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Expanding Access Quarterly extension office of access, inclusion, and compliance

Fall 2019

New Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance!

On September 17, Dean Karl Martin announced some staffing and structural changes affecting the area of Diversity and Inclusion. We are happy to announce the formation of the Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance (OAIC) under the leadership of Interim Director Dominic Ledesma. Other staff members are Teresa Curtis, Jeremiah Jackson, Jay Lema, Rick Mills, Carlos Miranda, Ariana Thao and Kate Wodyn.

OAIC is charged with shaping and implementing an organizational strategy for promoting inclusive excellence within Extension as a workplace and in all spaces where Extension carries out its public service mission. The office will help guide and lead an organizational strategy for Extension, with a focus on three core areas:

  1. Support colleagues with Expanding Access efforts in programs and services
  2. Developing and delivering resources that build staff capacity and promote Extension as an inclusive workplace
  3. Providing organizational leadership for federal compliance in accordance with our USDA/NIFA funding partners
“I am excited to build this new Office and for the opportunity to work with such talented colleagues. I know this new role will present many opportunities to help guide and lead an organizational strategy for inclusive excellence. I believe in the important role Extension plays in our state and am looking forward to how we can enrich and strengthen our public-service mission.” --Dominic Ledesma

What do we mean by “Access,” “Inclusion,” and “Compliance?”

“Expanding Access” refers to our public service mission and the programs and services we provide. It is outward-facing, intentional, and involves varied approaches to serve persons from historically under-represented and marginalized communities.

“Inclusion” refers to Extension’s inward-facing culture as a workplace, including the spaces where our work is carried out. Inclusive excellence aims to foster an organizational ethos of respect, collaboration, and accountability among our colleagues, community stakeholders, and members of the public.

“Compliance” refers to the alignment of organizational structures, practices, and policies that are anchored by, but extend beyond, the established minimum legal standards for providing equitable access to programs and services in accordance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other sources of federal law and policy.

One of the first initiatives to be undertaken by the newly-restructured department will be to implement a Coaching & Consultation Request intake process for providing Extension colleagues with a team-based support model for expanding program access, serving diverse audiences, and other equity-oriented issues.

What is Diversity? — the condition of having or being composed of different elements; variety, especially the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization. (Webster's Dictionary)

Meet the 2019 SAAIP interns

The Summer Affirmative Action Internship Program (SAAIP) is an internship program designed to recruit college students from underrepresented groups for summer employment that will expose them to new experiences and potential career paths within Extension. The program is offered in partnership with the State of Wisconsin Division of Personnel Management. The State’s role is to recruit racial/ethnic minority students, female students, students with disabilities, and veteran students for an opportunity to work in a professional work environment within state government. Extension’s role is to create internship opportunities that will provide students with meaningful, professional-level experiences and encourage them to consider future career options with Extension. Read on to meet five of summer 2019's interns.

Clockwise from top left: Katie Paape, Lauren Hackbarth, Megan Betts, Sabrina Dornan, Rachel Lavender.

Megan Betts worked with Sharon Lezberg, Dane County Community Development Educator, on a collaborative project this summer with Dane County Extension and the Madison Community Foundation to identify training needs of the nonprofit organizations in Dane County. Megan is a graduate student in the Sociology Department at UW-Milwaukee. Her work centers around identity; the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, age, physical ability, neuro-diversity, as well as power and privilege.

Sabrina Dornan joined Waukesha County Extension as a Community Outreach Intern. She worked with several Extension programs to create community awareness, educate and evaluate the Extension services available to the community. She recruited, enrolled and presented STEM lessons to youth in the community; developed ongoing partnerships with community organizations; and assisted in organizing, planning and conducting their summer pre-college program. Sabrina was instrumental in assisting the Area Extension Director with the development of a survey to be used throughout the Waukesha County School District. She is currently a junior attending UW-Madison, majoring in Psychology and Spanish, and is a member of the Powers-Knapp Scholarship program.

Lauren Hackbarth collaborated with Langlade County Extension's 4-H Program Coordinator, Holly Luerssen. Her primary focus was to generate positive summer engagements for the county's 4-H and community youth, including activities at the Quad County Summer Camp. Lauren is a student at UW-Madison, majoring in genetics. She enjoys giving back to her community as a Langlade County 4-H alumni and is an active member of the UW-Madison marching band.

Rachel Lavender worked with the Division of Extension Media Collection under the supervision of Pam DeVore and Karen Dunn. She focused on creating more robust catalog records and implementing new procedures. Rachel is a graduate student in the UW-Madison iSchool. Her focus is in archival studies and how information professionals can be helpful to under-served communities.

