution of DEI 2.0 will bring this change.
“My hopes for it are to actually include disabled people in it because there isn’t much representation now,” Brodzik said. “And the programs that they have aren’t very helpful or very promoted. I hope that they will try to take into account our voices and opinions, but I don’t have the best hopes for it.”
In order to determine whether the University’s DEI programs made a positive change for students, LSA sophomore Princess-J’Maria Mboup, Trotter Multicultural Center committee chair and Black Student Union executive board member, told The Daily she hopes the University will conduct a comprehensive review at the conclusion of DEI 2.0.
“I hope DEI 2.0 focuses more on policy restructuring as well as more institutional change rather than programmatic change,” Mboup said. “Then, at the end of the 2.0, (I hope there will be) a comprehensive analysis that actually holds the appropriate parties accountable for whether or not their programs have been successful and determines measures of success that actually indicate a changed experience for marginalized communities on campus.”
In an email to The Daily, University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen explained how the University intends to use feedback from campus climate surveys and dialogues with the campus community on DEI 1.0 to improve DEI 2.0.
“The University has been engaging in various community feedback opportunities, including campus climate surveys, structured dialogues and faculty, staff and student community conversations, to learn about the impact and outcomes of DEI efforts and how (the University) can leverage the successes and opportunities for growth in the development of DEI 2.0,” Broekhuizen wrote.
Kareem Rifai, LSA senior and Central Student Government’s communication director, wrote an email to The Daily that CSG is supportive of DEI initiatives but acknowledges there is work the University can do to improve. He emphasized how the current CSG administration’s hopes the next will implement DEI at a grassroots level.
“The (CSG) President and Vice President support the University’s continued commitment to improving DEI strategy and advancing anti-racist initiatives, while recognizing that there is still a lot of work to be done,” Rifai wrote. “Since DEI 2.0 launches after the conclusion of our administration’s mandate, the President and Vice President hope that the next CSG administration works readily with the University to help implement DEI 2.0 at the grassroots level.”
Mboup also said she would like to see the University’s current DEI plan is more general than she would like, and said that she hopes that the University adapts more specific plans for specific groups on campus.
“I think they should have distinct plans for different identity groups,” Mboup said. “I think it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all type thing, we just all have different needs. So figuring out what those needs are and then making plans to address those needs, separately, as different identities (is important).”
To address student concerns with prior DEI initiatives, Broekhuizen said each school, college and unit within the University is individually working to incorporate feedback from DEI 1.0 into their plans for the implementation of DEI 2.0.
“During the planning year, schools, colleges and campus units have been engaging with their communities in a planning process and using information from the campus-wide DEI 1.0 evaluation report to develop their DEI 2.0 strategic plans, including specific goals and metrics,” Broekhuizen wrote.
Though improving diversity, equity and inclusion at the University is a large undertaking, Mboup said she remains hopeful for the DEI 2.0 initiative.
“I feel like (the University) has a really good chance of making progress in DEI 2.0,” Mboup said. “If (the administration) listens to the recommendations that students are making and if they continue to work with (students) to make sure we are keeping (the University) equitable, (then the plan will be a success).”
Daily Staff Reporter Miles Anderson can be reached at email@example.com.