The Elon Global Engagement Center is ending the first year of its new diversity, equity and inclusion plan with a progress evaluation to be released this month.
The GEC began building its five-year DEI plan in December 2018 after participating in and receiving feedback from the Diversity Abroad pilot program for the Access, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Roadmap Assessment. The plan includes 52 goals to be achieved by 2025, but this school year was focused around just 16 of them.
Allegra Laing, the associate director for global diversity and inclusion, said the goal of constructing this plan was to increase access to global engagement programs among those with historically minoritized identities and relate their experiences and stories to other students through an intersectional lens.
“We really wanted to focus not only on augmenting access but really looking at our programs from a more inclusive lens and also from a more equitable lens,” Laing said. “We do want to ensure that students can have access to our programs, but we also want to ensure that students feel included and feel a sense of belonging.”
In a statement from the dean of global education, Nick Gozik, said creating a sense of acceptance and inclusion for every student is integral to global programming at Elon. This plan strives to guarantee that and implement it successfully.
“The GEC's 52-point DEI plan sets a model for the U.S. and beyond, ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion are not simply add-ons, and instead are thread throughout all advising, program development, and operations,” Gozik said in the statement.
The objectives for the 2020-21 academic year focused around gathering data regarding demographic diversity in global engagement and increasing resources for underserved student communities, Laing said.
According to the GEC’s annual report released last year, out of all the Black students at Elon, only 16% participated in study abroad programs, while 28% of all white students participated. This translates to about 1 in 7 Black students involved in study abroad and 1 in 4 white students.
Gozik said what is unique about the GEC’s plan is that every member is involved in it in some way in order to be equitable. Different members of the Global Engagement teams were assigned to lead groups on each of the 16 goals, and an evaluation will be released in May to determine what goals have yet to be completed.
On the GEC website, each of the goals are listed as either completed, in progress or forthcoming. It also includes a graphic indicating what percentage of the goals have been completed thus far. According to the website, 15% of the goals have been completed, though there is no indication of which individual goals this is referring to.
Going forward, Laing said that the GEC hopes to mainly focus on accomplishing the goals that have already been established in the plan, and to make sure they are done to the best extent possible.
“I think that the best possible outcome is that we would be able to close the gap between the percentages of students who are represented on campus, and those who participate on global engagement programs. But I think the other outcome would also be the increase of storytelling, from our global engagement alumni, and a more robust portrayal of the global engagement experience,” Laing said.