The 2nd Newsletter of the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
The 2nd Newsletter of the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
Message from the Vice President for DEI & Chief Diversity Officer, Sharnnia Artis

 
Dear Patriots,
On April 7, 2022, Mason celebrated its 50th anniversary as an independent member of the Commonwealth System of Colleges and Universities. As we celebrate our student, faculty, and staff achievements, alumni success, and community impact, this is also a time to reflect on our past. Some of our past was discovered by the student-led Enslaved People of George Mason research project, which uncovered stories of the people who were enslaved at Gunston Hall to inform the complex legacy of our university’s namesake.
As we look ahead to the next 50 years, Mason graduates will need different perspectives to innovate and think critically to tackle the grand challenges ahead of us. Inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility, anti-racism, and excellence will be key attributes to preparing for a diverse, global world. With Mason’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) and revisions to the Mason Core, we are positioned to continue graduating engaged and well-rounded scholars who are prepared to act.
Our 50th anniversary is quite a milestone. Learning from Mason’s history has paved the way to the present. Our present is now preparing us to be a national exemplar for anti-racism and inclusive excellence.
Be Brave and Bold,

Sharnnia Artis, Ph.D.  
Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
 

An Interview with the 2022 recipient of the Margaret C. Howell Outstanding Achievement Award

Congratulations to Jessica Kallista, adjunct faculty for the School of Art! Read her interview here to learn about her fantastic contributions to ARIE and DEI initiatives around Mason. The $2,000 award is sponsored by the Office for DEI. Recipients reflect the hard work of our Mason community members committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Learn about the award's nomination criteria. Get more information on the Outstanding Achievement Awards

UPDATES ON DEI


New Leadership
As George Mason University strives to be a national leader in anti-racism and inclusive excellence, changes in line with that goal have been implemented. DEI welcomed Jaqueline Servello, Assistive Technology Specialist for the Assistive Technology Initiative (ATI). Meet the rest of the DEI staff.


Mason’s Inclusive Excellence Council (IEC)
The Inclusive Excellence Council (IEC) consists of DEI/IE representatives from Mason’s colleges and schools. It is co-chaired by Dr. Sharnnia Artis (VP for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) and Dr. Millie Rivera (Director of Faculty Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing in Faculty Affairs and Development). In addition, there is ex-officio representation from the Faculty Senate Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and The Office of the Ombuds. When appropriate, representatives from other administrative units at Mason are invited to participate in meetings to keep the IEC informed about broader efforts at Mason. 
The purpose of the IEC is to: (1) Create a shared space for learning what each other is doing and sharing best practices and lessons learned; (2) Provide opportunities for coordination across schools/colleges to amplify our IE work, especially around the Inclusive Excellence Plans (IEPs); (3) Identify point people engaged in Inclusive Excellence (IE)/DEI efforts in the schools/colleges and develop relationships to build mutual support and collaboration opportunities; (4) Leverage our collective expertise to propose changes in policies and practices; and (5) Support efforts to communicate relevant information about Mason’s IE/DE goals, strategies, and efforts to academic units.   
This spring the IEC showcased best practices from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences around DEI/IE, such as the role of their equity advisors in faculty searches and their efforts to support and retain a diverse faculty. The IEC also discussed incident reporting with representatives from the Office for DEI and Office of the Ombudsman. Finally, Shelley Reid, Director for Teaching Excellence in the Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning, created a Working Group on Curriculum and Pedagogy that will ensure information sharing and coordinated planning to support inclusive teaching and learning practices.
CONTINUING DEI ACTIVITIES & INITIATIVES
While the name may have changed, the Office for DEI will continue to build upon the legacy of services established in this space, including:
  • Custom Diversity/Equal Opportunity Trainings: Education is essential in maintaining an environment free from discriminatory harassment and retaliation. Mason staff and employees interested in learning more about navigating an increasingly diverse universe are encouraged to reach out to DEI for consultation, and to discuss the possibility of a customized DEI training session for your department, unit, or team. For questions, or to schedule a consultation, please contact Kyle Warfield.
  • Assistive Technology Initiative (ATI): In addition to providing assistive technology resources for individuals with disabilities (e.g., text-to-speech tools), the ATI works to ensure equivalent access to all information and communications technology resources for individuals with different learning styles and abilities in the Mason community. For more information, visit the ATI Webpage.
Make a Report to DEI - Link
Notify the Office for DEI of Alleged Incidents of Protected-Class Discrimination or Ethics Violations
Make a Title IX Report - Link
Notify the Title IX Office of Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct, or Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence

