University expands diversity statement

Virginia Commonwealth University announced today that it is expanding its nondiscrimination statement. The new version will include gender identity, gender expression and genetic information.

This expansion brings VCU’s policy in line with existing state and federal laws, and more clearly expresses the institution’s value that diversity in all of its dimensions is integral to VCU as a public urban university. Expanding the current statement will allow VCU to address discrimination more broadly for members of the campus community.

“VCU seeks to create and nurture a dynamic and inclusive living, learning and working environment that promotes the diversity of individuals, perspectives, life experiences and cultural backgrounds,” said Wanda Mitchell, Ed.D., vice president for inclusive excellence at VCU. “Our commitment to inclusive excellence is an active, intentional and ongoing engagement of the institution with diversity – in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities.”

VCU has been reviewing its nondiscrimination statement over the past two years. Several university groups reviewed and endorsed the expansion, and it received final approval by the VCU Board of Visitors today.

Successful institutions of the future will be the ones that are now cultivating new generations of students, faculty, staff and administrators at all levels, but are keenly aware of the need to provide access to traditionally underrepresented groups in the university community.

Gender identity refers to a person's innate, deeply felt psychological identification as a man or woman (or both or neither), which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth, such as that found on their birth certificate. Gender expression refers to the external characteristics and behaviors that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine, such as dress, grooming, mannerisms, speech patterns and social interactions. Genetic information includes information about an individual’s genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual’s family members, as well as information about the manifestation of a disease or disorder in an individual’s family members, such as family medical history.

“Like higher education institutions across the country, VCU has a responsibility – for itself and the nation – to fully develop and utilize all creative talent available to advance its academic and institutional mission,” Mitchell said. “Successful institutions of the future will be the ones that are now cultivating new generations of students, faculty, staff and administrators at all levels, but are keenly aware of the need to provide access to traditionally underrepresented groups in the university community.”

 

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