For a Better CWRU Update

To the Case Western Reserve Community:

We write today to update the campus community regarding the progress of the For a Better CWRU student-led task force, as well as the next steps of this university-wide process.

When we announced this initiative over the summer, we emphasized its goal of identifying ways to advance a true culture of respect at Case Western Reserve University. More than 190 students responded with interest. In the weeks that followed, student leaders created an inclusive approach focused on addressing both individual issues and overarching themes. 

Seven topic-specific groups have now completed their respective draft action plans. The comment period ended Feb. 9, and the groups are now refining their plans. We expect to release the final plans next month. In the meantime, several university offices have begun to address issues already raised. Below are examples of these efforts, organized by subject:

Student Mental Health

University Health & Counseling Services (UHCS) has expanded options for students on- and off-campus since last summer through CWRU Care, a collaboration with TimelyMD to provide 24/7 telehealth services, including immediate access to a mental health professional. CWRU Care also offers scheduled counseling sessions, including evening and weekend options. 

UHCS and the Dean of Students’ Office also have increased outreach to faculty members to offer assistance and training regarding ways to identify students in distress and connect them to helpful resources.

Sexual Misconduct

This semester, the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women launched It’s on CWRU as part of its efforts to disrupt a culture of violence. The initiative includes partners from several other campus units, among them the Office of Equity, Office of Greek Life, Department of Physical Education & Athletics and Office of Student Activities & Leadership. It offers education and training, tool kits and informational efforts. 

The university also joined the Culture of Respect Collective, a two-year program in which universities engage in self-assessments and work to improve policies and programs aimed at ending sexual violence. 

Finally, students involved in, and alumni of, the Greek Life community are working together to develop and promote a culture of bystander intervention among chapters.

Greek Life

Greek Life students and alumni also are engaging with an outside consultant and campus partners to redefine the purpose of our Students Meeting About Risk and Responsibility Training (SMARRT) peer education program, and create new programming around consent, safe substance practices and wellness.

In addition, a four-part Racial Literacy Program is being offered to the community, and Greek Life will continue to promote historically black fraternities and sororities and support the members of those groups on campus.

Racial Justice

Several offices across campus have launched efforts, individual and collective, to make the university a more welcome and equitable place for underrepresented groups.

In terms of direct services to students:

  • UHCS has added support groups for Black students and, with the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) and Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity (OIDEO), a BIPOC Support Space with the UHCS multicultural specialist.
  • Student Advancement is looking at ways navigators can better meet the needs of underrepresented students and assist with student concerns.
  • As part of the university’s broader efforts to increase scholarship support for students, OMA and university development staff have collaborated to raise funds for the Momentum Scholarship Fund, which focuses on underrepresented students.

With regard to larger efforts that affect students:

  • OMA and OIDEO are developing additional Diversity 360 programming and workshops for the near future.
  • OIDEO has increased its training modules with a Change Agent Series covering microaggressions, privilege, bias and empathy.
  • OIDEO has been meeting with university police and public safety leadership to review their current training, and will provide unconscious bias training to all public safety staff.

Disability Issues

The Office of Disability Resources is working with the Office of Residence Life to provide more in-depth training to its professional staff and resident assistants to inform their work with supporting students with disabilities. The office has also added a statement regarding accommodations in lab settings, and can work with faculty and students on a case-by-case basis regarding options.

Gender Equity

The Flora Stone Mather Center for Women is developing a community-wide training initiative on violence prevention, gender equity and feminist intersectionality. It has also created a coalition of student groups to provide consistent feedback from students and to collaborate on additional programs. The center’s education initiatives now include microaggression training, and a forthcoming program will focus specifically on allyship to underrepresented communities in STEM.

LGBT Issues

The university’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Center is working with several university offices to transition single-stall, single-gender bathrooms across campus into all-gender, gender-neutral bathrooms accessible to everyone. In addition, the center and student health administrators are communicating with Aetna to begin a comprehensive review of the transition-related health care benefits offered to students. As part of that effort, the LGBT Center hopes to identify ways to ensure those benefits are more widely communicated and that accessing them is a less complex process.

These are just some examples of the efforts taking place in these areas. The committees look forward to sharing their final proposals next month.

Lou Stark
Vice President for Student Affairs

Robert Solomon
Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity