Chancellor Christ announces Graduate Student Diversity Task Force

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In an effort to increase diversity among campus graduate students, Chancellor Carol Christ announced the implementation of the Graduate Student Diversity Task Force on Thursday.

Inspired by other programs that promote diversity on campus — including the Undergraduate Student Diversity Project — the task force aims to increase diversity among campus graduate students. It also looks to improve campus experience for underrepresented graduate students, including those who are first generation college students or are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

“While a number of existing programs and services help to support diversity and inclusion among graduate students, we need to develop and implement a truly comprehensive, coordinated, campus-wide strategy,” Christ said in a statement.

According to Christ, the task force will be co-chaired by Vice Provost Lisa García Bedolla as well as representatives from the Academic Senate and the Graduate Assembly.

The task force will work to develop recommendations for increasing enrollment of underrepresented students and “improving the campus experience and academic outcomes” for these students, according to the statement.

Christ added that the campus will “move quickly to begin implementation” of its recommendations.

The task force will particularly focus on three key areas: outreach and recruitment, the admissions process and practices, and campus experience.

In the statement, Christ said she hopes the task force will complete its work by spring 2020. She also said once it has finished, the task force will share its findings and recommendations with the Academic Senate, Graduate Assembly and campus community, according to the statement.

The creation of the task force has garnered the attention and support of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, or UAW, 2865.

UAW 2865 President and UC Berkeley School of Law student Kavitha Iyengar said the push toward inclusion should also be extended to graduate students in workplaces including those who serve as graduate student instructors, tutors and researchers. She added that students in these positions experience discrimination and harassment.

Iyengar also said UAW 2865 is currently unaware of any efforts to address the needs of these students and has yet to hear any plans to address discrimination in the workplace. She added that she hopes graduate student unions are “invited to the table.” 

In her statement, Christ also announced the campus’ continued support for the existing diversity and inclusion programs including the Office for Graduate Diversity and the Division of Equity and Inclusion.

“We are committed to keeping the campus informed and engaged as this essential work unfolds,” Christ said in the statement.  “I am both confident and optimistic that we are well positioned to build a campus community that truly reflects the diversity — and the very highest ideals — of the public we serve.”

Contact Blake Evans at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Blake_J_Evans.