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healing spaces

Domestic Marginalized Communities

Yashwant Prakash Vyas | Diversity Resources | Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Nicholas M. Creary | Center for Diversity and Enrichment | Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

On this page:

Who Is This For

Why This Assistance Is Needed

Practical Options to Use to Help You Manage the Impact of the Pandemic

 

Who This Is For

Domestic Marginalized Groups

  • BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students, staff, faculty
  • Students, staff, faculty with disabilities
  • Students, staff, and faculty who identify within the LGBTQ+ community
  • First generation students
  • P&S staff in probationary status
  • DACA and undocumented students, staff, and faculty
  • Refugees
  • Adjunct faculty and graduate students

Please Note: This is not an exhaustive list instead it is a starting point. Further, some groups based on identities such as age, socioeconomic status, etc. are not exclusively identified but are included indirectly. Also, it is important to take into consideration the intersectionality between these marginalized groups i.e. individuals are/might be facing compounding impacts due to their membership in multiple or all groups identified here. It is critical that consideration be given to compounding impacts from intersectionality when identifying support strategies and resources.

 

Why This Assistance Is Needed

Why are they affected disproportionately?

BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students, staff, and faculty

  • Existing institutional and systemic identity-based prejudicial and discriminatory treatment.
  • Manifestation of anti-Asian discrimination in our communities in direct relation to the pandemic. Specifically, individuals being targeted with dehumanization and xenophobia.
  • Disproportionate impacts of COVID on communities in this category. BIPOC, particularly African American (or Black identifying), Latinx and indigenous communities, have been disproportionately impacted due to pre-existing socioeconomic disparities and disparities in health caused by chronic and enduring institutionalized and systemic racism. The pandemic has served to exacerbate these inequities: BIPOC are more likely to have pre-existing health conditions that contribute to the disease’s lethality; BIPOC hold jobs that likely do not provide adequate health insurance coverage, and are frequently the first to be fired when a business must downsize in efforts to prevent closure; BIPOC disproportionately hold jobs that have been deemed “essential”, e.g., healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, or delivery workers, and thus are more likely to be exposed to the virus.
  • BIPOC students, staff and faculty will more than likely have lost family and/or community members to COVID (e.g., meatpacking plants in Columbus Junction, Storm Lake, Tama, and Waterloo, and consequently have issues of grief and loss and/or caregiver stress syndrome. Additionally, they may face economic consequences resulting from job loss, and/or having to find work in an “essential” job that interferes with their studies
  • Students, staff, faculty who and/or whose immediate contacts were infected by COVID are facing grief and financial and mental stress further exaggerated by healthcare expenditures.
  • Existing inequities, campus climate issues, and recruitment and retention concerns are exaggerated by COVID. Please see the campus climate survey data and reports from 2018. According to the most recent campus climate survey, more than half of the faculty of color have considered applying elsewhere due to the hostile environments within their respective departments.
  • When the university began reopening in June, the institution deemed athletics an "essential " (i.e., football and basketball, the majority of whose players are unpaid students of color with scholarships that could potentially be withdrawn if they didn't "volunteer" to return to campus on June 1). A recent external investigation of the football program has identified evidence of systemic racism and differential treatment of Black and white players by the coaching staff.

Students, Staff, Faculty With Disabilities

  • Existing institutional and systemic identity-based prejudicial and discriminatory treatment.
  • Although the University has developed a policy allowing for temporary alternative learning arrangements for students through the Office of Student Disability Services, it must also provide accommodations for faculty and staff who are immuno-compromised, allowing them to work on-line if necessary. Measures must be taken to lessen the risk to their health if/when they come back to campus. The former Dean of CLAS dismissed the concerns of faculty of color with anxiety and autoimmune conditions at a recent town hall. Strategic and proactive actions must be taken to avoid similar incidences in future and their impact on campus community. Recent COVID related accommodations from Faculty and Staff Disability Services must be sustained and evaluated periodically to protect these marginalized and vulnerable campus community members.
  • In the shift to on-line instruction during Spring semester, pre-recorded lectures, posting of lecture notes, and closed captioning of lectures became normative elements of instruction. These practices must continue, particularly for students with disabilities and/or whose native language is not English. The University cannot return them to the status of special accommodations that must be requested on a per case basis.

