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The Need of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) in Higher Education & University Strategies

To have diversity in universities means that you must include those not represented or under-represented, either as students or faculty members.

People are now fighting against the notion of exclusivity and discrimination. The idea of discrimination is passe for many. Many institutions, whether public or private, no longer tolerate it. Most people no longer feel that he/she is better than anyone by belonging to a particular race or ethnicity. Sooner or later, the thing itself will become history.

Nowhere has been discrimination more discredited than in the universities. Universities are the bastion of freedom, knowledge, and social responsibility. One can expect that they will be the vanguard in the overall fight against discrimination and other forms of social injustice. Of all the social institutions, universities are the ones heading the campaign for greater diversity and inclusivity.

But in the context of educational institutions, what does diversity mean? And why are diversity and inclusion better for universities?

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What does it mean by diversity DEI in university?

To have diversity in universities means that you must include those not represented or under-represented, either as students or faculty members. The exclusion of others is due to several factors, among which, of course, is discrimination. With the fight for equality in rights and opportunities, it is time to open up the universities for others.

Diversity in higher education faculty

People who belonged to different races and the underprivileged have shown themselves to be equally capable of being teachers, professors, and faculty members. Their talent could be at par with the privileged, and sometimes, even better. There is absolutely no reason they should not be allowed to teach or be part of the faculty.

They must be included in universities, for they could contribute a lot to producing and disseminating knowledge. Not only that. The knowledge and experience of the marginalized and underprivileged can contribute to our overall understanding of discrimination and inequality.

Those things must be borne in mind by the powers that be in the university. Their inclusion will promote a better understanding of their plight and the experience of the marginalized and previously excluded in general. Understanding them will create better harmony among all members of society in general and those in universities in particular.

Diversity in student

Universities are pillars of freedom and knowledge. As mentioned above, they are at the vanguard of the fight for diversity and inclusion of everyone. In particular, for those who are discriminated against and marginalized. Universities, therefore, must uphold their leadership in the fight and must be the one who promotes diversity, inclusion, equality, and equity for everyone.

Fighting for student rights, diversity in the student population, and equal opportunities regarding student application must be their priority. Educational institutions must promote all of those things, and they could only do so if they practice what they preach. Paying lip service is not enough.

Other institutions are taking their cue to educational institutions such as universities. Most people and organizations view universities with high regard. Therefore, they must do what they are preaching to have moral authority. Not doing so will make them lose their moral standing. They will lose legitimacy and moral ascendancy.

Student diversity must be allowed, and in fact, encouraged. Universities themselves know that talent is everywhere and must themselves spread knowledge. Everyone must have access to it and must have the opportunity to make themselves better. Regardless of sex, gender, nationality, race, or ethnicity, everybody does have a propensity for knowledge.

Universities themselves will benefit from student diversity, enriching the university and the educational experience for all the students. It will make all students aware of the diversity, both of university and human life and experience. Student inclusion and diversity is the right, logical step for universities to take.

DEI & Diversity in staff and school administration

Universities must also follow the rule of law concerning employment and representation. Inclusion and diversity in staff and administration is something that is already in the law. Again, talking about moral authority and ascendancy, it would be hypocritical for universities to fight for rights and inequalities if they do not enforce what is right and proper.

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What should a university’s diversity and inclusion program include?

Here are the things that universities must do in their diversity and inclusion program.

Training at all levels

Universities must offer proper training and train all their staff, students, faculty, and personnel to tolerate diversity. They must also have diversity and inclusion policies in place. Following the mandate regarding both is a must. The university must erase all traces of discrimination and exclusivity.

Mental help

The university must also erase all the biases and stereotypes regarding the marginalized and under-represented. In doing this, universities must conduct seminars and workshops. People must be oriented to have proper attitudes concerning others. Everyone must be treated equally and with respect. Universities must enforce equal rights and opportunities for all.

Consequently, those who are previously marginalized and underprivileged might have a hard time adjusting. Universities must extend mental and psychological help to them, and if possible, to everyone who needs help. Regarding rights and privileges, the university must make sure that everyone, from students, faculty, all the way to personnel and staff, must be on the same page.

Employee resource group/staff resource group

Universities must have a working group to ensure that all the policies regarding diversity and inclusion are in place and are working without hassle. They must also look at the potential problems and conflicts that may arise due to policies regarding diversity and inclusion.

What will a diverse university look like?

A diverse university will not differ much from other universities, but it will vary significantly in outlook. Since it provides opportunities for everyone, it will generate a lot of excitement. It will develop other perspectives as well as views. That is due to different experiences brought to light by having diversity and inclusion in the university.

People who are different will now have a chance to be with each other. Despite being different, and coming from other walks of life, they will realize they have something in common. That is the passion for knowledge and excellence which the university nurtures and develops. It can lead to better understanding and harmony.

What happens if there is no diversity in the university?

Lack of diversity could lead to severe consequences. Among these are:

Biased education

Lack of diversity and inclusion promotes biased education. It enables the idea that they are better than others due to their education and are privileged. It could lead to dire consequences that may spill over to other aspects of society, such as being privileged when it comes to political and economic rights.

People educated in this kind of university will have an attitude geared against inclusivity and diversity. That will be a setback in the fight for equal opportunity and social equality.

Unequal environment

Lack of diversity can nurture the idea that unequal environments and social inequality are typical and part and parcel of our ordinary lives. It thus normalizes social inequality in all its aspects, as well as lack of equity. Therefore, the university that does not enforce diversity and inclusion will be complicit in promoting the very thing that it must be fighting.

Promotes exclusivity and elitism

A university that does not have diversity and inclusion and does not promote it will breed students and faculty who feel distinct and unlike others. They will foster students who think and act alike and do not know about diversity and the different experiences of others. Consequently, they will feel that what they have is a consequence of being better than others, not because of policies and practices that discriminate and marginalize others. That is a very unhealthy attitude that will have adverse effects on society as a whole. 

Diversity and Inclusion in Universities and Colleges

Sue Rice

DEI in Administration
DEI in Faculty
DEI in Student

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About the author

Susanne Ricee

Susanne Ricee is the Diversity and Inclusion Specialist and Researcher at Diversity for Social Impact. Sue brings over 15 years of HR and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion consultation experience.
Sue's previous experience includes Microsoft, Target, and Kraft. Sue is also the manager of Diversity Leadership Directory