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2022 November Rostrum


In Memory of Barbara (Hinkley) Schnelker

ASCCC Rostrum Editor

On July 2, 2022, Barbara Schnekler, born Barbara Toston and also known professionally for many years as Barbara Hinkley, passed away after a battle with cancer. Barbara was an important early leader of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges and a voice for faculty throughout the community college system.

Barbara served on the ASCCC executive committee from 1977-1983 and as president in the academic year 1981-82. Her leadership laid the groundwork for many later efforts and initiatives, as her presidential term saw the ASCCC conduct research on the organization and role of local academic senates, the composition and function of curriculum committees, and competency and placement testing. The first statement on English and mathematics competencies issued by the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates, while technically published shortly after the end of Barbara’s term as president, was developed and completed primarily during her presidency. Barbara also arranged the first meeting of representatives of the ASCCC and the chief instructional officers organization, an essential partnership that has now endured for forty years.

After her time on the ASCCC Executive Committee, Barbara served on the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges from 1986 to 1992. From 1990 to 1992 she became the first faculty member to serve as chair of the accrediting commission.

Barbara’s teaching career at Palomar College spanned for thirty years. She was dedicated to her classroom work as a sociology professor, but she also served three terms as chair of the behavioral sciences department at her college.

Barbara Schnelker, née Hinkley, was a pioneer for faculty in the California Community Colleges system. She represented the faculty voice proudly and effectively in difficult times before the role of academic senates was codified through AB 1725 in 1988 and as the ASCCC was still defining itself and its purposes. The ASCCC salutes her dedication and service to students, to faculty, and to the entire community college system and expresses our sadness at her passing. 

General Education for California Community College Students

ASCCC President
ASCCC Vice President

On October 6, 2021, Governor Newsom signed AB 928 (Berman, 2021 [1]),  the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act of 2021, into law. One of the mandates of this legislation requires the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates (ICAS) [2]  to “establish a singular lower division general education pathway that meets the academic requirements necessary for transfer admission to both the California State University and University of California.” Near the same time, the California Community Colleges Curriculum Committee drafted revisions to the language of the Title 5 regulations for the associate degree (§§55060-55064) but did not amend specific requirements for general education.

At least twenty years have passed since the last thorough and holistic review and update of associate degree general education requirements, and recent legislation such as AB 705 (Irwin, 2017), AB 927 (Medina, 2021), and AB 928 (Berman, 2021) has had impacts on general education. Conversations about these topics at the 2022 Academic Senate for California Community Colleges Curriculum Institute indicated a need for a thorough review of existing general education requirements for associate and baccalaureate degrees, and students are asking for clearer general education pathways. For all of these reasons, the time has come to examine and update the California community colleges’ general education requirements in order to align, where feasible, lower division general education requirements for local associate degrees and community college baccalaureate degrees with the singular lower division general education pathway required by AB 928.

Since Title 5 §53200 places the responsibility for recommendations regarding policy development and implementation matters on degree and certificate requirements with the academic senate, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) has initiated processes for developing proposals for lower division general education pathways for both the local associate degree and the California community college baccalaureate degree. Initial proposals were shared broadly, webinars on the proposals took place, and surveys for feedback were disseminated in late summer and early fall of 2022. Based on feedback, the proposed pathways were modified. During the 2022 ASCCC Fall Plenary Session, the plenary delegates will have an opportunity to consider directing the ASCCC to work with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to amend Title 5 regulations based on the proposed general education pathways through the consultative processes already in existence.

Proposing the California General Education Transfer Curriculum (CalGETC) Pathway

With the signing of AB 928, ICAS set up a plan for establishing the lower division general education pathway for transfer. The legislation is clear that if the intersegmental academic senate representatives of ICAS are unable to come to an agreement on the general education pathway by May 31, 2023, the administrative bodies of the three segments are required to establish the general education pathway by December 31, 2023. The mandated parameters of the general education pathway include the following:

  • It is to be “the only lower division general education pathway used to determine…eligibility and … preparation for transfer admission to the California State University and the University of California”; and
  • It cannot “include more units than the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum as of July 31, 2021.” ICAS received clarification from Assemblymember Berman’s office that the unit threshold for this general education pathway is 34 semester units.

Part of the plan developed by ICAS included the formation of a special committee on AB 928, which included nine voting members—three faculty from each segment serving on ICAS—and numerous advisory members: articulation officers, students, respective system-level administrators, and executive directors for each of the academic senates. The special committee’s task was to create and recommend a general education pathway requiring no more than 34 semester units for consideration by ICAS. The committee affirmed the importance of including students in the discussions and acknowledged that all three segments would need to compromise in order to create a general education pathway in compliance with the law. In just three meetings in early 2022, consensus was reached on a pathway to recommend to ICAS. On April 25, 2022, ICAS voted unanimously to recommend the proposed pathway for vetting by faculty in all three systems. In addition, the title of CalGETC for the pathway, recommended by student leaders from the three systems, was approved. CalGETC is the acronym for California General Education Transfer Curriculum.

Table 1

The proposed CalGETC pathway is presented through the table above for easy comparison to the current IGETC and California State University General Education Breadth patterns. Key differences between the current general education patterns and the proposed CalGETC pathway include the following:

  • Oral communication was not previously included in IGETC but is included in CalGETC;
  • The arts and humanities requirement is reduced from three courses to two courses;
  • The social and behavioral sciences requirement is reduced from three courses to two courses;
  • Lifelong learning and self-development will be removed as CSU lower division GE requirements, as they are not included in CalGETC; and
  • Ethnic studies will fall in a new, separate area.

The academic senates from all three segments are vetting the proposed CalGETC pathway during fall 2022 and will provide recommendations regarding endorsement or support of the proposed CalGETC to ICAS as a result of the vetting within each system. The special committee on AB 928 will reconvene to consider this feedback and make a recommendation to ICAS in February 2023 on a final CalGETC pathway.

Proposing Local Associate Degree and CCC Baccalaureate Degree Lower Division General Education Pathways

Anyone who has explored the multiple existing general education patterns—CSU GE Breadth, IGETC, and associate degree general education and additional requirements in Title 5 §55063—will likely agree that they can be confusing, as they have different identified areas and different guidelines for course approval. These patterns can be especially confusing for students. To help reduce confusion, efforts are underway to align all general education patterns using the same structural framework. Starting with the proposed CalGETC pathway, a proposed local associate degree general education pathway was created and then modified based on California community college faculty feedback. The proposed general education pathway for the associate degree aligns with the proposed CalGETC pathway and remains consistent with the current associate degree requirements as stated in Title 5 §55063. Following the approval of the ethnic studies requirement [3] for the associate degree by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors in July 2021, Title 5 §55063 was amended, yet it still has not been chaptered by the Secretary of State; therefore, Title 5 language encountered though a search with www.leginfo.legislature.ca.gov is inconsistent with the Board of Governors approved revisions.

Aligning the structure of associate degree general education requirements with the proposed CalGETC pathway while utilizing guidance similar to current Title 5 §55063 requirements will allow colleges to identify courses within each area that meet local general education requirements in addition to those approved for a CalGETC pathway. Students will in many cases have more local course choices for each area of the proposed associate degree general education pathway framework than for the areas of CalGETC; this situation is consistent with course approvals for existing associate degree general education patterns, CSU GE Breadth, and IGETC based on differing guidance developed by the California Community Colleges system, the CSU, and the UC for each pattern, but tracking courses across the consistently identified areas or categories will be easier than it is now with different area frameworks for each pattern.

California community colleges currently offering baccalaureate degrees have been frustrated that students must take either 34 (IGETC) or 39 (CSU GE Breadth) semester units of lower division general education even though the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) only requires 27 lower division general education units. This difference, combined with the realization that IGETC and CSU GE Breadth will be obsolete once CalGETC goes into effect, influenced ASCCC Resolution 09.03 S22 [4],  which calls for the ASCCC to work with the Chancellor’s Office to develop a pathway specific to CCC baccalaureate programs. Aligning the baccalaureate degree lower division general education framework with the proposed CalGETC and associate degree general education frameworks makes sense, as does overlapping the baccalaureate lower division general education requirements with associate degree general education requirements as much as possible. The result is an aligned framework that includes an additional six units beyond the 21 required for associate degrees—to reach the ACCJC required minimum of 27 lower division general education units for baccalaureate degrees—to be taken from any of the general education areas.

In considering these pathways, one should keep in mind that the singular lower division general education pathway required by AB 928 must be established and can include no more than 34 required semester units. The proposed CalGETC pathway is being vetted by the academic senates in each system through 2022. The May 31, 2023 ICAS deadline functionally only allows for minor adjustments, as substantive or major adjustments would necessitate additional vetting, which would require additional time. Without time for any additional vetting that would be necessary for agreement by the three system academic senates, the administrative bodies of the CCC, CSU, and UC systems would be required to establish the pathway by December 31, 2023, completely taking the development and recommendation of curriculum out of the hands of faculty. This situation is not something the ASCCC would find acceptable.
In addition, the proposed general education pathways for local degrees, just like the current general education requirements, are the minimum requirements for local general education in the California community colleges. Colleges have the autonomy to include additional general education requirements for local degrees, and they often do so to meet the educational and professional needs of students and the surrounding community in order to provide high quality programs.
Considering a complete revision of the general education patterns used by students in California community colleges may seem somewhat overwhelming. Even more overwhelming may be consideration of what processes for approving courses within each of the proposed pathways will look like once changes are approved. However, such changes have been needed for many years and will go a long way in reducing confusion for students. For the benefit of students, these efforts are necessary and will be worthwhile.
Finally, students have shared their concerns about unclear educational pathways. Aligning general education pathways where feasible is a first step to eliminating some of the confusion around general education requirements.

Table 4

[1] The text of AB 928 may be found at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=2….
[2] The Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates consists of representatives from the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, the Academic Senate of California State University, and the University of California Academic Senate. The full ICAS membership can be found at https://icas-ca.org/who-is-icas/roster/.
[3] The Title 5 §55063 language as approved by the Board of Governors July 2021 can be found at https://go.boarddocs.com/ca/cccchan/Board.nsf/files/C44RX3700FBB/$file/….
[4] ASCCC Resolution 09.03 S22 can be found at https://asccc.org/resolutions/develop-lower-division-ge-pathway-ccc-bac….

Five Years Later and Questions Remain

Data and Research Committee
Data and Research Committee Chair

For decades, colleges have been trying to improve the results of remediation. Efforts like the Basic Skills Initiative, basic skills innovation grants, and the Common Assessment Initiative were all envisioned to improve placement practices and increase the number of students earning degrees and transferring to universities. These types of efforts had varying levels of success, but huge increases in the number of students completing English composition and a transfer-level mathematics course never materialized. The California Acceleration Project worked with many colleges to develop accelerated remedial math and English sequences to reduce the number of courses that students took before transfer level, and the Research and Planning Group tried to increase the use of high school transcript data in student placement with the Student Transcript Enhanced Placement Study that became the Multiple Measures Assessment Project (MMAP). These efforts had success at some schools, but they were not implemented systemwide until the adoption of AB 705 (Irwin, 2017), which fundamentally changed placement processes and student access to transfer level coursework in mathematics and English. The supporters of the law claimed that AB 705 would eliminate access gaps, increase throughput, and reduce equity gaps.

Implementation of the requirements for mathematics and English placement began in Fall 2019, but many faculty still had concerns related to the impact on students enrolled in mathematics and English courses and in courses in other disciplines that required prerequisite skills that students previously developed in pre-transfer courses. The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office AB705 implementation guidance memo strongly urged colleges to place students directly into transfer-level courses in English and mathematics with or without corequisite courses regardless of high school GPA. [1]  To place a student into a pre-transfer course, colleges must demonstrate that their likelihood of completing a transfer-level course would be higher than with direct access to transfer level.

Throughput became a new measure of success in the community college system: this concept tracks the number of students that enter and complete a transfer-level course in one year. As publications from the Public Policy Institute of California and MMAP have shown, the promise of increasing throughput has been realized since the implementation of AB 705. Additionally, the access gaps regarding transfer-level courses that had persisted in the system for decades have been nearly eliminated. The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office has developed the Transfer Level Gateway Completion Dashboard [2],  which can display systemwide and college-level throughput rates for mathematics and English. The dashboard also disaggregates the data into four ethnic groups—African American, Asian, Hispanic, and White—to allow viewers to determine if equity gaps persist or if they have been mitigated. The dashboard indicates that many colleges have had increases in their equity gaps for some groups.

In September 2020, the ASCCC’s Guided Pathways Taskforce published Optimizing Student Success – An Academic Senate White Paper [3].  This paper was based on data through the Fall 2019 semester, so it captured early AB 705 implementation data but excluded the Spring 2020 semester, when all California community colleges had to rapidly switch to remote learning. The paper notes some successes, for example confirming the near elimination of access gaps, and the potential benefits of academic support communities such as Puente and Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement. The paper also highlights some local college or district challenges resulting from implementing AB 705, such as persistent equity gaps in student course success when disaggregating data. Measures such as course success, unsuccessful attempts, student-initiated drop rates, and disaggregation by special population were introduced as additional ways to evaluate student placement methods with an eye towards continuous improvement and, importantly, equitable student success.

Seeking additional information about what colleges have done to implement AB 705 and how the law has impacted students, the delegates to the ASCCC’s Fall 2020 Plenary Session passed Resolution 18.01 F20, directing the ASCCC to “assist local academic senates in collaboration with college research professionals to create evaluation plans that examine throughput, student success, persistence, retention, unsuccessful course attempts, and completion with a goal of optimizing student success and addressing inequities and achievement gaps among disproportionately impacted or marginalized student groups” and to “write a paper on optimizing student success by evaluating placement in English, English as a Second Language, and mathematics pathways for consideration at the Spring 2022 Plenary Session.” [4]  To address this resolution, the ASCCC formed the Data and Research Task Force (DRTF) for the 2021-22 academic year. The DRTF developed three surveys seeking information from colleges that went beyond throughput to try to determine the impact of AB 705 on students. The surveys were intended to supply all the information required to develop a paper to highlight successes and challenges with the implementation of AB 705. Unfortunately, additional data collection may be required due to low response rates for the surveys and some colleges not tracking the data the surveys attempted to collect.

In May 2022, the ASCCC established the Data and Research Committee (DRC) as a new standing committee. This committee is currently reviewing the data collected in 2021-22 and developing additional measures that colleges might want to track to see how well their students are performing. In spring 2022, the Chancellor’s Office had colleges submit AB 705 improvement plans outlining how they were going to bring their institutions into compliance with the law. The directive was that colleges needed to ensure that students were placed and enrolled in transfer-level courses in mathematics and English. AB 1705 (Irwin, 2022) will codify near universal placement of students into transfer-level mathematics and English courses.

Faculty have always wanted to see students succeed, and they developed pre-transfer courses because they believed those courses would help students complete baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degrees. Those goals have not changed, but the regulations and legal requirements have.

The COVID-19 pandemic increased the challenges in determining what could be causing the equity gaps in student success to widen, but colleges are still looking for answers. Moreover, colleges are returning to in-person instruction with more questions than they had before the pandemic. Beyond the impacts of AB 705, what has been the impact on learning due to the pandemic? Will students be able to maintain the level of success predicted by historical trends? Will more students drop out of college because they become frustrated in transfer-level English and math courses? How can colleges ensure they do not lose even more students who have given up on higher education due to the pandemic? Questions like these and like those in last year’s surveys will be a primary focus of the DRC, and the committee hopes to provide greater clarity on how all faculty and colleges can come together to support students.

