Infusing Cultural Competency, Diversity, and Equity

Chair, Accreditation Committee
Chair, Equity and Diversity Action Committee

The Spring 2014 ASCCC Plenary Session produced a timely resolution (3.01), especially as our system-wide engagement with student equity was renewed with the promise of designated state funding for community colleges. The ASCCC Executive Committee was asked to “engage in cultural competency and equity training at its annual … orientation, and use the information from that training to develop its cultural competency plan as a model for local senates.”  The Executive Committee did engage in this training at its June orientation meeting, and the results of that discussion should help not only to develop an ASCCC plan but also to provide a spark to begin local discussions as senates begin the academic year. 

The resolution was a fantastic mandate and impetus for a larger conversation and action. On June 1, 2014, the Executive Committee welcomed Past President Jane Patton for a day-long cultural competency training; at the same time, it was announced that the Equity and Diversity Action Committee, which had been on hiatus as a task force, would be reestablished as a standing committee of the ASCCC.

The training traversed several themes, from exploring a philosophy of diversity to the value of understanding the powerful historical constructions and lived experiences of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.  An Executive Committee comprised of various disciplines and backgrounds acknowledged that the ASCCC does many things well in terms of diversity—including recognizing diversity in writing and policy, providing opportunities and awards, promoting caucuses, and making diverse appointments—but that reflecting diversity in our local senates and the ASCCC must remain an ongoing area of focus.

To guide the ASCCC’s work regarding cultural competency, the Executive Committee envisioned new objectives for this year, a part of which will involve reframing the conversation about diversity to one about equity across the system, including both students and faculty. Rather than approach equity as a supplement to “add in” to our current agendas, the challenge is to continually integrate and encourage equity in our themes, strategic planning, policies, and events. For this reason, the ASCCC must engage in difficult conversations and presentations exploring hiring practices, understanding demographic data, thinking about success and achievement, and discussing what it means to “reflect” diversity and “enable” equity.

Faculty can expect equity and diversity to be a major focus of the ASCCC this year—at plenary sessions, during local senate visits, in our discourse, and across our strategies. The Equity and Diversity Action Committee is charged with building a cultural competency plan that will encourage greater diversity in local senates, and the continued focus on issues of diverse achievement and student equity across the state should help to inform our discourse as a Senate body.

In addition, the theme of the Academic Academy this year will center in large part on equity and diversity.  The Academic Academy will take place March 12 – 14, 2015 at the Costa Mesa Westin Hotel.  More information will be available on the ASCCC website in the coming months.  Local senates are encouraged to identify upcoming faculty leaders to attend and bring information back to their colleges.

Local senates have an excellent opportunity to engage and evaluate college planning this academic year in terms of student success and equity.  Local Student Equity Plans, Student Success and Support Program (SSSP), Basic Skills Plans, and Enrollment Management Plans should be integrated to best serve local communities; evaluating these plans on local campuses can also lead to philosophical discussions about the value of diversity.[1] Additionally, faculty involvement in Assembly Bill 86 consortia planning and noncredit/credit discussions should incorporate elements of equity, especially as we try to reflect on and serve our communities and their needs.  With much to do and many opportunities for change, the ASCCC looks forward to hearing how you are doing with these complex conversations throughout the year, especially at the Academic Academy.  

[1] See the article “Building Faculty Processes for Student Success and Equity” elsewhere in this Rostrum for further discussion of this topic.