The University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, Nevada

Inclusivity Audit for Residential Life, Housing and Food Services, 2023

DP conducted a systematic review of inclusivity efforts as they related to policies and practices, culture, and climate for the department of Residential Life, Housing and Food Services (RLHFS) at the University of Nevada at Reno. The goal was to gain feedback and guidance to help assess the effectiveness of department staff efforts towards inclusivity for all constituent groups - students, undergraduate student staff, graduate student staff, professional staff, and administrative faculty - and to provide recommendations that will guide and direct practices.

Our conceptual foundation for the Inclusivity Audit was based on the “Culturally Effective Organizations Framework” developed by the Institute for Economic and Racial Equality. The seven categories included: leadership, policies and procedures, community engagement, language and communication access, staff cultural competence, workforce diversity and inclusion, and data collection and analysis. The methodology for the Audit utilized artifact and archival research, stakeholder interviews, listening sessions, and a short survey.

The artifact and archival research that DP undertook confirmed that DEI efforts had already been implemented across multiple areas in the department, such as hiring practices, staff training, and student support services. Notable initiatives included: developing a roster of DEI policies for daily operations, prioritizing DEI on the departmental website, adopting inclusive hiring practices to increase diversity among staff, providing regular DEI training and workshops for staff members, establishing affinity spaces/living-learning communities for underrepresented student groups, embedding DEI into annual performance assessments, and conducting a baseline DEI Inclusivity study.  

The results of the DP stakeholder interviews, listening sessions and short survey established that while these efforts were significant and laudable, there were signs of “performative DEI initiatives,” including: limited dedicated resources for ongoing DEI development and initiatives, a need for greater empathy from some senior staff leaders, improved guidelines for accountability for staff or students who might demonstrate anti-inclusive behaviors and areas where communication could be strengthened with other administrative units focused on DEI at the institution. 

Actionable Outcomes and Suggested Recommendations

The Inclusivity Audit confirmed that diversity, equity, and inclusion had been clearly designated as departmental priorities by RLHFS at the University of Nevada, Reno. However, DP recommended that RLHFS continue to effect change and further develop and elevate DEI by focusing on the following critical areas for improvement: 

  • Enhancing transparency and accountability in addressing concerns related to DEI
  • Strengthening communication channels between students, staff,
    and administration with leadership focusing on active listening and outreach
  • Investing in resources for continuous DEI development, such as dedicated personnel and funding, as well as consistent training