Many of the questions asked when AB 705 was signed have still not been answered because the pandemic has skewed some of the data and because of the singular focus on throughput. The pandemic, the use of remote instruction, and the revisions to AB 705 that AB 1705 will implement have created new questions that faculty must answer to ensure that students are not harmed. Faculty statewide and the ASCCC will work together to ensure that colleges share promising practices and possible pitfalls to help all students reach their educational goals.

[1] The full text of the memo may be accessed at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a565796692ebefb3ec5526e/t/5b6ccfc46d2a73e48620d759

[2] The dashboard is accessible at https://www.cccco.edu/About-Us/Chancellors-Office/Divisions/Educational-Services-and-Support/transfer-level-dashboard.
[3] The paper is available at https://asccc.org/sites/default/files/ASCCC_Optimizing_Student_Success_white-ppr_2020_v1.pdf.
[4] The full text of the resolution is available at https://asccc.org/resolutions/paper-and-resources-evaluating-placement-english-english-second-language-and-mathematics.

The Articulation Officer’s Key Role in Curriculum, General Education, and Transfer

ASCCC Area A Representative, Transfer, Articulation, and Student Services Committee Chair
Articulation Officer, Mendocino College

Articulation officers (AOs) in California community colleges are unsung heroes. They have essential knowledge and skills in navigating the world of transfer, including the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) systems. With new regulations regarding Ethnic Studies and legislation regarding Ethnic Studies, general education   (GE), and common course numbering, AOs need to be central in discussions of implementation.

AOs are often faculty members, many of whom are or previously were counselors, but colleges can also have AOs that are classified staff or administrators. The Minimum Qualifications for California Community Colleges Handbook lists no specific minimum qualifications for AOs. Local colleges can designate their own minimum qualifications, which often include understanding of transfer and articulation processes. Regardless of what role they hold in a college, AOs should be encouraged to be active participants in discussions of curriculum and transfer. AOs work together through the California Intersegmental Articulation Council to address issues of articulation. They are also appointed by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges to statewide committees on transfer and curriculum.

The work of an AO is often a mystery to those working in a community college.  From publishing courses on ASSIST [1], to requesting courses be added to the CSU GE Breadth program or Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC), most faculty and staff do not understand the cyclical nature of the work of an AO. From August through June of each year, the work of the AO is, in essence, year-round in the curriculum development process.  

August through May: Beginning with the first curriculum committee meeting of any given academic year, usually in August, the AO is a valuable consultant to faculty in the development and approval of the curriculum. Most curriculum workflows involve AO review. Most technical review committees have the AO as member. If a course is requested to have C-ID, UC Transfer Course Agreement, CSU GE Breadth, or IGETC certification, the AO provides feedback to ensure that the course conforms to the regulations in order to assist in its timely approval for the transfer attributes it is seeking to attain. During curriculum committee meetings, the AO serves as a resource to the committee when other committee members have questions about the transferability of a course.

Depending on local structure, AOs often maintain their colleges’ CSU Baccalaureate Level Course List on ASSIST. AOs can publish new courses on ASSIST after the courses have been approved by the local board of trustees.

December. Early December is a key timeline milestone in the cycle of the work of an AO. At this time, the AO finalizes the course submissions that are requesting CSU GE Breadth or IGETC consideration. The deadline for general education submission is usually the first or second Friday in December.  

April through June. Depending on the volume of courses submitted for CSU GE Breadth and IGETC review, GE decisions are usually released by the CSU Chancellor’s Office as early as mid-April through early June. At this time, the AO reports the GE decisions to affected stakeholders, such as counseling faculty, the curriculum committee, course authors, and others.  If the AO is tasked with updating the general education sheets, the AO can also update and disseminate those GE sheets for the upcoming year. Courses that are submitted in December are approved for the upcoming academic year. For example, courses submitted in December 2021 are, if approved, normally effective for Fall 2022.

