Equity Guidelines for Standing Committees and Councils

Shared governance at Seminole State College includes broad representation on standing committees and councils. Each committee and council incorporates processes focused on the College vision: equitable and excellent student outcomes and career advancement in a collaborative and inclusive environment.  The specific procedures outlining each committee or council’s work define that environment, and these guidelines act as supplements.

Preserve the POV

It is important for each committee or council member to represent the stakeholders designated for that position or role. That includes groups such as “faculty from Arts and Sciences" or “Career Service from Student Affairs.” Members should cast their own vote in order to preserve the unique point of view involved in the original designations.

Adopt Inclusive Language

The committee or council best represents the College’s inclusive climate when it encourages content framed in neutral, inclusive language.

  • Best practice is evolving to use “they” and "them" as a gender-neutral singular. Statements may be worded, “When a student requests this, direct them to an advisor.”
  • Describe the person before the protected class. “When a student with a disability requests this, direct them to an advisor” (replacing “a disabled student”).
  • Communications may be written without pronouns: “When an employee requests this, they should speak to his/her the supervisor.”

Identify Unconscious Bias

It is recommended that all employees complete the basic Skillsoft training in this area to ensure a foundation of shared understanding. That includes eliminating generalizations and considering various possibilities on merit, not assumptions.

Eliminate Discrimination

Each committee or council member should watch for possible adverse treatment and adverse impact that could be discriminatory. The bases for discrimination are listed in Policy 1.060, Non-discrimination. Avoid:

  • Adverse treatment, singling out a group for an advantage or a disadvantage. Exaggerated example: requiring only students older than 40 to pass a computer skills pre-test. Even with a positive rationale (“students need to key swiftly in this class”), linking the requirement to age, rather than determining the skill of all students, is discriminatory.
  • Many individuals now identify their pronouns in original communications; this environment is especially welcomed by individuals whose outward appearance may seem to disagree with that pronoun. For someone who has requested use of they, their, and theirs for the singular, use sentences such as, “Terry completed the lab work, then they volunteered to assist.” Deliberate use of mis-gendering pronouns could create a hostile environment based on sex, which is a violation of the College's Policy 1.060, Non-Discrimination.
  • Adverse impact, using a neutral-sounding criterion to negatively affect a group. Exaggerated example: offering make-up assignments to students only when their absence was unpredictable. This would prevent make-up assignments for individuals observing religious holidays, or whose disabilities required ongoing treatment on certain class days.

Practice Transparency

The agenda, materials, and minutes are as important to ex officio members and members-by-position as they are to voting members selected following the College-wide survey of interest. Communications should reach all members. Absent members (and all employees with an interest) should be able to access minutes on the designated site for the committee or council within a reasonable time.

Equity and Diversity/Title IX seeks to attend the first meeting of the year or offer consultation as needed. Best wishes to all committees and councils as they complete their work, which so clearly embodies the equity-minded concept of shared governance!

Equity and Diversity/Title IX, 8.27.20, 7.21.21, 9.1.22


Barbara Coleman-Foster
Associate Vice President, Organizational Culture and Strategy/Title IX Coordinator