CAS President, Dr. Ralph Johnson, shares a statement focusing on the CAS commitment to justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion for the month of February.
For me and I'm sure for so many others, February is a time of introspection and reflection as we consider the history and assess the current conditions of our society relative to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The extent to which we've made progress in these areas differs from one person to the next, but it's relatively safe to say that of late, there has been greater intentionality on addressing the lingering effects of bias, prejudice, exclusion and all forms of injustice across all spheres of life in this country. There has been an appreciable increase in the number of DEI initiatives among corporations, non-profit organizations, governments and educational institutions. Within higher education, there are ongoing conversations and efforts to implement and sustain effective programs and services that highlight institutional commitments to embracing diversity and to dismantling any vestiges of discrimination. In many instances, institutions have included efforts to take on social justice issues and facilitate a sense of belonging for all members of those campus communities.
Fueled by the unjust deaths of so many people of color, including George Floyd, Breonna Tayor and most recently Tyre Nicohls, a focus on DEI has expanded to include justice and belonging as desirable characteristics of inclusive communities that work assiduously to embrace and celebrate all cultures. Though many organizations and municipalities have failed miserably in affording justice for all, many are truly working as best as possible to honor the dignity and worth of all humanity. The Council for the Advancement of Standards is among many student affairs and higher education professional associations that are very intentional about this, and several of these organizations are adopting methods to be inclusive in their daily practices. In an effort to ensure these associations and the programs and services they represent are positively affecting student learning, development and success, assessment professionals are holding them to high standards across all dimensions of student learning and are strongly advocating they utilize socially just assessment practices. Such an approach considers factors such as race, culture, language proficiency, socioeconomic status, and ability while working to dismantle systems of power, bias, and oppression in the evaluation of student learning. Past and current CAS leaders are among the most vociferous spokespersons for this new paradigm. In addition to providing thought leadership and decisive action within this assessment approach, CAS created a leadership role on its Governing Board three years ago originally titled the Member-at-Large for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. That title has since expanded to include justice and belonging. Two years ago, under the leadership of the Member-at-Large for Justice, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, CAS adopted a very powerful JDEIB statement that is grounded in theory. It states:
Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS)
Justice, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (JDEIB) Statement
CAS values, embraces, and recognizes the need to foster equitable and inclusive communities to promote student learning, development, success, and belonging. CAS recognizes the historical and ongoing challenges around discrimination, racism, and oppression present in higher education. As a strategic area of focus, CAS will be an inclusive organization that reflects the broad and diverse higher education community. CAS is committed to advocating for creating programs and services that advance equitable outcomes for all students. CAS serves as a conduit of professional standards for post-secondary institutions and member associations to foster a framework for inclusive and equitable environments. CAS will also work to identify and address barriers and inequities to promote socially just assessment and evaluation practices and partner in support of student learning, development, and success.
As a reflection of CAS's values and mission, the framework for our justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging work is grounded in the following models:
CAS is committed to using this statement as a solid foundation for its work in developing and revising standards of good practice for the myriad programs and services represented at the CAS table. As a consortium of professional associations, we feel it our duty to lift every voice as we create and promulgate all our resources. This clarion call to action must reverberate throughout higher education and undergirth our efforts to ensure the success of all students without regard for their race, color, creed or any other valued characteristic of their being.
Ralph Johnson, Ph.D.
Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education
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