NTID’s Antiracism and Social Justice Plan

NTID posted its Antiracism and Social Justice Plan in fall 2020, and since that time, the college has made substantial progress on the plan’s 33 initiatives. As of December 2021, 10 initiatives have been completed. Work on 20 initiatives is and will continue to be on-going. Three initiatives intersected with RIT’s Plan for Race and Ethnicity, and NTID will be working closely with the greater university on those. See below for more information about NTID’s plan and the work that’s been done to date.

RIT and NTID are engaged in meaningful conversations and actions to identify and eradicate structural and systemic racism and enhance diversity and inclusion in our campus community in measurable ways. RIT and NTID are committed to ensuring a welcoming, inclusive, vibrant, and accessible environment for everyone.

The greater university is working on an Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity, and NTID is and will continue to be a full participant in that plan. In addition, NTID is taking the steps outlined below. The plan outlined here aligns with the dimensions of RIT’s Strategic Plan 2025 that call for continuing to diversify our student population and improve graduation rates across all demographics as well as continuing to diversify our faculty and administration.

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As president of NTID, Gerry Buckley has overall responsibility and accountability for this plan and has affirmed his commitment to ensuring the successful implementation of the plan and achievement of the identified goals. Alesia Allen, NTID’s assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion, will have responsibility for day-to-day oversight of the plan, assisted and supported by members of the NTID Diversity and Inclusion Executive Team, members of NTID’s Administrative Council, and those individuals who will have lead responsibility for specific action steps in the plan.

It’s important to emphasize that this work requires the ongoing commitment and support of everyone in the RIT/NTID community. We all want RIT and NTID to be better, stronger, and more welcoming of all people. Together, we will make meaningful and lasting change.

This plan is and will continue to be a work in progress. We will update and refine it based on feedback from the community as we move forward. As specific details and activities associated with each action step in the plan are identified and developed, we will allocate necessary resources, and we will monitor and report to the community on progress and make adjustments as needed.

NTID Antiracism and Social Justice Initiatives

Supporting ALANA faculty and staff success through increasing ALANA representation of faculty, staff, and administration to 20%

NTID ALANA faculty, staff, and administration representation as of September 2020 was 15%. As of September 2021, it is 17%. For 2021, 37% of NTID’s new hires were ALANA, and 61% of NTID’s new interpreter hires were ALANA. We believe the action steps listed below, which focus on both recruitment and retention, will enable us to continue this positive trajectory and achieve the goal of 20% ALANA representation by 2025. Ideally, we will exceed this goal, and our desire is to continue to increase the goal over time.

1

Increase ALANA representation at all levels of administration at the college, including senior leadership and department heads, supervisors, and budget administrators. Pathways and mentoring will be established to support this effort via collaborative planning with the RIT Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the RIT Department of Human Resources.

Ongoing

From 2020 to 2021, NTID increased ALANA representation among administrators and managers by 10%--from 4% to 14%.

Completed fall 2020

Dr. Joseph Hill has been named assistant dean for ALANA faculty recruitment and retention. He works closely with Dr. Alesia Allen, NTID assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion, to diversify NTID’s faculty, with special emphasis on recruiting individuals who identify as BIPOC. He participates in the search process for faculty candidates and works with search committee chairs to increase diversity in candidate pools. He also leads initiatives to support the retention and success of ALANA faculty members at NTID. As part of his new role, which is a three-year appointment, Hill is a member of NTID’s Administrative Council.

3

Increase NTID Faculty Fellowship (NFF) program positions from three to six with a minimum of three of the six positions reserved for ALANA faculty members. This program focuses both on recruitment and retention of ALANA faculty members.

Completed fall 2021

We have expanded the number of fellowships in the NTID Faculty Fellowship program to six. We also have developed a new organizational structure and recruitment and application process, and development of a professional development series is underway.

4

Intensify the NTID Diversity and Inclusion Office’s efforts to develop a network of contacts of underrepresented individuals to pursue for faculty, staff, and administration positions. This effort builds on the work of RIT’s Division of Diversity and Inclusion to advance recruitment of diverse faculty. We will closely monitor progress of and outcomes from this effort.

