Mountaintop photo

Building Equity

WMU Dining Services acknowledges that our society and institutions were built on a foundation of systemic racism. Dining has a responsibility to address and dismantle the barriers that negatively impact Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) at disproportionate rates in our department, within Student Affairs and at the University as a whole.

Dining Services is new to anti-racism work, but it is responsive to guidance from Student Affairs' Diversity and Inclusion Committees, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the newly formed Racial Justice Advisory Committee. As our first steps, Dining is beginning by having honest and respectful conversations about race, privilege and power and working to assess departmental policies and practices that inhibit equitable work environments and do not equitably support students.​

  • Mountaintop poster outside Traditions at the Valley Dining Center
  • Student in line at MLK dinner at Traditions in the Valley Dining Center
  • Studnets being served plated food at the MLK dinner at Traditions in the Valley Dining Center
  • MLK dinner options at the Valley Dining Center
  • MLK dinner being served at Traditions in the Valley Dining Center
  • Student at Traditions for the MLK dinner at Valley Dining Center

I've Been to the Mountaintop Special Dinner

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you. 

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "I've Been to the Mountaintop", 1968

Dining Services has and continues to reflect on these powerful words and is striving to rise to MLK's challenge to do better. 

The 2021 spring semester kicks off with an annual MLK special event, hosted at the Valley Dining Center and Grab'n Go locations on Monday, Jan. 18. This dinner is a celebration of Rev. Dr. MLK Jr.'s legacy and intends to raise awareness about the ongoing justice work that needs to be done, as well as build capacity for critical conversations to address racism and oppression on campus and within Dining Services.

MLK's full transcript for his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech can be found on the national website for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). WMU Dining Services proudly partners with AFSCME Local 1668 Union to provide excellent food and quality service to the WMU campus community – a national union that finds inspiration and grounding from MLK's justice work. Dining Services is grateful for this reminder and is striving to work in partnership with AFSCME to build a more equitable department.

We Will Always Have Work to Do

Dining Services is developing the capacity to think critically about how our department impacts our students, other staff and faculty in terms of equity and inclusion. We are beginning to examine our own policies, programs, and practices with an equity lens. Though there is much work to do – we are committed.

  • Staff Meeting Series – Interrupting Racism

    After George Floyd's murder in the summer of 2020, Dining Services came to terms with the urgent need to actively work towards racial justice and equity. We are focusing on educating ourselves and examining our work environment to better identify instances of racism within our department.  At least once a month, a portion of management staff meetings are focused on various topics that will build our ability to discuss, address and dismantle racism and oppression. Staff meeting sessions have provided management team members the opportunity to practice vulnerability, acknowledgment of structures that support white privilege and racist systems, and explored basic concepts of intersectionality and microaggressions, among other topics. 

    We are learning to listen to others, listen to each other and recognize the multiple and pervasive impacts of white supremacy and systemic racism on our society. We continue to mature our dialogue to better discuss, address and dismantle racism. We recognize this is ongoing work.

  • Using Data to Better Understand the Impact of Dining programs and policies

    Dining Services is developing the infrastructure to collect and report out data that will help us to identify instances of inequity within our department and the impact we have on the university. Our first two analyses will be focused on the impacts of compensation and disciplinary action on student employees within Dining Services disaggregated by race/ethnicity and gender. 

    • Identifying disparities within disciplinary action on student employees by race/ethnicity and gender

    • Determining the wage gap between student employees by race/ethnicity and gender