June through August. The end of the academic year sees the last major deadline for AOs: the UC Transfer Course Agreement (TCA) submissions. Colleges are assigned a deadline of the 25th of either June, July, or August to submit courses that are requesting UC transferability in ASSIST. The UC Office of the President usually releases decisions several weeks after submission. Courses approved during the UC TCA cycle are backdated to have an effective term of the current Fall semester. For example, approved courses submitted June through August 2022 will have an effective term of Fall 2022.

Year-Round Activities. In between these major timelines, AOs consult with faculty during the curriculum development process. If a faculty member wants to create a new Associate Degree for Transfer or modify an existing one, the AO will walk the faculty through the transfer model curriculum (TMC) to show what courses are allowed to be included on the TMC, either through C-ID, Articulation Agreement by Major (AAM), General Education Certification Course list, or CSU Baccalaureate Level Course list.

If, to be added to the TMC, a course requires C-ID approval or requires articulation to a lower-division course in the major from a CSU, the AO will submit the course to C-ID or make an articulation request to the CSU.

Requests for articulation with four-year universities can occur at any time during the academic year. If gaps occur in articulation with the CSUs and UCs, the AO can submit a request to university partners to try to close those gaps in articulation to ensure a streamlined transfer to the universities.

AOs must also keep abreast of all the legislative and regulatory changes that will impact student transfer. More often than not, these changes may impact transfer curriculum development. Discipline faculty and educational administrators may invite AOs to meetings to discuss the implications of these legislative mandates.  

AOs play an important role on local curriculum committees. Whether the position is filled by a classified employee, certificated faculty, or a member of the administration, the AO plays a critical role as a consultant to the faculty during the campus’ curriculum approval process. On any curriculum committee, the AO provides an unbiased and objective voice that transcends departmental and discipline politics to serve as an advocate for student completion and transfer and to support the faculty in the curriculum process.  

During the curriculum review process, the AO supports the faculty’s development of courses by acting as an ambassador to the university system. In a role akin to a diplomat, the AO negotiates with faculty in the development of a course proposal or revision to ensure that it adheres to the standards and regulations of the CSUs and UCs. Doing so allows for a streamlined approval of a course’s transferability and approval for the CSU GE Breadth or IGETC. As an advocate for student completion and transfer, the AO ensures that courses proposed will serve to minimize unit bloat towards transfer or will be included in the students’ programs of study to maximize the value of the course towards the completion of the associate’s degree.      

The past two years have seen major legislative mandates that have impacted community colleges. AOs have taken a leading role in navigating these recent changes, from AB 1460 (Weber, 2020), which brought about CSU GE Area F Ethnic Studies, to AB 1111 on common course numbering (Berman, 2021) and AB 928 (Berman, 2021), the singular transfer general education pattern.

Since the early implementation stages of CSU GE Area F in December 2020, AOs have been the heart of the work in trying to navigate CSU requirements and getting courses approved so students can complete general education requirements at their community colleges. AOs have been navigating between their local community colleges and the CSU system. In addition, with AO advocacy, the CSU Chancellor’s Office and the UC Office of the President have announced that courses that were approved for CSU GE Area F Ethnic Studies will automatically receive approval for IGETC Area 7 Ethnic Studies when it launches in the Fall of 2023.

Once guidance is published regarding AB 928 and AB 1111, AOs should be central in the discussion of local implementation of the singular GE pattern and common course numbering.  With AB 928, AOs are familiar with the nuanced differences between the CSU GE Breadth and IGETC standards. They have provided feedback through ASCCC surveys and have been at the center of this conversation at the state level through the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates. If the proposed CalGETC, the GE pattern developed in response to AB 928, comes to fruition, AOs can support affected stakeholders as to how to transition their campus’ GE patterns to align with the new requirements.

