While the Office of Diversity of Inclusion (ODI) underwent some organizational changes in 2019, educating the campus community about its resources remains a top priority.
With a newly expanded team and two divisions, ODI’s focus is on serving campus more holistically—and the charge is even bigger to ensure faculty, staff and students are aware of its services.
“Everyone on the ODI team is focused on creating a campus community where people can come to school or work and be respected for who they are,” said Katie Pope, associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. “We work toward this goal in different ways and serve different populations, but we’re all in it together.”
And as a new academic term gets underway, here’s how you can get to know ODI and utilize its breadth of resources.
ODI’s path forward
New leadership positions have been created under the reorganization of ODI. Pope, whose previous role was Title IX coordinator, now serves as associate vice chancellor for civil rights and Title IX. She also is serving as interim vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion while a national search is conducted for this leadership role, previously held by Pam Connelly, who left the University earlier this month.
A new office was also created earlier this month solely dedicated to prevention of sexual violence. Carrie Benson (EDUC ’12G), who is transitioning from her role as Title IX specialist to prevention and education coordinator, will lead the office. Additionally, ODI plans to hire more investigators to its team in the spring term.
Another substantial change with the new structure is that ODI is now composed of two divisions: one, civil rights and Title IX; the other, inclusion and access.
Division of Civil Rights and Title IX
The Division of Civil Rights and Title IX handles complaints filed by the entire University community—students, faculty and staff—on issues of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or bias and accessibility barriers.
“We made the change to have all complaints filed through one division to make for a more streamlined reporting process,” said Pope. “Now, the Division of Civil Rights and Title IX are addressing other reports of discrimination beyond sexual misconduct.”
Here are some commonly asked questions about how the Division of Civil Rights and Title IX can help if you have an issue to report:
What should I do if I experience sexual misconduct or harassment?
First step: Report the incident. If you experience sexual misconduct or harassment, you are encouraged to contact the Title IX Office and get in touch with a representative. This recent @Pitt story has more information about what you need to know about the reporting process.
What is a bias incident?
Bias incidents are actions committed against a person or group that are motivated in whole or in part by bias against the person’s or group’s sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, race, religion, disability or other protected class. Bias incidents may or may not be hate crimes.
What do I do if I think I witnessed discrimination?
If you’ve witnessed an issue of discrimination—including harassment, retaliation, bias or an accessibility barrier—you must file a report on the ODI website. Because the University may have an obligation to address certain reported incidents, we cannot guarantee complete confidentiality where it would conflict with the University’s obligation to investigate meaningfully or, where warranted, take corrective action.
Who can I talk to about managing my gender transition?
That person can reach out to Carrie Benson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-648-7860.
Division of Inclusion and Access
The Division of Inclusion and Access consists of the following units: institutional equity, multicultural and diversity programming, technology accessibility, and disability resources and services (DRS).
The division works to ensure that all individuals have equal opportunity in employment and education without regard to race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, marital status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or any other protected class. An important distinction to note is that complaints related to any of the aforementioned concerns should be filed through the Division of Civil Rights and Title IX.
Below are some more helpful tips for getting to know the Division of Inclusion and Access:
How can I request religious accommodations?
You are encouraged to contact Cheryl Ruffin, institutional equity manager, at email@example.com, or Warren McCoy, institutional equity specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I learn more about recruiting diverse candidates?
There are several places you turn to for resources. The Office of Institutional Equity (IE) has compiled information to assist you. For those resources, send an email to Ruffin or McCoy (email addresses are above). IE is tasked with ensuring that the University remains in compliance with the Office of Federal Contact Compliance Programs and is also responsible for reviewing ads that are posted on the Talent Center. IE can also tell you the demographics of the applicant pool and the demographics of your current department. The Office of Human Resources also has helpful resources for talent acquisition.
How can I request diversity and inclusion training session for my office?
“We always encourage people to have a conversation with us before scheduling a training, so we can assess what your objectives are—and then customize a training to fit your needs,” said Ruffin. By emailing Ruffin, you can schedule a training session on topics ranging from religious plurality, implicit bias and other topics. Ruffin and her team also do special projects, including creating surveys and specialized training for specific departments. The trainings can be as short as one hour, but Ruffin suggests scheduling a training that is no less than two hours in length so your office can delve deeper into a particular subject. The team can also provide demographic information about specific departments. She said that her team is also trained in Intergroup Dialogue through the Anti-Defamation League. “We’re working on developing training in intergroup dialogue,” said Ruffin.
Are there resources for learning how to make my web and digital content accessible?
Yes, and you don’t have to be a web guru or developer to understand the basics and take incremental steps toward digital accessibility. From learning the basics in content editing (headings, hyperlinks, alt text and color contrast) to more advanced topics in web development (structure, navigation, input labels and keyboard accessibility), ODI is working to provide the University community with resources to help ensure the web content we produce is accessible for people with a wide variety of disabilities. “We are constantly striving to be better and welcome comments or suggestions about accessibility,” said Angie Bedford-Jack, digital accessibility coordinator.
I thought DRS was under the Division of Student Affairs. Why the change?
“While we still physically sit in the William Pitt Union, the structural move to ODI demonstrates the commitment to disability as an aspect of diversity and inclusion at Pitt,” said Leigh Culley, director of DRS. “It will allow us to ensure we are providing the best environment for people with disabilities—and that includes faculty, staff, students and visitors at Pitt.” DRS continues to build its support for faculty and staff, with more plans to strengthen its resources in the coming months.