Efforts to develop and sustain a more inclusive and equitable community at Washington State University will continue with the establishment of a new President’s Commission on Campus Culture and Climate.

The establishment of the new commission follows several years of work by the Five Working Groups on Campus Culture and Climate representing more than 120 WSU community members system-wide. Representation includes faculty, students, and staff. The Five Working Groups were assembled to respond to concerns raised by students in 2017.

The final report and recommendations put forward by the Five Working groups are available online.

“Establishing this commission affirms that our work on issues of community equity and social justice is ongoing and that we intend to continue to build  on the momentum we have around increasing our community’s capacity for understanding the lived experiences of others,” Jamie Nolan, associate vice president for community, equity, and inclusive excellence, said.

Following student protests, five working groups were brought together around three board objectives:

  • Creating a systemic approach to issues of diversity and inclusion
  • Increasing diversity among students, faculty and staff from underrepresented communities
  • Developing, fostering and sustaining an inclusive campus culture

Each working group represented a student demand and developed recommendations and action to be taken and policy proposals that could be used by the university to take actions around these objectives.

These areas were Executive Policy 15 and free speech, cultural competency training for all faculty and staff, increasing the number of underrepresented faculty and staff as well as retention, gender and trans support/equity and cultural and other resource centers.

The working groups also looked at specific gaps and shortcomings pointed out by student activists, such as the need for more cultural competency training, and sought to address them. The report includes action that has been taken and progress made.

Examples include: A system-wide equity series developed by the cultural competency working group, with more than 1,000 staff and faculty participating as of November 2020. The series is the basis for a new certificate program in community and equity available to all WSU faculty and staff systemwide. The certificate program will launch in spring 2021.

Among the other accomplishments outlined in the group’s final report were revisions to Executive Policy 15, which prohibits discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. The changes clarified the processes for different situations as well as identified the different reporting paths for faculty, staff and students. WSU has also increased the number gender inclusive restrooms in existing buildings, and now all new construction must include gender inclusive restrooms.

Also established this fall, and part of the continuation of this work, was the establishment of the President’s Task Force on Equity in Policy and Practice which will also build upon the work already accomplished.

Interest in the newly developing President’s Commission can be forwarded to Jaime Nolan: jennifer.nolan@wsu.edu

More information about the accomplishments of the working groups can be found online.