UNIVERSITY OF SÃO PAULO - INCLUSION AND BELONGING
University of São Paulo is the largest public university in Brazil and in the best position in international rankings. The University of São Paulo has some strategies to increase diversity in its community, especially among undergraduate students.
First, it is important to mention that the University of São Paulo is a public university and completely tuition-free. Students do not have to pay enrollment fees or tuition to attend the university. Emphasizing this point is important because in an unequal society like Brazil, economic barriers would be a problem.
Sought, through USP’s Social Inclusion Program (Inclusp), created in 2006, to expand the presence of public-school students in its student body.
In Brazil it is difficult to enter public universities. We have a difficult test called “vestibular” that limits access. There was multiple exclusion by class and race.
These decisions by the University Council were fundamental to diversify the profile of undergraduate and graduate students. They solved (partially) the University entrance part.
The creation of the Provost of Inclusion and Belonging in 2022 was a way for the University to provide an institutional and political space to address the demands that accompany inclusion policies and the university as a whole in the early 21st century: mental health, promotion of human rights, coexistence conflicts, and assistance programs.
Finally, this is not just a Provost of Inclusion and Belonging that proposes policies solely for students. Our goal is to formulate policies for the entire university. Thus, issues related to expanding research topics, mental health for the entire community (students, faculty, staff), promotion of human rights in university interactions – all of them are encompassed within our policy formulation competencies. It is a Provost capable of thinking about equality and diversity in a broader sense and for the entire university community.
More about University of São Paulo.
EGIDA data indicate that, in 2015, there were 77.4% active white students and 15.6% black and brown students. In 2022, the number of black and brown students rose to 22.6%, indicating that the vacancy reservation policies in that period had concrete effects. In addition, the university created a permanence aid program. Until 2022, there were different aids: permanence aid, housing aid, book aid, emergency aid…
Thus, diversity expansion policies did not encounter economic barriers. Furthermore, as we have already highlighted, we have a financial aid program for economically disadvantaged students that enables them to have the financial means to stay in the university.
Provost of Inclusion and Belonging (PRIP-USP)
The Provost of Inclusion and Belonging (PRIP) was created on May 5, 2022. Alongside the Rectorate and the other four Provost’s Offices (Undergraduate Studies, Graduate Studies, Research and Innovation, and Culture and Extension), it forms the central executive bodies of the University of São Paulo.
The creation of the Provost of Inclusion and Belonging provides an institutional space for the objectives of University of São Paulo to embrace diversity, ensure opportunities, and provide conditions for students, staff, and faculty to have the best academic experience and contribute to the excellence of the university.
To achieve this, the provost was structured into five areas that will necessarily work in a coordinated manner. These areas are:
These were the five actions we chose to highlight in the first year of operation of the Office of Inclusion and Belonging. It might be worth mentioning the organization of the first USP Black Consciousness Week in November 2022 and the launch of the call for three postdoctoral scholarships for Black female researchers, which will be expanded to include Black male researchers and 50 scholarships in 2023.
We believe that the establishment of the Office of Inclusion and Belonging has brought about a profound and important political change for the University of São Paulo, making it more diverse, accessible, respectful of human rights, and inclusive. We hope that with the consolidation and expansion of our policies, members of the university community will increasingly feel a sense of belonging to the University of São Paulo in the coming years.
The Council of Inclusion and Belonging (CoIP)
The Pro-Rectorate of Inclusion and Belonging was created together with a council – a collegiate body with representatives of all faculties, museums and institutions of the University, therefore – that makes the most important political decisions.
The Council of Inclusion and Belonging (CoIP) is one of the Central Councils of USP. It is responsible, within the framework of superior regulations, for establishing guidelines and striving for excellence in carrying out inclusion, retention, and belonging activities based on diversity and equity. Furthermore, it must continuously promote and respect human rights based on the activities developed by the University of São Paulo.
The Council of Inclusion and Belonging is also responsible for establishing guidelines, within the scope of USP, for actions related to:
a) gender and ethnic-racial equality;
b) inclusion of people with disabilities;
c) ensuring mental health for the USP community;
d) promoting respect for human rights in university daily life;
e) providing sports activities for the USP community;
f) granting aids and scholarships related to student retention;
g) policies related to student housing, daycare centers, and university restaurants; and the campus prefectures in the interior must follow the guidelines defined by CoIP in managing these facilities.
The Council also has the authority to provide opinions on the creation, transformation, and termination of organs and services in the area of Inclusion and Belonging, as well as to define procedures, ensuring the right to be heard and the right to a fair defense, for investigating possible fraud in the university’s inclusion policies.
The activities that the PRIP has carried out with regard to:
Until 2022, PAPFE, the Program for Support of Student Retention consisted of various aids (retention, meals, books, transportation) that were requested separately, with different periods of validity, making management difficult. The aids have been unified. Starting in 2023, the modalities are as follows: a grant of R$ 800 plus free access to university restaurants for those who do not use student housing; for those living in student housing on different campuses, they receive R$ 300 and free access to the restaurants.
Furthermore, previously, the maximum duration for the aids was 24 months. From now on, the aid will be granted for the expected duration of the course, considering the time required for conclusion. Additionally, every student granted the Retention Aid is guaranteed free access to university restaurants, eliminating the need for meal assistance.
As part of the reformulation of PAPFE, a differentiation between aids and scholarships was also made. Students with aids will be eligible for scholarships to enhance their academic training, such as the Unified Scholarship Program, known as PUB, for scientific initiation. This way, students with greater socioeconomic vulnerability will not miss out on opportunities to invest in their academic development.
