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We should be proud of our efforts at Ashford to promote equity, but we can do better.

In many ways, the online modality is a more intimate and a far more rewarding learning environment than the traditional brick and mortar classroom. Like many faculty, I started my professional career standing at the lectern in front of 125-250 students. I lectured, they listened, and then I tested. I thought to myself there must be a better way. I found that way at Ashford. I know my student’s names, their stories, and their challenges. I know the struggle of balancing the demands of home, work, and school. I know the challenges women face in society and in the workplace. However, I do not know what it is like to be too poor to own a computer. I do not have to work nights and weekends to support my family. I have never been racially profiled by the police or had my job application dismissed because of an ethnic sounding name. I can kiss my spouse/partner in public without fear of ridicule or violence. I also do not know what it is like to have a professor unintentionally marginalize my experiences as a minority, because they do not agree with NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem.

During his keynote address this morning, Dr. Carlos E. Cortés mentioned the need for creating intersections and not silos in the structure and operations at Ashford and in the curriculum. An intersectional education lens considers social, historical, and political processes to understand how to support the wide range of experiences of diverse students. The idea of intersectionality is already structured into our mission at Ashford to prepare students to serve populations with diverse populations, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. There are staff and faculty who have dedicated themselves to promoting diversity and equity within their own spheres of influence. Our efforts, however, exist largely in silos. University-wide initiatives and events such as the Equity Council, TLC, or Women’s Week are important because they bring together people from throughout the university to have inclusive and honest conversations about diversity. We can continue these efforts by creating intersectionality in our classrooms by encouraging students to share their experiences. We can also intentionally structure the idea of social justice, identity, and equity into the curriculum and engage in respectful and difficult dialogue about current events. We should be proud of our efforts at Ashford to promote equity, but we can do better.

Dr. Katie Bojakowski

Program Chair, College of Liberal Arts

Ashford University

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