Photo of the King mural at MLK and Shaver in Portland, OR

Diversity at TSUSP

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are core values within the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning (USP), and within our main programs (Community Development, Masters of Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Studies).

About the USP DEI Committee/Contact Us and Reporting Options


The committee includes faculty and student representatives. Members for the 2020-2021 Academic Year are:

  • Dr. Megan Horst 
  • Dr. Kacy McKinney
  • Dr. Ozcan Tunalilar
  • Minji Cho (Urban Studies)
  • Natalie Chavez (MURP)
  • Valeria Tapia (CD)

And as part of our Hub and Spoke Model (which meets once per term to discuss cross-cutting issues):
Dr. Jenny Liu, Undergrad Executive Committee Representative
Dr. CNE Corbin, MURP Executive Representative
Dr. Julius McGee, Urban Studies Executive Representative


Faculty, staff, and students are welcome to provide feedback on their experiences, or their ideas, related to the committee’s work, by communicating with one of the committee members (such as the student representatives) or scheduling time to speak at one of our bi-monthly meetings. Email us at: uspdei@pdx.edu.  The DEI committee will also host several feedback opportunities for students during each school year.

Other feedback and reporting options, including anonymous reporting form: See resources & reporting.
 

TSUSP Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

The Diversity & Equity committee’s (working) mission is to “coordinate and undertake activities to make TSUSP and its academic programs more equitable and inclusive. These activities may relate to, but are not limited to: student recruitment and admissions procedures, curriculum design and content, and student climate.”

Our main goals (see our working set of goals and strategies here), and also see our working definitions below, are: 

  1. improve recruitment, retention, and culturally relevant support for students from diverse backgrounds,
  2. Collaborate with faculty, staff and students to collectively build an inclusive climate, and
  3. improve and deepen our attention to racial and other equity throughout the curriculum, and in other activities like research, community partnerships, and internships.

Our working definitions are:


Diversity: We believe diversity is a strength. We aim to attract and support students from diverse backgrounds. We demand respect and attention to diverse cultural histories and identities (including race/ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, disability, class, etc.) in all school-related activities, from asset-based (rather than deficit-based) perspectives. This includes actively working to decenter whiteness.


Equity: Our aim is to address the roots of inequities, including but not limited to racism, white supremacy culture, colonialism, homophobia, sexism, ableism, classism, and the intersections of these inequities, as they show up in our classrooms, school, research, and our professional communities and practices. We also strive for an affirmative vision of a racially just organization and society.


Inclusion: Our aim is to create an accessible, safe and meaningful environment for students (and all school community members) at the intersections of historically targeted identities, and with differing abilities, and learning styles.
 

We lead our DEI commitments with race (but we don’t stop at race). Some of the reasons to lead with race (from the Local and Regional Government Alliance on Race and Equity) are:

  • To have maximum impact, focus and specificity are necessary. Strategies to achieve racial equity differ from those to achieve equity in other areas. “One-size-fits all” strategies are rarely successful.
  • A racial equity framework that is clear about the differences between individual, institutional and structural racism, as well as the history and current reality of inequities, has applications for other marginalized groups.
  • Race can be an issue that keeps other marginalized communities from effectively coming together (and is often used in “wedge politics” by those in power). An approach that recognizes the inter-connected ways in which marginalization takes place will help to achieve greater unity across communities.
     

Highlights of current and past work by both the DEI Committee and more broadly by the USP community:

2020-21:  Some likely priorities are: enhancing graduate student orientation to include a stronger introduction to DEI, continuing our work to improve the curriculum in our main programs, adding questions to course evaluations, and adding an expectation/acknowledgement of DEI work to faculty review processes.

In fall 2020, the faculty shared this response to the “MURP Students and Alumni Action Letter.” We’re grateful to all of those involved for holding the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning (TSUSP) accountable to our commitment to becoming an anti-racist institution. While the letter focuses on the experience of Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) students, many of the issues identified extend to all of our degree programs: Community Development, MURP, and Master/PhD of Urban Studies programs, and programs in which we partner, including the Master of Real Estate Development. 

2019-2020: The DEI committee completed a curriculum review of the core classes in our three main programs (CD, MURP and US), and shared it with current students and faculty in spring 2020. Our review adds to what we already have heard from students over the past years: our curriculums need to lift up non-dominant (especially BIPOC) voices, bring deeper attention to racism and other oppressions and to historical and current social change and justice movements, and to foster an anti-oppressive learning space in which students from marginalized backgrounds and with different learning styles can thrive.

In summer 2020, in the wake of uprisings across the U.S. including in Portland, over 140 MURP students and alumni presented a letter to the Director and the CUPA Dean, identifying concerns and demands for greater attention to racial justice.

2018-2019: The DEI committee shared the Report out on Action Planning and Spring 2018 Focus Groups with faculty. The DEI committee initiated a review of the core curriculum in our three main programs (CD, MURP and US). 


USP established the Guest Speakers Stipend with the goal of inviting more diverse guest speakers to our classes.


USP students and faculty spoke out against the armament of Campus Security Officers, as part of Disarm PSU. 

2017-18: The DEI committee planned and hosted listening sessions with students of color.  We also consulted with the Office of Global Diversity and Inclusion and our own faculty to develop a draft set of goals and actions to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. 


 2016-17: The Diversity & Equity committee began in its current form

Diversity at TSUSP