Systemic racism in higher education

September 18, 2020

The nexus of Black Lives Matter protests and a pandemic that disproportionately kills Black and Latinx people (1) highlights the need to end systemic racism, including in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), where diversity has not meaningfully changed for decades (2). If we decry structural racism but return to the behaviors and processes that led us to this moment, this inexcusable stagnation will continue. We urge the Academy to combat systemic racism in STEM and catalyze transformational change.

What Is Black Fatigue, and How Can We Protect Employees from It?

September 15, 2020

Here are eight tips for organizations embarking on a diversity, equity, and inclusion process. My diversity, equity, and inclusion consultancy, the Winters Group, has conducted thousands of focus groups with Black and brown employees who report more toxic environments than their white coworkers. In addition, the results of our cultural audits often show statistically significant disparities for Black and brown people in hiring, promotions, involuntary terminations, and performance reviews.

Justice Department v. Yale - Federal agency says the university's admissions policies discriminate against Asian and white applicants

August 17, 2020

The Justice Department told Yale University Thursday that it had to change its admissions policies to no longer consider race and ethnicity because of violations of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It said that the university is discriminating against Asian American and white applicants. "There is no such thing as a nice form of race discrimination," said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. "Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division. It is past time for American institutions to recognize that all people should be treated with decency and respect and without unlawful regard to the color of their skin." If Yale does not agree by August 27 to end the consideration of race in admissions for one year, the Justice Department threatened to sue the university.

The UC System Just Admitted Its Most Diverse Class of Californians. How Did These Campuses Do It?

July 24, 2020

The University of California (UC) system admitted its largest, most diverse class of Californians this year, according to preliminary data. Notably, for the first time, the system welcomed a higher percentage of Latinx prospective students than White students from the state. The nearly 80,000 California students admitted, a record high, is 36% Latinx, 35% Asian, 21% White and 5% Black. In total, the campuses extended 16% more offers to California’s underrepresented students than last year.

Milwaukee Said It First: Racism is a Public Health Crisis

July 19, 2020

From cradle to grave, Black Milwaukeeans were suffering. The infant mortality rate was nearly three times that of white people. The life expectancy was about 14 years shorter, on average. Life in between offered its own hardships — from gaping disparities in education to income — officials realized years ago, in what was among the most racially segregated and inequitable cities in America.

A North Carolina City Made The Historic Move To Pay Black Residents Reparations

July 17, 2020

On July 14, a unanimous vote came through from Asheville, North Carolina’s City Council. The City Council apologized — on behalf of the entire city — for the Asheville's historic role in slavery, racial discrimination, and withholding of basic rights from its Black residents. The 7-0 vote included the decision to provide reparations to residents and their descendants. Reparations will come in the form of investments in areas where Black residents face inequality. "The resulting budgetary and programmatic priorities may include but not be limited to increasing minority home ownership and access to other affordable housing, increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities, strategies to grow equity and generational wealth, closing the gaps in health care, education, employment and pay, neighborhood safety, and fairness within criminal justice," reads the resolution.

After Years Of Protests, A Judge Ruled To Shut Down The Dakota Access Pipeline

July 8, 2020

After years of protest and legal battles, a district court ruled on Monday to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline, an oil route stretching from North Dakota to Illinois. The contentiously built pipeline must be completely drained of oil by August 5, in order to conduct further reviews of its environmental impact. The news also stands as a big victory for the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes.

LGBT Workers Win Job Protections in Landmark Supreme Court Ruling

July 1, 2020

Employers that fire an individual merely for being gay or transgender violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 today. Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch said, "An individual's homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions." The Court's decision in Bostock v. Clayton County involved a pair of employers that fired male employees shortly after learning of their sexual orientation, as well as a third case involving a funeral home director, Aimee Stephens, who lost her job after revealing her intention to have sex-reassignment surgery.

Virginia Becomes The First Southern State To Officially Ban Natural Hair Discrimination

July 1, 2020

In March, Virginia became the fourth state to pass The Crown Act, which prohibits discrimination against natural hair in schools and workplaces. While California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Colorado, and Washington have now signed the act into law this year, Virginia is officially the first southern state to end this discriminatory practice, marking a significant step forward that many hope will have a ripple effect.

The COVID-19 pandemic affects all college students, but probably not equally

May 26, 2020

With the sudden closure of campuses across the nation to curb the spread of COVID-19, undergraduate students relocated to a wide variety of living situations, many of which present challenges to learning. Researchers from Penn State and the University of Connecticut have received a one-year $199,156 Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant from the National Science Foundation to map the complex landscape of challenges faced by students, particularly from underrepresented groups. These insights could help universities and instructors support students with the greatest needs, improve distance learning, and provide an evidence-base for interventions to maintain the current cohort of students in the pipeline leading to STEM careers.

