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Connective Issues: A UMass Chan diversity and inclusion blog

Campus community plays integral role in meeting diversity, equity and inclusion goals

Tuesday, October 04, 2022
By:  Janjay Innis

Since the introduction of equal employment opportunity laws and affirmative action in the 1960s, diversity trainings have become a part of the work environment. With the rise of equal rights movements such as Black Lives Matter, Me Too and Stop Asian Hate, the past decade has seen not only an increase in diversity training, but the demand that it become an institutional priority. This new focus has led to the establishment of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) departments in many professional organizations.Once a component of human resources departments, diversity, equity and inclusion as its own department keeps an organization accountable to its diversity commitments.

At UMass Chan Medical School, we have given our full attention to this work. Under the direction of Marlina Duncan, EdD, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, the IMPACT 2025 strategic plan, updated this year to include a diversity and education pillar, outlines goals to increase diversity, equity and inclusion across the institution, sets forth plans to meet those goals and steps to evaluate progress. The Diversity and Inclusion Office team expanded to include key positions to support the institutional initiatives. Some recent developments include new diversity trainings, accessible diversity data, the raising of the pride flag, partnerships with the local indigenous population and new affinity groups. The introduction of Diversity and Equity Action Plans, currently in development in more than a dozen departments and offices across UMass Chan, is another marker of the campus commitment. 

As the onset of these new ideas brought an overall excitement to the UMass Chan community, we must ensure that we are not overcome by lethargy as we move toward implementation. While the Diversity and Inclusion Office team takes responsibility in guiding the work, diversity, equity and inclusion work itself is a collective responsibility. To ensure that we achieve our institutional priorities, diversifying our workforce and student population is the first step, but it is not enough. We take on the collective responsibility of doing DEI work when the historically underrepresented among us feel safe, are heard, and have an opportunity to grow and lead. This work is done best when gatekeepers or “the old way” make room for innovation, when we can challenge institutional racism and mitigate bias so much that it becomes second nature to us.  

The future of UMass Chan depends not only on our awareness that diversity, equity and inclusion is necessary, but on our relentless commitment to it. There is no room for lethargy.