Podcast: The WPCampus Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

Beyond the conferences, online events, and phenomenal swag, WPCampus is a community — one made up of a varied and diverse set of people. With a focus on building that community, the WPCampus Diversity & Inclusion Interest Group recently completed work on a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement. This statement reflects a goal of creating “a culture that supports inclusion of all types of members, and efforts to provide equity in experience for those members.”

In this episode, WPCampus members Brian DeConinck and Jen McFarland discuss this statement and the work that went into it. Jen does double-duty as both co-host and guest, joining the podcast in her capacity as co-chair of the WPCampus Diversity & Inclusion group.

Mentioned in this episode:

Episode Audio

Episode Transcript

Jen: [singing]

Jen: Just blew out everybody speakers here.

Brian: You can't do that anymore. We don't have the right to any of this music you're singing.

Jen: I think JOHN WILLIAMS, is a cool guy. I think he'd be down, I think. He probably he probably be touched, I think. This is cool. I like WordPress, go for it.

Brian: Well JOHN WILLIAMS is a well known WordPress user

Jen: I don't think that's true. We probably shouldn't start that rumor.

Brian: Yeah, welcome to the WPCampus podcast. Podcast for those who use WordPress in higher education. That's us. We use us as we use WordPress and higher education.

Jen: Yeah, but tell us your name, Brian

Brian: My name is Brian DeConinck and I am apparently, your host. I work for North Carolina State University and I get yelled at all the time by Jen, who is my co host / guest on this episode. This is a weird episode. She's in multiple roles.

Jen: Yeah, my name is Jen McFarland, and I am both. Yeah, sort of guest voice here, but also the co host apparently I got I got the bump up from color commentary to co host. Kind of gave it to myself because I'm also Brian's boss. This is where he yells, that I'm not his supervisor. Um, so yeah. Today we're gonna be talking about diversity and inclusion, um, for those of you who might have missed it WP Campus released our diversity, equity, and inclusion statement this week.

Brian: Yay. So yeah, so, um, let's start well. Okay, so first Jen, you are the one of the leads for the diversity and inclusion group in WP campus, you want to talk a little bit about that the genesis of that group and sort of the backstory that brought us to today.

Jen: Sure. So, our group started a little over a year ago, probably actually my term as co chair should be coming up my original co chair with Sue Jenkins and she had to step back, but our good friend from oh I'm gonna screw this up, Rochester college, I believe, I'm sorry.

Brian: I think it's a different school. Oh, gosh. Maryann. We're so sorry.

Jen: Yeah, so sorry Maryann. We're going to have her on here to talk more about her actual school. But she is my co chair and has has been great, and helped out with several of these projects, including getting the statement we originally started on this statement, actually almost a year ago and it is an amalgamation of several statements that have been, you know, sort of squished together and reworked We've gotten feedback from a good portion of the community. And I'm really glad to see that we finally been able to release it because it's taken a while. It's hard to know where to start with this because it is such an important topic. And, you know, it almost it certainly feels like it shouldn't be squished into like our 15 to 20 minute timeframe. You know there's there's so much that could that could be said about it. We've had some of our own experiences with issues of diversity inclusion and I'm sure lots of folks can pause a moment and think about instances where they've seen you know examples of problems with this or were having a statement like this might be helpful to them to have something to point to, I think it is really important for us as a group, maybe in part especially because we are so spread out in diverse and we do so much of our stuff online and it is so easy sometimes to be glib and to not, you know, to not take this stuff seriously, and it is an ongoing thing that we we all have to work at every day, so it's

Brian: It's easy to be a jerk on the internet.

Jen: Yes it is so easy.

Brian: So tell us a little bit about the, I guess the statement itself where you landed what what you prioritized in writing the statement.

Jen: Yeah, we spent a lot of time. These statements can really come across as kind of a, you know, like a laundry list of things that we're trying to cover and it's really hard to be inclusive, but also not be a laundry list of things. And I think we did a pretty good job with that we we hit on some of the high points. We had a little bit of help from our code of conduct, although I'm going to go ahead and mention that the our team, the diversity inclusion teams next project is to review the WP campus code of conduct, because Rachel first wrote that which is starting to campus and that was about three years ago now. So for those of you who are interested in this topic or would like to come back and take a look at that and give some feedback. If you look at the blog post announcing this we have a link in there to the the code of conduct, and then also to our document where we're beginning to do revisions. So if you have any feedback. We'd love to see that. But this the the diversity, equity inclusion document is really, we just tried to be as open as possible. I think one of the sentences in here that's "We have enough experience to know. We won't get any of this perfect on the first try, but we have enough hope and energy and idealism to learn." So I 100% think that that is pointing to where we're hoping to go, which is, it would be totally false to think that you're going to, you know, address everything on the first go round or that you're going to write something that's kind of stand the test of time. And the plan is and should be to revise this like at least once a year. And I think that's our goal. And again, it's an important piece that we do that with the code of conduct as well.

