Kinect Ed Inclusion Collective: The Blog

10 NJ Universities Join Forces, Want Students to Return to State for Higher Education

By Briana Williamson

10 NJ Universities Join Forces, Want Students to Return to State for Higher Education

"It’s time to think about coming home," the presidents of the participating colleges and universities wrote in a joint statement.

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University of Akron to eliminate six of 11 colleges as part of cost-saving measures due to coronavirus pandemic

By Briana Williamson

University of Akron to eliminate six of 11 colleges as part of cost-saving measures due to coronavirus pandemic

The University of Akron plans to eliminate six of its 11 colleges as part of its plan to offset an estimated $65 to $70 million in losses incurred due to the coronavirus crisis.



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Creating Connections Online

By Kelly Meier

Creating Connections Online
This crisis is not a short-term blip on the radar. It is a new reality that will endure for months. How we respond as educators will demonstrate our ability to be nimble, problem solvers that are essential to the future of our institutions. We don't know if students will be able to return to physical campuses in the Fall. The economic reality of refunds, extra expenses, hits on enrollment, and state-wide budgetary realities may necessitate budgetary cuts in the near future. Remain MORE THAN RELEVANT, as you move forward. Be transformative as you create connections in online learning communities and you will ensure student success and solidify your role as a campus leader.

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If You Permit It, You Promote It!

By Kelly Meier

If You Permit It, You Promote It!

If You Permit it, You Promote it!!!!


This phrase hit home for me, as I read about a recent incident at a high school state soccer playoff game in Minnesota. Admittedly, I have a son that played with his team in a state soccer playoff game, so I’m familiar with the way that “one and done” games can become heated. When I read the report that some student fans were taunting diverse players by calling them names of “Asian” food and telling them to go back to their own country, I was devastated.


Parents have contacted the Minnesota High School League and the schools involved to lodge a formal complaint, but I’m wondering about what was done during the game to stop the blatant bias treatment of the players. One of the parents even said that the fans didn’t need to taunt the players because the team was winning. Devastating. The idea that it would be understandable to hurl microaggressions, if the fans were upset that they were losing sums up the everyday experience of diverse people in our society.

As a parent, I want to believe that an educational environment would be a safe haven for all students. As an equity champion and an educator, I understand that this is not the case.


I want to know what other spectators were doing when they heard those insults shouted at the athletes.


I want to know what school officials were thinking when they heard those insults shouted at the athletes.


I want to know what the game officials were doing when they heard those insults shouted at the athletes.


At Kinect, we ascribe by the phrase, if you permit it, you promote it. We ALL have the responsibility to intervene when we witness bias or microaggressions occurring. Never before has it been more important for all citizens to assume the responsibility of ensuring a welcoming and inclusive living and learning environment for everyone.

The students involved need to know how their behavior reflected upon them, on their parents and on their school. They need to be taught about what it means to be racist. This situation is not an anomaly. It isn’t about a particular school. It is about our society and it will continue to happen – again and again.


As educators, we need to infuse education and awareness about cultural diversity into every facet of the learning experience. Cultural competency is not a nicety, it’s a necessity. If you have diversity and equity training on your “to-do list” and haven’t acted on it, make it your top priority.


Let this situation at a high school soccer game become an urgent reminder that now is the time to train your staff and educate your students.


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The Privilege Bead Activity

By Kelly Meier

The Privilege Bead Activity

Privilege. It seems that when I use privilege as a topic for a training, a sense of dread, guilt and worry washes over the group. Understandable. Participants often wonder:

 Will I be shamed for being White?

Will I be shamed for having money?

Will I be shamed for being educated?

I don’t believe that it’s productive to focus on privilege being a bad thing. Instead, how can we use our privilege for good and for social justice work? Try this free activity at your next meeting to transform discussion and introspection of students and staff. So often, discussions about privilege are about what others don’t have in comparison to ourselves. I want to share with you a powerful activity that will help your students and staff consider privilege from a different perspective. You will be surprised at the impact that you can make with this exercise. I have seen many versions of this activity. This one is credited to Brenda J Allen from the University of Colorado Denver.

Use this activity as a way to open up dialogue about privilege. I am always surprised at how the privilege bead experience sparks deep reflection. You can do it in 15 minutes or spend an hour or more, using the activity as a way to jumpstart equity and inclusion planning.

I also like to use our Power and Privilege Deck as a companion activity for this exercise.

You will need multicolored beads and string for each participant.


I buy them at Wal Mart. I also provide paper plates to hold all of the beads.


SETUP 1. Create 7 “bead stations” around the perimeter of the room, spacing them out so that multiple participants can stand around each station. 2. Place one bowl of multicolored beads at each station. 3. Post 2-3 copies of each “privilege list” above each station so that it can easily be read by several participants standing around each bowl. (The goal of all of the above is to make it possible to move all your participants through all stations quickly and easily. Adjust as needed to your room’s layout.) 4. Explain the purpose of the exercise. For example: We’re going to explore our privilege (one-up status) around various identities. This is not meant to make anyone feel guilty or ashamed around having or not having particular privileges, but rather to explore how we ALL have SOME privilege, and therefore how to engage that aspect of our part in our societies. We believe it critical for everyone to “sit in” this understanding in order to work and lead individually and collectively for social justice. Please do not talk during this phase of the exercise. Focus only on your experience. 5. Note from BJ Allen: To create a reverent environment, play soft music in the background. I usually play native flute music.


