Meeting Recap for 2/19/15

Jaime Davis expertly led us through a review of our lessons learned from our first year to identify what worked, what we’d like to change, and how we plan to change it.

Jamie is Training Program Manager at University Compliance Services. She has been doing training and professional development at UT Austin since 2001. She earned a Training Professional certification in 2005 at Texas A&M and is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction at UT Austin.

Jaime started us out by asking what each of our expectations and goals for the session were, then she outlined ground rules for our conversation so that we could share different opinions and perspectives in a productive way:

  • Be respectful
  • Avoid targeting people and focus on behaviors
  • Participate equally (make sure everyone has the space to participate)
  • Keep conversation productive

What WORKED for DASIG this past year:

  • Effective leadership from the co-chairs. For DASIG, effective leadership means:
    • Kept the group moving forward
    • Were organized
    • Filled in gaps – when something wasn’t getting done, they would do it
    • Were creative – kept us thinking & growing with readings/meeting ideas
  • Structure of meetings. For DASIG, these aspects of the meetings worked:
    • Co-facilitation: was an innovative structure, and encouraged people to prepare for meetings differently
    • Varied agendas and formats for our work: for example, discussing readings, planning for events, sharing research, participating in facilitated workshops, etc. – this kept it interesting and productive
    • Ground Rules: we set ground rules at the start of our year’s work together
    • Communication and planning: we knew what to expect
    • Blog and wiki: kept us in communication with each other
    • Reflection at the end of each meeting: saying what made us think at the end of each meeting helped to reflect on and solidify our learning from each session and encouraged us to apply what seemed most relevant to us to our daily work and lives
  • Partnerships with other groups on campus: building relationships with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE), including Student Diversity Initiatives (SDI: the Multicultural Engagement Center (MEC) and the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC)), the Diversity Education Initiative (DEI), and the Campus Climate Response Team (CCRT) as well as with the Department of African and African Diasporic Studies (AADS).
    • Building on our members’ relationships to grow relationships across the Libraries, including Kristen’s relationships with GSC and AADS and Jennifer’s relationship with Jaime – these relationships are already growing, so each of us now have relationships with specialists who have joined us this semester. We can each use those relationships going forward.
  • Workshop and panel with campus specialists from the DEI, MEC, GSC, and AADS. This worked because:
    • We had a great turnout (64 staff members)
    • It got the conversation going
  • DASIG training sessions facilitated by Dr. Betty Jeanne Taylor. These worked because the sessions provided:
    • Space for self reflection among the group
    • Tools for us to learn from and come back to (like our identities worksheet and our lists)
  • DASIG actions as a group.
    • Our successful actions included:
      • Advocating for gender neutral bathrooms in the Learning Commons build
      • Organizing the workshop and panel event
      • Sharing feedback including questions reflecting need for skills in diversity advocacy in the VP/Director search
      • Creating a final report of recommendations after our first year
    • These actions were successful because they created organizational impact and because they:
      • Helped us to feel involved
      • Introduced us to new people
      • Created opportunities for us to build our relationships
  • Our relationships with each other and our commitment to DASIG:
    • We have lots of ideas
    • We are open to new ideas
    • We take this group seriously

What CHALLENGED us in DASIG this year:
We prioritized this group of challenges:

  • Choosing priorities & focus:
    • We were a brand new organization, and it has not been clear how to prioritize our focus
    • The Libraries are constantly changing, so priorities seem like a moving target in relationship to what’s happening Libraries-wide
    • The issues we’re working with all feel urgent
  • Using DASIG influence: it has been a challenge to stay focused outside of our DASIG meetings, to hold DASIG in our minds so that we can use what we learn here and the fact of our membership to influence other planning discussions in our units and Libraries-wide
  • Time commitment: we are all busy, and our other commitments can interfere with our work; our meeting structure was also time-consuming (requiring co-facilitation of two sessions in a row, requiring meeting together before each meeting)
  • Future leadership & sustainability of the group: this is in flux and depends on support we may see from administration
  • Including new members in the group and ensuring they feel ownership over the group as well
  • Lacking top-down communication and promotion: policies or vision that bolster and require diversity action would enable our recommendations to inform organizational change

We also listed these challenges:

  • Group structure:
    • Diversity of our group: we discussed at the start of our meetings the challenge of diversity action organizing in a largely-white organization; we discussed the importance of not having a group made up entirely of people with historically-privileged identities (white, straight, middle-class, grew up as an English-language speaker, temporarily able-bodied, etc.); we acknowledged the importance of challenging a privileged perspective of our work
    • Group size: we talked about how to figure out what size works best for the group
  • Challenging topics: The topics we are dealing with are challenging
  • Lots of ideas: it’s sometimes difficult to share a common goal because we have lots of ideas
  • Expectations: we each bring different expectations of what the group is for, our purpose, our vision and the relationship with the Libraries

Our STRATEGIES for CHANGE: We can take action now by:

  • Facilitation structure: We will have one facilitator per meeting who “owns” the meeting; they will create the agenda, call for additional agenda items, share the agenda, and facilitate the meeting; we will not have a pre-meeting
  • Group leadership structure: We discussed the possibility of moving to a one-chair/leader structure
  • Accountability: We will create expectations and accountability for all members
  • Impacting the organization: We will generate a list of activities and steps to those activities as possible responses to issues that come up (when raised by others or by us), so that we can recruit others to help or share these steps out for others to take action when an issue arises
  • March 11 meeting: We will gather to give our proposal and recommendations to the Administrative Council; after we hear news of possible implementation of any of these, we will review and take action on our membership and leadership changes
  • Next meeting plans: We will look back to the challenges we prioritized and how we’ll take action on these