The death of George Floyd last summer ignited a cry across the nation to combat social injustice. To that end, in June of 2020, Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson created the Social Justice Action Committee (SJAC) to drive cultural change and further Wayne State University’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
For nearly eight months, the committee — composed of more than 80 individuals throughout the campus community — examined the university’s policies, procedures and practices to identify and eliminate biases that may disproportionately disadvantage people from historically marginalized communities. This required rigorous analysis, honest self-assessment and a commitment to take the necessary actions to bring about change.
The SJAC recently completed its internal report, which includes specific and detailed recommendations in the immediate, medium and long terms that will advance social justice and equity at Wayne State University.
The report builds upon the university’s current DEI work, and implementation of a number of recommendations — including creation of a DEI Council, expansion of space for the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement and hiring an additional position in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion — have been initiated. Other recommendations will be implemented based on priority and available resources, and all will inform the development of the university’s five-year strategic plan, which will take place during the remainder of 2021.
“The inclusion of the word ‘action’ in the SJAC’s title is intentional,” the report says. “Too often, organizations observe, analyze and stop. For Wayne State to be true to its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, it must move beyond analysis and take the necessary actions. That is what we will do.”
Some of the SJAC report’s overarching themes include:
- Support the success of every student
- Boldly declare WSU’s social justice mission
- Eliminate implicit bias in decision-making
- Facilitate just hiring and retention
- Expand education and training on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion
- Proactive listening, dialogues and campus conversations
- Ongoing assessments, transparency in reporting, and continuous improvements in all operations
- Greater justice in administrative policies, processes and procedures