UWO releases second equity scorecard

Christina Basken, Assistant News Editor

The results from the second equity scorecard for UW Oshkosh were released on Wednesday, Feb. 14, and evaluated the campuses level of equity, diversity and inclusion for students of color in comparison to their white counterparts.

The equity scorecard focuses on access, retention, excellence and institutional receptivity. The findings from the scorecard are based on an analysis of disaggregated data from departments, programs and offices from across the campus.

According to Chancellor Andrew Leavitt, plans and strategic initiatives to improve upon the focus areas of the equity scorecard report will be ongoing and aligned with the University’s strategic plan, affirmative action plan, campus climate survey, strategic enrollment plan (SEP) and an enhanced inclusive excellence plan.

UW Oshkosh student Aaron Wojciechowski said he was not surprised by this news because UWO has made many improvements to be more inclusive during his time as a student here.

“I’m not surprised by many of the results,” Wojciechowski said. “I see how much the diversity and inclusion of our campus has improved since I first started as a freshmen three years ago. We have made significant strides in trying to promote a more inclusive and accepting environment at UW Oshkosh.”

Leavitt said he is proud of the increased numbers of students of color.

“Some of the things that I am proud of would be the movement towards increasing the improvement of the student success numbers of students of color,” Leavitt said. “I think that that’s definitely pulling in the right direction. We have a lot of work to do. I would say there was also very strong evidence of effectiveness of our University Studies Program in elevating not only students of color but also our majority students as well.”

Leavitt also addressed areas in which the report scored low numbers.

“I think the equity scorecard also points to some issues that we need to work on. I think we still have significant environment, or cultural issues on campus when it comes to students of color. There are still too many bias incidents on campus, and typically they are unconscious bias incidents from the person projecting them, but they are received in a very impactful way by our students of color.”

Sylvia Carey-Butler, Associate Vice Chancellor and Academic Support of Inclusive Excellence, said she offers training and leads conversation in class lectures to mitigate against unconscious biases.

“One of the things that I do to mitigate against that kind of thing, we have an inclusive excellence pedagogy workshop that we offer every May, and starting last fall, I developed an unconscious bias workshop for faculty and staff and I do one separately for students.” Careu-Butler said.

Leavitt said his goal is to close the gap between faculty and students of color.

“The front for faculty and staff, we need to do better,” Leavitt said. “There’s no question that our percentage of faculty and staff of color is not in line with what our students of color is and I really think that those two numbers really ought to track. Faculty and staff is about 8 percent, students of color at this institution is about 14 percent, so there’s about a 6 percent gap between the two which I would like to close.”

Butler said we have made great progress, but she hopes to see even more progress in the problem areas for the next equity scorecard study.

“It’s my hope that we will take the recommendations from the campus climate study and we will then begin addressing them,” Carey-Butler said. “We hope, the next time we do an equity scorecard we will have made even more gains about closing the achievement gap for students of color on campus.”

Wojciechowski said he hopes future scorecards will address LGBTQ concerns and disability concerns.

“Retention continues to be one of the more challenging tasks,” Wojciechowski said. “We have made good progress as noted in the Equality Scorecard Report, however, we will need to spend more time addressing retention. In addition, this study should be expanded in the future to include other groups of students such as LGBTQ students and people with disabilities.”

Butler said she agrees that retention has been an issue for UWO, but the issue is improving.

“For the first time in the history of UW Oshkosh, this past fall, students of color retention exceeded majority students by 4.8 percent.” Butler said.

Wojciechowski also said this scorecard will help UWO make strides towards betterment in the future.

“This scorecard is very important on many levels,” Wojciechowski said. “First, it shows that the administration is taking these issues serious and are actually attempting to understand the problems and craft solutions. That is very important in my opinion. We can now use this document as a reference and foundation for building better institutions and methods of addressing inequality and lack of inclusiveness.”

Butler also shared recommendations from the report that she hopes to implement in the future.

“We received recommendations, and we aren’t sure that we will be able to do everything, but our intent is to address them,” Butler said. “We would love to require units at every level of the university to establish goals related to equity, inclusion, and diversity for underrepresented students. Let’s not just look at students of color, but are there specific groups that need for us to approach things differently for, so that we can be very nuanced in our approach.”