3 Things to Add to Your DEI New Year’s Resolution

It’s a new school year and many institutions have committed themselves to strengthening their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts on campus. Many of these schools have great intentions, but sometimes miss the mark. Missing the mark can sometimes lead to lack of student retention, employee fatigue, and/or harmful incidents that reflect poorly on the school.

So, how do you make the mark (and how do you make your mark)? You do this through intentionality. To create change, you must be in intentional action and intentional practice.

When it comes to DEI, there are plenty of ways to accomplish real change on your campus and it starts with you. If you’re looking for ways to act, here are three you can commit to in 2023.

Commit to (Un)learning
Unlearning is defined as discarding something learned, especially a bad habit or false or outdated information, from one’s memory. It’s easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. Unlearning—like allyship—takes practice.

We’ve all unlearned something. Most of us have put something in our lives into practice, and guess what? It worked! For example, just several years ago, we normalized offensive terms for differently abled individuals and queer folks. Now fast forward to present day. How often do you hear these terms today? Not a lot, if ever. That’s because we learned that these terms were offensive (and outdated), and we put into practice not using them anymore. So, if you can do this in your everyday life, why not do it when it comes to making positive and inclusive change on campus and in your communities?

Support Diverse Groups and Organizations on Campus
There is power in community and connection. In fact, an analysis done last year of 46 studies found that “positive teacher and student relationships enhanced nearly every measurable aspect of academic success.” Students were more likely to attend class, get higher grades, and graduate. This is also true for student-to-student relationships. A sense of connection with other students (and faculty) helps students feel like they belong at the institution. And this can easily be accomplished by senior administration, academic faculty & staff, and student leaders supporting and collaborating with different groups and organizations.

When is the last time you attended an event, presentation, or program that was outside of your department (or with people who didn’t look like you)? When is the last time you stopped by your LGBTQ student group’s meeting just to let them know you were there to support and be an ally? These may seem like small gestures, but the impact is tremendous. Your participation can help ensure all members of your campus feel valued and engaged equally.

Be Willing to be Uncomfortable
While I was watching a docuseries, there was an inspiring young woman who told her family and friends that she was committed to being uncomfortable because it opened the space for her growth and the understanding of different cultures. However, this process isn’t limited to young people. This is a step that all levels of faculty and staff should be willing to do. Being uncomfortable is a part of how change happens. A little discomfort goes a long way in terms of personal and professional development. According to Forbes, it’s a big part of improving your performance, creativity, and learning in the long run.

Imagine if at least half of your campus committed themselves to being uncomfortable to open themselves up for growth. You and your fellow campus members would be helping to cultivate community and contribute to inclusive change.

Pro Tip: As you’re thinking about groups to visit and support, try to pick one that might take you out of your comfort zone. I promise, you won’t regret it.