What is BeTogether?
As a resilient university community, we are more than equipped to grow from what we learn and to build global, inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible spaces at NYU and beyond. But confronting systemic racism and other structural inequities requires innovation, accountability, ongoing learning and growth, and sustained, multilevel action.
Launched by the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation in 2020, the university-wide NYU BeTogether effort represents:
- a commitment to center global inclusion, diversity, belonging, equity, and access in every aspect of university life—with the knowledge that this will mean working through contestation, difficulty, and disagreement. Contestation is not a problem to be fixed or solved—it is part of the process and part of the foundation of this work;
- a challenge to meaningfully engage across difference in our shared spaces, inviting many voices into dialogue; and
- the next action-oriented phase of work that began in 2017–2018, when 21,000 NYU students, faculty, and staff participated in the Being@NYU campus climate assessment to evaluate the living, learning, and working environment at NYU. NYU BeTogether is a focused and purposeful effort to foster growth and improvement in 12 focus data themes identified in the assessment.
For many, recent moments of disruption—such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which pressed at existing fault lines in our societies, and increased media attention on persistent violence and racism against Black people and other marginalized communities—have inspired a sense of urgency about the accelerated work we must all do to address issues of racism, xenophobia, cissexism, heterosexism, sexism, and ableism. But the oppression laid bare by recent events is neither new nor surprising. It is ongoing, deeply rooted, and woven into many of our collective systems and practices, and it will take all of us working together to find a new path forward.
As Dr. Lisa Coleman, NYU's senior vice president for global inclusion and strategic innovation, has written, we cannot “all just get along” as though we live and operate in a vacuum devoid of power differentials.
"The most effective work continues to focus on how to shift power structures and address related practices that oppress some and not others; to learn from the mistakes of the past to create new opportunities now and in the future; to address and dismantle systems and patterns that support -isms and -phobias (and related exclusions) across the globe; and to reimagine and innovate new paradigms for a new different—new practices and new ways of being."
As part of its efforts to embrace diversity and promote a culture of inclusion, NYU conducted a university-wide campus climate assessment during the 2017–2018 school year. According to Dr. Susan Rankin of Rankin & Associates, which administered the assessment, campus climate consists of the "current attitudes, behaviors, standards and practices of employees and students of an institution"—and a positive climate leads to positive outcomes such as healthy identity development and experiences for students, productivity and sense of value for faculty and staff, and overall well-being for all. Over 21,000 NYU students, faculty, staff, and administrators completed the assessment, and from the data, the Office of Global Inclusion identified twelve focus areas most in need of growth and improvement. Building off of the recommendations made by four Being@NYU Committees who reviewed the assessment results from different perspectives, the BeTogether work aims to continue making progress in each of those areas through four pathways for organizational change. More information about the Being@NYU assessment.
Twelve Focus Data Themes
- Mentoring and Professional Development
- Internal Mobility, Leadership, and Promotions
- Pedagogy and Teaching
- Peer to Peer Unfair Treatment
- Community and Belonging
- Communication, Transparency, and Trust
- Transgender/Non-Binary/Gender Non-Conforming (GNC)
- Disability Inclusive Culture
- Race and Ethnicity (specific attention to Womxn of Color)
- Gender Equity & Parity
- Islamophobia, Anti-Muslim, and Anti-Semitic Sentiments
Moving Us Forward
BeTogether is about making sustainable changes to the way we do things—both as an institution, and also as individual schools, departments, and offices. Some of those changes come through new policies and practices, and others require education and programming. While NYU as an institution—and OGI, in particular—continues to take action to address legacies of systemic oppressions, each one of us as individuals—whether faculty, students, alumni, or administrators and staff—also has a role to play here. BeTogether committees with representation from across NYU’s global campuses and sites have already made recommendations in several areas, and will continue to update the university community on progress and ways to get involved.