Winona State University’s Inclusive Excellence Committee has implemented the Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan this academic year.
The plan was created to celebrate diversity and to help the environment of Winona State be more inclusive for all students.
Jonathon Locust, associate vice president for inclusion and diversity, said the plan aligns with the university’s strategic framework.
“[The] larger university strategic framework [consists of] five components, inclusive excellence is one of them,” Locust said. “It addresses things such as recruiting and retaining diverse populations, how are we marketing what we say we truly value and just some things that make it more inclusive for everyone, regardless of how you identify.”
The Inclusive Excellence Strategic plan consists of four main components that will take place 2019 – 24.
The plan was formed based on data collected from various groups.
One way the data was collected was from the campus climate survey, Locust said. The survey consisted of several issues surrounding the climate around the university, and how students felt about them, Locust said.
According to Locust, the information that was collected from this survey was used to form the plan. Data was also collected from a series of yes or no questions that were developed from the system and different people from all around the university answered them regarding diversity programs on campus.
The student and faculty population at the university is diverse and accommodations must be met for a majority of those groups.
For those with auditory issues, the university has the means to provide closed captioning on all media, according to Locust. The goal is to make all thing accessible for those diverse populations.
The plan also helps to educate students on inclusion and diversity.
“By participating and interacting with inclusion and diversity, it helps us with our fulfillment of becoming global citizens but also prepares us for the real world,” Locust said. “We know the United States and the world is becoming more diverse, you want to be prepared to be able to interact and talk with more people from different backgrounds.”
Denise McDowell, vice president for enrollment management and student life, said conversations about inclusion and diversity need to take place in order for change to occur.
“[There is a] gender-neutral living community this year in our resident housing as a result of some of the conversations we were hearing from some of our students saying, ‘I need a comforting place, I need a welcoming place for me’. That living community was created to address that concern that impacts students,” McDowell said.
One goal of the plan is to work toward becoming a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.
“For all of us, if we have a sense of loneliness and being alone, we start feeling like, am I an imposter. Do I really belong here?” McDowell said. “But the moment I find a group that affirms my humanness, and says I see you, I see you not only as a human being, I see you as a person.”