Office of Commuter Affairs
Diversity Accountability and Implementation Plan
Office of Commuter Affairs
July 1995 - July 1996
In FY 96, the Office of Commuter Affairs continued to pursue activities designed to help us better understand and address the needs of traditionally under-represented groups of commuter students. In addition we continued to identify ways to reach out to students of color to encourage them to utilize our services. Recommendations from qualitative research conducted through our office indicate that students of color would benefit from having a clearer understanding of the functions of the Office of Commuter Affairs and the services that might address their needs. This year OCA wrote and produced a brochure for the general campus community. We have continued to increase our visibility and accessibility to students by creating a web site featuring information about all OCA service, programs, and publications.
OCA continued to reach out broadly with its marketing efforts, advertising in campus publications which target specific groups of students of color. For example, Commuter Appreciation Day was advertised in The Eclipse. Twenty seven students who completed evaluations of the day noted that they heard of the event through this publication.
The Commuter Connection maintained its commitment to featuring articles on issues of diversity in each issue. Topics in the fall issue were: "Tipping the Scales for Equality" and "OMSE Spotlights Excellence.: Two articles were featured in the winter: "Paratransit Picks Up On Students' Needs" and "What's Race Got to Dow Wit It?" as a checklist. The spring issue included "Off the Beaten Track in Montgomery County" about Maryland's African American history. "Meeting the Challenge of Job Searching" in the summer issue discussed job search strategies for people with disabilities. As a part of the Diversity Initiative, a series of four articles written by staff in the Office of Human Relations Programs focussed on the experiences of students of color at UMCP: "Dealing with Differences:" part one and two, "low Numbers Equal A different UMCP Experience for Native Americans," and "African Americans' Experience at UMCP." Pictures and graphics were included.
In featuring students who have done community service, we sought racially diverse role models to interview and highlight in Diamondback ads as part of an April publicity splash. Community Service Programs also developed a handout series highlighting opportunities for students to work within the African American, Latino/Chicano/Hispanic, Asian American, and Jewish communities. It is hoped that this will provide all interested students with opportunities to learn from and find support within these communities. In addition, efforts were made to expand the listings included on the database by sending listing information to agencies highlighted in Jewish and gay/lesbian publications.
Community Service Programs worked with the College of Engineering to provide reflection opportunities for the students volunteering with the E=mc2 science enrichment program at Paintbranch Elementary School. Throughout the reflection activities, UMCP volunteers had the opportunity to explore issues of power, privilege and oppression as they deepened their appreciation and understanding of diversity and social issues.
Community Service Programs held a 3-day intensive learning experience in community-service-learning for staff from Commuter Affairs, the Art Center, Campus Programs, and student leaders. Grant monies through the Diversity Initiative were solicited and obtained to support follow-up implementation of diversity-related community-service-learning activities. As part of a staff development retreat, the Community Service Programs student staff participated in a workshop on stereotypes and discussed implications for customer service. Staff development activities for the undergraduate Off-campus Housing Peer advisors also included components on diversity.
OCA has continued to provide financial assistance to staff participating in conferences such as the
Equity Conference, Black Faculty-Staff Association, and the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.
OCA continued to place a high priority on hiring a diverse staff. Our commitments have yielded a very diverse staff not only within the undergraduate student employees but also within our graduate staff and our volunteer student leadership group, the Commuter Leadership Team. We continue our efforts through employee orientation and training, supervision and staff development to create a work climate that embraces diverse perspectives and capitalizes on the rich viewpoints that diversity in staffing brings.
OCA continues to keep issues of diversity in the forefront through our office values statement and incorporation of the DAIP into our goal-setting and annual report processes. Staff from OCA also contributed at the Divisional level to equity functions and in their roles with the UMCP Diversity Initiative.
