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Summary: ASAS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Symposium

By: Anne Zinn

During the morning session of the third day of the ASAS Annual Meeting, Dr. Shawn Archibeque led the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Symposium, featuring presentations by Dr. Teresa Maria Linda Scholz (New Mexico State University), Aaron Sales (New Mexico State University), and Dr. Nicole Tillquist (UConn). 

Scholz, who was named New Mexico State University's first Vice President of equity, diversity, and inclusion in 2021, shared an overview of how an EID framework informs initiatives and strategies at a land-grant, Hispanic Serving and Minority Serving institution. The session included an overview of diversity, equity, inclusion, and intersectionality and encouraged attendees to consider their department’s and institution’s commitment to EID. Scholz then shared strategic tools to help guide EID work across institutions and community outreach. 

To follow, the Director of Disability Access Services at New Mexico State University, Sales, discussed inclusive strategies for course development as it relates to students with disabilities. Sales covered the Americans with Disabilities Act, post-secondary trends within reported disabilities, various accommodations potentially available in a university setting, and the process from implementing accommodations in the classroom. Sales then shared strategies for course development that can be inclusive of every student, reviewing Universal Design concepts and making courses accessible for all. 

After a short break, Tillquist, a postdoctoral fellow at UConn, shared her personal perspective on the importance of inclusive pedagogy. Tillquist acknowledged the importance of EDI for the success of all students, but focused her talk primarily on ways those that identify within the  LGBTQ+ community would benefit from a more inclusive learning environment. Particularly within the field of Animal Science, Tillquist identified simple changes that could be made to create a more welcoming, open environment for all students, particularly those that may not feel comfortable being their true selves. Some of these suggestions include the use of non-binary language in written and spoken communication, inclusive verbiage within syllabi and department websites, and displaying pronouns in email signatures. 

A common theme amongst presenters was the need for a strong commitment to underrepresented students and a willingness to hold one another accountable as this work continues. The symposium ended with a group discussion around the work that still needs to be done around diversity, equity, and inclusion on college campuses and within the field of Animal Science.