DEAL update to the campus community

To our Wheaton Community,

As we start a new semester, we wanted to highlight some of the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work that has occurred. Since this is shared work that is on-going and occurring in different areas, it is not always evident to see where the “action” is happening.

Here are updates about on-going work and progress to note relative to our 10 Action Steps Toward Racial Justice.

Institutional Leadership

Action Step 2. We worked with our three DEAL Committees and met with student leaders to develop a draft job description for a senior-level position focused on inclusion, equity and belonging. This information was presented to the President and President’s Council. DEAL leadership and the President’s Council had subsequent discussions to brainstorm the best way forward in creating this position. Stay tuned for more updates.

Institutional Accountability

Action Step 3. Staff, senior managers, President’s Council and faculty have participated in planning workshops with our diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant, Lawrence Alexander, narrowing in on equity centered pedagogy and developing anti-racist action plans.

Institutional Learning

Action Step 6. DEAL organized a MAP Day event that brought over 100 community members together: faculty, staff, and students met for lectures with Professor Dolita Cathcart and Visiting Associate Professor Joe Wilson Jr. to discuss History of Policing and Black Lives Matter. The chat was ablaze with shared sentiments of thanks and praise. We also created a #BLM primer, which now lives on our DEAL resource site on InsideWheaton (requires a Wheaton College account). Our goal was to engage students and provide helpful context in preparation for the Patrisse Cullors conversation with the Wheaton community, which almost 400 members of our community participated in.

In January, we offered a week of programming to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. We provided several opportunities to deepen our commitment to the work of racial justice: personal reflection, professional development, and goal setting were prioritized. The week included a meditation exercise on racial healing, an interfaith panel on the theme of the Beloved Community, and a Community Conversation where care, respect, and compassion came up as common themes that make up a beloved community. Consistent effort, informed action and sustainability were common themes for moving the work forward. We had more than 100 students, staff and faculty participants. These conversations are important to our on-going anti-racism efforts. A deeper level of understanding of anti-racism, for all of us personally and on the institutional level, ensures substantive and sustainable change.

Action Step 7. A group of staff involved in leadership training, with representatives from Advising, Athletics,Campus Life, Marshall Center and the Center for Social Justice and Community Impact, has been discussing infusing DEI into our student leadership training and adopting leadership models that incorporate a critical lens on identity and social justice. Components from the Social Action, Leadership and Transformation (SALT) model were incorporated into the winter 2021 Student Leader Training.

Action Step 9. We have worked with Marketing and Communications for DEAL to have a more visible presence. If you log in through Inside Wheaton and link to DEAL, you will find information on DEAL Committees and Membership, and DEI Resources, including Helpful Tips for DEI in Marketing & Communications. You can also find our evolving campus land acknowledgement there.

Next steps

The semester continues with all offices and departments doing the work of editing statements of anti-racism, and most importantly creating action plans with benchmarks and expected outcomes and prospective timelines, as well. DEAL and others are actively supporting this work.

Our goal is to keep you all updated on the many initiatives happening this spring, to invite you to participate in setting your own personal goals that prioritize learning more about racial justice and the work of anti-racism. Our aim is to ensure that Wheaton College is a place where all of us can succeed, feel that we belong, and are recognized and respected for what makes us different.

The Deal Co-Chairs
Raquel Ramos, Shaya Gregory Poku, Stephanie Burlington Daniels