The Anti-Racism & Inclusive Excellence (ARIE) Initiative

UPDATE ON ARIE INITIATIVE


In Summer 2021, the ARIE Taskforce transitioned to the implementation phase of the ARIE Initiative. Since Dr. Sharnnia Artis joined our Mason community in Fall 2021, the ARIE Implementation Leadership Team (ILT) was appointed, and they met regularly while making meaningful headway. The President also constituted the Implementation Working Groups (IWGs), each with a liaison to the ILT, who continue actively working to ensure progress on the recommendations. The ILT and IWGs are already achieving some of the short and long-term goals created from the approved initial budget.
In this newsletter, we’re spotlighting two working groups and their progress this year. Stay tuned for more updates on the other working groups and the incredible initiatives they’re implementing to eradicate racism and bigotry at Mason! 
Enslaved People of George Mason project

NAMING – RESEARCH, MEMORY, & POLICY

Working Group Recommendations: The University Naming Committee is charged with reviewing honorary naming policies and evaluation of university buildings names and public spaces to ensure they align with the university’s stated mission to serve as an “academic community committed to creating a more just, free, and prosperous world.”
Highlights from this Year: The student-led OSCAR funded Enslaved People of George Mason (EPGM) project sought to unearth the stories of those people who were enslaved at Gunston Hall to inform the complex legacy of our university’s namesake. The project resulted in the Enslaved People of George Mason Memorial, which was added to Wilkins Plaza as part of the Core Campus project. On April 4, the memorial was unveiled and dedicated as part of the university’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Read this article from USA Today to learn more about the Enslaved People of George Mason Memorial. 
 
MASON CORE / JUST SOCIETY
Group Members: Bethany Usher (ILT Liaison), Melissa Broeckelman-Post (ILT Liaison), Kelly KnightLauren Cattaneo
Working Group Recommendations: Implement updates and revisions to the Mason Core that (1) revise the Global Understanding category into a Global Contexts category with updated learning outcomes, (2) revise the Western Civilization or World History category into a Global History category with updated learning outcomes, (3) require that students take at least two exploration courses that meet a set of Just Societies learning outcomes, and (4) clarify the capstone/synthesis requirement.
Highlights from this Year: The Mason Core Committee has been discussing how to enhance our general education program to better prepare students to be scholars and citizens who thrive in a diverse, global world. Mason, situated in the American South and the namesake of a slaveholder, is one of the most diverse and globally connected universities in the world. We are uniquely positioned to confront the past and teach students how to create a more equitable future. Because recent Mason Core assessment data showed general support for the current program and structure, the Mason Core Committee proposed enhancements to the existing program with a targeted goal of integrating diverse, anti-racist, and global perspectives in our shared educational experience.
The Mason Core Committee considered multiple models to enhance the Mason Core over the past year. Based on extensive discussion, incorporating feedback from over 1000 members of the Mason Community, the Mason Core Committee developed a final Enhanced Mason Core framework to enact over the next few years. This Enhanced Mason Core was presented to the Faculty Senate in the Spring semester. On April 27, the Faculty Senate approved three major category updates to the Mason Core:
  • New Global Contexts requirement (replacing Global Understanding in 2024-2025),
  • New Global History requirement (replacing Western Civ/World History in 2023-2024), and
  • New Just Societies requirement. This is a new requirement – existing Mason Core courses will be redesigned (flagged) to add DEI-related outcomes, and students will be required to complete at least two JS-flagged courses.
Thank you to all the faculty and staff involved in making this possible. Visit the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for more information on the Mason Core and Just Society course.
Certification of Applicant Pool Training  
With the goal of supporting Mason’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, the Talent Acquisition Team in HR offers a course on how to certify the diversity of applicant pools for job searches. The course teaches those identified as Talent Equity Advisors (TEA) to securely analyze demographic (personally identifiable information) data voluntarily provided by applicants during the application process for positions at Mason, in order to certify the diversity of an applicant pool.  The analyzed data includes race, ethnicity, gender (as identified at birth), as well as disability and veteran status.  The course also teaches the TEA how to share data responsibly and how to support hiring authorities when an applicant pool cannot be certified. In order to avoid a conflict of interest, the TEA must be someone that does not serve as part of a search committee as coordinator, chair, or committee member. 
The designated individual will operate under the title of “Talent Equity Advisor” for purposes of reviewing applicant data. If you wish to have an individual in your administrative or academic unit participate in this training, email Dwala Toombs.

