- Why Aren’t We There Yet? Taking Personal Responsibility for Creating an Inclusive Campus ed. by Jan Arminio, Vasti Torres, Raechele L. Pope
The title of Jan Arminio, Vasti Torres, and Raechele L. Pope’s edited book: “Why Aren’t We There Yet?” reflects their perspective on the familiar question heard on a car ride: “Are we there yet?”. They suggest that, although asked by many people, the question of “Are we there yet” is not suited to inquiries related to inclusion on college campuses because the question reflects a desire for an oversimplified short-term solution. Rather, the complexity associated with systems of privilege and oppression results in a challenging, multifaceted process toward creating inclusive campuses with more work always to be done. This book addresses the complexity of creating an inclusive campus through student affairs practice and the important role of taking action through difficult dialogue. Rather than asking if we are there yet, the editors state that every educator should be asking “In what ways have I initiated a dialogue that promoted human dignity, equality, and community that serves to move institutions to become truly inclusive?” (p. 3). This question speaks to the remainder of the book title: Taking Personal Responsibility for Creating an Inclusive Campus.
The editors explain that the book grew out of recommendations made by the 2007–2009 Student Affairs Educators International (ACPA) Presidential Task Force: “Engaging the Complexities of Difference: What Does Inclusion Really Look Like” that was charged with developing the next steps in achieving inclusive campus environments. The task force identified five process elements necessary to create inclusive campus climates: (a) self-knowledge; (b) knowledge of and experiences with others; (c) understanding historical contexts; (d) understanding institutional contexts; and (e) action. This book, which is divided into an introduction and seven chapters written by student affairs faculty and practitioners, is organized around those five elements.
The book succeeds in presenting the complexity of creating an inclusive climate and inspires educators to want to do the difficult personal work necessary to travel down that road. It does so in an accessible manner that [End Page 858] highlights the need to understand self, others, and context, and how this understanding shapes approaches to action. The book inspires both a sense of urgency and a need for settling in for a long journey. It does so through theoretical richness combined with practical application.
Chapter 1, written by Anna M. Ortiz and Lori D. Patton, entitled “Awareness of Self,” offers an insightful perspective on the nature of understanding one’s own identity in order to work toward inclusive campuses. A significant contribution of this chapter is the focus on the role of relationships in one’s self-awareness. As part of their focus on how others influence self, they describe the tensions and synergy in that process. They conclude the chapter with recommendations to promote greater self-awareness. These recommendations nicely bring together some of the theoretical ideas presented in the chapter, offering a realistic challenge to continuously learn about self.
Chapter 2, “Learning Through Relationships with Others,” written by Jan Arminio and Vasti Torres, expands upon the notion of others’ influence on self through its specific focus on relationships. This chapter explores the notion of self-in-relation to others and in doing so, encourages more conscious attention on how assumptions about self and others are grounded in systems of power and oppression. Arminio and Torres briefly review student development literature on interpersonal development, highlighting the developmental capacities needed for a mature self-in-relation. Recognizing that developmental capacities are not enough, the chapter also highlights knowledge and spaces necessary to establish mature cross-cultural relationships.
John A. Mueller and Ellen Broido’s chapter 3, “Historical Context: Who We Were is Part of Who We Are,” serves as a reminder that understanding history helps us understand contemporary assumptions, values, ideas, identities, and decisions. Mueller and Broido examine the advances and challenges of inclusion in higher education...