UT releases Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan

Rachel Cooper

Recruiting a more diverse campus community, investing in more student housing and increasing housing accommodations for disabled and LGBTQ students are just three of 48 goals from the University’s newly released Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.

The plan, released on March 30, was created in an effort to increase and promote diversity throughout the University.

UT President Gregory Fenves announced the development of the plan in his 2016 State of the University Address in September. Fenves shared the plan in an email to the University as a solution to one of the “many challenges” facing the world and UT.  

“The core purpose of the University of Texas at Austin is to transform lives for the benefit of society,” Fenves said in an email. “We cannot carry out that purpose until every person in our community is included and treated equitably. This plan is a step toward that goal, but there is much work to be done if we are to ensure our future progress.”

According to a university press release, the plan was developed over the past six months by Gregory Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement; Soncia Reagins-Lilly, vice president for student affairs; and Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and provost.

Vincent said in an email that UT has made a lot of progress in the way of diversity but there are still areas that can be improved and challenges that come along with the plan.

“Impacting campus climate and institutional culture and measuring that impact will be challenges but ones we are committing to with this plan,” Vincent said. “I always say that there are two institutions which look very much the same as they did hundreds of years ago — churches and universities. The traditions and complexities of universities can be slow to shift so we must remain diligent in our pursuit.”

According to the plan, having a sufficient budget and personnel are key factors for a successful implementation. Vincent said university leadership is also developing a timeline for the implementations and some initiatives listed have already been done or are in the process of being put into action.

Karla Chavez, Student Government Diversity and Inclusion Agency director, said the plan is a good proactive measure by the University, but students should hold administrators accountable to fulfill these initiatives.    

“This seems like a kind of transitive feature,” said Chavez, an international relations and global studies junior. “The student body, at least the student body from underrepresented communities, they want something … now because this is recruiting faculty in the future. Well what about the needs that students have right now?” 

According to the press release, the writers of the plan collaborated with university members including SG representatives. Chavez said she had not heard about the plan until she read the email from Fenves and she hopes administration reaches out to students for input and a more holistic approach. 

Vincent said the plan is designed to be modified according to the needs of the University. The plan is open for online feedback from the UT community through May 15.