Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

The Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program (WSAP) is committed to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. We stand against bias, prejudice, and discrimination and recognize the history of exclusion and racism upon which the University of Rochester was built. We acknowledge the harm this history causes and commit to creating a diverse and inclusive program as a first step towards repairing these harms and healing our community. 

Prioritizing diversity and equity is the right thing to do for a more just and ethical world and essential to our mission. We value and celebrate the complex and intersecting identities, backgrounds, and ways of communicating among our students, staff, and faculty. Through communication, we learn from one another and collaboratively contribute knowledge that leads to more meaningful engagement with our communities. We aim to foster a community in which all know that they belong: all are invited to speak, and all know that they are heard. This plurality of voices is essential to the success of our program and to the larger academic community at University of Rochester and beyond.

We recognize that upholding these values and beliefs demands sustained focus, energy, and action. In the past, the WSAP has:

  • Revised WSAP mission statement to acknowledge the diverse identities, Englishes, and languages in our community 
  • Revised goals of the minor to emphasize the importance of diverse voices and lived identities
  • Created WSAP anti-racism committee: Building an Equitable Community Committee, co-chaired by graduate-student instructor Orisa Santiago Morrice and WSAP Associate Director Stefanie Sydelnik
  • Engaged in efforts to decolonize educational materials (e.g., program workshop led by library staff on including course materials from underrepresented and marginalized groups)
  • Created a system that would enable WRTG 27X students of color and LGBTQ students to select Real Reader mentors of similar backgrounds
  • Organized “Difficult conversations” panel in collaboration with Greene Center for WRTG 27X students to hear how to negotiate tough controversial questions in professional interviews
  • Has begun assessing tutoring practices from an antiracist lens and developing ways to foster an antiracist tutoring space and advocate for greater linguistic inclusivity and linguistic justice on campus
    • Writing and Speaking Fellows have formed a committee and working groups 
    • Writing Fellows and Speaking Fellows recruitment and training processes now include specific focus on language awareness, linguistic inclusivity, and antiracism 
  • Developed online innovations that evaluations indicate have improved diversity, equity, and inclusion 
  • Developed and implemented the English for Academic Purposes Program and the writing and speaking component of the University’s one-year bridge program, TUP.
  • Collaborated with OMSA and McNair to support students of color and first-generation students and to educate WSAP members on DEI concerns
  • Developed and maintained code-meshing pedagogy site (national resource) https://swang.digitalscholar.rochester.edu/code-meshing/ (Stella Wang et al.)

We are currently prioritizing the following actionable items:

  • Recruiting faculty, instructors, and tutors historically excluded from these roles
  • Increasing education and training around anti-racist pedagogies for our instructors and tutors
  • Working with AS&E to develop a college-wide DEI cluster 
  • Bringing in speakers who will support our ongoing work toward building a more diverse and equitable community 
  • Working with the College to make DEI-focused courses visible to students 
  • Collaborating within and beyond the College to feature voices of anti-racist scholars 
  • Analyzing WSAP course performance to become aware of any inequities or needs for additional support.

In the spirit of dialogue, feedback, and revision that shapes our work as teachers, tutors, scholars, global citizens, and writers, we invite your input and feedback on how well we are upholding these values in our daily practices. Please use this form to share any feedback, questions, or concerns.

Statement Created by the members of WSAP’s Committee on Building an Equitable Community: Anti-racism, Anti-hate.

Committee Members: Natasha Abrol, Solveiga Armoskaite, Ashley Conklin, Caitlin Davie, Morgan Farrow, Orisa Morrice, Thomas Oddo, Deborah Rossen-Knill, Stefanie Sydelnik