'Gopher Equity Project' targets first-year students with DEI discussions, books, podcasts

The Gopher Equity Project is a 'campus-wide collaboration' that incorporates DEI as an 'online module for all undergraduate students' at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Suggested books include How to be An Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning, both by Ibram X. Kendi.

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities has sponsored a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) project tailored to first-year students.

The Gopher Equity Project is a “campus-wide collaboration” that incorporates DEI as an “online module for all undergraduate students” with “follow-up discussions in first-year courses or campus-wide Discussion Groups, and a website with additional resources." 

[Related: EXCLUSIVE: Read what happened after students posted their class 'Revealing Whiteness Activity' on social media]

All undergraduate students are offered and encouraged to take trainings that teach “concepts about equity, power, privilege, oppression, and identity.” In order to transition to UMN’s campus, “first-year students take the online training” and “will have follow-up conversations in their first-year college courses.”

The Gopher Equity Project is sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Education, Office for Equity and Diversity, Office for Student Affairs, and the Multicultural Student Success Steering Committee.

Upon completing the training module students may request a personalized facilitated discussion group. Facilitators consist of “trained students, faculty, and staff from across campus who are committed to this project.”

Assistant Director of Public Relations Andria Waclawski told Campus Reform that the project was "designed to set a foundation for a respectful campus by addressing diversity, inclusion and belonging."

The project offers resources such as books, podcasts, documentaries, and videos for students who want to have a better “understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Suggested books include How to be An Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi, Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlen Carruthers, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life by Sara Ahmed.

Notable podcast suggestions include “1619,” “Modern Minorities,” and “Transcripts.”

The project also provides a glossary for various terms that were used in the training.

[RELATED: University releases tech-based 'inclusive' language guide]

According to the project's webpage, the university president Joan Gabel stated that “The University is committed to creating a campus experience that allows all students to learn, grow and thrive; and honoring and valuing the diversity of our student body.”

Relatedly, Campus Reform reported earlier this month on the Strategic Plan for Antiracism at the university's School of Public Health. Developing “an inclusive SPH learning environment" is one objective in that plan that requires “diversity and antiracist training for all students starting at orientation.”

Campus Reform has reached out to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities for comment. The article will be updated accordingly.