On June 12, 2020, the Board sent a message to the Student Affairs Assessment Leaders (SAAL) membership simply titled Black Lives Matter. Since then, we have seen insurrectionists storm the U.S. Capitol, increased acts of violence against Asian American communities that are associated with racist responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and continued anti-Black violence. For some, each of these events serve as a perpetual reminder of the systemic racialized violence and racial inequities in the United States. For individuals within racially minoritized communities, these racialized experiences are lived, constant and pervasive. Racial violence and the ensuing trauma are real.
We recently learned on April 20, 2021 that a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of George Floyd. This legal outcome, perhaps, signals a step towards accountability for the longstanding anti-Black violence within a justice system rooted in white supremacy. The reports of racialized violence prior to and after the verdict confirm that this is not an isolated incident. The accountability of one person does not singlehandedly dismantle the stronghold of white supremacy or relieve individuals from taking the actions necessary to create a racially just society. Accountability alone is not justice.
We know statements do not equate to change and that condemnation of the abhorrent is a minimum and often performative action. We need to work towards racial justice as a community of student affairs assessment leaders by doing and committing to the following:
Learning about antiracism and Black Lives Matter:
· Black Lives Matter reading list
· Scaffolded reading list on antiracism
· Talking about Race from the National Museum of African American History & Culture
Implementing equity-centered and socially just strategies in our assessment practice:
· Educate yourself on critical assessment theory and practice and share with others.
· Be active and engaged in forwarding anti-racist work in all the ways that you can. Equity and inclusion are not add-ons to our work, but should always be centered in what we do.
· Develop an equity scorecard to highlight strengths and opportunities to advance equity.
· Invite people with diverse and justice-oriented perspectives to the table, especially when developing measures and learning outcomes.
· Engage in methodological pluralism. One method of data collection fosters one way of telling a story.
· When analyzing and interpreting data, pull together a diverse group of individuals to do so. If you are interpreting data regarding historically underrepresented students, engage with such students to facilitate the opportunity to inform and shape the narrative.
· Disaggregate data to explore diverse lived experiences. Relying on averages masks the margins. In addition to data disaggregation, conduct within-group analysis rather than assuming homogeneity.
· When interpreting data related to historically marginalized groups, work to avoid fostering stereotyping or taking a deficit based approach. Include students in the interpretation to contextualize the data.
· When conducting cross-group analysis and comparisons: 1) use approaches that do not require a large N, effectively silencing marginalized groups 2) do not compare historically marginalized students to white students without contextualizing their experiences.
· Work with diverse groups to develop assessment questions so that questions are not chronically reflective of historically dominant perspectives.
Using resources provided to you by SAAL members:
· SAAL members routinely create professional development opportunities that center diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. These resources remain highlighted on the front page of our website, and new offerings are always becoming available.
As a Board we remain guided by our values of Curiosity, Equity, Justice and Intentionality and steadfast to the work that we must do as individuals to learn, grow, act and heal. Collectively, we aim to equip ourselves and this community of student affairs assessment leaders and educators with the knowledge and resources to engage in assessment not only to understand the differential and inequitable experiences of college students, but to take action in pursuit of justice.
The SAAL Board