Growing up “downriver” of Detroit, she was emancipated at 15. She had no health insurance, no dental insurance, and no home address – because she had no permanent home back then. During her early days in college, she worried what would happen when the academic year wrapped up. Students couldn’t stay in the residence halls over the summer months.
The University of Michigan just unveiled an $85 million, 5-year strategic plan laser focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. Following a year of campus-wide engagement, the effort is a massive institutional commitment with all the hallmarks of a sound planning process: ground-up development, broad input, actionable goals, resources to support those goals and accountability.
“One of the pivotal questions of our times that merits debating is merit itself.”
So begins Nancy Cantor’s recent essay in The Atlantic, described as a “dispatch from the Aspen Ideas Festival” where Cantor was a featured speaker this year.
I have known Nancy for a long time now, where as University of Michigan provost and social psychologist she was deeply involved in the institution’s defense of affirmative action in admissions. We experienced first-hand her passion for the issues of diversity and inclusion, and her articulation that all students benefit deeply from a richly diverse campus environment. Continue reading
A recent article in Education Dive titled “Don’t Wait on a Crisis to Implement Diversity initiatives” hit on some crucial points.
One thing I have observed over many years of work in this area is that activism and institutional response on race, climate, inclusion, and privilege seem to be cyclical. Institutions tend to change very slowly and they make the most change around diversity when they are responding to the “pain” and disruption of activism. Students and other activists grow frustrated with the slow pace of change, and things eventually come to a head with demonstrations, demands, and elevated attention.