At the recent PIE Live North America conference in Toronto, DEI was focus in numerous discussions, with stakeholders pointing to needs-blind admissions, scholarships, varied recruitment strategies via high school networks, government agencies and professional recruiters, to build out a broad nationality base.
The successful implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on campuses and in exams can have a profound impact on members of a student body and in entire school communities.
Jewell Green Winn, senior international officer and chief diversity officer at Tennessee State University spoke about the tradition of the Homecoming parade at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“At homecoming, students get to showcase their culture like never before,” she said.
Winn’s international office created a float for the parade and won the competition. “We won for the most beautiful float. And imagine all those flags and students dressed in their native garb. The international students showed some pride that I had never seen before because the community was truly acknowledging their presence. So, including them in every aspect of the campus climate is so important.”
Saurabh Malhotra, director of international recruitment and market development at Fanshawe College in Canada agreed.
“It’s so important that you see yourself in the community. It’s important to see people like you. We want diversity on campus. We want students from different backgrounds to be on campus. But providing them the right information and providing them access to that information is a super important part of ensuring that representation happens on the campus.”
Malhotra offered several examples of how they accomplish this at Fanshawe, including organising cricket games, international week and other opportunities when students get to highlight their culture, their accomplishments and their passions.
Srikant Gopal, executive director of ETS spoke about the importance of diversity from an organisational standpoint.
As a global company, ETS has evolved from a being an organisation headquartered in the US, serving both a domestic and international audience. “Now we’re opening up many offices all over the world,” said Gopal. “We’re rapidly expanding our employee base.”
In the discussion of identity, representation, and belonging, Winn cautioned, “I don’t want us to always get stuck on the ethnic and the racial background because there are too many other things students struggle with, such as gender, sexuality, and mental health, that we are not addressing on our campuses.”
“This is the only way we’re going to be able to combat all of our shared global challenges”
In the closing session of the conference, deputy assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Ethan Rosenzweig discussed the policies the US government has enacted that enhance DEI.
An ongoing goal of ECA is to “ensure that all students, regardless of background, regardless of country, and regardless of income, have an opportunity for an international experience”, Rosenzweig shared with The PIE immediately following the session.
“This is the only way we’re going to be able to combat all of our shared global challenges, of climate change, food insecurity, global health issues, defending democracy and the ideals that underlie it every day,” he said.