NOTE: I have also placed bags of beads on tables and facilitated the activity without having participants walk around. For example, I just facilitated it with 150 people and walking around would have been too cumbersome.



6. Provide each participant with a cup (into which they’ll collect their beads). 7. Point out stations around the room, explaining that: • Each station includes a list of 8 statements. • Each statement describes one possible example of privilege around that station’s system of oppression/privilege (one up-one down).

• When instructed, please visit each station. Please read each list carefully. As you read a list, for every item on the list to which you can answer, “Yes,” take one bead. As you read each item, know that while some persons in the room may be taking a bead, while others may not be. Do this for each list. When you are finished with every list, you will have a set of beads that represent your composite of privileges.

• Note that neither the stations nor the statements are meant to be exhaustive or comprehensive; these are meant to be a sampling, and a starting point for discussion given our limited time together today. • You might think of others that could be included or take issue with some present. Don’t over- analyze the statements: our goal is to begin reflection and discussion, not nitpick definitions. If you can quickly answer “basically yes,” take the bead. If your answer is “basically no,” do not take a bead.

8. Once all these instructions have been given, invite participants to circulate among all stations, taking one bead for each statement that basically applies to them.

Additional instructions

As participants finish collecting beads, provide them with a length of string/cord, and invite them to make some kind of jewelry/accessory for themselves with it (bracelet, anklet, necklace, broach, headband). However, let them know that this is optional, and that they do not have to use all of their beads if they decide to make an accessory.

They can continue crafting once discussion begins so long as they engage in the discussion as well.



Invite participants to reflect on what it was like to focus on privilege, rather than on our oppression as we often do in diversity activities.

Was it a new experience? Comfortable? Enlightening?

How did it feel (actual emotion words!)? Why is it important for us to be aware of this aspect of our identities/experience?

Why don’t we (have to) attend to it on a regular basis?

What does it mean for us to have multiple, intersecting identities—where we experience some privileges (around some identities) AND some oppression (around others)?

What insight can this give us in connecting with others?

Being patient/generous with them and ourselves?

With holding ourselves and others responsible for our actions? Being allies or advocates?

What identities (systems of privilege) were not represented here today? If we had them how would that affect your “bling”?

We asked you to turn your beads into something wearable.

What would it mean for you to wear this noticeably for the rest of the day?

What messages could others take from your “bling”?

How noticeable, to us and others, are our privileges on a daily basis?

Can we and how do we hide (deny, justify, ignore) our privilege on a daily basis?

What does the collective privilege present here (all our “bling”) mean for us as individual leaders? In collaboration at our own campuses? Across campuses/communities?

Our bead selection today was based on our current experience –here (in USA) and now (today), not in where we, our families or others of our identity group have been or are. Some identities and privileges can and do change over time, for “better” or “worse”; but we are discussing the present, not past or potential.

We can’t do “oppression algebra” where our oppressions and privileges across multiple identities cancel out to some ‘net’ oppression or privilege score! It’s both/and. Especially if you have to cut off conversation on any particular question, and/or at the end of our hour, emphasize that this activity is meant to BEGIN the larger conversations of So What and Now What.

Privilege Surveys Note: Please edit these to fit the context in which

you are using the exercise (e.g., according to participants’ characteristics, or based on points you’d like to stress).


Sexuality Privilege

1. I have formalized or could formalize my love relationship legally through marriage and receive the benefits that accompany marriage.

2. I can move about in public without fear of being harassed or physically attacked because of my sexuality.

3. I do not have to fear that if my family or friends find out about my sexual orientation there will be economic, emotional, physical or psychological consequences.

4. If I want to, I can easily find a religious community that will not exclude me for my sexuality.

5. No one questions the “normality” of my sexuality or believes my sexuality was “caused” by psychological trauma, sin, or abuse.

6. People don't ask why I “chose” my sexual orientation.

7. I can go for months without me or anyone else referring explicitly to my sexuality.

8. I easily can find sex education literature for couples with my sexual orientation.


Ability Privilege

1. I can assume that I will easily have physical access to any building.

2. I have never been taunted, teased, or socially ostracized due to a disability.

3. I can do well in challenging situation without being told what an inspiration I must be to other people of my ability status.

4. I can go shopping alone and expect to find appropriate accommodations to make the experience hassle‐free.

5. I can hear what’s going on around me without using an assistive device.

6. I can easily see the letters on this page.

7. I am reasonably certain that others do not think that my intelligence is lacking, just because of my physical status.

8. If I am fired, not given a raise, or not hired, I do not question if it had anything to do with my physical or mental ability.


Gender/Sex Privilege

1. If I have children and a successful career, few people will ask me how I balance my professional and private lives.

2. My elected representatives are mostly people of my sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.

3. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my sex. The higher‐up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.

4. I do not have to think about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability.

5. In general, I am not under much pressure to be thin or to worry about how people will respond to me if I’m overweight.

