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University of Kentucky’s new Diversity Action Plan underway to make students, staff feel welcome

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Posted at 8:03 AM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 08:03:21-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The University of Kentucky continues to show its commitment to diversity and inclusion, most recently with a webinar held this week to talk with investors about the university’s diversity goals and how it can support present and future students.

The webinar included a panel of Wildcat alumni talking about the impact of the Office for Institutional Diversity.

“Each individual was able to share their own experience with the office and how the office has helped them matriculate through this thing that we call academia,” said Jason Brooks, the executive director for institutional engagement.

Brooks says the positive discussion showed him what the university is doing is working, but there’s also always room for growth. This growth is shown through the new diversity action plan, which UK started implementing at the beginning of the school year.

“There are currently 17 projects within the first phase, so this is going to be a multi-phase rollout,” said Brooks. “The first 17 projects are currently underway and I would say at least probably a good four or five of them have already been activated and few of those projects have already been completed.”

One of the completed initiatives is redesigning the UK 101 course for incoming freshmen to better cover aspects of equity and inclusion like proper language and power dynamics. The university also created a committee to promote responsible speech.

“The goal at the end of the day is to make sure not only our faculty and staff, but also our students ultimately feel like they can go across our campus and feel safe,” said Brooks. “That safety is not just emotional and physical safety, but it’s also psychological safety. We want to make sure that students understand that yes, there is a freedom of speech, but also realizing that words matter.”

Brooks says he knows growth takes time, but he hopes the greater Lexington community can see the efforts being made to make all students and staff feel welcome.