Ongoing

The NTID Diversity and Inclusion Executive Committee has identified key ALANA NTID faculty and staff who are assisting with development of this network of contacts to enhance recruitment of underrepresented individuals for faculty, staff, and administration positions at NTID.

5

Create a position within the NTID Diversity and Inclusion Office to support ALANA staff recruitment efforts throughout the NTID organization.

Completed fall 2021

Erica Scorpio has been hired as NTID's ALANA staff retention specialist. Aaron Pagan has joined NTID's Office of Diversity and Inclusion as a marketing communications specialist.

6

Continue the retention strategy of ongoing work with the RIT Department of Human Resources to develop additional career ladders for more staff positions to create clear pathways for staff members, including ALANA staff, to advance. 

Ongoing

NTID will establish an advisory committee that includes ALANA staff members to provide feedback to Human Resources on areas where career ladders and advancement pathways should be added or strengthened.

7

Increase Randleman Program participants from three to five along with expansion of summer outreach efforts to ALANA interpreters, both in person and virtually. This program focuses on both recruitment and retention of ALANA interpreters.

Completed

The Randleman Program has expanded the number of participants it serves and offers both two-year preceptorship and summer intensive programs for interpreters of color. The program also is engaged in fundraising for an endowment fund to help eliminate financial roadblocks for interpreters of color to register for the national certification exam.

8

Enhance retention of ALANA faculty and staff by working with RIT to address the issue of Minority Tax to ensure ALANA faculty and staff receive support and recognition for doing this additional work.

Ongoing

NTID has hosted one presentation on minority tax in 2021, and we are exploring possible implementation of the Search Advocate Program to minimize the burden on ALANA faculty and staff serving on search committees. We also are seeking guidance from members of our National Advisory Group for addressing this issue.

9

Continue retention strategy of providing financial support to NTID lecturers pursuing terminal degrees, including ALANA lecturers, who are interested in moving towards tenure track positions within the college.

Ongoing

This support remains available to all lecturers for pursuing credentials necessary for tenure track positions.

10

Work in consultation with the RIT Human Resources Department to review hiring process and practices and ensure that progress towards the 2025 ALANA faculty, staff, and administration goals are being made. Reaffirm importance of NTID faculty and staff applicants’ commitment to serving a diverse student community in the hiring process.

RIT-led Initiative

NTID is a full participant in the RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity, which includes multiple action steps to address ALANA faculty and staff recruitment, retention, and advancement. NTID has made progress and is on track to achieve our 20% goal in 2025.

11

Explore expanded partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). These partnerships will be facilitated through visits conducted by the person in the ALANA faculty recruitment and retention position within the NTID Office of Diversity and Inclusion for the purpose of establishing relationships that will enable NTID to successfully recruit future faculty, staff, and administration from these campuses with an emphasis on hiring individuals who have sign language skills.

Ongoing

Some of our work on this action step has been stalled due to the pandemic, but work will accelerate when travel is no longer restricted. This work will continue to be on-going.

12

NTID will provide funding to stimulate faculty and student research into social justice issues within the deaf and hard-of-hearing community with an emphasis on identifying ways to address systematic racism. The NTID Office of Diversity and Inclusion, along with the Research Division of NTID, will establish a process for reviewing proposals, including identifying who will be responsible for proposal review. This will provide faculty scholars with an opportunity to mentor students who wish to pursue research interests in this area.

Completed fall 2021

On March 25, 2021, NTID announced that our college has established a $75,000 Antiracism Scholarship Fund as part of NTID’s Antiracism and Social Justice Plan. The fund is a joint effort between the NTID President’s Office and NTID’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The fund is supporting projects focused on antiracism research/scholarship or antiracism-related instruction. The deadline to submit proposals, originally set for May 14, was extended to September 15. Proposal review has been completed, and project funding began October 15, 2021. For more information, contact Peter Hauser.

13

NTID will continue to seek guidance, support and partnerships with national organizations representing the ALANA deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

Ongoing

This work is ongoing and will accelerate when COVID travel restrictions are lifted.