UPDATE ON QUALITY ENHANCEMENT PLAN (QEP)


In April, the Transformative Education Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) was presented as part of Mason’s reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The QEP, which was developed by a 32-member committee representing all of Mason’s schools/colleges, passed and was found in compliance with SACSCOC standards. The topic reflects focuses on improving student learning and success connected to civic learning and anti-racist community engagement, engages academic and co-curricular communities across Mason, and positions our students and faculty to respond to current social issues. Visit the QEP website to learn more.
STUDENT CORNER 
Student Voice Update
Update on ARIE's Student Voice
In January 2022, an ARIE communications and accountability plan was created to incorporate Student Voice feedback and ensure that students remain at the forefront of our efforts. Applications for Student Voice were announced in our last newsletter and our first interest meeting was held in March. Students met with Dr. Sharnnia Artis, VP for DEI and Chief Diversity Officer, to share their Mason experiences and provide insight for the Student Voice working group. During the summer, we’re looking forward to working with students to refine our strategy for Student Voice and launch a successful Fall 2022 kick-off.
How Students Can Get Involved
Submit this form to become a member of ARIE’s Student Voice. Students play an integral role in moving our university forward. Join and help us make a difference today by submitting a brief application by Monday, August 15.
AAPI Resources by CCEE
Although April is designated Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month for the Mason community, May is the national Heritage Month! Check out these AAPI resources compiled by the Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment (CCEE).

Upcoming Events & Opportunities


UNIVERSITY EVENTS

  • Virtual Event. Real Talk: Gaining a Professional Identity Without Losing Yours. Tuesday, May 24, 2022 from 1:00pm - 2:00pm.

RESEARCH
  • Call For Proposals. Anti-Racism & Inclusive Excellence Seed Funding. A Zoom information session will be held May 18 from 12:00 - 1:30 pm. Applications must be submitted as one complete PDF document to resdev@gmu.edu by 11:59 pm on June 30, 2022.

DIGITAL ACCESSIBILITY & ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY TRAINING 
Assistive Technology Workshops
Learn about some of the assistive technology solutions available to support individuals in Mason community with reading, writing, notetaking, and organization (e.g., Snap&ReadNatural ReaderGlean, Microsoft OneNote, Livescribe Smartpens, etc.). 

Document Accessibility Specialist (DAS) Faculty/Staff Training Cohort
ATI Staff will be hosting a DAS Faculty/Staff Training Cohort this summer. Mason faculty and staff will be trained on how to identify and remediate accessibility issues in Word, PPT, and PDF documents. These document formats are by far the most commonly used in Mason classrooms and hosted on the university’s public-facing web resources. Participants will learn, among other things, how to add alternative text descriptions for images, using proper document structure, tables, how assistive technology interacts with documents, etc.
The DAS Initiative is comprised of self-paced training modules, hands-on exercises, assessments, and drop-in discussions. The expected start date is June 20th and will last approximately 6 weeks. Participants would be expected to successfully complete the self-paced trainings, hands-on exercises, and assessments within that timeframe. Contact ati@gmu.edu for more details.
Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
703-993-8730 | dei@gmu.edu