Students, staff, and faculty who identify within the LGBTQ+ community

  • Existing institutional and systemic identity-based prejudicial and discriminatory treatment.
  • In light of the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, members of the LGBTQ+ community have concerns about continuities in disparate treatment by medical and healthcare professionals, particularly with concern to access to resources (e.g., testing and/or ventilators): who chooses which patients will have access to resources?
  • Similarly, folx fear that marginalized status (e.g., documentation, access to health insurance) will adversely affect their access to potentially life-saving resources and services.
  • The University must provide advocates for queer and/or trans healthcare concerns and address the elevated incidences of homelessness among LGBTQ+ populations.
  • LGBTQ+ people, especially youth, face significantly higher rates of homelessness (usually due to lack of support from family) – lack of housing and/or food security made worse by COVID-19.
  • LGBTQ+ people, especially youth, face higher rates of self-harm, suicide, and drug addiction, and frequently lack supports away from UI. The University has a responsibility to provide these students access to mental health resources.
  • The Trump administration has been stealthily passing anti-LGBTQ+, especially anti-trans, legislation while the majority of the U.S. focuses on Black Lives Matter and dealing with COVID-19. To be clear, this is not a misaction on the part of the U.S. population, but rather an under-handed move by government leaders.
  • Exacerbated by the Whiteness of the mental health field and the dearth of professionals of color (especially Black womxn professionals), lack of education/knowledge about racial battle fatigue for BIPOC who are queer/trans, and lack of knowledge about how different queer/trans identities are defined and viewed within communities of color (WLW, MLM, sapphic, demi boi, etc.)
  • Increased burden of support for LGBTQ+ students falling on LGBTQ+ faculty and staff – emotionally and otherwise
  • Being forced to return to unsupportive – or outright abusive – family/home environments

First generation and low-income students

  • First generation college students face numerous challenges as they navigate through their higher education experience. One of the silent challenges include unfamiliarity with systems and processes of higher education. COVID has added uncertainty to this existing challenge.
  • Students from low income families are more likely to face additional financial stress. These students are also likely to contribute to their family income. First-generation college students are likely to come from low-income families and hence these financial challenges further get coupled with unfamiliarity with financial aid.
  • Students at the intersections of low-income family status and being first-generation college student experience compounded inequities and marginalization. COVID pandemic has further exaggerated these existing inequities and marginalization. For example, first-generation low-come students are likely to not have access to required resources such as stable internet connection, equipment, course materials to continue their education amidst of the COVID pandemic. Many students rely on university libraries and facilities for these resources.

P&S staff in probationary status

  • Several P&S staff members who are still in the probationary status are vulnerable to job security. This might increase stress related to job security especially with the ongoing budget cut process.
  • The stress related to job security is further compounded by financial stress. P&S staff will not receive raises due to economic impact of the pandemic crisis contributing to financial instability of many staff members who were already economically disadvantaged prior to the advent of the pandemic.
  • Some P&S staff have had increased workloads and responsibilities, without extra compensation, who are also battling the challenges of COVID coupled with financial instability and stress from added healthcare expenditures. Thus, P&S staff members in such situations might face higher stress levels.

DACA and undocumented students, staff, and faculty

  • Existing institutional and systemic identity-based prejudicial and discriminatory treatment.
  • Might be facing loss of on-campus housing, food insecurity, loss of access to resources like space, equipment, internet, books, etc.
  • DACA/undocumented people fear that they will receive differential treatment or unequal access to resources (e.g., testing and/or ventilators) due to their legal status: e.g., if they do not have health insurance they will be denied access to COVID testing, or that medical/healthcare professionals will call ICE. Fear of deportation is very real for them and their families as well.
  • Undocumented students do not have access to emergency resources or federal assistance, e.g. Trio or CARES Act funds. Frequently their parents and other family members fear deportation, and that will often dissuade undocumented students from seeking assistance for fear of exposure of undocumented status. This puts them at greater risk of dropping out or otherwise not completing their studies.
  • At least one undocumented student who was ineligible for support from federal funds sought and received support from an administrative office emergency fund from only to have an equivalent amount deducted from their financial aid package by the Office of Student Financial Aid. Some staff are afraid to refer students to resources on campus for fear of potential repercussions for students due to their precarious legal status.
  • This is made worse by the fact that most businesses/entities assume that everyone has had access to this funding, so they operate under that assumption when it’s not the case
  • University faculty/staff already lack any real knowledge around DACA-mented and undocumented life, and this is made even worse by COVID-19. It is not clear who to turn to, who has reporting responsibilities, and how to verify accuracy of information when given.
  • Potential layoffs/unemployment, and a job with a stable and suitable wage can be even harder to come by now
    • Fatigue and mental exhaustion of waiting for a decision on DACA, as this process has been months in the making. And even though SCOTUS has given a reprieve, it is only temporary.
    • Lack of ability to make concrete future plans, which is also true of COVID-19 and can be potentially re-traumatizing
  • Undocumented people with close family members in another country are facing additional burden/trauma because they have neither the in-person emotional support and security of having those family members nearby, nor the financial/logistical support (potentially). It can also be hard to strategize or plan together when different countries are handling the pandemic differently, especially for undocumented people whose parents are in another country, either via deportation or voluntarily, or because they never came to the US.

