Let’s Talk About Equity on Campus

What’s Being Done?

Student+Distribution+by+Enrollment+and+Awards+population+2019-2020

COS Research

Student Distribution by Enrollment and Awards population 2019-2020

The population at COS sits at 66% Hispanic enrolled students, approx. 20% white students, 2% black students, and 10% other. While COS is diverse, a 66% population of Hispanic students is good, extremely good. However, the other groups fall behind drastically.

We have to talk about the low race populations of students and what’s being done to make sure these students are comfortable at campus and are given the same ability to succeed as any other student.

So what is being done?

COS has established a Study Equity Plan, which is specifically designed to close the gap of disproportionally and disadvantaged groups. It’s meant to support and aid the diverse student population and help them reach their goals.

Based on the COS research office, we’ve got an extremely low African American population and even an extremely lower African American Males succeeding in terms of degrees, transfer rates, courses completion, and their success rates.

There is an evident racial gap.

The Study Equity plan has put A2MEND, African Male Education and Development, in place for this issue. A2MEND provides mentors for each student, participates in different events. They attend a conference in LA where they’ll participate in break-out sessions, empowering speakers, attending historically black colleges and universities college fairs.

Two A2MEND students three years ago participated in these conferences, and both received a full-ride scholarship to Fisk University, a private historically black university in Tennessee.

As of today, one of the students graduated as valedictorian, and he is now in Harvard studying for his master’s degree. The second student, Tierra, is a legal assistant at Manhattan.

“From an early age, the intersectionality of my race and gender heavily influenced how I navigated the world around me,” said Tierra, “Growing up in city where less than 3 percent of the people are black/African- American, I always found it difficult to identify role models that resembled me or whose life experience reflected my own.”

Tierra was introduced to many keynote black influential speakers such as Dr. Michael Eric Dyson to Angela Rye, to Marc Lamont Hill. She attended annual conferences hosted by A2MEND, and in 2018, at an A2MEND college fair, Tierra was offered a full-ride scholarship to Fisk University based on her academic performance at COS.

“Additionally, given the current political climate and racial tensions occurring in our nation, A2MEND has inspired me to maximize my full potential and create a foundation for future leaders who live between two worlds,” said Tierra, “This program is truly amazing, especially for those who have the drive to want to succeed and advance their educational career. Surrounded by phenomenal leaders, you will certainly be challenged and inspired to be your best self.”

That isn’t all. COS offers other programs directed to students who are disadvantaged financially, educationally, socially, racially. The Student Success Program is one of the programs that have fantastic success rates.

The program has increased students’ achievements, and according to the equity data, they’ve helped reduce equity gaps and produce a learning environment that puts students on the path of succeeding. The program has been established at Hanford, Visalia, and Tulare COS campuses.

Another program that’s had similar success is the Extended Opportunities Programs and Services (EOPS). It’s a program that doesn’t directly target the 10% but targets anyone disadvantaged socio-economically or educationally.

“I think COS offers a lot of great opportunities and programs for POC [“People of color”] to succeed. I’m a part of the EOPS program which offers a lot of great benefits. Especially since I am a first generation college student,” an EOPS member who wished to remain anonymous said, “It can be confusing sometimes but programs like these really help in putting you on the right track.”

EOPS meets with a counselor three times a semester, and students are provided book vouchers, backpacks, school supplies, and a grant that assists with their books, tuition, and supplies. EOPS has excellent success rates with helping students transfer to four-year universities and attaining their associate’s degrees.

Other than the Study Equity Plan and these programs, COS has established webinars, summits, workshops, and have had discussions about equity.

“We have a committee at COS called Equity and Diversity Action Committee (EDAC). This group has hosted “Watch Parties” which is a series of webinars for faculty, staff, students, and administrators to discuss equity issues at a local level, COS,” said Juan Sanchez, Dean, and chairs COS Equity and Diversity Action Committee, also referred to as EDAC, “Most recently, we had about 100 people participate in the microaggressions webinar.”

Amongst these, a system-wide decision has put forward law enforcement training and curriculum.

“Our District police have made some changes in their training in an effort to be more equitable in how they serve our community,” said Juan Sanchez. Furthermore, district police are trained in responding with cultural sensitivity, de-escalating a situation, implicit bias, and any harmful approaches to the community.

So what’s being done? A lot is being done. But as students of different backgrounds move forward with their educational journey, equity and equal opportunities should remain a constant discussion, through and through.