Recently uncovered documents from the United States Naval Academy have revealed that the military branch based out of Annapolis, Maryland has rolled out a "Diversity Peer Educator (DPE) Program," which serves to "create an inclusive environment that fosters dignity and respect throughout the Brigade."
Substack CDR Salamander published the details of the new program via a memo that was released on February 16 by the Department of the Navy’s Office of the Commandant of Midshipmen. The statement read, "The DPE Program exists to create an inclusive environment that fosters dignity and respect throughout the Brigade by equipping midshipmen to lead across cultures in support of the USNA Mission and guidance."
A DPE is described as "Midshipmen who have attended DPE Education, completed all DPE qualification requirements including Personnel Qualification Standards (PQS) and who are designated in writing by the DPE Program Manager."
These midshipmen are required to hold two small group discussions within their company each semester, which consist of "an open conversation about leading a diverse group of people, ensuring that everyone is treated with dignity and respect and feels a sense of belonging in the group."
Midshipmen who become DPEs are required to participate in at least one Diversity and Inclusion Program event per semester, attend the USNA Diversity and Inclusion Conference, assist with planning Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion led events, and participate in continuing education from the DPE program Manager.
According to the USNA document, the program will be in effect for 10 years from February.
In a Diversity Peer Educator Education Discussion Guide, also obtained by CDR Salamander, it outlines a multi-day training undertaken by DPEs.
The training outlines a number of Inclusion and Diversity Core Competencies that service members who enlisted or are officers should be able to reach within one to five years of service.
These competencies include: "acknowledge cultural differences," "listen carefully and consider others' perspective," "assess self-awareness of personal biases," and "demonstrate respect for others' values and customs."
The training for DPEs teaches about the best practices and facilitation of these small group discussions, telling DPEs to assign "micro aggression" scenarios, and to "create a safe space."
The training describes the DPE program as "To create sustained, productive, meaningful, and informed conversation surrounding a broad range of topics that relate to, or intersect with, diversity and inclusion. Diversity Peer Diversity Educators are made up of Midshipmen who volunteer to serve in the Brigade as 'subject matter specialists' for information and support on topics surrounding sensitive topics like race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity."
DPEs are to serve "as a walking safe space for peers," "Advise company midshipmen leadership on best practices to make equitable decisions," and "Serve as a resource for peers who need to seek help in all matters of diversity and inclusion."
This program was rolled out after the USNA’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan was unveiled in March of 2021, in which one objective looked to "Bring equity to the leadership and training opportunities for all populations."
The plan looks to " Intentionally develop selection panels with representation from different populations. Intentionally use different panel members from underrepresented populations to include multiple perspectives in the selection process," and "Measure midshipmen leadership and training opportunities, aptitude, and disciplinary panels populations (members and midshipmen) and outcomes."
This program is headed by the USNA Chief Diversity Officer, who serves as the "final approving authority for all matters pertaining to the DPE Program."
Underneath the Chief Diversity Officer is a web of positions, including DPE Program Manager, Brigade Dignity and Respect Officer, Midshipman DPE Lead, Assistant Midshipman DPE Lead, and DPE Operations Officer, who oversee the implementation of the program and individual DPEs.
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