Take a quick look through the University of Michigan’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee’s 2019 Strategic Five-Year Plan, and you’ll see a thorough report of how the University is trying to bring its athletic department into the 21st century.
To put it broadly, Michigan’s goal is to promote diversity within the department, whether it’s with its staff or its athletes. At the same time, it also strives to celebrate differences and combat bias and discrimination. And, with the current social and political climate regarding these topics, it’s easy to see why this is as important as ever right now.
Let’s run through the details of the DEI committee’s plan.
After reading through the DEI committee’s mission statement, the first things that pop off the page are statistics prefacing the committee’s formation. According to an analytics report on the athletic department, the University of Michigan student-athlete population is less racially diverse than both the Big Ten and all Power Five conferences combined.
The report also found that the number of female staff in full-time positions has remained stagnant since 2014, while the number of males in similar positions has increased year after year. And it stated that the athletic departments staff’s racial diversity closely mirrors that of campus.
All of these statistics paint a pretty clear picture justifying the need for the committee’s formation. The committee also found that student-athletes desired more diversity, equity and inclusion training opportunities, events, and education for coaches.
After detailing why it was formed, the committee moves into the real substance of its plan — its objectives and how it hopes to accomplish them. All of the committee’s objectives are measured through a mix of climate and analytic surveys.
The committee’s first objective is to increase the percentage of women and underrepresented minorities in full-time athletics positions year over year. It plans to do so by monitoring the number of women and underrepresented minorities in full-time department positions and combating implicit bias in the hiring process among.
The committee also outlines its plan to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in Michigan’s student-athlete population by monitoring the numbers of underrepresented minorities enrolled and offered, and taking a closer look at recruiting practices.
The other six objectives laid out in the committee’s five-year plan are as follows:
Engage staff in the creation and integration of a culture of respect that can be reflected in day-to-day department operations.
Increase awareness of strategic plans, initiatives and events to educate athletic department members about the DEI committee and better support our diverse community.
Promote a safe and supportive environment in the athletics department by educating our community on sexual harassment and misconduct prevention. Ensure that staff and student-athletes understand and feel free to report conflicts and concerns.
Increase feelings of belongingness and value within the athletics department community by breaking down silos and building a stronger sense of community.
Celebrate diversity and inclusion.
Continue to identify the areas within our facilities that are not ADA compliant and brainstorm ideas to create more inclusive spaces.
The end of the plan provides a more detailed report of how the committee will begin to try and accomplish its goals, as well as an outline of who will be in charge of overseeing the project. The report also indicates several metrics the committee plans to use to analyze their impact, including four-year graduation rates and population demographics.
Ruquel Atchison and Whitney Tarver, the two leads of DEI, didn’t respond to The Daily’s interview requests in time for publication.
Given that this was only published a year ago, it’s still too early to see the impact of the committee’s strategy. But the 2019 Michigan Equity and Disclosure Act report shows that the number of male coaches at the University outnumbers the number of women, 96 to 47. All men’s teams coaching positions are filled by men, while coaching positions for women’s teams are filled by 16 women and 14 men.
Based on the Equity and Disclosure report findings, there is clearly a lot of progress that needs to be made to make Michigan Athletics a more diverse environment.
And in five years, the DEI committee hopes that its efforts have had a force in doing so.
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