In the most recent episode of AACRAO's Admit It podcast
, James Miller interviews Michael Benitez, University of Puget Sound Chief Diversity Officer and nationally recognized diversity and inclusion expert, on how admissions offices and diversity offices on college campuses can work more closely and effectively together. They discussed such intriguing and intractable questions as:
What is diversity?
Benitez talks about diversity as a "process" and an "episteme," not just representation and identity and bodies.
What is a chief diversity officer?
This position evolved out of cooperate structures, and is often misunderstood. In addition, not all professionals in the field necessarily agree on a common definition.
According to Benitez, a chief diversity officer is "a person who works with an institution to strategically think about the different ways in which diversity, inclusion and equity work should be integrated into higher education -- everything from recruitment to admissions to curricula to evaluation to campus climate cultivation to relationships and partnerships that we're building with community to broader community with alumni. So it's this really big big, portfolio across all groups -- student, faculty and staff."
Does marketing support or exploit diversity efforts?
The podcast discusses visual representation in marketing materials -- and how accurately they reflect actual campus diversity. Does marketing need to match campus demographics? How can campuses make equitable and authentic marketing efforts without simply making it an IPEDS-matching photo?
Are campuses ready to receive students from marginalized backgrounds?
Campuses need to foster a culture of student success that works to understand how the institution and campus climate are welcoming and fostering a culture of success and excellence for students.
What matters is a great financial aid package, campus climate, and intentional efforts to connect students to resources. Campuses should work to demystify spaces and make it clear that resources on campus belong to these students (in a way that students of privilege already understand) and don't further marginalize them. Benitez discusses strategies for making that possible.
The podcast page
offers links to resources cited during the conversation.