Equity begins in equity-mindedness, an understanding of the structural and systemic inequities that create barriers for students, particularly students from minoritized groups. Equity work requires a race-conscious, intersectional, inclusive approach to create new systems that ensure differentiated resources and support so that each student has the opportunity for equal success.
In September 2019, the Leadership in Equity, Achievement, and Diversity (LEAD) Committee revised the Yuba College Equity Plan (https://bit.ly/2FYTKXQ), which started with the Equity Imperative listed below.
While Yuba College historically served predominately white students, minoritized students now represent at least two-thirds of our student population. Minoritized students are members of groups that are different in race, religious creed, nation of origin, sexuality, and gender and as a result of social constructs have less power or representation compared to other members or groups in society. However, there remains a significant disparity between the diversity present among our student population and that of our college employees. This disparity is particularly stark when comparing faculty and administrative diversity to student diversity based on race and ethnicity. As an example, Latinx students make up 34% of our student population but only 10% of our tenured faculty and 6% of our non-tenured faculty. To add further complication, we do not currently have data to compare student and employee populations based on linguistic diversity, LGBTQ+, or disability.
This lack of diversity, data, and awareness results in a college environment, and in curricular design, hiring practices, and funding and policy choices that continue to disproportionately impact the minoritized groups at our college. This is reflected in the college’s underperformance in student success indicators for students who, for example, identify as African Ancestry, American Indian or Alaska Native, disabled, and/or LGBTQ+.
Yuba College recognizes that we need to rethink and take action regarding our approach to our curriculum, hiring, governance, policies, and college culture if we are to change our history of failing to fully support minoritized students. We recognize the need to be courageous and self-aware, to engage in complex conversations and to be willing allies.
To begin this process, we commit to the following:
- To notice that we are more likely to feel connected to students who are most like ourselves.
- To notice and take action when our language, syllabi, teaching tools and assignments speak most effectively to the lived experiences of those who are white, abled, heterosexual, and/or native English speakers.
- To notice and address the systemic ways in which dominant social identifies such as whiteness, ableness, heterosexuality, and Christianity are implicit in the underlying expectations on which the college operates.
- To notice and address the ways in which implicit bias and stereotypes play out in our expectations and relationships, especially with minoritized students.
- To value Allyship, meaning that although someone is not a member of a minoritized group, they make a concerted effort to better understand the struggle, provide support and advocacy for the inclusion of diverse voices, and hold others equally accountable.
- To develop awareness of intersectionality, which is the theory of how overlapping or intersecting social identities impact any one individual’s experience in a given system or structure, and its impact on our students and our colleagues.
- To notice how and when we commit microaggressions, which are common verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group; as an example, when we shy away from African Ancestry and Latinx males whom we may perceive as threatening or off-putting.
- To notice that we are more likely to describe minoritized students using deficit language such as at risk, disadvantaged, underprepared and achievement gaps, which identify these groups as lacking, for example. And, to shift our language use and our actions so that we acknowledge them as human beings with valuable diverse experiences, skills, cultures, and worldviews.
Equity Plan for 2019-2022: https://bit.ly/2FYTKXQ
Jeremy Brown, Dean of Student Success and Institutional Effectiveness and LEAD Co-chair
Kiara Koenig, English Faculty, WLDC Co-coordinator and LEAD Co-chair
Crystal Ferrer, Administrative Secretary I and LEAD Recorder