Deboise continues to push for more Equity and Diversity Programming

Dr. Diedre Deboise is the head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion here at Hilbert College. She has great ideas, programs lined up and some of Hilbert’s faculty to assist her, but there still seems to be a ball and chain on these recent efforts. Dr. Deboise shared her thoughts with student involvement and shared her experience with not having enough students in attendance to really shake the table.The Students are what makes Hilbert College, Hilbert College, and without them, we cannot change the climate here on campus. While this is a current struggle, the optimism and determination to better our campus is at an all time high and Dr. Deboise is working tirelessly to make sure things change.

“As the director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, I provide leadership and strategic vision in the efforts to cultivate and sustain a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus environment.”

That was something Dr. Deboise said during our interview to give us an idea of what she does and what her goal is. The interview not only addresses the student involvement struggle, but the interview also highlights Dr. Deboise’s  efforts within the Hilbert Community to reach her goal. Let’s take a look at how the interview went..

  1. What are your priorities as head of DEI? 

As Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, I provide leadership and strategic vision in the effort to cultivate and sustain a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus environment. Inspired by the Catholic, Franciscan mission of Hilbert College, I collaborate and develop programs and services designed to enhance the recruitment, success, retention, and well-being of underrepresented students. Additionally, I serve as the Chair of the Committee of Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) and the Chair of the Bias Committee. 

Furthermore, I work with leadership to proactively ensure that campus programs, policies, and procedures foster a college-wide commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I also recommend training initiatives and professional development to foster equitable pedagogy and create an inclusive campus climate. Overall, I am responsible for ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion are embedded in all facets of the institution. 

  • Can you give me examples of some of your intentional programs? 

MLK Program: This event honored Dr. MLK and helped carry the message that “It starts with Me.” Additionally, students’ were provided an opportunity to share either a poem or readings from Dr. King. And we were provided an opportunity to hear from our staff and how Dr. King has impacted their lives. 

Stand up to Bias Campaign: Our Stand Up to Bias campaign empowers students, faculty, and staff to proactively address acts of bias and discrimination to promote a more harmonious campus community and insure fair and equal treatment of all people.

Cultural Climate Survey: Evaluate students’ sense of belonging 

Desserts and Discussions: This event provides the DEI director with an opportunity to get to know students. The focus of this program is to listen to voices of underrepresented students and hear what their needs are, at Hilbert College. 

Cultured Conversations: An event series that brings students together over conversation, food, and culture. 

In fall of 2021 there were 26 programs and events aimed to provide educational opportunities focused on DEI for all members of the Hilbert College community. 

  • Do you think student involvement is crucial to DEI efforts? Absolutely 
  • Has student involvement been a challenge for you and your mission? If so, why do you think so and how do you plan to combat this struggle?  

Yes, student involvement has been a struggle. Many of the DEI events, activities and presentations have produced low student attendance rates. Although marketing and advertising is an important aspect in cultivating student involvement; building relationships with students and infinity groups is also important. Having a greater understanding regarding the needs of our students is key. The cultural climate survey results will provide us with some direction regarding the most effective ways to increase student involvement. 

  • Do you think these struggles are just subjected to students? or do you think getting faculty members involved is a struggle as well.
     
    These struggles are not only subjected to students, but faculty involvement has been a struggle as well. I believe that faculty are interested in participating, but due to the high demand of their jobs, it has been difficult to find a time that works for most faculty and staff. 
  • What does a perfect Hilbert College look like to you after a successful heavy impact of DEI?
  • Having a college-wide commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion- this includes the recruitment, success, retention and the well-being of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff
  • Collaborating with community partners and campus stakeholders to create, implement, and assess programs designed to support the academic and personal growth of students
  • Faculty and staff serving as a mentor, advocate, and as a support system for students.
  • Ensuring that the curriculum is informed by diverse viewpoints.
  • Ensuring that diversity and inclusion efforts are data-driven and regularly assessed
  • Conducting Cultural Climate Surveys, analyzing results, and making recommendations for action.
  • Ensuring that all our policies are equitable 
  • Providing orientation and professional development for campus stakeholders.
  • Supporting the alignment of diversity and inclusion with the broader effort to create social justice as part of Hilbert College’s Catholic, Franciscan mission. 
  • Ensuring that we all work together to provide a campus that is welcoming, respectful and inclusive. This includes all students having a “sense of belonging.” 

While there have been struggles with getting students involved, and even getting the help from faculty, Deboise said she will keep fighting the good fight and making sure people feel comfortable at Hilbert College.

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