Finally, the process of change – approved by the Council for Inclusion and Belonging and consolidated in Resolution No. 8360 of December 22, 2022, and in GR Order No. 7862 of December 22, 2022 – involved participatory stages, including a public hearing held on November 30, 2022. The New PAPFE is implemented.
The Council of the Office of Inclusion and Belonging approved, during the session held on August 4, 2022, the criteria for the operation of the Heteroidentification Committee in the Fuvest entrance exam and the admission process through Sisu. The decision was consolidated through Resolution CoIP No. 8287 of August 11, 2022, and Resolution CoIP No. 8323 of September 21, 2022.
The committee, implemented at the end of 2022, is composed of one faculty member, one technical-administrative staff member, one undergraduate student, and one graduate student, all appointed by the Coalition of Black Collectives of USP, as well as a representative from civil society. All members should preferably have proven experience in hetero identification procedures or be experts in the field of racial equality.
They will be responsible for verifying the self-declaration of candidates called for enrollment in the reserved quota system for affirmative action policies for Black and Brown individuals, both in Fuvest and Sisu, which will follow exclusively phenotypic criteria.
USP has implemented reserved quotas for public school students and self-declared PPI (Black, Brown, and Indigenous) individuals in undergraduate courses since the 2016 entrance exam when Sisu was introduced as a new form of admission to the University, in addition to Fuvest. In 2018, the University Council approved reserved quotas for students from public schools. This reservation also includes a 37.5% quota for self-declared PPI students, a percentage equivalent to the proportion of these groups in the state of São Paulo as determined by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).
The Heteroidentification Commission aims to bring greater stability to the quota reservation policy from the University’s perspective and provide reassurance to quota students to pursue their academic paths without concerns of denunciation processes.
The Mental Health and Well-being Directorate of the Office of Inclusion and Belonging is in the process of consolidating a mental health network. To form this network, it has been undertaking the following activities:
- Engaging the USP community in the development of an integrated and co-participatory Mental Health policy at USP;
- Identifying and supporting existing initiatives aimed at promoting attention, well-being, and mental health within the community;
- Encompassing various sectors of the University in promoting good practices in well-being and mental health, including students, staff, and employees;
- Developing practices and policies focused on promoting mental health with special attention to diversity and the most vulnerable segments, adopting an intersectional approach;
- Involving the university community in reviewing institutional culture and practices perceived as authoritarian, exclusionary, and promoting behaviors that stimulate rivalry, competitiveness, and aggression;
- Identifying and intervening in aspects of institutional culture that require transformation, especially those related to authoritarian actions and possible discrimination and humiliation in institutional relationships;
- Incorporating listening practices that acknowledge the sociopolitical suffering related to class, gender, and ethnicity, emphasizing the transcultural dimension and the value of knowledge from diverse cultures.
ECOS is a mental health program aimed at the USP community with multiple fronts of action:
Listening, Support and Guidance
ECOS provides a space for on-campus assistance at the São Paulo Campus, offering in-person drop-in sessions for reflection and potential referrals to internal or external care networks at USP. The drop-in sessions are conducted by the ECOS team, consisting of healthcare professionals and student fellows from various fields of knowledge who are involved in scientific research projects. The program does not provide emergency services. In cases of acute mental health crises, individuals should seek psychiatric emergency care.
- Care network coordination: The program continuously coordinates a mental health care network based on the USP campuses, mobilizing actions and services from the university, the public health system (SUS), other public policies, and society at large. The goal is to ensure access to these resources for the university community and provide a Mental Health Map of USP.
- Institutional support: The ECOS team offers institutional support to different groups, units, and campuses of USP, either in the creation of actions and services related to mental health or in enhancing existing initiatives. Thus, the team addresses collective demands, aiming to enhance local actions and engage the respective communities in promoting mental health within their territories.
Student housing falls under the responsibility of the Campus Life Department, part of the Office of Inclusion and Belonging (OIB), which will be present throughout the students’ stay in the residential complex.
CRUSP is a complex of 8 blocks, housing approximately 1400 people. Each apartment is shared by 3 students in blocks A to G, and 6 students in block A1.
Reforms and ongoing maintenance, carried out by the janitorial staff, include replacing light bulbs, conducting minor repairs, termite control, cleaning water tanks, renovating and purchasing equipment for communal kitchens, and providing institutional pathways for conflict resolution. These measures are being implemented and improved upon.
In addition, a participatory process is underway to review the Regulations of the University of São Paulo’s Residential Complex (CRUSP), which governs fundamental issues such as who is entitled to housing and under what conditions, reasons for eviction, selection processes, and even the concept of student housing that informs the regulations.
Reform processes are being discussed with the Committee for Democratic Reform of CRUSP, and there is an ongoing process to regularize housing vacancies. The goal of regularization is to provide a more peaceful environment for USP students residing in CRUSP and to allow student retention policies to reach a larger number of students.
The implementation of the Campus Life Survey: Understanding Diversity and Issues
In August 2022, a questionnaire with over 30 questions on inclusion and belonging in the University was released and distributed electronically. The questionnaire was aimed at all segments of the university community: students, technical-administrative staff, and professors. The purpose of the survey was to understand the university community, its diversities, experiences, and perceptions of the different institutional environments at USP.
The PRIP Survey: Inclusion and Belonging at USP was one of the first wide-reaching initiatives of the Office of Inclusion and Belonging. The results of the survey is being be widely disseminated and the diagnosis obtained through the research is helping us promote proposals and policies aimed at greater inclusion and belonging in the University.