14

Work with the RIT Department of Human Resources to develop a process for including the NTID assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion in voluntary/optional exit interviews with ALANA faculty and staff members who resign with the goal of compiling data to identify issues that have a negative impact on retention of ALANA faculty and staff.

Ongoing

Discussion with HR about modifications to the voluntary/optional exit interview process is on-going. In addition, NTID has hired Erica Scorpio as an ALANA staff retention specialist, who is working to identify and address issues that have a negative impact on retention of ALANA faculty and staff.

1

Periodically conduct a scientifically based review of standardized tests used for admissions and placement decisions regarding NTID-supported students; recommend changes in test selection, usage, practice, and/or policy in light of any findings of bias based on ethnicity, preferred language, socioeconomic status, or other consumer characteristics that detract from tests’ reliability and validity, including face validity.

Ongoing

RIT and NTID no longer require ACT or SAT tests for admission. The Department of Liberal Studies has adopted a new reading assessment to determine English course placement. Students also are now welcome to repeat the assessment to improve their placement. Review of placement tests will continue to be ongoing.

2

Create and implement academic access and success pathways that engage ALANA students and their families, beginning in middle school and continued engagement through their degree programs at RIT/NTID. This will include ALANA students participating in at least one intensive summer or academic year outreach activity offered through the NTID Regional STEM Center at Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind and at NTID. See additional summary information on our transition programming that was initiated in 2019.

Ongoing

NTID partnered with CSD Learns to provide The STEM Explorers Virtual Classroom, designed to support deaf and hard-of-hearing ALANA students interested in learning about STEM fields. The program ran May 6-June 1, 2021, and it gave 23 middle-school students from 12 schools across four states free laptops and mobile hotspots to ensure they had full access to the program. Participants connected with other deaf and hard-of-hearing students online, learned from successful deaf and hard-of-hearing role models with careers in STEM fields, built STEM skills through fun activity boxes at home, and worked on envisioning their own path to a career in STEM. Additional programs are under development and offerings will be ongoing.

3

Create culturally responsive first-year academic programming (e.g. STP, SVP, Freshman Seminar, and Career Exploration Studies) that provides skills and strategies to improve student persistence.

Ongoing

We have developed some culturally responsive first-year programming, and this work will be ongoing. Kiersten Blankley, NTID director of student and academic services, has submitted a revised course outline for Freshman Seminar curriculum that includes antiracism topics. The revised outline is under review by the NTID Curriculum Committee for final approval.

4

Evaluate and revise existing coursework to promote culturally sustaining pedagogy and antiracism across the disciplines.

Ongoing

We have evaluated and revised some coursework, and this work will be ongoing. NTID has partnered with Dr. Nancy Ares from the University of Rochester to offer an antiracist curriculum development course. Two cohorts of NTID faculty and staff have participated to date. A report on the total number of courses revised will be provided at the end of spring semester 2022.

5

Work with RIT to implement requirement that all incoming NTID students participate in an antiracism program as part of first year experience.

Ongoing

This work will be ongoing. Kiersten Blankley, director of NTID student and academic services, has submitted a revised course outline for Freshman Seminar curriculum that includes antiracism topics. The revised outline is under review by the NTID Curriculum Committee for final approval. We also added antiracism-focused material to the curriculum for Freshman Seminar for fall 2021, in addition to diversity and inclusion curriculum-related efforts already in progress. Also, all Freshman Seminar instructors took antiracism workshops before fall semester began to ensure they were adequately trained in the work to host dialogue and activities during class. Taj Smith, RIT director of diversity and inclusion education, hosted a workshop to familiarize staff with the framework used in the curriculum.

6

Update curricula to include courses related to antiracism and social justice for NTID students at all degree levels. Courses may be classified in one of the general education perspectives so they satisfy degree graduation requirements. Explore establishing a certificate program in the area of equity and social justice. Provide support to ALANA faculty and staff to lead and teach in these efforts.

Ongoing

Discussions about establishment of the certificate program are underway.  The Department of Liberal Studies is developing course offerings as part of the Community Development and Inclusive Leadership program. This work will be ongoing.

7

Expand NTID’s dual-enrollment program (Project Fast Forward) in partnership with high schools that serve ALANA communities.

