#WeAreAllWebster

At Webster University, we embrace all human differences while building upon our commonalities as people. Diversity and inclusion initiatives should serve to eliminate discrimination and exclusion based upon the following: race, creed, national origin, religion, color, ethnicity, age, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, or military status.

Committed to Social Justice and Racial Equity

There’s a place for everyone at Webster. We believe a diversified community leads to an increase in creativity, decision-making, and an appreciation of different perspectives. From our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Council to our working groups and sponsored events, our University is committed to inclusive excellence and prioritizes collaborative initiatives. Each of our efforts are curated to achieve sustainable and significant community-wide transformations.

Group of Webster students sit on stage to discuss Africana Studies
Two BIPOC students wearing graduation apparel
Four Webster students wearing all black stand on stage in front of large screen with the word "Race" on it

Our Diversity and Inclusion Statement

For us, diversity and inclusion are more than meeting a goal or focusing on a specific representation with a combination. It involves expressive dialogue and offerings of distinct talent, thought, and inquiry from individuals from various backgrounds. We recognize that diversity and inclusion cultivate academic excellence. Our University also understands the success of each individual strengthens the community.

Our Inclusion Pledge

As a member of the Webster University community,

  • I promise to consciously promote acceptance and demonstrate respect.
  • I will dedicate myself to actively listen to each person’s story.
  • I promise to learn from and embrace differences among identities.
  • I will recognize commonalities and shared experiences.
  • I will practice inclusive language and be open to learning.
  • I promise to educate others to foster an inclusive community that treats every person with dignity and respect.

I will honor this commitment in my classes, workplace, personal life and all other pursuits on and off campus. I pledge to make everyone feel safe, valued and part of our global community #WeAreAllWebster.

Download the Inclusion Pledge (PDF)

Making a Difference

Webster's Annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference

Keynote Speaker, Rev. Dr. Starsky D. Wilson and Vincent Flewellen sit in comfy white chairs on stage for conversation

Success by the Numbers

The 2024 DEI Conference included 24 conference presenters including speakers, moderators and panelists over the course of 7 conference sessions. The conference drew more than 2,000 registered attendees from 23 countries, and 152 different colleges, universities and K-12 schools were represented globally. Thank you to our 11 sponsors who allowed the conference to be free to attend.

Attendees to the conference included faculty, staff, students, alumni, corporate partners and community members from around the St. Louis area. Topics at past conferences have included: hate speech, unconscious bias, gender in the media, how to be a transgender ally, multigenerational workforces, accessibility issues and immigrant experiences.

Read about our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conferences, including summaries of previous conferences.

Group of four BIPOC students grouped together and posing for a photo

Resilience Inspires Student Excellence (RISE)

Group of four BIPOC students grouped together and posing for a photo

Launched in the summer of 2019, the Resilience Inspires Student Excellence (RISE) program provides educational access and career success for undergraduate BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) students by increasing interactions with faculty, staff and University support systems, and fostering a stronger sense of community.

Webster Speaks Series

In 2020, we launched a speaker series, “Webster Speaks: Dialogues on RACE, EQUITY and INCLUSION.” Since then, it has built an international audience for its frank conversation with local and national leaders advancing these issues.

All Webster Speaks Episodes

Webster's Witnessing Whiteness Program

The Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, in collaboration with the YWCA, has offered the Witnessing Whiteness program for Webster University’s St. Louis area faculty and staff for three years. Currently in its third cohort, Witnessing Whiteness groups voluntarily come together to do work around racism in a supportive, non-threatening setting. It is about learning to speak about race and racism, exploring white privilege, and practicing allying with sisters and brothers of color. The work of Witnessing Whiteness groups draws on the book “Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It,” by Shelly Tochluk.

Transcript

[Webster University logo]

[Tense music]

Text on screen: In December 2018, word spread through national and local news outlets that Webster University was considering launching a Witnessing Whiteness program for faculty and staff, in partnership with the YWCA-St. Louis.

