For a Better CWRU task force proposals make significant strides

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.

When we announced this initiative in the summer of 2020, we emphasized its goal of identifying ways to advance a true culture of respect at Case Western Reserve University. In the weeks and months that followed, student leaders created an inclusive approach focused on addressing both individual issues and overarching themes. Seven topic-specific groups completed proposals and sought input from members of the campus community. Final proposals were delivered in the spring of 2021.

Since the end of the last academic year, a number of the items raised in the For a Better CWRU task force proposals have made significant strides! The updates below represent notable progress on various projects found within the task force proposals. Work on additional projects remains ongoing.

Lou Stark
Vice President for Student Affairs

Robert Solomon
Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity


​​LGBTQ+ Committee

  • In accordance with the student-led "All-Gender Bathroom Proposal,” the university has updated the gender neutral bathroom signage to the new gender neutral signage proposed by the committee. 
  • Safe Zone training has been completed by all Office for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity (OIDEO) staff.
  • While the student health care plan includes coverage for transition-related health care (including hormones, surgery, and mental health care) specifically for gender dysphoria, students report that they have had difficulty accessing these benefits. To that end, a review of these benefits is in progress and a meeting between the LGBT Center Director and insurance representatives is scheduled.
  • In 2022, the CWRU LGBT Center will roll-out a voluntary “Out and Proud” campaign to highlight LGBTQIA+ faculty and staff.

Mental Health Committee

  • University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS) has created a “What to Expect at your First Counseling Session” document to help alleviate anxiety among students who receive counseling for the first time.
  • A print piece containing UHCS resources for faculty and staff, and students has been completed in conjunction with the Dean of Students. This resource was also distributed during new student orientation and parent programs.  This will be an ongoing, year-round effort.
  • First-Year Orientation training and Graduate Orientation training now includes THINK Training (Talk, Help, Identify signs, Navigate resources, and Kindly refer) to help students, staff, and faculty know how to intervene and how to connect students in distress with appropriate support resources.
  • UHCS will continue to offer CWRUCare as a compliment and enhancement to existing Counseling Services so that all students (including graduate and professional students) have access to in-the-moment support and free, ongoing, scheduled counseling on days/times that work with their schedules (including evenings and weekends).
  • UHCS has begun training Police and Security in mental health emergencies.

Sexual Misconduct Committee

Greek Like Committee

  • The Active Upstander Task Force will make changes to the new member education process (including a revision to Bystander Programming and content), develop new curriculum for continuous education for members, finalize the mean of bystander data collection, and develop an upstander campaign. 
  • All new members of Greek organizations are now trained in Bystander Intervention.
  • Students Meeting About Risk and Responsibility Training (SMARTT) has been improved and will continue to evolve as necessary.
  • A Greek Life Sexual Misconduct Prevention Task Force was established at the end of the Spring 2021 semester and is developing goals. The Task Force will partner with the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women and the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center to increase programming for Greek members.
  • Greek organizations have committed to continued work with Social Justice Educator Joey Oteng, who will host a four-part Racial Literacy Program for Greek Members.
  • Greek Life will enhance efforts to encourage chapters to participate in Sustained Dialogue and to train members as Diversity 360 facilitators.

