Equity and Diversity

Diversity, equity and inclusion resources will be an ongoing focus of efforts to support populations most greatly impacted by COVID-19.

The University’s attention to issues of equity, diversity and inclusion were a priority for planning for the 2020-21 academic year. Planning was informed by an examination of:

  1. Issues of equity and inclusion associated with re-engaging in-person;
  2. Guiding principles that should center equity and inclusion in all critical recommendations made by the Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force that helped plan for the first stages of reopening over the summer of 2020; and
  3. Initiatives to expand knowledge of the disparate impact of COVID-19 and tools to support individuals who are experiencing the secondary and tertiary effects of the pandemic.

Recommendations the University implemented in this area included the following considerations and principles:

  • It is imperative to consider diversity, equity and inclusion in all policies, plans and communications. We acknowledge and will plan to address the effects of the disparate impact of COVID-19 on different communities.

  • Populations most greatly impacted may have unique situations that will require additional support structures. Some examples include the following: Students will need mechanisms to request and receive support if family members are impacted by COVID-19 (e.g., experiencing stress due to family deaths or widespread illness at home) and related impacts of the pandemic (e.g., increase in domestic violence, unemployment). Faculty will need to understand the potential for increased trauma as a result of the pandemic on particular communities and know how to provide support when this trauma impacts academic performance and teaching assistant responsibilities for graduate and medical students. Even with the resumption of in-person classes, continued remote teaching should take into consideration the varying home-life situations that students face and ensure accommodating those realities (e.g., some students may be in situations where keeping a camera turned off during a Zoom lecture is an important element of managing their home life).

  • Bias reporting mechanisms will need to be even more broadly advertised to support communities who may experience an increase in bias incidents (e.g., people of Asian descent who have been experiencing an increase in bias, people who are from communities that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, etc.).

  • There is a need to develop resources for educating the greater community about historical and systemic racism that created the context for the disparate impact of COVID-19. Some examples of focus areas include: history of racism in medicine, ethics, income/wealth, work, and psychology/mental health; social determinants of health; data on the impact of COVID-19 in the U.S. by race; and how these factors may contribute/manifest in our students’ feelings around their own personal treatment on campus, i.e. value/worth.

  • It will be important to create continued opportunities for African American, Latinx, Native American and Asian communities to develop a sense of solidarity and allyship.

  • Brown should leverage the Campus Life student centers to maintain community for returning students and build a sense of community for new students (graduate and undergraduate).

  • There is a need to recognize concerns raised regarding underrepresented staff populations, acknowledging that underrepresented staff bring an expanded dimension of community on campus and offer unique support to underrepresented students.

  • The University should create alternatives if holiday recesses are not viable (especially for collective communities that thrive from connecting with their home communities).

  • It must be a priority to continue to provide remote student support services (e.g., Counseling and Psychological Services, academic counseling, programming) for students who do not return to campus.

  • Brown should create a cohesive communications strategy to clarify plans for students and provide more constant communication that addresses all facets of the community (students, faculty and staff).

  • It will be imperative to maintain a fund for students who have unanticipated short and long-term financial challenges as a result of COVID-19.

Last updated January 6, 2021. Information on this page may be updated as the University’s planning evolves and/or public health guidance prompts a shift in Brown’s operations and protocols.