We aspire to be a community where all members thrive: where they feel a sense of belonging and being valued; where they can access the wide range of learning and growth opportunities the college offers; where they are heard and respected; where they engage in meaningful dialogue about a wide range of issues; and where they live and work in safe, welcoming, and comfortable spaces. These aspirations are based upon an understanding that in higher education, diversity, equity, and inclusion are inextricably linked to excellence.
Excerpted above, Williams College’s 2020 DEI Working Group Plan recommends all units - administrative and academic -develop a DEI plan. This is an opportunity for every sector of campus to reflect on and align itself with the college’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. Additionally, the process will help each unit identify opportunities for advancing those principles and challenges to achieving that alignment.
Williams College, like our larger society, must reckon with and address its history of oppression. Reflecting on the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion allows us to confront that history and propels us to a more inclusive future. These issues affect us all in different ways and in different contexts, and touch both our work and our interactions with one another.
A DEI plan is an opportunity for each of our units individually and the institution collectively to articulate and highlight current work happening to foster an environment of greater inclusion and respect, to develop goals for a more equitable future, and to work together as a community to uphold our values and vision. We are not there yet. You help us to move forward. Thinking through these important issues requires everyone’s participation.
The DEI Plan is an internal tool which provides guiding questions and prompts for units to help identify opportunities or areas of strength and challenges or areas in need of additional examination as we move toward creating a more inclusive unit and College.
Williams is a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff, and we collectively work to further the college’s goal of educating students and all members of our community. In line with our mission, we must think critically about the ways in which we are different from one another and embrace those differences: how our community is welcoming to and respectful of everyone regardless of their identities, and how we ensure all have access to the opportunities offered.
OIDEI is eager to encourage and support the development and honing of diversity, equity, and inclusion plans and goals throughout all college operations. We seek to make the campus and its operations even more accessible and inclusive, and to reflect on how we might develop and implement operations and systems nimble enough to support constantly changing practices of inclusion.
- A pair of OIDEI staff contact the point person of each unit (as identified by the relevant senior staff member) to talk through the overall process (15-30 minutes).
- Starting in 2021, the same pair of OIDEI staff will meet with all members of the unit and co-facilitate a conversation around particular DEI-related prompts (1 hour).
- Units will begin to construct DEI plans. During the process, please reference this OIDEI website, which contains a number of resources. You may also want to analyze relevant institutional and national data.
- Remember that integral to drafting your DEI plan is:
- Sharing the core beliefs and practices guiding your work,
- Developing a list of DEI-related goals as well as information on how you will measure progress on those goals, and
- Reflecting on how your unit will hold itself accountable to the overall plan.
- OIDEI staff are available to review the plans once they are drafted and support you throughout the process.
For questions about specific timeline, contact senior staff members of your unit.
The College is committed to building and sustaining a community that is broadly diverse with regard to social identities; equitable, so that all individuals, regardless of their identities or circumstance, are positioned to benefit from all that the college has to offer; and inclusive, so that all are and feel welcomed and have a strong sense of belonging. We embrace the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, defined as follows.
Diversity - Diversity refers to all the many ways in which people differ, encompassing varying characteristics that make one individual or group different from another, including, but not limited to race, ethnicity, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, socio-economic status, language, culture, national origin, religion/spirituality, age, (dis)ability, and military/veteran status. We believe it is important to understand how aspects of a person's identities combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege, paying special attention to underserved and underrepresented groups in our community and to uneven dynamics of social power.
Equity - Equity refers to the ways we intentionally ensure all individuals can thrive. We recognize that the members of our community have unique and different circumstances and may need different support at different times. Equity is different from equality in that equality implies treating everyone as if their experiences are exactly the same. Being equitable means acknowledging and addressing structural inequalities — historic and current — that advantage some and disadvantage others. Equal treatment results in equity only if everyone starts with equal access to opportunities (e.g., not requiring a student to select books based on their costs, but implementing a book grant that covers all required books).
Inclusion - Inclusion encompasses the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can participate fully and is welcomed, respected, supported, and valued. In some ways, inclusive efforts demonstrate our commitment to celebrating differences among and diversity of our community. An institution can be both diverse and non-inclusive at the same time, thus a sustained practice of creating inclusive environments is necessary for success.
We achieve these principles in a variety of ways, including but not limited to gathering and leveraging information, collaborating with constituents across campus, facilitating educational opportunities, and holding ourselves and each other accountable when necessary.
Furthermore, these principles are reflected in the people of our community, how they are treated, the accessibility and inclusiveness of our physical and remote places and spaces, and how equitable our operations are. As we work toward a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive college community, we must constantly consider what is necessary to have our members thrive on our campus.
The DEI plan should describe how a unit’s mission aligns with Williams College’s overall values with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The plan should then identify goals, describe a means for measuring progress toward goals, and articulate an appropriate process for revising and rethinking mission and goals as needed.
These plans should consider people, places, and operations, which are understood as follows:
People- Who are the people who make up the unit – is it diverse with regard to social identities? Is there a strong sense of belonging among team members? Who else works with your office, and what are their experiences? Whom does your office serve? Does everyone have access to your office and services? Does everyone feel comfortable turning to your office? Whom else do you interact with regularly?
Places- Are physical and virtual spaces accessible and inclusive of all? Are physical spaces and written and web-based materials accessible (e.g. ramps, fonts, compatibility with screen readers, alternative text, etc.)? How do people experience your spaces, including facets such as artwork, decorations, layout, etc.?
Operations- How do your operations support the College’s goal of developing and maintaining a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community? How is success measured? How is decision making conducted in the unit? Do people feel welcome to contribute their ideas, and are those ideas taken seriously? Is there a shared understanding of language and how principles of DEI are put into practice across the unit? How does your unit communicate its DEI commitment and actions to others?
DEI and Social Justice Education
OIDEI offers both workshops and trainings and dialogue facilitation. Workshops and trainings provide information, language, and activities around a particular theme and serve as a foundation for knowledge in that subject that people can continue to reflect on in different ways. Dialogue facilitation uses particular tools and methods of communication that allow groups and individuals to address issues intentionally and vulnerably.
You may request OIDEI workshops and trainings here.
DEI Planning- Additional Thoughts Form
Please use this form to share your thoughts. If you were not able to attend your unit’s meeting with us, if you have afterthoughts, or if there is anything you did not share in the meeting setting, we want to hear from you! Your responses will help inform your unit’s DEI planning.