6. I will never be/was never expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.

7. Most individuals portrayed as sexual objects in the media are not the same sex as I am.

8. Major religions in the world are led mainly by people of my sex.


Race Privilege

1. I can look at the mainstream media and find people of my race represented fairly and in a wide range of roles.

2. Schools in my community teach about my race and heritage and present it in positive ways throughout the year.

3. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or closely watched by store employees because of my race.

4. I can take a job with an employer who believes in Affirmative Action without people thinking I got my job only because of my race.

5. When I use credit cards or checks for a face‐to‐face transaction, I don’t have to wonder whether someone will challenge my financial reliability because of my race.

6. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

7. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

8. I can consider many options ‐‐ social, political, or professional ‐‐ without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.


Religious Privilege

1. I can assume that I will not have to work or go to school on my religious holidays.

2. I can be sure to hear music on the radio and watch specials on television that celebrate the holidays of my religion.

3. My religious views are reflected by the majority of government officials and political candidates.

4. Food that honors my religious practices can be easily found in any restaurant or grocery store.

5. Places to worship or practice my religion are numerous in my community.

6. Most people do not consider my religious practices to be “weird.”

7. Implicit or explicit references to religion where I work or go to school conform to my religious beliefs.

8. I do not need to worry about the ramifications of disclosing my religious identity to others.


Class Privilege

1. I can be sure that my social class will be an advantage when I seek medical or legal help.

2. I am reasonably sure that I or my family will not have to skip meals because we cannot afford to eat.

3. I have a savings account with at least a month’s rent and bills set aside in case of emergency.

4. I have taken a vacation outside of the country within the past three years.

5. I have never been homeless or evicted from my place of living.

6. I have health insurance.

7. I don’t have to rely on public transportation to travel to work or school; I can afford my own vehicle.

8. The neighborhood I live in is relatively free of obvious drug use, prostitution, and violent crime.

Nationality Privilege (U.S.)

1. When I apply for jobs, my legal right to work in this country probably will not be questioned.

2. People generally assume that I can communicate proficiently in English.

3. I have never been told not to speak in my native language during everyday interactions.

4. People do not assume I am poor because of my nationality.

5. The history of my country is an integrated part of the basic U.S. education curriculum.

6. People from my country are visible and positively represented in politics, business, and the media.

7. If I wanted to, I could travel freely to almost any country. 8. People where I live rarely ask me what country I’m from.

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Hot Topics in Diversity

By Kelly Meier

Hot Topics in Diversity


Student Success of Underrepresented students

Student success is the hot buzz word in higher education. It's not that colleges and universities don't want students to be successful, but retention has become an important factor in the bottom line of institutions of higher learning. Many are posting retention rates on their front page as a sales pitch to prospective students. Some state institutions are finding that funding allocation hinges upon retention rates. Changing demographics makes the retention of students of color front and center. A new division of student success or a new students success program is not going to do the trick alone. It takes the entire institution to become invested in serving students and investing in their future. Our new book, "R is for Retention" lays out an institution-wide plan that showcases what it takes to build a strong retention program for students of color. Strong leadership and involvement from faculty, staff and students is the best way to move the dial on student success. It's a marathon, not a sprint, but the race has to be started by someone.

Cohort Hiring of faculty and staff of color . . .

Diversifying the higher education workforce is a critical part of student retention. So many colleges and universities turn to us because they don't know how to go about attracting faculty and staff of color. We advocate for a cohort hiring process to offer instant community for new hires. As you enter the typical hiring season, consider how you can build a new class of employees that is diverse. Bringing in a group of faculty and staff of color is the best way to build a nucleus of cultural community that can help your new employees realize that the institution is committed to diversity and that they are not alone.


Teaching students about compassionate relationship building . . .

As we meet with K12 institutions, we continue to hear about how challenging it is to inspire students to be compassionate with one another. So often, training is offered to teaching staff, but students are not in the mix. When we work with schools, we always include a student education component. The impact of teaching students about microaggressions and stereotype threat is powerful. Similarly, on-going conversation circles led by culturally competent teachers allows students to express their feelings and understand that inclusion is a school value. Our new line of training decks are specifically focused on student education and reflection. Take advantage of our special pricing in December and you'll be ready to make a measurable difference in the new year. 

Creating a long-range diversity plan . . .

Equity and inclusion won't just happen without a plan in place that involves everyone. If you have a plan, take advantage of the new year and bring your teaching staff together to review your progress. If you don't have one, now is the time. It may seem like a daunting task, but here are a few categories to include:

•Executive Summary

· A statement from leadership should include the following information:

o Describe the stakeholders and the developmental process

o Briefly summarize the demographic context and strategies for achieving projected outcomes

o Include the passion for the plan and the benefits for the district, students and families


· Include the mission of the district


· If you don’t have a definition diversity and inclusion for the district, convene a diversified group to create one. Share your definition widely to help increase awareness and buy-in.

•Goals, Strategies and Action Steps

· If you have diversity, equity and inclusion goals in place, they should be listed here AND they should serve as the framework for your Equity and Inclusion plan.

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