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Equity and Social Justice Agenda: Initiatives and Accomplishments

african-am-mom-and-midwifeIn our commitment to equity and social justice as an ongoing process, this summary document is updated regularly.  Please check back often!

MCU is a committed ally to all underrepresented individuals and families who seek access to midwifery care or who strive to become midwifery providers within their communities.  Through collaboration and humble listening, we will continually strive to remove existing barriers to recruitment, retention, support and success at MCU as well as advance our program and profession in achieving inclusivity, cultural humility, and health equity. In doing so, we hope to broaden the reach and benefits of midwifery care for all families and effect widespread social change in the midwifery profession.

Institutional Integration

We strive to integrate equity and social justice into the very fabrics of our organization, from policies and procedures to guiding position statements and committee leadership.

Equity & Social Justice Position Statement

Our institutional Equity & Social Justice Position Statement guides the Midwives College of Utah in the action-oriented priorities of our equity and social justice agenda.

Preface: MCU is committed to the vision that every family deserves a midwife. The MCU curriculum is firmly grounded in the unique and profound power of the Midwives Model of Care™ as a primary pathway for improving outcomes and eliminating inequities for pregnant persons and their babies during the childbearing year.

Read MCU’s Equity and Social Justice Position Statement.

Diversity & Inclusivity at MCU

In every syllabus at MCU, we have placed a diversity and inclusivity statement that communicates the institutional expectations and responsibilities of the MCU learning community.

Statement: MCU is committed to the vision that every family deserves a midwife. The MCU curriculum is firmly grounded in the unique and profound power of the Midwives Model of Care™ as a primary pathway for improving outcomes and eliminating disparities during the childbearing year. MCU is committed to undertaking a holistic approach to disparity and diversity initiatives within our educational system and profession at-large, working with internal and external stakeholders to identify barriers and implement best practices that contribute to healthy and educational equity for all. Students are expected to approach the MCU curriculum and their learning with critical thinking, non-judgment, and self-reflexivity in commitment to cultural humility, compassion, and equity practices. Students are expected to respect diverse ways of being in the world, create inclusive classroom spaces, and honor the unique lived experiences of all individuals. To learn about MCU’s commitment and expectations of our students, faculty, and staff, please read the MCU’s Equity and Social Justice Position Statement.

Equity & Social Justice Committee

MCU has a standing Equity & Social Justice Committee that provides leadership in MCU’s institutional commitments to social justice and equity initiatives, including the creation of policies and procedures, professional development opportunities, student curriculum integration, and community-led partnerships.

MCU Non-Discrimination Policy

MCU has a robust non-discrimination policy that applies to all MCU students, faculty, staff, administrators, and affiliates.

Preface: Ethos Statement – The Midwives College of Utah (hereto referred to as the “College” or “MCU”) strives for an intentional community by investing in life-giving, life-affirming and life-sustaining relationships.  We recognize that a strong community is grown through conscious interaction with others and a commitment to the growth, development, and well-being of every other member of our community.  Ongoing critical self-reflection of our attitudes, behaviors, and values facilitates organic growth of a thriving community. Each member of the MCU community will commit to:

  • Accept responsibility for the well-being, equitable treatment, and success of each person;
  • Act ethically and with integrity in all interactions;
  • Continually strive to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitude, and self-awareness needed to be responsible members and leaders of our community;
  • Establish relationships of trust and honesty where the integrity of each person is respected;
  • Honor the worth of everyone, including their rights to self-determination, privacy, and confidentiality;
  • Respect the identities each person holds and strive to eliminate the effects of socialized biases;
  • Treat each other with courtesy, openness, understanding and forgiveness;
  • Use our recognition of power, privilege, difference, and discrimination to actively address issues of equity and inclusion;

We commit to making this a living statement and work to create the community to which we aspire.  Please read MCU’s Non-Discrimination Policy.

Admissions Procedures

MCU engages in a best practice process known as Holistic Admissions for both our undergraduate and graduate programs. Holistic Admissions help us to promote equity in our admission processes and in supporting a diverse student body.

Faculty, Staff, & Administrative Hiring

MCU is in the early phases of adopting a Search Advocates (SA) program. This best practice initiative is intended to promote integrity, equity, and diversity during hiring. SAs are an advocate for the process, not the person.  A Search Advocate framework involves the implementation of an extensive, in-depth, full-cycle process that capitalizes on social justice principles and best practices in inclusive hiring for diverse candidate pools.

