Equity advice from a peer-to-peer network of innovators
The Frontier Set intentionally brings together a variety of types of higher education institutions, all striving to set a new standard in equitably serving their students. The network is structured around peer-to-peer sharing and collaboration: a place where high-performing, high-potential institutions and systems can share and learn publicly about keeping students at the center of everything they do, regardless if they’re at a community college, a large research institution, a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) or other Minority Serving Institution (MSI), or a regional comprehensive.
Over the years, the Frontier Set members have had many opportunities to both ask for and give advice on issues big and small. This year, as part of their annual reflections they were asked to build on that tradition by replying to this question:
If someone asked you “What step can I take tomorrow to start increasing equity on my campus/in my system?” what would you tell them?
Here are some of their answers and reflections.
Focus on the power of student voices to fuel equity efforts
Read more about sourcing student voices here.
“The path to increased equity is about more than just analyzing and disaggregating your student success data. It is important to talk with and listen to your students and stakeholders, so that your efforts are intentional in design and scope and more directly to addressing the lived experiences of your student population.”
-Florida International University
“Maintain a focus on the students’ experience and build success efforts around their stories.”
-Arizona State University
"Listen to students. Students have much to share about their experiences, challenges, and successes throughout their college journeys. Higher education would be well served by continuing to leverage quantitative data to support students, but also to increase the opportunities to leverage qualitative data by listening to students and the stories of their lived experiences.”
-University of Central Florida
See faculty as a student-facing “front line” and train them to be equity champions
Read more about building equity mindedness in faculty here.
“The greatest asset any institution has is its faculty. Create opportunities for them to learn what equity looks like, and they will become the most potent advocates.”
“A commitment to serving students and co-workers with equity in mind will begin to increase equity. Faculty awareness and changes in the classroom will be the tipping point, since faculty are with your students more than any other employee group!”
-Indian River State College.
If each student, staff, and faculty member examines’ their department, organization, committees, and other groups … for barriers, and then implements change, a ripple will be generated throughout the entire university.”
-University of North Carolina Greensboro
Think broadly about systemic barriers and long-term goals in order to stay committed and inspired
Read more about communicating equity goals clearly here.
“Be honest about the problem and the risks of not addressing its root causes. Be intentional and transparent about identifying and removing campus/system structural barriers and be transparent with higher education and state government officials about the challenge to your college/system if they do not do the same.”
-Tennessee Board of Regents
“Measure the success of your efforts through the lives you are positively impacting, and not solely on the press or praise you may be getting or not getting.”
-Northern Arizona University
“Develop small, measurable goals to achieve your large aspirational goals, and celebrate every accomplishment along the way. Keep in the forefront why we are doing this work: it’s all about our students, our community, our nation, our world, and the enrichment of humankind!”
-Miami Dade College
Speak holistically about student success rather than referring to individual initiatives. All initiatives must connect in order to achieve the big-picture goals of institution-wide student success.”
Whether focusing closely on individual students and their lived experiences or thinking broadly about change and impact, Frontier Set sites have found ways to maintain momentum for their racial equity work as they look to the future for further efforts and sharing of successful practices and thoughtful insights.
Equity-centered Strategies to Support Students of Color
Overcoming barriers to better support students of color
Moving Closer to Equity with Explicit, Race-Conscious Language and Goals
Building a shared vocabulary of clear language about race and racism
Sourcing Student Voices: Backing Up Data with Stories
Adding nuance to quantitative data with real student stories and experiences