Among the opening lines of Wheaton’s brand new diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) vision and mission statement are:

“We acknowledge that institutions can both produce and reproduce systems of inequity and exclusion. We aim to develop a shared practice of inquiry and a culture of shared responsibility for the purpose of identifying, challenging and dismantling institutional oppression.”

How do we live into this vision?

DEAL (Diversity, Equity & Access Leadership) has outlined 10 specific steps we will undertake as a community to fulfill this mandate of institutional equity. These initial steps have been developed with the input and approval of the President’s Council.

In addition, staff departments at Wheaton have committed to focusing on one area of practice to promote inclusion that they’ll work to improve throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. View the departmental plans here.

10 Action Steps

Institutional Leadership
  1. We as DEAL Co-Chairs will spend each Friday afternoon in September 2020 as participants in the University of Southern California’s (USC) Race and Equity Center’s Equity NOW! Series. There, we will gather more information about current best practices in leading institutional anti-racism work.
    • Progress update:
      The DEAL co-chairs attended University of Southern California’s (USC) Race and Equity Center’s Equity NOW! Series in September 2020 and it informed campus work we have done to-date. Going into the 2021-2022 academic school year,  Wheaton has become part of the Racial Equity and Justice Institute (REJI) convened by Bridgewater State University. They have a series of upcoming professional development opportunities through REJI that a team of members of the Wheaton community are participating in.
  1. With the support of outside funding, Wheaton will seek to establish a college-wide senior-level position focused on inclusion and equity in the next 6-12 months. This person will have a seat at the President’s Council and be singularly focused on advancing DEI on campus. This executive leader is not intended to supplant the DEAL structure, but to work alongside us as DEAL Co-Chairs and the DEAL Committees to bring the voices of students, staff and faculty from across campus into all campus-wide conversations.
    • Progress update:
      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. The new position of associate vice president for Institutional Equity and Belonging and the Office for Institutional Equity and Belonging has been created.
Institutional Accountability
  1. In collaboration with the Office of the Provost, Department Chairs, and Human Resources, each department, academic and staff, will be creating anti-racism action plans by the end of this semester. Report outs on progress will be made at the end of the academic year as a part of existing reporting procedures.
    • Progress update:
      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. This spring staff departments submitted anti-racism plans to their division head. Our next step will be for areas to select one point of practice for a tangible change that students and community members will experience in the fall. Faculty work in this area is ongoing.
  1. DEAL will work with our Finance and Administration division to look at our vendors and contractors, as well as other organizational practices to investigate whether there are any structures or partnerships within our community that could hinder the desired goal of moving towards being an anti-racist institution.
  1. DEAL will work with Human Resources to review our college’s on-boarding process to ensure all new-hires are aware of Wheaton’s DEI resources, tools and expectations.
Institutional Learning
  1. Wheaton’s first-ever MAP Day on October 15, 2020 will include a discussion about anti-racism, policing, and anti-blackness, among other opportunities for campus-wide DEI teaching and learning that will occur this year.
    • Progress update:
      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. We created a #BLM primer, which now lives on our DEAL resource site on InsideWheaton. Our goal was to engage students and provide helpful context in preparation for the Patrisse Cullors conversation with the Wheaton community, in which almost 400 members of our community participated. In January, a week of programming to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. was offered as a way to engage our campus and consider our commitments to the work of racial justice.
  1. DEAL, in partnership with Campus Life, will make readily available diagnostic tools to help individual students and student organizations better understand where they are in their social conscious development, and how they can be more inclusive. To further support student development, Student Affairs as a Division is investigating its protocols to ensure that everything from the sanction process to orientation to its partnerships with the external community reflects best practices in DEI.
    • Progress update:
      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.
  1. DEAL will work with the Curriculum Coordinator, Curriculum Committee and the Office of the Provost around Infusion that the faculty voted in as a part of the Compass Curriculum. Infusion puts questions of race, gender, class, sexuality, religion–as powerful structures and as categories that shape access, opportunity, and identity–at the core of all Wheaton departments and classes.
  1. In partnership with Marketing and Communications, DEAL will curate a repository of DEI related-resources that will be available on insideWheaton to help support all of us in the continual learning necessary for true progress.
    • Progress update:
      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.
Institutional Reckoning
  1. We will build on the work that the Wallace Library is doing to dig into Wheaton’s history as it relates to any potential complicity with indigenous land-grabbing, slavery or racism. Updates on their findings will be shared with the wider Wheaton community, including our alumni.
    • Progress update:
      There was a course called “Wrestling with History: Wheaton College and Black Lives Matters” offered in Spring 2021 in partnership with the Theatre Department, the Archives of the Wallace Library, and Alumni Relations. The course and the films created during the course have inspired conversations about engaging in restorative justice practices as a Wheaton community.