ODI's Response to COVID-19
Most recently, our ability to practice inclusion has been tested in the recent emergence of COVID-19. While pandemics are not new occurrences, we understand the concerns, risks, uncertainty and possible anxiety they can create. They call for us to make adjustments to how we interact, work, live, and learn—meaning we have to consider the nuances of every interaction and the needs of every person and community. These stressful times can also lead to stigma, bias, or stereotyping—let’s remember that no specific race or ethnicity can cause diseases and because an individual wears a face mask or traveled recently does not mean they are ill. It is incredibly important to practice compassion now more than ever.
In the wake of this COVID-19 pandemic, there are a number of matters and topics that it is important for us to remember:
Every interaction and every person matters
During this time, it is important for us to support all members of our Husker community—including Asian and Asian American students, faculty, and staff. Globally, there has been a spike in Anti-Asian rhetoric, racism, and xenophobia. These occurrences can have a negative impact on a person’s health and well-being and are not reflective of our commitment to inclusive excellence or our state’s ability to create a Good Life for all. We should never forget that our interactions can have a tremendous impact and that the Nebraska way is to support each other. If there are members of our community who experience or witness acts of discrimination, they may contact TIPS reporting or the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance. A non-UNL related resource for occurrences related to COVID-19 that target Asian and Asian Americans is Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Inclusive teaching reaches all students
It has been proven that when classroom or learning environments—including remote and virtual ones—are designed in ways that are inclusive and universally designed, they create learning environments where all students can thrive while reaching a variety of different learners. In many cases, instructors are already utilizing inclusive teaching practices. In other cases, there are often practical, accessible, slightly-modified approaches that can create a more inclusive learning experience. The remote learning environment certainly adds another dynamic to inclusive teaching. We hope that instructors are able to utilize resources through the Canvas portal “Teaching at UNL” and the Center for Transformative Teaching and resources through the ODI COVID-19 resource page.
In this changing environment, we have the opportunity to determine how we respond, act, or lead. Our university leadership and community are continually taking steps to ensure the safety and well-being for all of our community members and that inclusive excellence remains a priority where everyone has access to the information and resources they need to remain actively engaged in our institutional mission of teaching and learning, research, and service. There are a number of resources that are available to members of our campus community:
- For the most recent UNL updates related to COVID-19, visit https://covid19.unl.edu/.
- For online teaching and learning resources, including accessibility, visit the Center for Transformative Teaching site at https://teaching.unl.edu/keep-teaching/.
- For additional inclusive teaching resources in a remote learning environment, visit the Office of Diversity and Inclusion COVID-19 resource page at https://diversity.unl.edu/implementing-inclusive-excellence-virtual-learning-environments.
- To report any discrimination or harassment, contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance or submit a TIPS report.
In our adopted definition of inclusion, the American Association of Colleges and Universities notes that active and intentional inclusion leads to increasing our “awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding.” Let’s commit to moving ahead together.
Marco Barker, PhD
Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion