Editorial: Feedback on Hiatt Career Center section of the University’s Anti-Racism Draft Plan
In light of the Nov. 10 release of the University’s Draft Anti-Racism Plan, the Justice’s editorial board will be reviewing and providing feedback on prominent sections. We hope that these forthcoming editorials will serve as a resource for students to provide feedback to the administration. We also recognize, however, that our editorial board is predominantly composed of white students, and we will work to ensure that we are not taking space or attention away from the voices of the BIPOC students who are most directly affected by racism on campus. In line with this goal, we have grounded our analysis of the appendices in the demands put forward by the Black Action Plan.
This editorial will focus on Appendix Q: Hiatt Career Center.
In the draft of the University Anti-Racism Plan released last semester, Brandeis had constructed a set of strategies aiming to offer diverse representation to the BIPOC student population and to make resources more accessible and equitable to every student. In Appendix Q, the Hiatt Career Center drafted their plans from four different perspectives: the improvement of student internship and career attainment data regulation, a better visualization of staff members’ backgrounds and specialties, building stronger local connections to provide hands-on opportunities for BIPOC students and new programs that feature long-term mentorship as well as other opportunities. Appendix Q shows a lot of potential for future Hiatt development. This board urges Hiatt to firmly follow through with the plans presented and take actions as the new semester moves forward.
Since more than 70% of the Brandeis population had experience living outside of the U.S. and more than 63% of the student body are multilingual, it is important to diversify Hiatt staff to accommodate the cultural needs of the student body. Other minority groups, including the Brandeis LGBTQ+ community, also need more equitable representation in Hiatt staff. The diversified staff representation would encourage more students to seek help from Hiatt, providing more equitable resource distribution in regards to career planning.
Second, Hiatt plans to expand local engagement to provide BIPOC students with more hands-on opportunities. Specifically, Hiatt created a list of 50+ Black-owned/Black-led local businesses and organizations as their local engagement outreach. Thirdly, to provide students — especially minority students — more comprehensive and long-term help, Hiatt plans to initiate a new program they are calling Rise Together. The program, funded by a three-year grant, offers independent mentorship between Brandeis alumni and students who will be matched according to industry, location, cultural background and more to make students feel more comfortable and encouraged in their career development exploration at Hiatt.
While these plans have great potential, we have not seen the implementation of all the above plans yet. Hiatt has not taken key steps to diversify its staff members. Despite a relatively diverse student advisor team, other Hiatt staff members have been consistently majority white. Given that many of the current student career staff members will be graduating this spring, Hiatt has been looking for new students to apply for the position. This would be a great opportunity for Hiatt to provide a more culturally diverse peer staff team that can better serve students seeking career advice.
Additionally, Hiatt’s website does not include their plans to diversify local engagement programs or the Rise Together program on its website. This board recognizes that more time might be needed for the changes to take place. However, we urge Hiatt to take action quickly. For example, as more diversity programs are being planned and implemented and a larger workload ensues, Hiatt should consider hiring new staff members to better reflect the Brandeis student body. This will not only diversify Hiatt’s staff but also accommodate the increasing workload in delivering more equitable services. For the long-term projects, although there is still room to plan and strategize, this board recommends that Hiatt at least publicize the plans for these new programs on their website. As a result, the Brandeis community will be able to discuss and provide feedback for the new programs.
Besides hiring changes and the long-term goals laid out in Appendix Q, there are actions that Hiatt can take right now. The Black Action Plan has previously suggested that Hiatt “increase the number of professional development workshops offered to Black students and Students of Color.” Appendix Q partially responds to this demand, mentioning that Hiatt is planning a series of programs “bringing together employers and alumni with students discussing issues of race, gender, and orientation in the workplace.” This board appreciates Hiatt’s response to BAP demands and urges Hiatt to keep the community updated on specifics of the plan as they become available. These actions will offer timely help for BIPOC students in job and internship hunting, especially in the current economic downturn.
Hiatt should also recognize that international students are now facing increasing pressure in the job market. More diversified and international representation in the Hiatt team will help provide useful information from a broader, global perspective. This board hopes to see collaboration between Hiatt and the International Students and Scholars Office in providing international students warm support in this cold season.
This board applauds Hiatt for the strategies outlined in Appendix Q — the guidelines and plans seem to carry great potential in building a more diversified staff team and in providing more equitable career planning resources. While we are excited to see all the changes that will take place, we urge Hiatt to start the listed programs as soon as possible.