Create an authentic, inclusive, accessible campus
UT Austin offers members of our community a unique experience: the chance to live, work, and learn in a world-class institution of higher learning housed in one of the most dynamic cities in America. But we must ensure that every member of our community is able to maximize their opportunities on campus. That means we must continue to expand renovations across campus that improve the accessibility of classrooms, restrooms, offices and physical spaces. That also means that we need to ensure students of all identities and backgrounds feel welcome in our housing options through campus-wide housing support programs. We need to assess the needs of faculty and staff when it comes to housing. And as the university pivots, we need accessibility in virtual spaces to evolve as well.
We also recognize that creating an accessible campus isn’t just about physical space. We need to weave a diversity of intellectual and cultural viewpoints into the fabric of UT Austin, from curriculum to research to the community engagement that we practice every day. And we will ensure that all students, faculty and staff are aware and have access to the support resources that UT Austin already offers. We should expand and centralize our onboarding programs, both for incoming students, as well as new faculty and staff hires, to connect our communities to the resources available to them.
How we will accomplish our objectives:
3.1 Ensure every new student is onboarded with access to and awareness of support resources and programming
UT Austin already offers a wide range of services and support groups, including affinity groups, that meet the needs of a diversity of students. The challenge can be connecting new students to those resources when they arrive on campus and helping them to navigate the resources we already have.
- Expand and implement educational presentations from affinity groups, centers and programs associated with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) and across CSUs during New Student Orientation
- Promote and develop resources for our undergraduate and graduate students on how to have difficult conversations
- Ensure that each college and school receives this centralized resource of programs to promote during their orientation sessions
3.2 Improve accessibility of all spaces on our campus
UT Austin has made significant strides but should continue to improve the accessibility of its physical and virtual spaces for students, faculty and staff with disabilities, as well as striving to offer more gender-inclusive restrooms.
- Continue to undertake accessibility improvements for both physical and virtual spaces across campus, including sidewalks and renovations and best practices for online meetings
- Increase the number of gender-inclusive and accessible restrooms on campus
- Consider linguistic accessibility and incorporate and amplify translations across all UT Austin sites and programming based on the needs of our communities
3.3 Ensure fair access and transparency to any new support programs
Improving the affordability of studying, living and working in Austin for students is a priority for the university, as UT’s Strategy to Increase Impact makes clear. However, as we work toward that goal, we need to offer equitable opportunities for housing to all at UT Austin. For instance, this is particularly important for LGBTQIA+ students living in university housing who have a right to equal access to housing that provides them the same dignity, autonomy and assumption of safety as straight, cis-gender students.
- Promote the gender-inclusive housing program in residential housing that allows students to be paired with other students who select gender-inclusive housing without consideration of gender.
- Coordinate with UT’s Strategy to Increase Impact to make sure that housing assistance is a high priority for those in need
- Amplify resources and support programs available to our community, such as the Institute for Restorative Justice and Inclusive Campus Support programs
3.4 Ensure every new faculty and staff member is being onboarded with support resources
Just as we offer supports and services to our student communities, we also offer a number of resources like the University Resource Groups (URGs) to serve faculty and staff from a diversity of backgrounds. We face a similar challenge to ensure all faculty and staff are aware and have easy access to the resources available.
- Align and coordinate with URGs, Staff Council and HR to create onboarding tools and materials that showcase faculty and staff communities on campus
- Expand and implement educational presentations from affinity support networks associated with the DDCE and across CSUs during new staff or faculty orientation
3.5 Weave diversity and inclusion into the fabric of UT Austin
We only meaningfully accomplish inclusive practices when we make them an ongoing part of the daily life of our community. Serving the interests of our campus community means incorporating inclusion, equity and belonging into our teaching practices as well as into life outside of the classroom.
- Improve the support, opportunities and rewards for developing inclusive teaching practices and pedagogies
- Create programs equivalent to the experiential learning initiative to support issues of development around inclusive teaching
- Publicize openings on leadership committees across campus, and encourage students, staff and faculty to apply
- Promote and embrace an institutional diversity statement