Already and Not Yet

This idea comes up at my church around Christmastime, and it makes me think of the CRTL Program’s work to build culturally responsive and culturally sustaining institutions. We are already celebrating students’ own cultures and knowledge bases through reading diverse authors or exploring the lives underrepresented people. We are already encouraging the study of the voiceless throughout history, whether through narratives of enslaved peoples or oral histories of Native Americans.  We are already building empathy within our classrooms by sharing student stories of being stereotyped for wearing a hijab. We are already empowering students to take charge of their education through collaborating with them on building the syllabus. We are already doing all this.


Maura O’Hare Hill
Assistant Professor, English
Co-Director CRTL Program

But we do not yet have equity. We have not yet closed the opportunity gap. With Whites making up 82% of faculty across the country, we do not yet have a faculty that represents our students. We still call them “gatekeeper courses.” We still have a debate about whose standards are valid. We are not there yet. Why not? Writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Pamela Newkirk references a kind of collective forgetting of the evils of segregation, and the desire for “drive-by diversity” as a few of the reasons we have not yet fulfilled the promises of the Civil Rights movement. Newkirk suggests that there is simply a lack of intention on the part of administrators in higher education. After a summer of protest, some schools are acknowledging the demands of their students for an education that reflects them and their lived experiences. But after a semester of upended teaching, will we have the energy and the focus to follow through? Without intentionally placing diversity at the center of decision-making, we are going to be stuck in “not yet” for a while.

At the 2019 CRTL conference, Dr. Chris Emdin encouraged all the attendees, and all who want “already” to be a reality, to get PhDs and to become administrators, to be in the room where it happens. That’s quite an investment of time, money, and effort, with no guarantee of a seat at the table. Leaving the classroom will be a sacrifice for many of us. But consider the impact it might make to take what we are already doing with our own students and bring it to the entire school, district, system, or campus where equity is not yet apparent.


Why Diversity Measures Fail: (