Diversity & Inclusion
Stockton accepts its responsibility to create and preserve an environment that is free from prejudice and discrimination and to take actions that affirm our commitment to inclusivity and diversity.
Stockton Voices Series Gives Platform to Diverse Viewpoints
A social media series that began, originally, in response to the social injustice that made headlines throughout the United States in Summer 2020 following George Floyd’s public death has grown into a platform for Stockton’s students, faculty and staff to both speak and listen to their diverse voices.
The featured profiles highlight reflections on current events, ways to see a different perspective and stories that center on the themes of race, culture, equality, inclusion and diversity.
Topics and voices range from Linh Tran, a sophomore economics major, reflecting on the rise of hate crimes against those of Asian descent, to Jesus Barnes, a junior Studies in the Arts major, expressing how he celebrates diversity through music, and Kiara Velez-Padilla, a senior Communications Studies major, discussing her journey to Stockton as a first-generation student from Puerto Rico.
Ospreys Choose Themed Living Communities
At some point, a transfer student navigates a campus with no familiar faces, a first-year student feels lonely after hugging their family goodbye on move-in day, a first-generation college student feels lost without directions and a commuter student feels like there just isn't enough time to make friends between classes. An Osprey never has to fly solo at Stockton University because they can be a part of a community larger than themselves.
Themed Living Communities (TLC) connect students with similar interests to help them create a network of support, a sense of belonging and a welcoming space to thrive together. The TLCs, created by the Office of Residential Life, are open to both residential students and commuters.
There are seven themed living communities each having three to six RAs, a student organization that serves as a club fellow, a University office or department that serves as an office fellow and a local business or organization that serves as a community fellow.
The pandemic challenged students to be more creative than ever. Kitra Hunter, a Business major with a concentration in Accounting and a minor in Africana Studies, is committed to making the college experience just as exciting as it ever was.
Hunter is a Residential Assistant (RA) who leads the Business, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership (B.E.A.L.) themed living community, and she is creating a virtual space for networking and leadership development opportunities that can prepare her community for their career aspirations.
Meet the Houses
House of Expressions: For the creatives. "They have varied outlooks on life, honor their identities and experiences through their art, bring awareness and support causes with their work, and stand firm in their unique and eclectic mindsets and ways of living."
House of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership (B.E.A.L.): For the natural born leaders. "They think of innovative ways to solve problems, they're the students who lead a class group project, they are goal oriented and they make it a priority to meet and connect with others wherever they go."
House of Lavender: For the proud bunch. "They rightfully occupy spaces where they can be themselves, they educate on the complexities and history of their community, they stand up to 'normalcy' and fight for social change, and they embrace their uniqueness and encourage others to do the same."
House of First Ospreys: For the trend setters. "They're champions leading the way for their families by being the first to take on this journey of higher education, they'll need guidance on connecting to resources and services, and navigating college culture, yet they'll be open minded to trying new things and appreciative of the experiences we offer them."
House of Mosaic: For the unapologetic. "They understand their ethnicity and culture plays into how and what they experience in their lives, they value the diversity of their own identities and of others, they seek first to educate, but with clear boundaries, and they choose the duality of celebrating who and what they are while continuously fighting for justice and social change."
House of S.T.E.M.: For the forward thinkers. "They bask in obtaining new information and problem solving, jump at any chance to work and learn in their field, believe just because something works well doesn't mean it can't be improved, and they can see the underlying STEM principles in any and everything.
House of T.R.U.S.T.: For the phoenixes. "They rise from the ashes of their past and prepare to start anew, they see the possibilities in fresh starts, may need guidance in Stockton-specific areas, but are quite independent, and they are eager to connect to their new home."
Black Lives Matters Series Covers Range of Topics Impacting Black Culture
The Black Lives Matter lecture series covered serious topics through lectures and discussions during the spring semester. So it was fitting that it ended April 15 with a party – albeit an informative party, that highlighted the influence of Black Culture on American culture.
“So much of pop culture came from Black folks,” said Professor of Africana Studies and Communication Donnetrice Allison, who led off the program with a review, and some demonstrations, of the dances and music that started among Blacks but became popular throughout America, including the Bop, Cakewalk, Charleston, Lindy Hop and Swing.
“With all we have to worry about, we still have this joy and we share the joy,” Allison said. “Black joy is an act of resistance.”
Allison shared clothing trends, language trends and music influencers who helped create trends.
Professor of Music Beverly Vaughn shared the history of gospel music, rooted in the responsive church singing of the south.
“It had hope, inspiration and Biblical references,” said Vaughn who also accompanied singer Lilly Nickens. “And it can make you want to move.”
The Black Culture program was the last of four presented throughout the spring semester. The first, in February, was Black Innocence Matters: The Stolen Childhood of Black People, followed by Black Physical Health Matters, and Black Mental Health Matters in March. Each featured Stockton faculty and staff talking about their own experiences along with expert discussion of the topics.
