At the School of Nursing, we are committed to fostering an environment that supports all individuals and values diversity, inclusion and equity. These elements are fundamental to our core values of integrity, collaboration, accountability, respect for diverse backgrounds and opinions, and excellence.
The School of Nursing Taskforce on Diversity and Inclusion invites discussion and input on the ideals listed below. These bulleted items should be viewed in a Structure (diversity), Process (inclusion) and Outcome (equity) frame.
The taskforce will work within the University at Buffalo concept of Inclusive Excellence.
Inclusive Excellence is a comprehensive approach that integrates inclusivity into all aspects of university operations and creates a culture of shared responsibility in which all members of the university community are integral to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.
The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force facilitates the promotion and evolution of initiatives that address diversity and inclusion. This task force has monthly meetings and includes five faculty, five staff, and a minimum of two students. Ten regular members in a small unit is especially notable because all ten task force members are volunteers. The faculty-staff unity and collaboration is palpable in the task force. The presence of the Multicultural Nursing Student Association is also valued.
Diversity grand rounds were initiated in the Fall of 2017. These educational, interactive sessions address issues of diversity and inclusion – especially those relevant for academic health campus community members. Well-known internal and external guest speakers deliver the primary content of the grand rounds, followed by interactive discussion.
Sessions have addressed topics such as multi-generational trauma in American Indians and policy and advocacy for transgender students in both health care and recreation/athletic settings.
The Diversity Grand Rounds series will continue, with the aim of presenting at least one session annually, with invitations extended to academic health campus and other decanal units. The SON School of Dental Medicine diversity officers have met and agreed to collaborate, expand and continue Diversity Grand Rounds.
The Diversity & Inclusion Potluck Series was initiated by the task force in the Spring of 2019. The potlucks take place during open forum, a scheduled time when it is recommended that all faculty and staff keep calendars open. The inaugural session was well attended with more than 25 attendees.
The series aims to address difficult issues related to diversity and inclusion in a user-friendly, non-threatening way while integrating and applying core concepts to decanal unit culture. Each session offers a short media presentation, podcast, piece of art, music, or reading that can be completed within 30 to 40 minutes; the media is shared with the group during the session, requiring no advanced preparation on the part of attendees (with the exception of preparing and bringing a dish to pass).
Prior to the session, the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force collaboratively prepares discussion questions, assembling an interactive handout to be distributed during the session. Following the presentation, a skilled discussant facilitates meaningful, interactive connections about the content. At present, the decanal unit diversity officer is a licensed psychologist with experience in facilitating courageous conversations which may include occasional conflict.
The session discussion begins with setting ground rules and reminding individuals about the importance of language in communicating respectfully (i.e., attending to one’s own biases, noting when assumptions are being made, using “I” statements rather than “you”/“they” statements if making observations about human behavior or culture, etc.)
The first session addressed American Indian boarding schools in Western New York and the eastern USA. Many attendees were stunned by the fact that they had not been educated about these atrocities. Tears were shed. The final message and “application” conclusion for the inaugural potluck was a shared goal to infuse more trauma-informed approaches into teaching, practice and research.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a special dish that has historical, personal meaning to the attendee. The inaugural potluck session included dishes with origins in Mexico, Korea, China, India and 1950s USA (a gelatin mold dish with special meaning to one faculty member).
The simplest processes are able to infuse inclusion and inspire others. A visual diversity and inclusion presence in the decanal unit is vital to our shared mission and vision. Part of the diversity and inclusion showcase includes “Acceptance Practiced Here” signs and pins being offered to faculty and staff to promote LGBTQ awareness. Dean Lewis has also provided the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force with a dedicated showcase that will highlight diversity and inclusion themes and initiatives regularly. Photos, stories, and artifacts are showcased attractively.
Gung-Ho is a popular culture motivational and productivity text that tells the story of Andy Longclaw, an American Indian who transformed a business culture by embracing American Indian teachings and finding meaning in everyday activities. Gung Ho has three central tenets based on spirit animals within American Indian culture. The goose, beaver, and squirrel emphasize camaraderie, shared collaboration/duties and meaningful work, respectively.
The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force aims to continue the Gung Ho initiative by infusing the three tenets of the spirit animals throughout the school. For example, faculty and staff came together in 2018 to create vision boards, representing the squirrel or the ultimate meaning of why they do what they do and for whom. Dean Lewis provided materials for all within the school to create a vision board, and vision boards can now be seen on many faculty and staff office doors and walls.
In 2019-2020, it is the aim of the unit diversity officers to reintroduce Gung Ho and brainstorm with faculty and staff about infusing the way of the goose. Geese are known for their social support and praise of one another. In a previous organization led by the unit diversity officer, a creative compliment and praise system was developed to reward those in the school for both small and large achievements.
In the future, the way of the beaver may be realized by generating creative ways to share workload and maximize efficiency.
The School of Nursing complies with all non-discrimination policies of the University at Buffalo.