CU Denver Student Commons and Detour Mural

Working to Reduce Invisibility on Campus: DEI Self-Reported ID Initiative Launches 

April 15, 2024

The Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is starting a multi-year initiative that will improve the quality and breadth of data students, faculty, and staff voluntarily self-report to the university to better serve the campus community. 

This effort is part of the 2030 Strategic Plan and the many projects identified to achieve our goals of becoming an equity-serving institution. Currently, our community doesn’t have many demographic options–only those required by federal law–to select from when providing information to the university. By giving you additional options, more data would be available to help inform decisions about services for our community. We hope the information can also help build a stronger sense of community, a place where we all belong, and where no one is invisible. The data can also help us compete for federal funding opportunities that we currently cannot access because we don’t have the data to support our requests.  

The Inclusive Self-Reported Demographics Initiative is a collaborative two-year project among CU Denver’s Office of Information Technology and the Office for DEI, the CU System (UIS and DEI), and our sister campuses at Boulder, Anschutz, and Colorado Springs. The CU Denver Office for DEI is collecting community input about what kind of additional categories of identity should be added to the variety of data systems on our campus. The vice chancellors for DEI at all the campuses, along with the system’s senior diversity officer, have been meeting to discuss this project for more than six months and have agreed to work together for the collective good of all our campus communities. 

Once feedback is collected, CU Denver’s OIT will review how current information is communicated and stored across our various data systems. They will then propose ways to incorporate the new data categories into these systems (CUSIS, HCM, Canvas, and Slate, among others), and ensure that the systems can talk to each other, and that information is protected against cyber-attacks. Those technical recommendations will then be sent to the CU System for consideration. Once decisions have been made at a system level, the information will be reported back to the CU Denver community. The goal is to ensure our data systems accurately reflect the diverse and varied identities of our campus community. 

“Knowledge is power, and right now we have gaps,” said CU Denver’s Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Antonio Farias. “Once our project is complete, faculty, staff, and students will have more options to voluntarily self-identify. We know from surveys and anecdotally that many members of our diverse community feel isolated or invisible. This initiative will help us build community. Let me emphasize this is completely voluntary. Nothing new will be mandatory. I want to assure everyone that this information will help us make informed decisions to better serve our entire campus.” 

Doug Sicker, the Vice Chancellor of Technology, Strategy, and Innovation at CU Denver agrees. “OIT is excited to work with Denver’s DEI team to help empower our campus community,” he said. “We want to help make sure everyone has options that will create a greater sense of belonging on our campus.” 

LEARN MORE: A Community Information Session is scheduled for April 17 from 2 to 3 p.m. in Student Commons Room 1401. All are welcome.

To help frame the initiative, the DEI team working on this project met with several groups in February and March including Affinity Group leads and treasurers, Faculty Assembly representatives, Staff Council representatives, Student Government Association, Center for Identity and Inclusion staff and student leaders, Inclusive Excellence Council members, Inclusive Excellence Advisory Council members, student affairs, LGBTQ leads, and DEI operational teams. Farias has also met with DEI leaders from the system office, Boulder, Anschutz, and Colorado Springs campuses. 

These groups raised several questions, including how the information will be secured and shared. CU Denver’s OIT team will be prioritizing data privacy and security as part of their role in the initiative. Personally de-identified data that reflects trends or groups will be shared within the CU Denver and in the CU ecosystem for planning and funding purposes. 

The general campus community is invited to provide their feedback on the work completed so far. An in-person information session to explain the project and gather more input is scheduled for Wednesday, April 17 from 2 to 3 p.m. at Student Commons, Room 1401. All are welcome.  

A survey is also available to the community to provide feedback. The working team anticipates an initial project update in fall 2024. “This is an iterative process,” Farias said. “As we learn from our community, we will add that to our conversation and planning.”