Latinx Enrollment, Hispanic-Serving Institutions Increase

April 27, 2020

The number of Hispanic-serving institutions has increased by 93 percent over the past decade, but the majority of Latinx enrollment is concentrated in less than 20 percent of colleges and universities. A new analysis from Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit focused on Latinx student success, serves as a primer on where Latinx and Hispanic students are enrolling for higher education.

Scholars v. COVID-19 Racism

April 2, 2020

Scholars with expertise in Asian American studies, public health and other fields have a new urgent agenda for their teaching, research and outreach: confronting coronavirus-related racism.

Advancing Penn State Extension's Latinx Outreach Efforts in PA

April 1, 2020

Presentation by Emma Rosenthal and Ilse Huerta Arredondo, both Penn State graduate students for a Strategic Planning Meeting on September 16, 2019.

Latinos and Agriculture: A Changing Demographic

February 20, 2020

Report prepared by Maria Gorgo and Elsa Sanchez and presented at the Latinx Strategic Planning Retreat, September, 2019. This report provides extensive information about Latinos in the country, in Pennsylvania, and their role in Agriculture.

How Diversity makes Us Smarter

February 4, 2020

Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups. It seems obvious that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, nonroutine problems. It is less obvious that social diversity should work in the same way—yet the science shows that it does. This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.

Growing Up Amid the Rise of Racism: Spark Series

December 16, 2019

Researchers highlight how this emergent sociopolitical environment can be a significant source of stress for children and young adults, challenging their well-being as well as their developing understandings of who they are. Many youth of color are able to develop proud, healthy identities as members of the very communities targeted by renewed and aggressive racist discourse and acts, while others may experience identity struggles within such environments. In many non-people of color communities, families, often for the first time, grapple with discomfort in naming and engaging race and racism with their children and overcoming “colorblind” ideologies, while others from their communities resent and reject their association with and privileges from racist histories and policies. Parents, families, educators, and communities all play key roles in supporting children and youth in understanding the meaning of race and their racial identities in society. Such support includes preparing youth to recognize and adaptively respond to racialized experiences.

New Resource - Addressing Bias: Rights, Responsibilities and Responses

November 25, 2019

A new Penn State website offers important background information and resources for students on bias and free expression on campus, as well as the critical issues surrounding the rights and responsibilities of exercising free speech. The new website, “Addressing Bias: Rights, Responsibilities and Responses” relied on the expertise of the Office of Educational Equity, Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, Student Affairs, the Office of General Counsel, Faculty Senate, and WPSU, and is designed to be a resource for students as they exercise their own free expression thoughtfully, responsibly, and respectfully. The website is divided into five sections: • How does the First Amendment apply to me? • How should I interact with authorities? • What is bias and why should I care? • How does academic freedom apply to me? • What it’s like. (from a student’s perspective) While the website was designed with content identified by students and with students in mind, it can be a helpful resource for faculty and staff as well. The website can be accessed at https://knowyourrightsandresponsibilities.psu.edu/

Penn State Extension deliverers Bilingual Produce Safety Educational Programs for Latino Fresh Produce Growers in Pennsylvania

November 20, 2019

November 14, 2019 West Chester, PA --With funding from USDA NIFA award number 2017-70020-27236, Penn State Extension educators from the Food Safety and Horticulture teams developed bilingual Produce Safety educational materials and delivered trainings to Latino Fresh Produce Growers and Farmworkers in Pennsylvania. “In this pilot project, Penn State Extension educators worked closely with Latino farmers and farmworkers to identify training needs within the community, and developed high-impact bilingual food safety training programming. The goal was to develop a suite of educational materials in English and Spanish and deliver bilingual trainings to address the language barrier for successful implementation of farm food safety practices including some of the concepts covered by the FSMA Food Safety Rule and to help food safety managers who attended the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule training to communicate the knowledge to others on the farm”, said Maria Gorgo-Gourovitch, the principal investigator of this grant. Other members of the team were Megan Chawner, Tara Baugher, Jeffrey Stoltzfus, Don Seifrit, Christi Graver, Professor of Food Science Dr. Luke LaBorde and now retired extension educator Lee Stivers. While the U.S. has one of the safest food supplies in the world, Congress entrusted the FDA to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This new law changed the food safety system from one that responds to contamination to one that prevents it in the first place. Among the suite of new regulations issued under the law is “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption” (USFDA, 2013) commonly known as the “Produce Safety Rule.” The Produce Safety Rule poses new regulatory challenges to the fresh produce industry in Pennsylvania and across the country. Latino growers and farmworkers had an unmet need for accessible Food Safety and Good Agricultural Practices information, education and resources. In order to provide short, easy-to-understand information, Extension focused their educational materials and trainings on topics such as personal hygiene, microorganisms and sources of contamination during, before and after harvest. The Extension team began by collecting, assessing, and archiving pre-existing educational materials related to FSMA and Farm Food Safety education available at the Penn State website. They identified gaps in programming in regards to content and methodology. As a result 10 articles and 2 fact sheets were translated. The team reviewed and updated the Food Safety Training Kit and the GAP posters to match new PSA curricula and created a catalogue of available information in English and Spanish. With support from stakeholders, Extension determined where the greatest needs in programming were and then developed new educational materials and workshops specific to various industry groups. The team created a number of innovative, new food safety (GAPs) outreach, education, and training programs in English and Spanish, including 11 trainings and professional development with a total of 24 presentations. To find all the newly available resources, please visit Penn State Extension website at https://extension.psu.edu/bilingual-produce-safety-education

Are You Serious About Diversifying Your Faculty and Staff?