Planned Activities and Degree of Accomplishment
Activity Degree of Accomplishment
Community Service Programs: First Look Fair, Completed/On-going
Take Another Look Fair
Community Service Programs: Databank Completed
Annual Report & Objective Setting Process Completed/On-going
Commuter Connection Completed/On-going
Commuter Leadership Team Completed/On-going
Freshman Commuter Student Outreach Completed/On-going
Commuter Survival Day Completed/On-going
Commuter Appreciation Day Completed/On-going
"Good Morning, Commuters!" Attempted/On-going
Office of Commuter Affairs Brochure Completed
Staff Development Completed/On-going
Comprehensive Student Outreach Plan Partially completed/On-going
Community Service Programs/School of Engineering Completed/On-going
Community Service Programs: Handout Series Completed
Community Service Programs: Service-Learning Partially completed/On-going
OCA Theme Completed
As an office, OCA continues to "...recognize and appreciate that the college student population is rich in diversity, and...value the uniqueness of each individual" through a variety of intentionally designed initiatives. We have been able to find creative ways to introduce diversity initiatives into our on-going activities in a way that has strengthened programs without requiring a significant drain on resources. As we evaluate our programs (e.g., priority parking, "Good Morning, Commuters!", Commuter Survival Day, Commuter Leadership Team) we find that our programs consistently serve a racially diverse group of commuter students. OCA contributed to the Diversity Initiative through staff participation with the Diversity Initiative committee. Funding from 2 Diversity Initiative grants enabled us to enhance the diversity components of the E=mc2 program and the Community Service Advocates program. Our ability to recruit, hire, and retain a diverse student staff means that those who use our services (e.g., Off-Campus Housing, Community Service Programs, Shuttle-UM) are able to interact with people from a variety of racial /ethnic backgrounds. We believe this has been an effective way to create a comfortable environment for our users. The investment we make throughout the organization in staff training and development has helped to foster a work environment where employees appreciate the diverse perspectives of their colleagues and understand the importance of working effectively with people who are different from oneself to quality customer service. The addition of the receptionist function in our office has increased our ability to welcome and serve the visitors to our office more effectively.
During FY 96 we made some major strides in making information and our services more accessible through electronic technology, establishing a web site and putting our Off-campus Housing listings on the web. Despite the obvious advantages of technology, however, we continue to be concerned that access to the technology be equitably available to all students. We continue to monitor this issue by serving on appropriate campus committees and seeking relevant information from both on and outside of our campus.
Although Shuttle-UM has an important role in providing access to students with mobility needs and has been involved on an on-going basis in diversity-related initiatives, we have not sufficiently engaged the staff in linking their efforts with the DAIP process. This will be facilitated with the appointment of a new General Manager of Shuttle-UM who also serves as Assistant Director of Commuter Affairs.
Despite some good effort to reach out to students of color, we have not been as consistent as in years past in advertising our services and programs in media other than the Diamondback and creatively targeting students of color with our marketing strategies.
July 1996 - July 1997
The Office of Commuter Affairs has historically focused its service, program. advocacy. and research efforts on the commuter student population as a whole rather than identifying specific subgroups within the larger commuter population. By providing a range of quality programs and services, we believe that we make a significant contribution to enhancing the campus climate for all commuter students. Over the past several years we have tried to learn more about the commuter-related concerns of students of color and, as appropriate, develop additional mechanisms for student of color to benefit from our program and services. In addition, we continue to challenge all students to think in terms of diversity and to view their college experience as an opportunity to interact with persons from different races, cultures, and backgrounds. Community Service Programs provides a rich opportunity for students to learn about the dynamic tensions of community and diversity, to develop a deeper understanding of their own identity, and work with people of different cultures, ages, and life experiences. To fully access this rich experience, however, it is important for students to have appropriate preparation for and opportunities to reflect on and make meaning out of their service experience. Recruiting, hiring, and retaining a diverse staff creates a comfortable environment for our users. The investment we make throughout the organization in staff training and development has helped to foster a work environment where employees appreciate the diverse perspectives of their colleagues and understand the importance of working effectively with people who are different from oneself to quality customer service. This fosters a climate grounded in respect for diversity.
During 1996-97 the Office of Commuter Affairs will continue many of the DAIP activities from 1995-96. We will continue to place a high priority on a diverse staff and looking for ways to reach out to student of color to encourage them to utilize our services. Community Service Programs will continue to support efforts throughout the campus to incorporate preparation and reflection components into community service experiences. Shuttle-UM will incorporate diversity and customer service training into new driver training. We will continue to build on our efforts to use technology as an outreach tool for students while monitoring policy issues at the campus level to insure access for all students to its benefits. OCA will be reviewing and revising the office mission this year to more fully reflect the addition of Community Service programs. Our commitment to diversity will be an important part of our discussions and decision-making processes.