Katie Paape worked in the Center for Community and Economic Development and was given responsibility for collecting and assembling data to describe the commercial real estate market facing downtown business operators and building owners throughout the state. The task was to use secondary and primary data to look for characteristics of downtown, first floor, commercial space, that would to help all parties determine a fair rental rate—usually one of the largest expenses for small, independent businesses. Katie entered UW-Madison this fall as a transfer student from Madison College. She intends on studying English and Music Composition.

What we're reading: Uncomfortable Neighbors

by Rebeca Alonso and Jillian Frideres

Uncomfortable Neighbors: Cultural Collisions between Mexicans and Americans [Vecinos Incomodos: Choques Culturales entre Mexicanos y Americanos] by James V. Tiffany is a bilingual book that was published in 2003 in which the author attempts to provide intercultural understanding. Tiffany touches on such topics as stereotypes, la familia, respect, and getting along, among others. For instance, when discussing respect, he talks about the importance of eye contact among Americans*, whereas for Mexicans not making eye contact is often seen as more respectful. Clearly this can lead to misunderstanding when people of these two cultures interact.

Additionally, this may impact the way we see the colleagues or the audiences we work with or even people that we meet on the street or out and about. Understanding this cross-cultural behavior is important in order to get along with each other, especially since so much diversity and many different cultural traditions may surround us wherever we work, live, or play. As a Mexican herself, at least one of our LERG members was taught to respect her superiors, especially parents or the elderly, and this included not making eye contact.

On the other hand, some Americans may think that Mexicans, or those of Mexican descent, tend to be rude because they do not even look at you in the eyes! And that is true! Even our LERG member, who has been acculturating to the “American way” for a while, has realized that when foreigners (especially Latinos or Hispanics) do not look at her directly, it can make her a little upset sometimes. Of course she knows why, so she just says something like “Hola,” “Buenos Dias,” etc., and may even step a little closer to them. If possible, she shakes hands (depending on the situation), or raises her hands; however, if they keep their distance, she always shows the palm of her hand as a sign of there being no threat at all. She, of course, gives them a big smile. That always seems to help get out of the awkwardness of a stranger passing by or a distant acquaintance avoiding the situation.

If you are interested in these types of topics, you should consider checking out this book. Though a little dated, it has interesting topics that are still quite relevant for our multicultural society. How do you feel about eye contact? Do you think it comes from your cultural background? Are there any other behaviors in daily interactions that you find to be strikingly different between the cultures in which you live (or have lived)?

*Tiffany establishes early on that, though all inhabitants of the Americas are American, when he uses the term American in his book, he is referring to the “Anglo (Caucasian) resident of the United States.”

Tiffany, James V. (2003) Uncomfortable Neighbors: Cultural collisions between Mexicans and Americans = Vecinos Incomodos: Choques Culturales Entre Mexicanos y Americanos. Gorham Print.

How to request disability accommodations for program participants

The Division of Extension is now partnering with the McBurney Disability Resource Center to evaluate and respond to requests for disability accommodations by program participants. Whether you are a participant, volunteer, or educator, we invite you to learn more about disability, reasonable accommodations, and inclusive practices by contacting Heather Stelljes, Access Consultant for the Division of Extension, with any questions you may have.

To request an accommodation for an Extension event or program:

You may also connect with Heather by calling 608-263-2741 or by email at heather.stelljes@wisc.edu. Text messaging is available through the front desk at 608-225-7956. 711 relay calls are accepted.

If you are hosting an event or providing programming, consider using a tag line on advertisements and communications to let participants know disability accommodations can be requested. Here's a sample tagline: “If you need an accommodation to attend this event, please contact (name, event host/coordinator) at (phone number/email).”

employee spotlight

Adam Trunzo

Job title: Youth and Families Educator, Trempealeau County Extension

Where do you live? Pigeon Falls, WI

Where did you grow up? Fredericksburg, VA

How many years have you been in Extension? 4

Tell us a little about your role in Extension: I have a dual role as a Community Youth Development and Human Development and Relationships educator. Our county has a large and growing Latinx population that has been historically underserved. I have spent the last few years building strong relationships with this community and last year I hosted a four-week community needs assessment and capacity building workshop series. As a result of that program we have been putting together a Latinx 4-H group and I have taken on the task of bringing the national Juntos 4-H program to Wisconsin. In addition to this initiative, I regularly work with school and community partners to provide access to our programs for Latinx families and use this knowledge to help my local and Extension colleagues to better understand how to make connections with these families.

What motivates you in your position? Two things really motivate me in my work.

1) The relationships that I build are very important to me and are one of the greatest measures of success. I have been able to connect with so many wonderful and motivated people who want to make a difference for themselves and their community.