The programs were coordinated through the Office of Academic Achievement Programs, Nordia Johnson, director; the Africana Studies program, Donnetrice Allison, coordinator; and the Office of Student Affairs.
More videos of the events are available on YouTube.
Celebrating Ospreys of Every Kind
The flags along the Arts & Sciences building circle honor America, Prisoners of Foreign Wars and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), and the great state of New Jersey every day. Throughout the year, other flags join their ranks as high-flying symbols of the mix of people who make up the Osprey community.
Los Latinos Unidos did not let the physically distant and masked fall semester dampen their enthusiasm for Hispanic Heritage Month, as they kicked off a month of activities with their flag raising on Sept. 15, 2020.
“The traditions are important to us,” club president Kiara Velez-Padilla said. “We want us to have a sense of community here and share our culture and heritage. We want to create a space where everyone feels comfortable.”
LGBTQ History Month began with a flag raising on Oct. 1, 2020. Ben Dziobek, the resident assistant for the House of Lavender at Stockton, said they strive to create an inclusive community and campus, and maybe a little more perfect world.
He called the flag a symbol of perseverance, strength, acceptance and social justice. “This represents a community that won’t back down when faced with inequities that persist,” he said. “It is a battle flag for representation. All of us should take time to learn and create an inclusive environment.”
It was with cold hands, but warm hearts that the Unified Black Students Society recognized Black History Month with its annual flag raising at the Arts and Sciences Building circle on Feb. 10, 2021 that celebrated family and excellence.
“It is just so wonderful to see you all here,” UBSS president Amaiya Roundtree told the crowd of about 25 people. Roundtree said like many students, she is taking her classes virtually from home, and she was thrilled to be on campus with friends, some wearing Black Lives Matter masks.
Stockton Continues to Create an Inclusive Community for All
Last summer, the Stockton University Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution that reinforced its “Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice at Stockton,” and positioned the University to be a leader on these issues.
Since the resolution’s inception, the University has made strategic changes to best implement it and create a more inclusive campus environment.
The University reviewed the current hiring practices and, under the guidance of our Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, restructured the search process to strengthen institutional hiring practices to avoid unconscious, unintentional biases. Stockton also revised its relevant procedure and search advocate documentation to explicitly designate search advocates as full members of search committees.
Additionally, employees complete online training regarding Title IX and Discrimination Awareness training to help support a campus environment free from discrimination, and the President’s Executive Cabinet receive anti-bias and microaggression training.
To diversify its student population, Stockton has geographically widened its recruitment and enrollment efforts, attracting a larger student population beyond its traditional southern New Jersey region. The University also hosts popular recruitment events including the Diversi-TEA Series and the Virtual Vision Board Series mentorship program. As a result of these collective efforts, the University’s overall student diversity population has increased from 32% in 2018 to 38% in 2021, with continuing growth anticipated for the next several years, moving Stockton closer to New Jersey’s statewide average.
With an eye toward finding multiple ways to make college education more accessible and affordable for all, the Board supported the University’s changes in its admissions and merit-based scholarship criteria. Standardized test scores are no longer required for admission to the University or for merit-based scholarships.
For continuing students, the Stockton University Foundation’s Scholarship Selection Committee has worked to ensure equity among recipients of its scholarships. Over the past year, the committee reviewed the application process and data pertaining to past applicants and recipients and identified the need to redefine “merit” as it pertains to scholarship awards. This work resulted in an expanded definition of merit to include multiple factors beyond academic achievement in order to provide selection committee members with a more holistic view of each applicant.
Moreover, the University has ensured ongoing support and the growth of this initiative by establishing a faculty director to work with instructors looking to develop new or adapt existing courses to meet this curricular need, as well as provide ongoing assessment on impact and efficacy.
Other University divisions and offices made significant changes as well. The Division of Student Affairs continued its work of expanding campus inclusivity by launching new academic achievement programs designed to ensure equitable educational access with a focus on expanding high-impact learning experiences. The Office of Career Education and Development, ensuring BIPOC students have the necessary tools to succeed once they graduate, implemented career coaching circles for Black and Latinx students featuring Stockton alumni, providing opportunities for STEM students to connect with professionals working in those fields.
One of the most exciting projects has been the design and planning of the University’s new Multicultural Center, scheduled to open in Spring 2022. The Center represents the Board’s vision and commitment in its response to racial justice concerns and will provide a sense of belonging and support for students from historically underrepresented communities, among many other purposes.
In 2021, the University hosted its inaugural year-long Alumni Conference on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, featuring a diverse panel of current staff and alumni who engaged in meaningful conversations about best practices to support a more inclusive culture.
Stockton will continue to grow and evolve as it researches best practices to maintain an environment welcoming for all its campus members.