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Thursday January 20th

Employee Forum committee discusses campus garden diversity, new subcommittee

<p>The UNC Employee Forum Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee met on Monday to discuss campus gardens and a new subcommittee.</p>
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The UNC Employee Forum Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee met on Monday to discuss campus gardens and a new subcommittee.

Members of the UNC Employee Forum Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee discussed implementing strategies to increase diversity, equity and inclusion for campus gardens and adding a sustainability subcommittee to the University’s existing DEI committee at its Monday meeting.

What's new?

  • In the past year, North Carolina Botanical Garden, including initiatives with Carolina Community Garden and Edible Campus UNC, have been making improvements on diversity, equity and inclusion. This has been accomplished through an altered hiring process, staff performance reviews, implementing Twilight Thursdays, forming a land acknowledgement statement and creating more diverse educational programs. 
    • “We’ve had several collaborations with classes in the American Indian Center including some programming in November that we’re very excited about,” said Jennifer Peterson, associate director of communications for North Carolina Botanical Gardens.
  • The gardens are currently working on new programs to inspire youth from marginalized communities to pursue careers in multi-language tour development, researching land history and working with national and international organizations to change insensitive common and scientific plant names botanical names.
    • “We’ve just acquired a partnership with the Institute of the Environment, their outreach arm, so we’re really excited about joining forces and coming up with ways that we can really make a difference with some of these youth,” said Claire Lorch, garden manager for the Carolina Community Garden.
  • Lorch and Peterson mentioned three goals to improve their DEI efforts. The first stemmed from a question posed by the DEI committee on how to navigate different approaches to change in their own DEI committee. They also asked how to diversify garden participants and broaden their applicant pool for job postings.
    • “We start simply by just having an open conversation, open dialogue, open forum about where do you see our DEI mission five years down the road,” said Antonio Squire, chairperson of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for the Employee Forum.  “I think that would definitely open up the door to figuring out how fast or slow you should move in implementation of your goals.”
  • Later, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee unanimously voted to try a new sustainability subcommittee. 
  • University policy analyst Matthew Teal said he proposed that the committee aim to promote sustainability at the University.
    • “I was trying to find a way to bridge the gap and say what does sustainability look like from the perspective of the Employee Forum,” Teal said. "I think there are opportunities to partner with the University’s Sustainable Carolina program to ensure that office has an eye on equity as well as equality.”

Who is on the committee?

The Employee Forum Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee was formed to address matters of diversity, equity and inclusion for all employees, particularly those in marginalized communities, and consists of 24 members.

What's next?

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee will meet again on Nov. 3.

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