Courageous Conversations

Courageous Conversations is a drop-in, standing group open to all faculty, staff, and students of MCU. The purpose of the group is to facilitate critical dialogue about issues of inequity, privilege, and oppression across all identities and experiences, including race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, and first-generation college students. A special emphasis of this forum is placed on having color-brave conversations and moving from white guilt to white responsibility.  This group is intended to be a safe space where critical dialogue is fostered, voices of marginalized communities are prioritized and listened to, and active allies are cultivated

Curriculum Integration & Professional Development

As an educational institution, we are committed to being lifelong learners and teachers of the principles and practices of equity, social justice, and anti-oppression.

COMM 115/1010 Mindset & Dialogue in Relationship, Organization, and Community Transformation (1 cr.)

Relationships, organizations, and communities hinge on human communication. Things are lovely when everyone agrees, feels safe and understood.  But, what happens when opinions vary, the stakes are high, emotions run strong, and safety feels compromised? We see the results of these failed conversations and interactions daily. In midwifery, these conflicts affect the progress of our profession, they affect our local, state and national organizations, they affect client care and outcomes, and they affect our most important relationships.

COMM 115/1010 explores the way in which we think about and see others (mindset), and our ability to develop and maintain the free-flow of information (dialogue) is fundamental to effectiveness, productivity, and satisfaction in our work environments, the communities we live and serve in, and our intimate relationships.  Students learn the models, tools, and skills to engage in an “Outward Mindset,” and successfully navigate “Crucial Conversations” in work and private life.

This course focuses on the Professional Excellence and Personal Greatness portions of MCU’s mission statement. The objective is for students to see real-life transformations in their private and professional lives through their commitment to an Outward Mindset, and successful Crucial Conversations (dialogue).

SOSC 150/1010: Equity and Anti-Oppression in Midwifery Care: Understanding Difference, Power, & Privilege (1.5 credits)

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the foundational concepts of equity, anti-oppression, and cultural humility in midwifery care, and to engage critical learning of how difference, power, discrimination, and privilege intersect to produce documented disparities in perinatal health outcomes and practices in the United States. Students will have the opportunity to study and explore three broad areas of cultural humility, equity and (anti)oppression practices, and their impact on maternity care through historical and current sociopolitical frameworks: 1) Social identities, racism, and privilege; 2) Health disparities, inequities, and inequalities; and 3) Cultural humility and equity care models. Collectively, students will acquire foundational skills necessary for the provision of culturally safe care and the actualization of anti-oppression midwifery professional practices—in commitment to access and equity in perinatal health for all childbearing persons.

SOSC 2010: Cultural Safety in Midwifery Care (2 credits)

Building off of a foundation of cultural competence and culturally safe care from SOSC 150/1010, students will further explore difference, power and privilege as it relates specifically to midwifery care in the childbearing year. Students will strengthen skills necessary for the provision of culturally competent care and the actualization of anti-oppression midwifery professional practices — in commitment to equity in maternal-child health for all childbearing families.

Curriculum Writing

Curriculum writers must take a training in “Cultural Humility in the Curriculum” in an effort to integrate equity and social justice practices into each and every course at MCU, in addition to the targeted courses of SOSC 150/1010 and SOSC 2010.

Professional Development

All faculty and staff must engage professional development each year. A primary category in which ongoing development must be demonstrated is “Cultural Sensitivity and Versatility” (Area 1: Teaching & Learning).

MCU offers ongoing and required anti-oppression, anti-racism, and cultural humility trainings to faculty, staff, and affiliates of MCU.

Beginning in 2017, we will initiate a three-tiered approach to curriculum integration and professional development, with the hopes of advancing the breadth and depth of our equity and social justice commitments:

  1. Tier 1: Enhanced anti-oppression, cultural sensitivity, and anti-racism training for faculty (academic and field), board of directors, and staff;
  2. Tier 2: Leadership Council will undergo an extensive, in-depth training course on anti-oppression and social justice work;
  3. Tier 3: CEU program development for MCU affiliates and the wider MCU community on social justice and equity in education and midwifery practice. CEU course offerings will also become a requirement of all preceptors.

Financial & Academic Support of a Diverse Student Body

In listening to the words of those who are marginalized and underrepresented in the midwifery profession, we acknowledge the deep need for financial pathways that support access to education for diverse communities.

