A Report From the Affirmative Action and Cultural Diversity Committee

Published:
February
2002
Author:
Dibakar Barua, Chair
Recently, the addition of new members has brought a new infusion of energy into the AA/CD committee. Just in time, too, because we are revising and updating the 1993 Student Equity handbook entitled "Student Equity: Guidelines for Developing a Plan" for the spring plenary session in April. AA/CD is in the process of discarding unnecessary or old information, adding new materials where needed, updating definitions, adding new and useful materials on campus climate, classroom assessment, learning styles, and academic mentoring, and updating funding sources. One thing we are need is data on exemplary programs to promote student equity. Last year's turnaround survey on Student Equity yielded only thirty or so responses, many of them simply stating that there were no exemplary programs on their campuses. We are going to make one last ditch effort to collect more useful data and send out a follow up memorandum to all colleges. Our aim is to get more information on programs or projects on various campuses that promote student equity in any of the five areas specified by the student equity regulations-namely, access, course completion, ESL and basic skills completion, degree and certificate completion, and transfer rate. We want to collect information on well-planned exemplary programs with proven effectiveness in promoting student success, to give you a more than compendium of all programs initiated in the name of student equity.

To repeat something you all now by now, a recent court action (Connrly v. State Personnel Board, et al.) has invalidated many Title 5 regulations aimed at achieving diversity in hiring on the premise that such regulations-especially those asking for district goals or timetables for the hiring of minorities and women-violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection under law. The question now is how do we ensure diversity and equal opportunity in employment, required by both federal and state constitutions and various statutes-for example, Government Code 11135, Assembly Bill 1725, and several sections of the Education Code-without the benefit of most of the instruments and mechanisms so far used by community colleges under Title 5 Regulations. The Chancellor's Office has reiterated its longstanding commitment to equity and diversity, so revisions of Title 5 Regulations are being planned to remove sections rendered problematic by Connerly and strengthen equal opportunity and nondiscrimination regulations. The Chancellor has also convened a Task Force on Equity and Diversity to "recommend changes in policy, Board regulations, or state law needed to carry out the system commitment to diversity and student equity," according to the task Statement. Diversity, in the new context, is "a work force that provides equal employment opportunity to all regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, marital status, disability, religious or political affiliation, age, income level, socio-economic status, prior hardship, or sexual orientation."

Diversity in the work force is also a student equity issue. That a diverse faculty and staff world promote equity and success for our very diverse student population is a prima facie argument. We want equity and success for all of our students, regardless of their color, creed, gender, or economic status. No reasonable person will deny that California's community colleges, more so than its other segments of higher education, have precisely this mission. California's community colleges are the last best hope, so to speak, for the vast majority of our high school graduates. And we need effective programs to implement various measures for student equity and success-not just good or indifferent Student Equity plans on paper. The Chancellor has stated that the system will enforce minimum conditions regarding student equity plans. That may not go far enough since simply writing a good plan does not ensure that meaningful progress is being made in achieving student equity.