Reaffirming SAAL's Commitment to Equity

Reaffirming SAAL's Commitment to Equity

As the SAAL Board works to continue to foster spaces to share and create new knowledge around assessment, relationship building is fundamental. However, the world we are living in today continues to face equity challenges, political polarization, systematic oppression, overwhelming anti-Black violence, and harm to our marginalized communities. This violence is not new to our country nor to our institutions. Most of us work at campuses and live in neighborhoods that are rooted in systems of slavery, theft of indigenous lands, and/or exploitation of people of color. SAAL is committed to equity and championing practices of assessment that leverage data to close equity gaps, foster inclusive communities, and dismantle inequitable systems and structures. We are committed to involve, feature, and represent diverse perspectives and identities in our offerings and ultimately want to meet your professional development needs.

Although ongoing efforts to live out our equity values on SAAL continues, racism and violence that create harm still exist in this world. We are committed to support one another as a community through these times. Below are adapted recommendations from SAAL that were originally shared in 2020 that we feel are still relevant today.


Thank you to all Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who have been doing work to create change. This work carries inescapable physical and emotional labor, which takes a toll on health and wellness. You deserve time, space, and support to recharge and refresh. You deserve to do this, just as we teach our students--that is, to practice wise self-care. 

Here are action steps we can all continue or start to take as assessment leaders:

  • Educate yourself on critical assessment theory and practice and share with others. 

  • Be active and engaged in forwarding anti-racist work in all ways that you can. Equity and inclusion are not add-ons to our work, but should always be centered in what we do.

  • Remember that the communities we serve should be engaged in the design, analysis and reporting stages of assessment. Prioritize and center their voice in the work.

  • Develop an equity scorecard to highlight strengths and opportunities to advance equity.

  • Invite people with diverse perspectives to the table, especially when developing measures and learning outcomes.

  • Be transparent about the goals of an inquiry process as many worldviews can get embedded in the data.

  • Engage in methodological pluralism. One method of data collection fosters one way of telling a story.  

  • Pull together a diverse group of individuals when analyzing and interpreting data. If you are interpreting data regarding historically underrepresented students, engage with such students to facilitate the opportunity to inform and shape the narrative. Always remember to align your “why” with data analysis and not shy away from disrupting existing power structures and influences.

  • 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.

  • Work to avoid fostering stereotyping or taking a deficit based approach when interpreting data related to historically marginalized groups. Include students in the interpretation to contextualize the data. Focus on people-first language and think about accessibility in data visualizations.

  • 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.  

  • Access resources provided to you by SAAL members. Resources on socially just assessment are highlighted on our website


A Call to Action for White Colleagues: 

  • Do your own homework and research first; do not ask your colleagues of color to do it for you. If you find yourself not knowing or suspecting you don’t know, then research, read, listen, watch. As assessment leaders, you are good at doing your reading. Here is a list of some great places to start depending on where you are in your journey:

  • Engage in active self-reflection or reflexivity. How do your identities shape your approach to data collection and analysis? What voices are elevated? How is evidence determined to be valid? Who has a say in the credibility of evidence?

  • Ask yourself, “Am I willing to risk my power, privilege, position to be an ally to people of color?” Get to a place of yes. 

  • Do not leave it up to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to bring up social justice and white supremacy; speak up.

  • Build allyship and create a collective agenda with others doing this work.



As a board, we haven’t shied away from this work, but we have more work to do now and in perpetuity. We pledge to the following actions:

  • Continue to share our progress on embedding equity as a value into our new strategic plan

  • Publicly share updates on the Grand Challenges in Assessment in Higher Education, Equity project

  • Place resources on critical and socially just assessment, including professional development opportunities, front and center on our website.

  • Each committee will continually commit to and apply actionable steps for infusing social justice into their work. 

  • Involve, feature, and represent diverse perspectives and identities in professional development offerings (e.g., blogs, podcasts and structured conversations).

  • As a board, commit to engaging in our own professional development on anti-racism and anti-white supremacy in our work and in our lives.


Our group is named Student Affairs Assessment LEADERS, which means that all of us have a role to play in making our work and our institutions socially just and that our colleagues, students and communities have welcoming and inclusive experiences. We want to publicly reaffirm our commitment to equity and to you, our members.

Our mission is to create a robust, active, and inclusive community committed to supporting and advancing critical conversations with resources and scholarly endeavors related to student affairs assessment. We encourage you all to share resources, strategies and words of wisdom with one another to nurture a thriving community of individuals engaged in Student Affairs Assessment. 


The SAAL Board