Briana Blackwelder Equal Access Scholarship Fund

african-am-mom-and-newbornMCU believes that all individuals who seek midwifery education should be able to access it.  Unfortunately, too often, this is not a reality, and midwifery education, along with the midwifery profession at-large, suffers without diverse communities and representation.  We want to continue to be the change we wish to see in the midwifery community; therefore, we offer two scholarships that provide complete tuition relief: 1) Social Justice and Health Equity Scholarship; and 2) Equal Access Scholarship.  Briana Blackwelder is an MCU graduate and friend of MCU who left this earth at the tender age of 28. This scholarship fund is dedicated to Briana’s wisdom and philosophy.

The Social Justice and Health Equity Scholarship supports  MCU’s goals of advancing social justice and health equity in midwifery education and the profession-at-large. This scholarship is for those who have experience in, and dedication towards, advancing social justice and health equity within midwifery and maternal-child health realms with a focus on underrepresented individuals creating community-led change.

The Equal Access Scholarship strives to advance MCU’s goals of increasing the diversity and inclusivity of midwifery education and the profession-at-large. This scholarship is specifically for underrepresented communities with a focus on aspiring midwives of color.

With these scholarships, MCU strives to advance our goals by ensuring inclusive representation and support of diverse social identities and locations in midwifery education, including racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds.

Scholarship recipients will receive three semesters of tuition relief (i.e. tuition waivers) per year with the option for continuation of the scholarship, based upon continued eligibility, for up to four years of tuition relief. These scholarships are designed to provide complete tuition relief for obtainment of the BSM degree, but may alternatively be applied toward obtainment of the MSM degree.

Learn more here about the Briana Blackwelder Equal Access Scholarship Fund.

Recipients to-date

MCU began the scholarship fund in 2012 with the first awardee in 2013. A second scholarship opportunity was added in 2015. To date, we have provided six scholarships with ongoing renewals to eligible awardees. These scholarships have all gone to women of color. Their success to date as aspiring midwives is truly inspirational.

Title IV Funding

MCU is an approved Title IV school, meaning students of MCU are eligible for federal financial aid, including loans and grants.

Access to Midwifery Education in Puerto Rico

In summer 2016, MCU partnered with a local maternal and infant health services non-profit, Mujeres Ayudando Madres (MAM), and Oregon State University (OSU) to advance access to midwifery education in Puerto Rico.  The purpose of this project is to remove existing barriers to MEAC-accredited education, increase the midwifery workforce, and ultimately capitalize on midwifery models of care in advancing health equity and birth justice in Puerto Rico.  Each year, we accept a cohort of Puerto Rican students living and serving in their communities. These students are covered under a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) between the partnered entities to allow for provisions that enhance equity in education, including:

  • Fee waivers
  • Culturally and linguistically appropriate curriculum and student support services
  • Regional Integrated Assessments in their home communities
  • Financial Aid assistance
  • Teaching models, supplies, and learning resources

Student Life and Leadership

The mission of Student Life and Leadership is to support the development of Midwives of Excellence by fostering a unique culture of connection that promotes meaningful relationship and peer bonding. Student Life and Leadership oversees smaller communities of students within the school who are supported by an academic advisor and mentor.  These smaller communities known as “houses” provide each student continuity of care through progress monitoring systems and coaching, personal transformation opportunities with focused attention towards the values and models of The Outward Mindset, Crucial Conversations, and Crucial Accountability, and a relationship that assures the student that their story is known so that any unique barriers to progress can be identified and resolved.

Peer-led student support groups have long been a cornerstone for many MCU students, providing accountability, emotional support and promoting success in program completion.  Student Communities, provide those with similar interests, needs or perspectives the opportunity for specific, individual and unique support. These Communities are hosted on our Canvas Learning Management System. Students participate as they feel called or needed.  Peer Circles provide structured accountability support and are designed to help members become more productive and consistent in their midwifery studies, help meet Major Map goals, and build a solid community of support. Peer circles have 3-5 members and meet for an hour each week via an online platform. Peer circles provide structured support for better accountability.

MCU Student Demographics

MCU is committed to ensuring diverse and inclusive faculty, staff, and student bodies. Our 2016-17 demographics for student race/ethnicity are self-reported; some individuals choose not to disclose and their data are not included herein. We intend to improve our demographic data collection systems to include varying markers of social identities and locations in the near future in order to accurately understand multiple dimensions of diversity at MCU.

Self-identified Race and Ethnicity of MCU Student Body in 2015
Students of Color (Total) 13%
African American/Black 7%
Latina/Latino or Hispanic 6.0%
Asian 0%
Pacific Islander 0%
Native American/Alaskan Native 0%
Multiple Races 0%
Race unknown or not declared 4%
White 83%

 

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