During the comment period for the initial working draft of Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University (shared with the Brown community on November 19, 2015), there were 97 submissions, edits, comments, etc. in the category of student support (see the Proposals Received section below listing the input). Appendix D of the final DIAP summarizes how the University addressed this input in the final revisions to the DIAP.
Comments focused on a range of issues: the quality of the support offered by student-facing centers (Brown Muslim Students Association, Center for Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Center, Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Student and Employee Accessibility Services, Third World Transition Program, Writing Center); a need for increased support for international, first-generation, undocumented, low-income, and refugee students; increased support for graduate students in the form of academic support, increased research opportunities, or revised parental-leave plans; and improved health and wellness support.
Most frequently, feedback on student support focused on international students (20 percent of feedback) and called for more resources to help with integration into campus life, understanding financial aid, professional development (i.e. getting internships, research positions, or jobs after graduation), and general cultural awareness. There were also repeated calls for the University to address stigma and stereotyping against international students (e.g., all international students are wealthy).
The University’s health and wellness policies and the current level of support offered in those areas were the next most frequent area of feedback (17 percent). Students from historically underrepresented groups (HUGs) spoke of the trauma they face as a result of discrimination, and the critical importance of having frequent and robust mental-health support on campus. There were multiple calls for expanded resources and additional staffing at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). In particular, students of color suggested hiring counselors of color.
Mentoring for undergraduate and graduate students was the third most frequent topic area (15 percent). Specifically, the community proposed more language in the DIAP draft to explicitly describe the advising options available to graduate students, and to create more opportunities for students of all degree types to engage with faculty. Students of color, in particular, spoke of the academic and long-term professional benefits of being able to work with faculty of color.
A significant contingent of students and faculty highlighted a need for better diversity-related infrastructure at the medical school given that almost 25 percent of students are from historically underrepresented groups (HUGs). Proposals included the establishment of a full-time Associate Dean of Diversity, expanded resources and staffing for the medical school’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (ODMA), and better grievance protocols.
Proposals Received: Student Support
- Additional support for graduate students, particularly in STEM fields, who are not as well prepared as peers and need additional support/tutoring in math & science.
- Establish a full-time Associate Dean of Diversity at the Warren Alpert Medical School.
- Expand the ODMA staff at Alpert Medical School (AMS) through full-time hire dedicated to students’ needs and diversity and inclusion initiatives.
- Dedicate a student-resource space at the medical school’s ODMA.
- Expand the Brown Muslim Students Center (BMSC) into a Brown Center for Muslim Life with dedicated physical space for education, cultural, and religious events; cooking traditional meals; and administrative staff offices.
- Support the Muslim faith community with an endowed, full-time chaplain position.
- Provide funding for students in need to cover the costs associated with Commencement.
- Direct $15,000/year to Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC) to establish a South West Asian and North African (SWANA) Heritage Series.
- Create dedicated space for Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA) outside of the Brown/RISD Hillel Center.
- Hire staff translators to help students whose families do not speak English.
- Give graduate students travel advances instead of reimbursements when they travel for approved research and professional-development purposes.
- Create more transparent explanations of health insurance policies and make them accessible to all students.
- Include language on health and wellness support in the DIAP.
- Increase campus resources to aid students who need assistance in covering medical, mental-health, and dental health-care treatments.
- Appoint a diversity coordinator at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).
- Expand CAPS appointment times beyond nine to five to better accommodate student schedules.
- Create targeted advising to help low-income and HUG students prepare applications for Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards (UTRA), Linking Internships and Knowledge (LINK) awards, BrownConnect alumni opportunities and other opportunities.
- Hire career and financial-aid counselors to support international and undocumented students.
- Hire legal counselor to help undocumented students access attorneys and local resources.
- Fund “International Peer Counselors” under Residence Life, separate from minority peer counselors (MPCs), to provide dedicated support to international students living on campus.
- Provide increased staff support for international students to help with arrival to Brown (airport pickup).
- Provide dedicated support for internship and career advising for international students in Career Lab.
- Provide international students with dedicated space to centralize activities and facilitate discussions.
- Provide dedicated funding for low-income students to enable participation in academic conferences and research initiatives.
- Create mentoring program that connects students of color with faculty of color.
- Expand funding and create a timeline for the Graduate Program Associations (GPACs) to improve structured mentoring support for graduate students.
- Ensure at least one minority peer counselor (MPC) in each first-year unit.
- Increase staffing for Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI), particularly staff with experience with students of color, low-income students, and LGBTQ+ students.
- Expand parental-leave options for graduate students and faculty parents.
- Add Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women to the list of centers to receive expanded support through the DIAP.
- Establish scholarship fund for students with refugee status.
- Create a dedicated, physical space for students with disabilities.
- Improve campus accessibility for people with disabilities and share a clear plan for implementation with campus community.
- Increase funding for disability-related programming and allocate funds to support the formation of a student group for students with disabilities.
- Expand funding and resources for Students and Employee Accessibility Services (SEAS).
- Add language about Third World Transition Program in the DIAP.
- Increase support for the writing center, which provides important resources for HUGs and international students, among others.