At the Academic Senate Fall 2004 Plenary Session, delegates adopted a resolution urging local senates to join collegially with representatives of their governing boards, administrators, classified staff, and students in addressing the goals of their Student Equity Plans. As of Fall 2005, Aiden Ely, the Dean of Student Services in the System Office, reported that all but 15 community colleges have filed their plans, ranging in length from four to 100 pages. While many plans were done by committees, individuals wrote others. According to Title 5 54220, most colleges have thus complied with the regulations by submitting their plans.
However, a larger issue remains: Are the Student Equity Plans merely done to comply with regulations? The answer should be a resounding "No!"
Local senates have ways to ensure that their Student Equity Plans do not merely gather dust in the System Office or in some file drawer at local campuses, but instead gain the visibility necessary to include all campus constituencies in addressing the goals:
Have your Student Equity Plan on the campus website. By placing the plan on your website, it becomes accessible to all campus constituencies, as well as your local community. This visibility is a reminder to the campus community of the college's intentions to continue to address issues of access, retention, transfer, and student success.
Deliver periodic progress reports to your Board of Trustees. The chair of your governing board along with the college president and local academic senate president had to sign the plan when it was submitted.
Progress reports can remind the governing boards and administrators that the faculty remains committed to student equity.
According to the California Community College Mission Statement, "Essential and important functions of the colleges include: basic skills instruction, providing English as a second language, adult noncredit instruction, and providing support services that help students to succeed. . . . To the extent funding is provided, the Colleges may conduct institutional research concerning student learning and retention as is needed to facilitate their educational missions." (http://www.cccco.edu/faq_cccco.htm#mission) Local senates have several ways to ensure that their Student Equity Plans become a central component imbedded in several processes that are critical to the faculty's role in this mission:
Make sure that your Student Equity Plan is included in your annual Master Plan for Education. Because these plans have both short-term and long-term planning issues and implications, it is critical that they are included annually in master plans to ensure that these issues are continually addressed.
Work with your Institutional Research department. The data for the five indices (access, retention, student success in basic skills and ESL , transfer, and degree and certificate awards) should be updated annually. Some colleges have research advisory committees that include faculty from ESL and the basic skills areas, who can advise and inform research needs and goals.
Keep student equity issues in mind while crafting Student Learning Outcomes at the course, program, and college level. As colleges begin to address the shifting demographics and/or the differences in academic performance of their student populations, faculty can consider ways in which student diversity and Student Learning Outcomes can help promote student equity in their classrooms, courses, and programs. Many colleges have acknowledged diversity in their mission statements and it should be considered in the crafting of institutional SLOs. Have your students learned that your college embraces diversity and equity?
Imbed student equity issues in the Program Review process, particularly for basic skills math/English, ESL , and student services, including counseling. Depending on how the local colleges established their plans, basic skills and ESL faculty are critical participants in addressing the goals and plans. They can use their Program Review process to ensure that their work, along with student services and counselors, can be assessed.
Address the issues of the Student Equity Plan in your accreditation self-study. The Student Equity Plan provides hard data regarding student success and retention and a means of addressing inequities. Connecting student equity and SLO s ensures that faculty members are engaged in the issues of student success and retention, which must be addressed in the Accreditation standards.
Finally, by providing visibility to the Student Equity Plans and connecting them to other core issues and processes for which local senates and faculty are the primary voice, faculty, administrators, classified staff, students, and governing boards can use the plans to do college-wide planning.
Local senates can ensure that campus planning and budget processes include Student Equity Plans when considering allocations for the hiring and support of faculty, administrators, and classified staff with regards to student equity needs. By utilizing the findings of the Student Equity Plan in course, program, and institutional assessments, student equity becomes an ongoing work in progress and not merely a dust gatherer.