Text on screen: And the backlash began.

[News clip from KMOU 8, Columbia, Missouri]

KMOU Reporter: A Missouri school is considering a segregated space for white students to talk about racism and white privilege.

[Screenshot from KMOU website with the title, “Witnessing Whiteness”: Missouri college may introduce whites-only racism seminar, subtitle: “The whites-only program would address racism,” and photo of two people holding hands, one white and one Black.]

Text on screen: Voicemail to Vincent C. Flewellen, Chief Diversity Officer

Woman on Voicemail: I was born in a white America — 85 to 90 percent white, before they killed Kennedy. And you people want to sit here and lecture me and my people about race.

[Visual representation of sound graph (from an oscilloscope)]

Text on screen: Dana Loesch: Radio Host, KLIF 570 Dallas, Texas

Dana Loesch: Group members explore the history and construction of white racial identity, the manifestations of white supremacy and privilege white solidarity. All of this, I mean, good grief!

Text on screen: Voicemail to Vincent C. Flewellen, Chief Diversity Officer

Man on Voicemail: I am white, but I can guarantee you that I have not had privilege in my life.

[“Witnessing Whiteness” Screenshot from KMOU website]

Text on screen: KMOU 8, Columbia, Missouri

Reporter: The chief diversity officer at St. Louis's Webster University says the Witnessing Whiteness program requires all participants to be white.

[Visual representation of sound graph (from an oscilloscope)]

Text on screen: WTAG News Radio 580, Springfield, Massachusetts

Radio Host: Unbelievable. And this crap is going to be taught in a college or university.

Text on screen: Dana Loesch: Radio Host, KLIF 570 Dallas, Texas

Loesch: Way to divide people ... (extended silence). Really.

Text on screen: Voicemail to Vincent C. Flewellen, Chief Diversity Officer

Second Man on Voicemail: This program is going to be divisive and bad for the students, bad for the University and bad for our society.

[News clip from theblaze.com podcast]

Text on screen: Pat Gray: Radio Host, The Blaze.com

Pat Gray: White people would not be as forthcoming if they were in a mixed group, you know, about their racism and how much they dislike people of color, I guess.

Text on screen: Voicemail to Vincent C. Flewellen, Chief Diversity Officer

Second Woman on Voicemail: My friend, St. Louis does not have a problem with crime because of white people or the Amish or anybody else. I don't think you need to educate white people on their whiteness. I think the Black community needs to take care of the inherent problem that they have.

[“Witnessing Whiteness” screenshot from KMOU website]

Text on screen: KMOU 8, Columbia, Missouri

Reporter: The diversity officer says the ultimate motivation is for white people to find their voice and be able to speak to, call out and stand up against racism.

Text on screen: Voicemail to Elizabeth Stroble, Chancellor

Third Woman on Voicemail: I don't see you try to make Black people feel guilty. White men died to free black men in this country. The worst thing that you want is a quiet white man. Knock this shit off.

[Soft music]

Text on screen: University officials did not retreat. Allies also offered their support.

[Screenshot of The Kansas City Star, Feb. 7, 2019, Guest Commentary by Adrian E. Bracy, CEO of YWCA Metropolitan St. Louis, headline reads Witnessing Whiteness: just one of several ways YWCA tackles racism.]

Adrian E. Bracy, quotes on screen: I am the CEO of YWCA Metropolitan St. Louis, a social services agency founded in St. Louis in 1904. One of our racial justice programs, Witnessing Whiteness, was the subject of a recent Star editorial. I am also an African-American woman, and I am speaking as both when I say that our program has created many dedicated allies in the struggle for racial justice through education. Its participants have then carried the message of equity and justice back to their dinner tables, churches, neighborhoods and workplaces. The fact that the conversation starts in a segregated space by no means indicates it ends there.

