“Diversity is being invited to the party; but inclusion is being asked to dance. Belonging is dancing like no one is watching.” These words from activist Verna Myers serve as a guiding light for MBU’s efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. Our door is open: we’re here to listen, to respond, to collaborate, to work, but most importantly, we’re here to dance.
These efforts are constantly evolving, in conversation with the needs of our students, faculty, and staff, and in response to the state of the world at large. As our on-campus student population becomes increasingly diverse and inclusive, it’s even more important that we remain dedicated to continuing and improving this work.
A History of Inclusivity
In 1996, Mary Baldwin launched the Office of Inclusive Excellence (OIE). OIE works to develop programming that promotes cross-cultural sharing and exploration and offers holistic support to students of color: monitoring their progress, representing their concerns, advising minority student organizations, and promoting positive community relations.
In the early 2000s, the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusive Community adopted the Pledge of Inclusivity as a guiding principle for the MBU community. The pledge is recited by all MBU faculty, staff, and students at key ceremonial occasions to reaffirm our commitment to an inclusive community.
We, the community of Mary Baldwin University, strive to celebrate humanity in all its wondrous and complex variations. Because we value diversity, it is our mission to sustain a community where all may flourish. We are safe to embrace our shared experiences and our differences. To this end, we treat all with respect and compassion.
Answering the Call for Justice
In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, Philando Castille, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, MBU created the Coalition for Racial and Social Justice. It is our belief that institutions of higher education must play a key role in addressing all forms of racism and inequity. The coalition was tasked with exploring and creating ways in which MBU can pool our moral and practical resources — not only to confront hatred, discrimination and the scourge of racism — but to expand how we teach and learn about equity, diversity, and social justice, both within our campus community and beyond.
The coalition focused on three aspects of the issue:
- The Historical Legacy of MBU
- Inclusive Education
- University and Community Engagement, both curricular and co-curricular
The recommendations of the Coalition for Racial and Social Justice have already spurred important systemic changes to create a more just and equitable Mary Baldwin community. MBU has added a chief diversity officer as a member of executive staff, to lead and be the strategic hub for diversity and inclusion work at Mary Baldwin University, and developed an Anti-Bias Reporting and Support system with various levels of intervention, including but not limited to education and training, to hold faculty, staff and students accountable for commission of racially discriminatory acts. Student ambassadors for racial and social justice also contribute to these efforts on campus.
Guided by the ongoing efforts of the coalition, by the Pledge of Inclusivity as a core principle, by MBU’s historical commitment to diversity and inclusion, and by the innovation and brave voices of our campus community, Mary Baldwin University continues to evolve and improve our efforts.