Guidelines to Ensure Equal Opportunity in University Programs, Activities and Resources

The daily interactions and behaviors of all university community members are guided by a set of Shared Values including Diversity and Innovation and Equity and Inclusion. In support of these values, programs, activities and resources are created with a focus on specific social identities, demographics (which include all of the university’s protected classes), or lived experiences. These programs, activities, and resources are essential to creating an accessible and inclusive environment. However, based on our shared values and applicable civil rights laws, these opportunities must be open and available to individuals without regard to their social identities or demographics. 

These guidelines can help ensure that our institution can provide opportunities focused on understanding and supporting specific groups, while also upholding our Shared Values and obligations under civil rights laws. This guidance applies to all university programs, activities and resources, including those hosted or sponsored by student organizations, employee resource groups, departments and units. This also includes all programs, activities and resources that are open to the public (e.g. Extension, athletic events, etc.). 

Examples of programs, activities and resources that these guidelines apply to:

  • Social events and programs 
  • Mentoring, training and networking programs
  • Leadership or management development programs
  • Inclusion, recruitment and engagement events
  • Funds to support training, conferences, educational opportunities or startup/seed grants
  • Opportunities to represent the department or academic program at internal and external events
  • Volunteer activities
  • Day and residential camps
  • Internships
  • Community instructional programs

Attendance and Participation in Programs, Activities and Resources

Some programs, activities, and resources exist to support individuals who share similar social or demographic identities. These programs, activities and resources are required to be open and accessible to all without regard to someone’s specific social or demographic identity. 

While the programs, activities and resources can be designated for certain units or roles such as those in a particular unit, job, organization or major, participation and attendance can NOT be restricted to persons who share specific demographic identities (e.g., certain races or genders). 

Examples of Inclusive and Compliant Participation Restrictions:

  • A mentoring program that is available to all COE staff members who are interested in fostering an inclusive work environment that supports underrepresented minorities.
  • Seed grants that are available to any faculty member who has a research focus on understanding why there are fewer female executives in the workplace. 
  • A social event focused on increasing access for students with disabilities but is open to all. 

Examples of Exclusive and Prohibited Participation Restrictions: 

  • A leadership mentoring program that is only open to women.
  • Training funds that are limited to a member of a particular race.
  • A job fair for students that requires attendees to identify as LGBTQ+.

Communication of Programs, Activities and Resources

To ensure equal opportunity is offered for everyone to participate in or benefit from the university’s programs, activities and resources, the activities and resources must be communicated at least once to all individuals in the applicable group. This can take the form of posting on a shared calendar, an email provided to all members of the unit or organization, an announcement in On Campus Today, a social media post or website update.

However, in addition to communicating the program, activity or resource to all individuals, targeted communications can be sent to individuals who share specific demographic information, social identities or lived experiences. 

Example: If the goal is to focus on advancing opportunities for underrepresented individuals in the College of Social Work, the event can be posted on the College of Social Work calendar and a targeted communication can be sent to underrepresented individuals. 

If a targeted communication occurs, it is critical that:

  • Another communication about the program, activity or resource is first provided to all individuals.
  • The organizers rely only on the data as provided by the university or as disclosed by the individual. Someone’s demographic information or identity cannot be assumed or assigned for outreach purposes. 
  • If the communication is sent via email, the Bcc function must always be used to protect the privacy of others. 
  • The communication must clearly state that the program, activity or resource will be open to all and that no one will be excluded based on their demographic information. 

Other best practice suggestions

  • Offer an opportunity to all individuals to opt into what types of communication they would like to receive (e.g., women’s initiatives, LGBTQIA+, etc.).
  • Encourage individuals to review and confirm the accuracy of their demographic information in the university’s official systems of record (students in SIS and employees in Workday) and let them know they may receive communications based on these selections.

For more information related to equal opportunity, contact