[Music ends]

Text on screen: In the summer of 2019, faculty and staff overwhelmingly volunteered to participate in the Witnessing Whiteness program. The first offering filled instantly, to capacity.

[Energetic music]

Text on screen: My Motivation

Text on screen: Hannah Verity, Director of Global Program Development

[Hannah Verity speaks, while looking toward camera]

Hannah Verity: My motivation for joining the Witnessing Whiteness program was because I want to be a part of living and working in communities that are intentionally working toward racial equity.

Text on screen: Jennifer Hylton-Whited, Director of Operations, Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts

[Jennifer Hylton-Whited speaks, while looking toward camera]

Jennifer Hylton-Whited: I wanted to be a better ally or learn to have tools that would help me with the racial situation, not only here in St. Louis, but across our country. And I didn't feel like I had tools other than being angry; that I couldn't fix it.

Text on screen: Billy Ratz, Director of Parent Engagement

[Billy Ratz speaks, while looking toward camera]

Billy Ratz: I work in Student Affairs so I wanted to make sure that I was there and understanding of all the needs our students have. As a white person in America today, you don't necessarily understand the full history of what Black people have gone through in this country and why. Witnessing Whiteness opens your eyes to that, and it makes you really understand the full historical significance of the laws that are passed, and just the institutional racism across the country.

Text on screen: Sarah Reando, Communications and Outreach Librarian

[Sarah Reando speaks, while looking toward camera]

Sarah Reando: I wanted to go through this experience with other educators that are facing the same problems. How do we create an experience on campus, in the classroom and in support services where students, will feel comfortable.

Text on screen: David Franklin, Webster Groves City Council

[David Franklin speaks, while looking toward camera]

David Franklin: It's incumbent upon leaders and people in leadership positions to proactively and forcefully come out and do something that's going to better their citizens and that requires anti-bias, anti-racist training especially in a community like Webster Groves where more than 90 percent of our residents are white.

Text on screen: What I Learned

Ratz: I think the number one thing I learned from Witnessing Whiteness was to really pick on white privilege, and to be able to call it out myself and be able to call it out in my family, be able to call it out in my friends and my colleagues.

Hylton-Whited: I need to be more vocal especially in groups where everybody looks like me, and there's not somebody at the table who doesn't look like me. I need to say something. I need to try to be a better advocate.

Ratz: The culture and the media, you're raised to have a little bit of racism in you when it comes to people of color, of Black people, because I catch myself still doing it today, and I stop. And because of Witnessing Whiteness, I saw myself and I'm like, “What are you doing, Bill? You know better than this.”

Verity: I was good at giving space to conversations around race. But I realized that maybe I wasn't as good at giving the space for those conversations when people's positions or thoughts didn't perfectly align with mine.

Text on screen: My Biggest Takeaway

Hylton-Whited: My biggest takeaway: that this was worth the 10 weeks, and I wish it would have been longer.

Ratz: That I'm not alone in how I feel and how I want to work to make this country better, to make St. Louis better.

Reando: And that it was kind of surprising to find that the people around me had the same questions.

Text on screen: Steve Findley, Graduate Advisor

[Steve Findley speaks, while looking toward camera]

Steve Findley: How do we translate discussion into action to address this very significant problem in our society?

Text on screen: Moving Forward

Verity: What I'm doing differently today is trying to sit in conversations about race with people in my life, whether they be close to me or maybe just that I engage with in the workplace.

Findley: I teach an Intro to Philosophy course and in that course, I have changed it radically since the last time I did it, and I'm incorporating a section on justice, and in particular the justice of reparation.

Franklin: I need so much more, and I need to do so much more in order to understand other perspectives and understand other races and other cultures, in order to ensure that they are included and provided for from a governmental and leadership perspective.

Hylton-Whited: Sometimes people really need to think about why they think things or why they say things and why they act the way they do toward people who just don't mirror their image. And I'm glad I did it.

Text on screen: Webster University

[Music ends]

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