Diversity and Inclusion Committee highlights goals for Writing and Media Center


Jill Even

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee discussed ways to implement diversity and inclusion projects at the Writing and Media Center at ISCORE 2021 on Friday morning.

Jill Even

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee is a part of the Writing and Media Center (WMC) at Iowa State. This student-run committee was created with the intention of facilitating WMC services for students of underrepresented populations on campus.

The committee brought together data from the 2020 academic year to determine how inclusive the WMC was, through campuswide surveys and in-house data.

The committee is made up of subcommittees that conduct research and make an action plan to implement measures of inclusion for the WMC.

One of these measures is facilitating students that consider English an additional language (EAL).

“Sentence structure, academic language, word choice and organization were the top four areas of the English language that the WMC has helped improve EAL students with,” Yahan Chang, senior in mechanical engineering, said.

Chang said she hopes to conduct further research on this topic beyond surveying, such as conducting interviews.

Another measure of the committee is ensuring the WMC website is accessible to all students.

Lena Menefee-Cook, senior in art and design, said the action plan was created by researching accessibility factors that impact user experience, surveyed the website for communication concerns and ran each page through browser extensions that flagged the most pressing issues of accessibility.

“So far, we have been working to ensure the homepage is less information dense and easier to read, that all the website information is accurate and updated and that instructions for scheduling appointments are clear and simple to navigate to and from,” Menefee-Cook said.

She also said the committee will continue to incorporate more visuals into the website and have a consultation to address the more complex issues of accessibility the website has.

The committee also wishes to include an anti-racism statement on their website.

Chang said an anti-racism statement is a philosophy that would be put on the WMC website that tackles social justice issues and also reflects on the center’s role in providing an inclusive and diverse environment.

“Specifically, we want to show that we are willing to listen and we want to show that we are holding ourselves accountable,” she said. “We also want to acknowledge the responsibility that we have as staff members of the WMC and we want to push against systemic racism.”

Chang said the committee is researching examples of anti-racism statements other writing centers have created and are drafting their own.

The committee also plans on creating a community for the workers in the center through private channels and possibly through virtual retreats, creating a collection of materials and resources for consultants to refer to at any time and updated training systems to reflect diversity and inclusion measures.

“Looking forward, we would like to plan additional training opportunities with staff and faculty on campus, as well as boost our new consultant training course to focus more on current topics in diversity and inclusion,” Haley Spengler, senior in linguistics, said.

The committee has also been planning ways to connect with the Iowa State community by connecting with programs on campus and off, according to Haeun Kim, graduate student in English. This includes collaboration with the Ames Public Library and Des Moines Area Community College.

“We hope these efforts will make our center and our services more visible to people in our community,” Kim said.