Diversity measured at Whitworth

by Krystiana Morales

As a part of Whitworth’s 2021 vision, the Whitworth administration conducted a study to determine the community’s capacity to work effectively across a multitude of human diversity.

In assessing the university, Whitworth partnered with an outside consultant, Halualani & Associates Inc., to analyze the university’s effectiveness to reach such outcomes. The firm began collecting a variety of data from faculty, staff and students at Whitworth in January of 2013 to start a diversity mapping program.

A campus climate survey, part of the diversity mapping program, will take place in the third week of October.

Professor Larry Burnley, assistant vice president of diversity and intercultural relations and member of the intercultural diversity committee, spoke about the progress he’s already seen the university make towards their outcomes.

“I’ve seen a change in the way the institution understands how these issues pervade the entire life of Whitworth,” he said. “It’s not just a student life thing, it’s not just an academic thing, it’s a Whitworth thing.”

The final results of the preliminary report were presented on Sept. 12, 2013 in the Robinson Teaching Theatre. Rona  Halualani, the founder of  Halualani & Associates Inc. and her team looked at the institution’s diversity efforts and diversity courses in order to compile diversity maps that allow Whitworth to identify the quality of their efforts.

Halualani & Associates Inc. found that Whitworth has 238 total diversity efforts (attempts by the university to address diversity) and 432 diversity-related courses offered.

They also concluded that 73 percent of the diversity efforts were targeted at the general Whitworth population, and 27 percent was focused on addressing diversity within specific underrepresented populations at Whitworth.

The IDC will use the results given to help them achieve the goals that they have stated in their strategic plan.

“I think of differences,” freshman Lauren Drury said. “I don’t see diversity as being specific to one thing but as someone’s background in general. You might think you’re similar to someone because you live in relatively close places but everybody has a different background. It’s not just about race.”

The results help the university understand where they are at in terms of following through with their ideas of having an inclusive and diverse community, Burnley said.

“One of the things I’ve wanted to do is cultivate a culture of conversation about, when we say ‘diversity,’ what are we talking about?” Burnley said. “Is this something the university is doing for ‘them,’ whoever ‘they’ are,  or does the university see a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as being essential to the gospel of Jesus Christ and central to its mission?”

Burnley said students need to develop certain cultural competencies that will enable them to effectively engage the world across multiple dimensions of human difference.

Burnley said that in the past six to seven years the university has conducted surveys focused primarily towards students of ethnically underrepresented backgrounds.

In contrast, this campus climate survey was now open to the entire community. The purpose of this survey was to assess if there are existing disparities in the ways the community experiences Whitworth.

Contact Krystiana Morales at kmorales17@my.whitworth.edu

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