Gender Equality Committee

Disabilities Resources Committee

Racial Justice Committee

  • A committee is being created that is made up of admission staff and students to discuss ways to utilize students more in the recruitment process.
  • Undergraduate Admission is working on several initiatives to increase recruitment activities in the Cleveland area.
  • Financial aid presentations are being done online and invites go out to Federal Pell Grant eligible and underrepresented minority (URM) students to meet one-on-one to talk about financial aid awards, proactive fee waivers, etc.
  • At the graduate level, a Graduate Student North Star Award program has been initiated for this recruiting season designed to increase URM enrollment across graduate programs and develop longstanding partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). (Having reached out to strategically selected partners representing MSIs in markets in the South and Southwest primarily, for all of our partner schools we are offering a minimum 30% discount on tuition for any applicants in many of our master’s programs.) 
  • Undergraduate Admission is working with URM students to serve as ambassadors in their home schools and connecting them with admitted students.
  • All faculty hiring committees, staff hiring committees, and hiring managers are now required to complete Interrupting Bias in the Hiring Process and Diversity 360 training.
  • All Hiring Committee Chairs meet with Heather Burton, Senior Director for Faculty & Institutional Diversity to explore best practices and strategies for yielding diverse applicant pools.
  • College of Arts and Sciences Dean Joy Ward has made a change in faculty job descriptions, now requiring a diversity statement.  Also, applicants are expected to talk about their engagement in diversity and inclusion (D&I) and how they will contribute to these values at Case.
  • School of Medicine Dean Stan Gerson added individual engagement in D&I work across campus as part of faculty evaluation.
  • President Kaler and Provost Vinson charged the Deans to make hiring of URM faculty a priority for the few openings during the hiring freeze, supported by Think Big strategic plan funds.
  • The Provost’s office started a STEM Faculty Recruitment and Retention Journal Club designed to review the research on best practices on increasing minority participation in STEM at the faculty and graduate level. 
  • The Division of Student Affairs is sponsoring a shuttle to AsiaTown that picks up students in front of Fribley Commons, the Juniper Residential Community and the HEC and goes to AsiaTown each Saturday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • A new roommate program is being developed and Loretta Sexton, Associate Director Office of University Housing, will work with students as they create the criteria students will be asked.  
  • Each Dean has appointed a Diversity Liaison in each school/college to serve on the Diversity Executive Advisory Council (DEAC) to partner with OIDEO to work collaboratively to realize our campus-wide diversity goals.  The College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Medicine have hired a faculty-level Vice Dean and Associate Dean to fill this role. The School of Dental Medicine, Mandel School and School of Law had already hired dean-level faculty to fill this role.  The School of Nursing, Weatherhead School of Management, School of Medicine and Case School of Engineering have appointed faculty to fill this role.
  • OIDEO added the Change Agent Series to its training modules, focusing on implicit bias, micro-aggressions, privilege and empathy.
  • OIDEO continues to host responsive programming, in addition to Day of Dialogue events, on race, the presidential debate, the election, and the insurrection.
  • OIDEO has held, and will continue to hold, a Diversity Think Forum for alumni during homecoming.
  • Profiles in Inclusive Excellence is a program in partnership with OIDEO, the Alumni Association and the African American Alumni Association.  It is a program to highlight Black faculty and staff on campus.
  • The Division of Student Affairs and the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning are engaging with the community through programs including an Inclusive Leadership Workshop with Emerging Scholars, Saturday of Service, Civic Engagement Scholars.
  • OIDEO is co-sponsoring three programs in the fall of 2021 along with faculty and staff resource groups (La Alianza Latina/Latino, Asian faculty Association and the Black Faculty/Staff ERG) entitled Understanding the Black Experience at CWRU, the Latinx Experience at CWRU and the Asian Experience at CWRU.  These separate affinity events are geared towards incoming undergraduate students to hear the perspectives of fellow identified students and to hear from faculty and staff who are here to support them.
  • Project ASCEND (Achieving Success Community, Engagement and Nurturing through Diversity) is an OIDEO program designed to foster multi-layered support for faculty, staff, and students, focusing on mentoring, leadership development, professional development, and community building. Some programs planned include:
    • Dissertation Boot Camp
    • Grad & Professional School Jump Start Retreat
    • Junior Faculty Research & Writing Retreat
    • ASCEND Meet & Greet with URM Graduate & Professional Students
  • Graduate Student North Star Award recipients will kick-off the year with a dinner with President Kaler and Provost Vinson.  
  • An Inclusive Pedagogy workshop was conducted by national expert, Rich Milner, of Vanderbilt University, on March 24, 2021. The goal was to help faculty develop skills and sensibilities to engage with URM students more effectively and respectfully.
  • Faculty in the Mandel School are doing audits of what reading they assign with an eye toward being more inclusive. They also have a new curriculum for first-year students which includes addressing racism in EVERY course. 
  • President Kaler and Provost Vinson have authorized a proposal to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), our accrediting body, to focus on diversity as our quality initiative, which holds CWRU accountable for completing its work. The HLC approved the proposal and a task force, led by Vice Provost for International Affairs David Fleshler and Vice President for the Office for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Robert Solomon, is now working on implementation of all of the proposal objectives.  A few programs from the proposal include: 
    • The GOLD program (Global Opportunities in Leadership & Diversity), a program designed to increase URM participation in study abroad focusing on comparative studies around international DEI issues. 
    • The Domestic Abroad program, pairing international students with URM students to spend an extended weekend in a cultural hotspot in the United States, to promote knowledge of U.S. culture and to bridge cultural gaps among the students.  
    • A Diversity Fellowship for faculty co-sponsored by UCITE & OIDEO to help increase the level of inclusive pedagogy among faculty and gain new skills for success in the classroom.
  • CWRU added 41 courses across the entire curriculum which focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion topics, in addition to the 10 University Alliance which allows CWRU students to take such courses with our alliance partners:  University of Notre Dame, Carnegie Mellon University, Vanderbilt University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Virginia, University of Rochester, Pennsylvania State University and University of Texas.
  • The university continues to pursue a more inclusive feeling for students in the Little Italy neighborhood and talks have been in process with Senior Leadership.  A meeting with students and Little Italy representatives was held in the Spring Semester (2021) with plans to continue this dialogue with student leaders. 
  • Public Safety is currently engaged in URM and women-targeted recruiting efforts and have been trained in Interrupting Bias in the Hiring Process.  Professor Ayesha Hardaway from the School of Law will be conducting an additional training geared towards the commissioned officers.
  • Public Safety has been working with OIDEO and other campus partners to address community concerns.  CWRU Public Safety leadership agreed to have all Public Safety go through Implicit Bias training.  This training was completed on August 5 and 6, 2021. Their existing training has been reviewed for diversity, equity and inclusion content and was found to be appropriate.