2) The difference that one Extension educator can make when addressing challenges in a community is amazing. The nature of living in a rural county means that resources are sparse which makes the role of Extension critical to meet some of the area's most pressing needs

One unique or surprising fact about you that you'd like to share with us: I am a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

Tribal Lands map available

Image of current Tribal Lands map

The Office of Access, Inclusion and Compliance (OAIC) has obtained a limited number of Current Tribal Lands maps. This map shows the current tribal lands and nations in Wisconsin. If you would like a map for your county office, they are available on a first come, first served basis by contacting Kate Wodyn in the OAIC at kate.wodyn@wisc.edu or 608-263-2776. Additional resources on Wisconsin's American Indian Nations are available on the Wisconsin First Nations website.

Issues in brief: Representation matters

By Dominic Ledesma

As the UW-Madison campus prepared for UW Homecoming this fall, a promotional video produced by the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s (WAA) student Homecoming Committee received a considerable amount of backlash for how it [mis]represented the student body and campus. The issue, and the responses it received from the campus and broader community, remind us of why the accurate and appropriate inclusion of diverse perspectives is [still] a relevant issue.

What was the issue?

While the video was intended to promote and highlight different aspects of campus life that would resonate with alumni, it was criticized for how it failed to reflect the existing diversity of the current student body. Public responses drew attention to the fact that students who appeared in the video were not racially or ethnically diverse and that the campus spaces featured in the video were too narrowly limited to campus icons, such as the football stadium and Memorial Union Terrace. In short, the video overstated UW as a welcoming and inclusive space and understated the range of places and spaces on campus that connect alumni as a broader community of Badgers. On September 30, the campus issued a statement that apologized for the video and the ways it failed to “ensure active participation and authentic involvement by Badgers of many different identifies in all aspects of campus life.” The statement also mentioned that campus leadership deleted the video.

Why does this issue matter?

Not only the public took note of this issue and why it was problematic in nature, but so did members of the UW faculty. The Chicanx & Latinx Studies Program at UW-Madison, led by professor Armando Ibarra, issued a statement that acknowledged the sense of alienation felt by students on campus and how this video perpetuated the disconnect some student populations experience. The statement also urged students, staff and other faculty members to think about their role in shaping a UW campus that promotes inclusion and respect for all Badgers. UW School of Education professor emerita, Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, also weighed in on the issue with an article that was published in the local media. Dr. Ladson-Billings’ response discussed how the efforts to create this video were inherently exclusionary and how it reflects a pattern of missed opportunities at UW to accurately represent and include diverse student perspectives. Her article situates this issue within several historical examples of how students from minoritized communities, particularly students of color, have been overlooked or altogether excluded from the ways they contribute to the University and campus community.

What happened since?

In addition to the statement issued by UW-Madison campus, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Lori Reesor; Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, Patrick Sims; and Executive Director of Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA), Sarah Schutt, also sent a communication directly to the UW-Madison campus and alumni community. Their communication outlined a series of steps they would take to hear community concerns about the video, introduce training for WAA staff, and provide greater oversight for communications and activities sponsored by the WAA. UW-Madison partnered with the Student Inclusion Coalition to create a new video entitled, “We are all UW.” Independent of this effort, the Student Involvement Coalition of UW-Madison also produced a video and released it on social media entitled “Home is where WI aren’t.” Both videos have received a positive response from the public for how they highlight a broader range of experiences of underrepresented student groups across campus. While acknowledging some of the specific challenges underrepresented students face as they navigate their Wisconsin Experience, the videos highlight the voices of current Badgers and how their involvement is preparing them to become agents of positive change within and beyond campus.

What lessons can be learned from this?

Understanding the complexities of inclusion, and incorporating the perspectives of those we serve, continues to be a relevant issue for any organization or institution. This issue, when situated within historical patterns of missed opportunities and missteps, provides all of us with a moment to pause and reflect. It encourages us to critically think about what we may miss when our institutional efforts are not met with an intentional commitment to include and engage diverse stakeholder groups.

Diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for UW-Madison. We value the contributions of each person and respect the profound ways their identity, culture, background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich the university community. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research, outreach, and diversity as inextricably linked goals.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison fulfills its public mission by creating a welcoming and inclusive community for people from every background - people who as students, faculty, and staff serve Wisconsin and the world.

Credits:

Created with images by Couleur - "fall leaves water nature" • Hans - "pumpkins decorative squashes green" • fsHH - "technology spotlight hamburg" • Samantha Sophia - "Today was epic! We went in! We held nothing back! We created a safe space and we twirled in it! I am so blessed to have such epic women in my life! It’s a beautiful thing to have women you can both laugh out loud and cry with! Our StartingBloc fellowship brought us together but friendship has carried us here!"