What I'm Reading: Articles on the ‘Equity Imperative’

June 05, 2016

Alan Alabastro
Steven G. Olswang

A set of remarkable articles on the "equity imperative" in higher education appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Diversity & Democracy, published by the Association of American Colleges & Universities. Centered on the theme that equality differs from equity, this collection of essays focuses the reader on the need and the strategies to accomplish both, and explains why both are critically necessary if we are to diversify our campuses and treat students with the dignity they deserve and provide them with the tools they need to succeed.

A "paradigm shift" is indeed required, as Tia Brown McNair and other authors note, for no longer can we blame students and high schools for our students’ deficits. Instead, we have to identify, promote, and value the assets and attributes the mixture of cultures brings into our academic environments and use them to elevate learning.

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Colleges and universities must provide the faculty with the retraining and retooling necessary so old models of testing and failing are changed to newer approaches of accepting and exploiting the varied qualities that students bring to the classroom. Changing the attitude of faculty from "one size fits all" to individualized learning is a huge but necessary institutional challenge.

A startling realignment of perspective and reorientation of thought results from reading these articles.

Steven G. Olswang is interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas A&M University at San Antonio.