November 12, 2019

Colleges and universities have long articulated the value of diversity, especially racial and ethnic diversity specifically. While the diversification of the student body of higher education institutions has received considerable attention over the years, diversifying the faculty has received much less and more sporadic attention. According to a 2019 report from the American Council on Education that examined trends in race and ethnicities in higher education, the student population of America’s colleges and universities is more diverse than ever. But faculty members and administrators remain predominantly white, with nearly 73.2 percent of full-time faculty being white. That is deeply problematic.

"It's OK to Be White' Posters Rile Campuses

November 5, 2019

“It’s OK to Be White” is the message that has periodically appeared on campus posters over the past two years, typically placed by people or organizations who haven't taken credit for doing so, and who are believed to be from off-campus groups. Pro-white propaganda of various types has been appearing on campuses in increasing frequency in the last two years. But the last week has seen a surge in such postings. Last weekend leaflets with the "OK to be white" message turned up in Vermont, at the University of Vermont and Champlain College. Since then the posters have appeared at American River College, Duke University, North Carolina State University, Tufts University, the University of Delaware, the University of Denver and the University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota.

A Doll For Everyone': Meet Mattel's Gender-Neutral Doll

September 26, 2019

Mattel’s first promotional spot for the $29.99 product features a series of kids who go by various pronouns—him, her, them, xem—and the slogan “A doll line designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in.” With this overt nod to trans and nonbinary identities, the company is betting on where it thinks the country is going, even if it means alienating a substantial portion of the population. A Pew Research survey conducted in 2017 showed that while 76% of the public supports parents’ steering girls to toys and activities traditionally associated with boys, only 64% endorse steering boys toward toys and activities associated with girls.

Report Details High Rates of Suspension for Native Americans in K–12

September 17, 2019

An examination of school district data in the state of California shows the statewide suspension rate for Native American children and youth is more than double the statewide suspension average. A report released this week by the Sacramento Native American Higher Education Collaborative (SNAHEC) and the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) at San Diego State University documents inequities in suspensions and expulsions of Native American students. The California statewide suspension rate for Native Americans in K–12 is 7.2 percent versus the statewide suspension average of 3.5 percent.

School district secessions have deepened racial segregation

September 5, 2019

Since 2000, school district secessions in the South have increasingly sorted white and black students, and white and Hispanic students, into separate school systems, weakening the potential to improve school integration, according to a new study published today (Sept. 4).

OSU Graduate School Dean Discusses ‘Great Strides’ in Diversity

August 29, 2019

The top bullet point in the latest Ohio State University Graduate School summary report tells an important story. “In one year, summer 2019 compared to summer 2018, there was a 37.7 percent increase in African-American graduate student acceptance,” the report states and goes on to describe a host of programs and initiatives that are contributing not only to higher numbers for African-Americans, but to increases among other underrepresented groups, as well. “We really have made great strides in the last year to year-and-a-half on this front, and I’m really excited about the initiatives we have put forward that are making the difference,” says Dr. Alicia L. Bertone, vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the Graduate School.

Virginia Tech’s DePauw Oversees Multifaceted Approach to Grad School Diversity

August 29, 2019

Eschewing one-size-fits-all, the dean of Virginia Tech Graduate School has developed an inclusion/diversity requirement that will enable programming to fit departmental needs.

Slow Going on Faculty Diversity

July 2, 2019

Study finds colleges have made little progress on faculty diversity, particularly at research-intensive universities, despite more conversations about race and inclusion.

"Your Heritage Is Taken Away": The Closing of 3 Historically Black Colleges

July 1, 2019

Since the 1930s, the women of Bennett College, one of the nation’s two historically black colleges for women, have sung their “Preference Song” over an annual breakfast. The tradition may soon be lost, along with the school itself.

Finding Victory: Speaking out for intersex girl after attack

June 11, 2019

When doctors said her youngest child would be a girl, Amie Schofield chose the name Victoria. Then doctors said the child would be a boy, so she switched to Victor. It turned out neither was exactly right.

What Two Students Want You to Know About Inclusive Teaching

June 10, 2019

Inclusive teaching involves creating equitable and welcoming educational environments for the diverse learners in our classrooms.

Governor Mills Signs Bill to Prohibit Native American Mascots in Maine

May 31, 2019

Flanked by Maine tribal leaders and ambassadors, lawmakers, and education officials, Governor Janet Mills signed into law a bill passed unanimously by the Legislature to prohibit Native American mascots in all Maine public schools Thursday.