How a Book Club Inspired New DigiTex Equity Statements

By Judith Sebesta, Ph.D., Executive Director, and Ursula Pike, Associate DIrector, DigiTex 

Last summer, we had the privilege of participating in a Reading Club hosted by the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources. Organized by the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee of CCCOER, for which Ursula serves as Co-Chair, the virtual club met bi-weekly to discuss From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education 6 by Tia Brown McNair, Estela Mara Bensimon, and Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux

From Equity Talk to Equity Walk is a practical guide to the design and application of strategies for achieving equitable outcomes on campus. Drawing from research projects sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California, this resource provides real-world steps to examine equity in student achievement, while challenging educators to focus on racial equity as a critical lens for institutional and systemic change.

Guided by facilitators, the conversations during the club were lively and insightful, and we found ourselves learning as much from our fellow participants as we did from the book. Discussions continued between meetings in OE Global Connect, the virtual community for members of CCCOER’s parent organization. One participant, Stacy Katz, who serves as Assistant Professor and Open Resources Librarian-STEM Liaison at Lehman College, CUNY, posted there that her five-year-old daughter was very interested in the book and had drawn this cover art for it:

How inspiring! Surely if our children can understand and engage with this topic, we can (and should) too. 

This club asked us to examine our own, and our organizations’, equity practices to see if we were merely talking or actually walking. During this process, both of us realized that, although DigiTex’s tagline is “Ensuring equity through collaboration” — developed during a strategic planning process in summer 2019 — we have never actually defined equity. So we decided to remedy this. 

After external research and internal discussions, we have adopted a set of equity statements to guide our work:

Equity: We align our policies, practices, and resources so that people of all races, cultures, and socioeconomic statuses have genuine opportunities to thrive. (Source: The McKnight Foundation)

We strive to practice equity-mindedness by being evidence-based, race-conscious, institutionally focused, systemically aware, and equity advancing in our work. We are advocates for B-JEDI: belonging, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

We are very grateful to CCCOER for creating a community like the EDI Reading Club in which we could examine and improve our practices to better fulfill our organizational mission and help us walk an equity walk in all of our initiatives to support college and student success.