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WSU community invited to learn about equity tools at spring DEIJ Summit

Laptop computer displaying a WSU web page with PRF's equity impact assessment tool.

The Washington State University community is invited to learn about WSU’s Equity Impact Assessment tool and the basics of Critical Race Theory at the Spring 2023 Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Summit on April 5.

The two-hour virtual summit will be held from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and will provide time for all WSU community members to learn more about the conceptual and practical applications of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) work. Participants will learn how they can apply Critical Race Theory (CRT) to their work at WSU and how to evaluate new and existing policies using the Equity Impact Assessment tool.

All faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to attend.

“This is an opportunity for the WSU community to come together and have a common understanding of these important topics,” said Matthew Jeffries, director of campus climate and community building in Student Affairs. 

Challenging misinformation and creating better policies

The summit will open with remarks from Chancellor Mel Netzhammer from WSU Vancouver, followed by a presentation on Critical Race Theory (CRT) from Lisa Guerrero, vice chancellor for equity and inclusive excellence for WSU Pullman. Guerrero said she was inspired to create the presentation, called “Understanding the Basics of Critical Race Theory,” because although there’s a good deal of conversation happening about CRT around the country, few people seem to know what it actually is.

“There are a lot of misunderstandings around the idea of CRT, and it’s been so villainized by politicians and others – this is a good opportunity to give people the basics and background of it,” she said. “Learning more about CRT will be useful in navigating all the ways we see this conversation happening around the country.”

Guerrero described her presentation as a primer to the topic that will also encourage attendees to think about how CRT might apply to their own work.

“As an academic theory, CRT has important applications in higher education,” she said. “I think this will help people think about structures of inequity, how they’re built into our society, and how we undo them.”

Guerrero’s presentation will be followed by an overview of WSU’s new Equity Impact Assessment tool from Obie Ford III, vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion at WSU Vancouver, and Danielle Hess, executive director of policy and governance in Compliance and Risk Management. The tool, rolled out in December 2022, systematically applies an equity lens to current and future WSU policies to help identify potential disparate impacts on different groups. It is designed to disrupt oppression within institutional structures and inform policies and decisions.

“We create a lot of policies, and this tool will let us continue to re-examine those policies to see what’s working and what isn’t,” Jeffries said. 

The summit will conclude with closing remarks from David H. Garcia, assistant dean for health equity and inclusion at WSU Spokane.

Jeffries and Guerrero encourage all members of the WSU community to attend the summit

“Everyone in the WSU community can benefit from this summit,” Guerrero said. “The whole idea of higher education is to create critical thinkers, and the best way to nurture that is to provide accurate information. We all should be thinking more critically about how we can make both WSU and higher education more equitable.”

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