Anchored or Detached? A Student Commentary on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Urban Institutions


  • Amanda Parks Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Gerron Scott Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Chariz Seijo Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Troy Keys Virginia Commonwealth University



pandemic, social justice , anti-racism, diversity, equity, inclusion, community engagement, anchor institutions


In 2020, Americans witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impact the most minoritized groups. Concurrently, the innumerable police killings of Black Americans re-ignited racial justice protests across the world. As a result, students, faculty, and staff observed a rapid push by administrations to enact diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and commit to creating more equitable and inclusive climates. Since higher education's inception, urban anchor institutions have played an integral role in the political, social, and economic well-being of their surrounding communities. After 2020, as the distance between universities and their surrounding communities continues to expand, it’s as critical as ever for urban and metropolitan universities to dismantle the pervasive inequities that torment their students and surrounding communities. Although numerous anchor institutions have expressed their commitment to DEI initiatives in recent years, minoritized students, faculty, and staff continue to face systemic barriers to academic and professional achievement and overall well-being. Given this discrepancy, we, four graduate students from an urban anchor institution, were invited to provide recommendations for universities to dismantle inequities and provide a more inclusive, anti-racist environment for its students. As such, we address three concerns: increasing the diversity of faculty and staff, correcting housing and medical injustices of the past, and remodeling campus safety and policing. Our commentary also provides actionable steps for urban anchor universities to address these challenges, particularly for minoritized students and communities.


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