Responding to the Pandemic
Written by Lisa Sonia Taylor, Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Affinity Relations
April 13, 2020
As the America University Washington College of Law community responds to the demands of social distancing, the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Affinity Relations is helping students, staff, and faculty focus on maintaining equity and inclusion while responding to the pandemic.
There is no doubt that the Coronavirus will have a disproportionate impact on students and other members of the AU community based on factors like race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, socioeconomic status, life circumstances, and other marginalizing factors. Circumstances that we need to take into account include:
- Crowded or inadequate places to study
- Inadequate WiFi and computer technology
- Adjustments to online instruction and other changes to the academic environment
- High levels of stress due to factors such as reduced income, health risks, and xenophobia disparities
- Parental and caretaker responsibilities
- Isolation, loneliness, and mental health struggles
As part of the response, I have kept up with the diversity and inclusion community at American University and at other institutions to share tips and best practices on ensuring equity and inclusion during our response to the pandemic. I created a practical guide for the WCL community with solution-based information and resources for topics like:
- Maintaining accessibility while we move to online teaching and the promotion of universal design in online learning environments
- Reducing the influence of implicit bias in our decision-making during times of increased stress
- Understanding factors that may lead to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations
- Strategies for reducing the uncertainty created by our rapid response to the pandemic
- Responding to xenophobia and other opportunities to spread hate messages
In collaboration with WCL’s Diversity Committee, I am hosting online discussions on these and other topics of equity and inclusion. These discussions are an opportunity for the WCL community to learn from their colleagues, discuss their experiences, and share best practices. I am also working with my dean’s fellows to provide similar resources for our students.
I believe that instructional continuity means more than just continuing course work while dealing with the disruptions caused by this pandemic. It also requires us to recognize that some members of our community are more vulnerable than others and take appropriate steps to address their needs.
Members of the AUWCL community are invited to contact Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, concerns, or ideas for collaboration.