Brian: Can you talk a little bit about like so when I'm reading this statement, there are a few things that stand out to me. One thing that really stands out is in the "our principles" section, the principles that you list: mutual respect, accessibility freedom and flexibility knowledge and creativity transparency peer support and public leadership and support. And this last to stand out to me as sort of I don't know as as as things I don't necessarily see in a lot of statements like this where you're making a commitment to to build in peer networks and also having your having the organizational leadership, that's Rachel, but also you as a conference co-chair there and other people in the group being very visible about this and vocal about this. I guess I don't have a question except to say I like that and you should talk now.

Jen: Okay! Yeah so. So two points of this first one probably or support we interestingly, originally, I think we came at this was slightly different points of view, one being that we should provide leadership for people to put these into action, which I agree with, and also that we should by example. You know, lead by example, by having a statement like this and by using it. So when we went back to revise that we realized that we were coming at it with slightly different angles, both of which are really important and I hopefully we kind of merge them together nicely. But, but more to your point of how we exemplify this. You know, Rachel was the one who commissioned us writing the statement and I'm glad that she felt that it was important and that we should put time into it. You know, I was trying to figure out why this feels so obviously part of the web campus culture. And I think that goes back to the fact that accessibility is a primary importance to us as well. That is part of our mandate as higher education institutions, but I think it's also a case for this statement that like you're never going to be successful at addressing the full range of accessibility issues until you are completely and totally inclusive of your community and of the experiences that people are having. And so that's an important piece to our community. And it's something that seems like kind of a no-brainer, but it's also obviously very important to say. So I think it's great that we, that we have this to point to.

Brian: So I'm going to ask a couple of questions about how this connects to the in person event and other events in web campus world, whether it's the online event, whether it's so a couple of weeks ago, we had the webinar with folks at Tenon. So we've been referencing for a very long time. This code of conduct that's going to be reviewed. How do you take a statement of diversity inclusion and equity and and turn that into something tangible that people see an experience as they're participating in the community.

Jen: That's a good question. I think that it's hard. You know, it's not like this statement has action items in it. But the diversity and inclusion team that's helped to write it does have action items and there are things that we're working on some of which we do hope to talk about at WP Campus 2019 coming up in Portland, Oregon. And so, I mean, we're working on a couple initiatives, including mentorship. And that's something that we hope to talk about a little bit more. And again, people we we love to have folks come and join us for our monthly meetings which take place the third Thursday of every month at 1pm CST so that's 2pm EST so if if people want to join us and in Slack for that. That would be great. There's a number of other initiatives that we sort of have you know, waiting, because we, the statement has taken a while. And there's been other things that we've been trying to work on. We have put out some speaker training which is available to watch anytime on the website. And the idea being that this is hopefully something that will help people who haven't traditionally spoken to get more comfortable with it. It's not just for public speaking, but also for helping people to write a proposal to come up with ideas for presenting, and there, again, we want to try to be as inclusive as possible in our speaker lineup so getting more more people out, especially if you haven't spoken before, please go check out that training. Hopefully it's something that will inspire you to come up with some good topics or make you more comfortable when the time comes, we would love to get more people out. So those are those are some of the sorts of sorts of projects that we've been working on. Also, I think Maryann, sorry, she is a member of the web team at ST. JOHN Fisher College in Rochester, New York, I knew Rochester had something to do with it.

Brian: Hi, Maryann. And I hope you listen. Don't hate us. So if you listen to our episode two weeks ago you know that this is sort of a reboot of the WP campus podcast and we're trying to stay quick and short and agile and any other any other buzzwords you can come up with. Synergy. So we are trying to keep under the 15 to 20 minute mark. Jen, since you are kind of sort of a guest co host, we're going to treat you as a guest now.

Jen: I get ice cream or something, right?

Brian: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Um, the, the, you have to provide your own ice cream, but you're more than welcome. You're more than welcome to have ice cream. So we're going to preview with you. We're, we're going to try our hand at a feature. A recurring segment. Which is to ask you a few questions about yourself and your institution and your hopes and dreams for WPcampus.

Jen: Okay, cool.

Brian: Okay, so first, where do you work?

Jen: I work at NC State University in lovely, super-hot Raleigh NC.

Brian: That's the one that's like the sky blue color right

Jen: We're gonna have to edit out some curse words right now. No, this is not the sky blue color one. This is the NC State Wolfpack we are red.

Brian: And what is your official job title.

Jen: I'm Web Services Coordinator.

