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SCS DEI Update

Oct. 15, 2021

Bias Busters Briefing

Bias Busters, a program devoted to confronting and tackling unconscious bias through awareness and action, recently kicked off its first sessions of the semester. In this and future installations of the DEI update, we’ll be reinforcing some of the key points from the program and providing opportunities for you to contribute to shared resources with other members of the SCS community.

We’ll begin here with a brief primer on unconscious bias. Unconscious (or implicit) bias refers to the activation and operation of social stereotypes toward groups that we hold outside of our conscious awareness. Because the human brain is naturally inclined to categorize everything we perceive, including people, and because we’re constantly inundated with reminders of societal stereotypes (e.g., through the mediapolitical messaging, family and friends, historical and persistent societal inequities, etc.), learned stereotypes take root and can affect us in ways we may not even realize. Unconscious bias can affect us in subtle, unrecognized ways — through the expectations we hold about certain groups, the language we use to describe them, errors in memory and interpretation of ambiguous situations, our failure to recognize inequities and imbalances in our social environments, etc.

Raising awareness of our unconscious biases is a key first step toward reducing their power and impact — but only the first step. In future briefings, we will explore how unconscious bias manifests in microaggressions and microinvalidations, what strategies are effective for recognizing and counteracting unconscious bias, why a focus on both unconscious bias and systemic bias is critical for true change to occur, and how to cultivate more inclusive behaviors and environments in our own social spheres.

In the meantime, we encourage you to sign up for an upcoming Bias Busters session and submit your questions about unconscious bias on this form.


Welcome Darla Coleman, SCS Executive Director of DEI! The SCS DEI office is excited to welcome Darla Coleman to our internal team! Darla comes to us from her previous role as regional director of registration at the Community College of Allegheny County. She has extensive experience and is passionate about her work in student-facing service. She has worked with diverse marginalized and underrepresented populations, including students with disabilities. She's also worked with Black students and those of other ethnicities, as well as first-generation, low-income, non-traditional aged and international students. We look forward to Darla’s ideas and solutions to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in offerings, staff, students and faculty in the SCS and university communities.

CMU employees have an additional resource for professional development through an agreement with Academic Impressions, which caters to the professional development needs of higher education faculty and staff. Academic Impressions offers a wide range of live and on-demand learning opportunities, including resources focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. Log in to the site with your Andrew credentials today to begin exploring the available training.

Second call! The SCS DEI office will be expanding to include a small group of student advisors. Our goal is to create more opportunities for communication and interaction with the SCS DEI office, recognizing that it is often easier for students to talk to other students. We have some great candidates, but we don’t want to miss anyone who is still interested. Use this form to nominate a peer or yourself.

The DEI Team