Ongoing

This work is ongoing. We currently are surveying Project Fast Forward teachers and participants on barriers and opportunities related to the program. We received a grant from Microsoft to establish a national advisory board to evaluate the program and make recommendations for improving opportunities for ALANA students. NTID also has established a Project Fast Forward grant to support high schools that serve predominantly ALANA students. The funds from this grant can be used for textbooks, software, and hardware directly related to the dual-credit courses offered by RIT/NTID. Up to $5,000 is available per school per semester.

8

Establish MSSE scholarships for 5-10 students from disadvantaged economic backgrounds or who have a strong record of inclusion and helping others scale barriers, in order to help address the critical national shortage of ALANA teachers in deaf education, particularly in STEM fields. Schools for the deaf nationally report ALANA teacher representation rates of 4%. MSSE will expand online, outreach, and summer programming to serve and support non-traditional (e.g. adult) students.

Completed

The first scholarships were awarded in fall 2020. Additional scholarships will be awarded annually.

9

Establish ASLIE scholarships for 5-10 interpreting students from disadvantaged economic backgrounds or who have a strong record of inclusion and helping others scale barriers, in order to help address the critical national shortage of ALANA interpreters. Explore opportunities to start locally and link this in some way with RIT’s Rochester City Scholars program. Invest in additional mentoring and retention programs for ASLIE. Explore how NTID can serve and support non-traditional (e.g. adult) students in the ASLIE program.

Completed

Scholarships are established. Recruitment of students eligible for scholarships will be ongoing.

11

Work with the RIT committee established in October 2020 to identify strategies for enhancing ALANA student retention and success. Recommendations submitted to this group include a review of numerous student-related services. 

RIT-led Initiative

NTID is a full participant in the RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity, which includes multiple action steps to address ALANA student retention.

12

NTID will work with RIT to review the level of mental health support for ALANA students. Concerns about the ability of current resources to meet growing demands have been raised and will be examined. NTID is prepared to make additional investments as needed in this area following review with RIT.

Ongoing

This work is ongoing as we assess and address the needs of our students. We have implemented the following programs and initiatives:

  • Students in Distress: Interventions and Campus Resources-Mental Health
  • Black Mental Health Matters Discussion with CaPS therapists
  • Positive Self-affirmations for when Black bodies forget that they matter
  • BIPOC + Deaf/HoH: Self-care tips
  • Black Lives Matter in Group Therapy Too
  • Creating a Self-Care Playlist-Black Minds Matter
  • Talking to Family About Mental Health
  • Affirmations at the Intersection
  • Real Talk Special Edition: Let’s talk Mental Health

1

Working with the RIT Division of Diversity and Inclusion, identify specific diversity and anti-bias training that will be required for all faculty, staff, and administrators at NTID to complete as part of their professional development plan. This training requirement will be a part of all NTID faculty, staff, and administration plans of work with accountability for all faculty, staff and administrators to participate. Continue to encourage individual interaction with diverse groups to enhance knowledge and sensitivity.

RIT-led Initiative

NTID is a full participant in the RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity, which includes multiple action steps to related to diversity, equity, and inclusion training for all employees.

2

Continue working with RIT and Public Safety to provide enhanced training on working effectively with deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing ALANA members of the RIT/NTID community. In addition, because law enforcement is often called to scenes that involve mental and/or emotional health issues for which they may not be adequately trained, we will review the support already provided from Student Affairs for such calls and consider necessary modifications to ensure that Public Safety is properly trained in de-escalation strategies. Work with RIT and Public Safety to ensure rapid investigation and response to any reports of bias on the part of Public Safety.

Ongoing

In July 2021, NTID conducted a session as part of RIT Public Safety's annual Guard Law training, which is required training for all RIT Public Safety officers. The training focused on Deaf culture, working with and understanding deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and an overview of NTID's Antiracism and Social Justice Plan.

3

Re-engage NTID community in use of “Safe Space.” This space, located in Peterson Hall – Room A145, was created in 2017 and is ready to be used. Per the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee recommendation, use one room as a resource library; the other rooms can be used for meetings and informal discussions. NTID also will work with the RIT Division of Diversity and Inclusion regarding how to best maximize collaboration and cooperation between the university’s MOSAIC Center and the NTID Safe Space. 