Refugees

  • Refugees enter the country with unaddressed trauma. COVID is likely to disrupt the regular process of healing.
  • COVID pandemic is likely to affect the process of rehabilitation and cultural adjustment. The pandemic is likely to reduce opportunities for community building and acculturation. The uncertainty brought by the pandemic heighten the challenges of navigating social and legal systems.
  • The sociopolitical climate around immigration and resources can lead to prejudicial and/or discriminatory treatment of refugees.

Adjunct faculty and graduate students

  • Budget cuts coupled with drastic changes in teaching might reduce teaching opportunities for adjunct faculty/instructors and graduate students. Hence, this can cause financial stress due to reduce or complete loss of income. The mere anticipation of budget cuts and news of unemployment is having adverse mental health impacts.
  • CLAS, in an effort to close the budget gap caused by loss of revenue due to the pandemic, will lay off 15 untenured lecturers (31% of the lecturer's pool to pay down 5.2% of the projected debt), of whom, 12 are women, four are faculty of color, and two are single mothers. These Phase 1 cuts will cause extreme stress and anxiety. UI’s senior leadership could mitigate the pain of these and similar cuts substantially by following the practice of giving back significant portions of their salaries, as have numerous university leaders across the nation. For example: Harvard University of Pittsburg West Virginia University.
  • Two Black women have been told that their contracts are expiring and will not be renewed unless they agree to teach additional classes for no additional pay. They were told they'd need to teach 32 semester hours (as opposed to 24 semester hours) in order to get a one-year contract extension. When confronted with the fact that the Operations Manual CLEARLY says 24sh is the limit, former Dean Goddard responded that this is a time of crisis, and the rules don't apply.

 

Practical Options to Use to Help You Manage the Impact of the Pandemic

BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students, staff, and faculty

  • Creating dedicated spaces for individuals to connectg., expand healing spaces coordinated by Dr. Bruno, and those coordinated by CDE and UCS.
  • Identify and implement dedicated resources. There is disproportionality of impacts and how individuals are equipped to address those impacts.
  • Increase access to counselors/mental health professionals of color: either on UCS staff or via referrals
  • Review group specific data from surveys being conducted on the impacts of COVID on specific communities after they are published. Doing this will provide additional insights and an opportunity to employ data driven postvention strategies.
  • Assure student athletes of color that they will not lose their scholarships and/or place in the university if they choose not to expose themselves to the virus during practices and/or games.

Students, staff, faculty with disabilities

Students, staff, and faculty who identify within the LGBTQ+ community

First generation students

  • Engage UI First-Generation Task Force to identify specific interventions.
  • Provide proactive and regular check-ins with students. Provide proactive counselling and advising sessions. Strategies how resources such as wifi, equipment and course materials can be provided to students in need.
  • Address stigma around food insecurity and homelessness. This will help connecting with students who are facing food insecurity and homelessness and identifying resources to support them.

P&S staff in probationary status

  • Increased communication and transparency. This can include regular updates from department specific HR officer.
  • Whenever possible reassure staff on job security.
  • Compensate individuals whose workloads have increased through extra/special compensation.

DACA and undocumented students, staff, and faculty

  • Require at least one person in each office/unit be designated to learn about resources and services available to DACA and undocumented students, staff, and faculty on campus and in the community, and share that information with colleagues in the office/unit.

Refugees

Adjunct faculty and graduate students

  • Be mindful of the demographics of the faculty and graduate students being dismissed before dismissing them.
  • Take seriously the very real concerns expressed by NTT faculty about anxiety and potential exposure to the virus.
  • Follow the dictates of the University Operations Manual.

Resources to Manage the Mental Health Impacts of COVID Pandemic

Group Specific Resources:

General Resources:

The COVID-19 Response Playbook