Office of Inclusive Excellence

The First Step

May 2, 2023

When is it time for change? First, it takes awareness to know there’s a problem. The awareness may not come easy: things often feel stagnant, we experience negative consequences, people around us are a bad influence or new people come in and impose change upon us. I could argue that, in the last 900 days of COVID, CSUMB employees can identify experiencing every one of these reasons that prime us for change – the latest maybe being the most exciting. 

Our founding vision uses growth phrases like learning environment, innovative instruction, creative activity, experimental use of technology, and pursuit of excellence. We cannot do any of these things without a constant willingness to change and advance into those statements. Immense change is further implied in the CSUMB founding vision statement, “... the university will be framed by substantive commitment to multilingual, multicultural, gender-equitable learning.” 

If we truly want to foster an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone on campus, starting with our employees in the following areas, we must address the following areas to have a resounding impact on students:

  1. Communication

Communication continues to be a concern for all types of constituents at CSUMB. Across campus, the university has struggled with sharing information at all levels of the organization. Even the face of the university, its website, has had plenty of criticism and is a difficult place to navigate and find information. From an equity and inclusion mindset, knowledge is power, and the lack of sharing information with the larger community comes off as an intentional use of power to keep employees in their place.

  1. Decision Making

During COVID, decision-making shifted to the administration, and many employees with previous authority were removed from processes for consistency across units during a crisis. Now that we are returning to normalcy, the decision-making entities need to return as well, but at a quicker rate. However, with its reinstatement, should come more inclusivity and transparency overall. More people need to be at the table when ideas are discussed, even if they don’t have the final say. Taking time to hear input about the impact decisions have is critical before decisions are made. 

  1. Morale

Administration is already aware of the pay inequities, retention issues, and high cost of living on the Central Coast, but there are more ways to improve morale than with just money: Create a safe and supportive environment, meaning everyone feels welcomed and wanted. Recognize people (more than once a year) by teaching managers how to recognize the small things all year long and show appreciation for the work people are doing. Provide flexibility for the work environment, and offer engaging activities with colleagues at work.

When looking at the history of social justice movements, those leading change knew there was a problem and had to convince the rest there was also a problem.  Change agents had to convince others that the issue started with a need for personal changes--often changing perspectives people held their entire lives, revisiting values so ingrained they had no idea they were wrong, recognizing privileges a part of their unconscious they couldn’t even see happening, or even worse, though they understood the power they had, seeing they still lacked the willingness to give it up. 

In the seven weeks under new leadership, there is certainly a buzz that change is coming, and for most, I think we are ready. Every change starts with the first step (~Dave Matthews).