Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor has announced the creation of a new department within Student Affairs named the Office of Inclusion Education. The new office will centralize and expand diversity, inclusion, and social justice education efforts within Student Affairs while simplifying the ways that schools and colleges can engage students in the effort.
“The Office of Inclusion Education is one product of our Student Affairs commitment to elevate and prioritize the diversity, inclusion, and social justice work we deliver for all students,” says Reesor, who noted that the creation of the new office came out of conversations with student leaders including the Student Inclusion Coalition, Wisconsin Black Student Union, and others who shared their experiences and helped develop strategies to improve the campus climate. “Key to this work is our investment in shared goals and messages across the campus and collaboration with schools and colleges for on-boarding, orientation, and educational experiences in their academic programs.”
The Office of Inclusion Education will begin operations in August 2020 and bring together social justice and inclusion efforts from the Center for First Year Experience, Multicultural Student Center, University Health Services, and the Wisconsin Union. Its staff will expand the Our Wisconsin program for first-year students and will facilitate a broad array of student learning opportunities. Student organization leaders will also be able to access new trainings through the Office of Inclusion Education, which will work closely with the Center for Leadership and Involvement and other campus partners to develop programming.
Student Affairs staff have already begun work to reconceptualize the Our Wisconsin program for the fall semester. All new students must complete Our Wisconsin, similar to required trainings on alcohol (Alcohol.edu) and sexual violence prevention (U Got This!). First-year students will have opportunities to engage with the Our Wisconsin content and one another with both virtual and in-person components.
“We’ve seen increasing demand for more inclusion education among our first-year students,” says Gabe Javier, associate vice chancellor for student affairs. “So we are looking forward to putting additional resources and focus into that experience, as well as strengthening and streamlining our outreach beyond the first year.” Javier leads the identity and inclusion area in Student Affairs, which will include the new Office for Inclusion Education alongside the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center, International Student Services, McBurney Disability Resource Center, Multicultural Student Center, and University Veteran Services.
Ida Balderrama-Trudell, outgoing interim director of the Multicultural Student Center, will serve as the new office’s interim director. A new director of the Multicultural Student Center is expected to begin in August. Student Affairs will conduct a search for a permanent director of the Office of Inclusion Education in spring 2021. A physical location for the new office is yet to be determined.