1GGC initiative promotes inclusion on campus
After the death of George Floyd rocked the nation last year, Jarmon DeSadier knew he had to do something to support inclusivity on Georgia Gwinnett College’s (GGC) campus in the midst of a divided world. He wanted the campus community to know that “difference” doesn’t equal “division.”
So DeSadier, GGC’s executive director of Diversity and Equity Compliance, worked with his team to create the 1GGC campaign, a series of initiatives designed to bring the campus community together and create an open, inclusive, welcoming environment.
“Everything we do at GGC that relates to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) works toward that common goal of communicating that we’re one GGC in everything we do,” he said.
DeSadier grew up right outside of Atlanta, which he describes as a diverse city that has experienced rapid growth. That growth has extended to many neighboring regions, including Gwinnett County, GGC’s home. After college, DeSadier worked in equal employment opportunity (EEO) compliance roles in the corporate sector. After he graduated from law school, he made the move to higher education, working in employee relations and EEO roles. When GGC was looking for someone to lead its diversity and equity compliance efforts, DeSadier’s education and experience qualified him to assume the role.
That was a little over a year ago. DeSadier said he’s seen a positive change in perspective.
“My office was heavily involved in equity compliance,” he explained. “When Dr. [Jann] Joseph became GGC’s president, she wanted to see a renewed emphasis on DEI.”
GGC is no stranger to diversity. Its student body reflects the diverse demographics of Gwinnett County. For the past seven years in a row, U.S. News and World Report has ranked GGC as the most diverse Southern regional college. Those visiting GGC’s campus can expect to interact with a rich kaleidoscope of races, ethnicities and backgrounds.
However, DeSadier points out that diversity extends beyond what one can see.
“DEI goes well beyond race. We want to promote understanding and acceptance,” he said. “We want our campus community to know they belong—that they’re accepted. We want people outside of campus to know that GGC will embrace them for who they are.”
That’s exactly the goal behind 1GGC. To kick off the effort, the college recently released its powerful video celebrating the differences of the GGC family.
Other 1GGC activities include the creation of GGC’s Diversity Advisory Council (DAC). Comprised of 30 employees from all over the college who serve two-year terms, the DAC seeks to centralize GGC’s approach to DEI.
“There’s power in numbers,” said DeSadier. “This cross representation of faculty and staff who demonstrate a commitment to DEI will allow us to speak with one voice and plan campus initiatives in a coordinated matter. A number of DAC members work directly with students, so there’s opportunity to gather student input.”
DeSadier said an important upcoming initiative is a DEI campus climate survey. His office will work with internal partners to communicate, collect survey data and evaluate responses.
“It will be a very comprehensive survey that touches on a lot of areas,” he said. “The data we receive will drive DEI programming and initiatives for our campus. All of our programs will tie back to 1GGC.”
Other 1GGC activities in the works include continued community partnerships, the expansion of campus training and courses and enhanced communication with all stakeholders, both internal and external.
Even with these efforts in place, DeSadier said that DEI is an ongoing process with constant evaluation.
“We have to constantly work at it and be open to alter – and even reinvent – our efforts to meet the changing needs of our campus,” he said. “In fact, that’s what we ultimately do as a college. We meet changing needs.”