Brian: And what does that mean, what do you actually do?

Jen: I do whatever my boss tells me to do. I, I, I chair the web services team I team lead for you guys, although like you don't really need a leader. I just pick different project management tools and move us in and out of them and then occasionally I get to do some development. Still, I talked to clients a lot. I do a lot of billing. I tried to help with some other direction for projects internal do OIT and for the rest of campus.

Brian: Yeah, that's good enough for me.

Jen: Sounds right. Yeah.

Brian: If you have a degree what degree did you get and from whatever institution that was

Jen: Yeah, I'm NC State all the way my undergrad is in textile and apparel business management. Comes in handy. My master's degrees in Technical Communication, also from NC State.

Brian: And finally, at the institution where you work who would win in a fight: your college mascot or Wapuu

Jen: So NC State has the wolf pack which, to me, even though our mascot is often shown as a lone wolf should indicate a group of wolves, and I don't think Wapuu can take down a group of wolves, the strength is in the pack and the pack is the strength. Right? Is that what it is?

Brian: Not so good.

Jen: Oh geez. Our most famous alumni ever whose name. I just blanked on, from The Hangover [zach galifianakis]. Um, yeah, so I'm pretty sure that cute and charming little Wapuu could could not take down and pack of wolves. Sorry, dude.

Brian: Yes, I feel like that one's kind of a gruesome one to start with segment with

Jen: I know right? I think if we start tracking the summer it's gonna get ugly.

Brian: So Jen thank you very much for being a test run guest and also...

Jen: And can I go back to being obnoxious co host?

Brian: You can be obnoxious all you want and also thank you for all the work that you do for the diversity and inclusion group you know i i really appreciate that this group exists and the statement exists and everything that you've done. I think it's good for the organization. And it's a model for other organizations to.

Jen: I hope so. I hope so. And yes, as a reminder to folks, please do go to the website read through the statement, read the blog post where we have links to the code of conduct and you can add feedback in there. So yeah, we love feedback if you can join us for meetings and Slack. Again, that's the third Thursdays of the month, and we'd love to have you. What are we talking about next week, Brian.

Brian: I think next week we're, well, are we going to have a schedule for the conference next week?

Jen: Yeah, I do think that the 2019 conference. We're contacting people now and getting confirmations. But the schedule is more or less in place. So yeah, I think, talking about what what to expect to the conference might be a good plan.

Brian: So we'll try to bring in some good guests. Talk about that and talk about what we're excited about for the summer's event important one.

Jen: I am super excited about the schedule. We had a lot of great submissions. This year it was it was hard to pick stuff out. And I think we're gonna have my biggest problem is going to be figuring out where I need to be

Brian: So with all of that you can read the diversity, equity, and inclusion statement at WP campus.org, you can register for the conference for this year summer event at 2019.WPcampus.org you can listen to this and other episodes of the podcast via iTunes and Google Play and other things probably or by going to WP campus.org/podcast. And if you have any complaints, which I'm sure you do for some if there's praise (which is almost certainly for Jen and not for me because I've fumbled all over this podcast) you can tweet at WP campus org or tweet directly at Jen at ncsumarit or tweet at me at briandeconinck. Good luck selling that

Jen: Haven't you given this to your mom wasn't too. I think she's gonna send you nice thoughts.

Brian: My, my mother. Hi. I love my mother dearly. I don't think she needs to listen to this.

Jen: I'm sure you have someone who would say nice things to you, Brian.

Brian: Somebody. Yeah.

Jen: There's also a transcript. I want to mention that we're as part of this reboot. We're making sure that we have transcripts for all these. So if that is more your jam. If you'd rather read and listen, that is going to be available on the website as well.

The WPCampus Podcast is a recurring show where members of the community come together to discuss relevant topics, unique ways that WordPress is being used in higher education, share tutorials and walkthroughs, and more. If you'd like to be a guest on the show, or have a topic you'd like us to discuss, please let us know.

Brian DeConinck

Front-End Designer & Developer, NC State University@BrianDeConinckhttp://www.briandeconinck.com/

I build custom themes and plugins for NC State University's Office of Information Technology, and I help maintain campus WordPress environments and advise clients on content best practices. I'm always excited to talk about universal design, accessibility, usability, and designing with compassion and empathy. I host the WPCampus Podcast, where I get to talk about all those things and more!

Jen Riehle McFarland

Web Services Coordinator, NC State University@ncsumarithttps://design.oit.ncsu.edu/

Jen is a member of the Design & Web Services team in NC State's central IT unit. She does training, support, maintenance, billing, and occasionally something fun with design and/or dev. You can hear Jen as color commentary to "help" Brian DeConinck on the WPCampus podcast. Tweet me on the twitters: @ncsumarit.

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