Ongoing

Due to the COVID pandemic, the location designated as safe space has been underutilized. NTID is currently evaluating the location of the space and whether it should be relocated or better publicized to encourage more use.

4

As RIT pursues future climate surveys, focus on increasing participation by developing survey instruments that are language-accessible to our deaf and hard-of-hearing population at all levels, and on increasing the quality of the resulting data by providing opportunities for qualitative feedback and constructing accessible narratives to explain the data. Provide transparency through sharing of future survey results. Explore ways to ensure anonymity for people in departments with small numbers.

Ongoing

RIT is preparing a climate study for early 2022, and NTID is working with RIT to make the survey available in English and sign language.

5

Seek specific opportunities, in partnership with RIT’s Diversity and Inclusion Division, to be directly engaged in Rochester area efforts to address racism. The current project with the Urban League is one example. NTID also will encourage RIT to explore collaboration on initiatives related to social justice with other local and regional postsecondary institutions. See more examples of possible collaborations.

Ongoing

RIT/NTID has announced a working partnership with Garth Fagan Dance for a “cooperative-creative-connection” that will begin August 1, 2021. The partnership will allow collaboration for mutual projects, including social justice outreach—exploring the use of dance and the performing arts as tools in examining issues surrounding social justice—and community outreach—increasing the access to dance and the performing arts for students in the Rochester City School District. Now in its 50th year, Garth Fagan Dance is an internationally acclaimed contemporary American dance company based in downtown Rochester. Its founder, Garth Fagan, 80, may be best known for his Tony and Olivier award-winning choreography for Disney’s “The Lion King.”

6

RIT has committed to upgrading its bias reporting system as announced in July 2020 by President Munson. Reports for faculty and staff are sent to Dr. Keith Jenkins, vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion, and reports for students are sent to Dr. Sandy Johnson, senior vice president of student affairs. Drs. Jenkins and Johnson are responsible for determining appropriate follow-up actions. NTID will work to educate the community about the reporting system and the safeguards that are included in it to ensure that people feel comfortable reporting issues and incidents.

Completed

RIT’s updated bias reporting system is operational, and we included a segment in Brick City News to educate students on use of the bias reporting system. We will continue to educate the community about the system.

7

NTID’s Dyer Arts Center is setting up an ALANA advisory group and is applying for grant funding to implement a pilot residency program that will bring ALANA artists to the Dyer Arts Center. The center also is developing a plan to convert one gallery into a permanent space to showcase works by ALANA Deaf artists. NTID is seeking funding for this permanent gallery space.

Ongoing

Recent Dyer Arts Center activities/programs include publishing two Black is Black: BlackityAF exhibitions and have two more planned for September 2021, facilitated discussions about Black Deaf Arts in five different forums, hosted a virtual collage workshop led by Takiyah Harris.

Background Information

In fall semester 2015, members of NTID’s Ebony Club raised concerns about a lack of focus on all aspects of diversity at NTID in a letter to NTID President Gerry Buckley. President Buckley met with representatives of Ebony Club on several occasions to discuss their concerns and communicated with the NTID community at large regarding the students’ concerns and plans for addressing them.

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Plan Terminology

In this plan, we primarily use the acronym ALANA, which refers to individuals who identify as African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American, and Native American. NTID representation of individuals who identify as Asian American in our faculty and staff lags behind the greater university, and therefore is an area in need of improvement for NTID. We recognize that BIPOC is rapidly becoming an accepted acronym. BIPOC includes individuals who are members of the same groups as those included in the acronym ALANA while emphasizing the uniqueness of the Black and Indigenous experience in the Western Hemisphere. We acknowledge that none of the terminology is perfect or universally agreed upon.

RIT Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity

Rochester Institute of Technology unveiled an extensive new plan and series of initiatives aimed at making the university more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. The Action Plan for Race and Ethnicity will guide RIT’s efforts over the next several years as it rolls out new programs, services, and policies to help create equal access, opportunities, and respect for all students, faculty, and staff.