AOs play a central and essential role on college campuses. Their work is often hidden in the shadows but impacts every student who wishes to transfer. Their expertise in transfer and navigating the CSU and UC systems makes them invaluable contributors to discussions of transfer, curriculum, and general education. Their knowledge and skills will be essential in navigating recent system changes.

[1] ASSIST.org is the official statewide database and online resource that shows prospective California transfer students how courses they complete at a community college may be used to satisfy elective, general education and major requirements at a CSU or UC campus.

Increasing Access to Local Academic Senate Meetings Supports Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity

ASCCC Vice President
ASCCC South Representative

As representative and decision-making legislative bodies, local academic senates must make their discussions and decisions accessible to all of their colleges’ faculty, full-time and part-time, as well as to the broader community. This statement is true whether the local academic senate is truly representative, in which faculty members are elected or selected as representatives by departments or divisions, or a senate-of-the-whole, in which all faculty members are encouraged to engage in senate discussions and decisions.

This need for and expectation of transparency, inclusion, and access to discussions and decisions of academic senates as representative and public bodies is at the core of public meeting legislation like the Bagley Keene Act, which governs state-level board and commissions in California, and the Ralph M. Brown Act, which governs local-level legislative boards and commissions like academic senates. Section 54950 of California Government Code includes language that reinforces the need for transparency: “It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.” However, as noted in the 2003 pamphlet The Brown Act: Open Meetings for Local Legislative Bodies, published by the attorney general of California, “Although the principle of open meetings initially seems simple, application of the law to real life situations can prove to be quite complex.” (Office of the Attorney General, 2003).

Local academic senate and curriculum committee leaders as well as faculty leaders of subcommittees of these legislative bodies may be aware of the provisions for open meetings established by the Ralph M. Brown Act, particularly those provisions that help ensure transparency of discussion. Faculty leaders are also often aware of the difficulties in complying with certain provisions of the Brown Act during the COVID-19 pandemic and as education returns physically, in varying degrees, to campuses. Modifications to the Brown Act made during the pandemic by Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20 in March 2020 [1],  Executive Order N-35-20 in March 2020 [2],  and AB 361 (Rivas, 2021) [3]  allowed for teleconferencing without compliance with some of the long-standing requirements for teleconferencing “when a declared state of emergency is in effect, or in other situations related to public health” (AB 2449, 2022). Some of these modifications, particularly those resulting from AB 361, are in effect through January 1, 2024. AB 2449 (Blanca Rubio, 2022) [4]  was signed into law by Governor Newsom on September 13, 2022 and extends the period in which certain provisions of the Brown Act relating to teleconferencing are modified under specific conditions through January 1, 2026. In recognition of the role of technology in increasing public access to meetings of state and local boards and agencies, including college academic senates, arguments in support of the measure in the Assembly Floor Analysis note, “[AB 2449] modernizes existing law to ensure greater public participation in meetings of the legislative bodies of local agencies who choose to utilize teleconferencing” (Concurrence, 2022). Local academic senate, curriculum committee, and affected subcommittee leaders must become familiar with the provisions of AB 2449 and determine if current practices related to teleconferencing and remote participation by members are still allowable.

AB 2449 allows for teleconferencing without noticing each teleconference location and making each location publicly accessible. This allowance is good news for members of bodies who may need to participate remotely from some other site, including their homes. However, to have this flexibility, specific conditions must be met:

  • At least a quorum must be physically present at a single site, which must be open to the public and within the group’s jurisdiction.
  • Members may participate remotely only after notifying the legislative body of the need to participate remotely for just cause, as defined within the bill and not allowable for more than two meetings a year, or may request to participate remotely due to emergency circumstances, which must be included for action on the agenda or, if requested after the agenda is posted, acted upon at the start of the meeting as appropriate to existing Brown Act provisions for taking action on items not appearing in the agenda.  
  • A member may not participate remotely for more than three consecutive months or 20% of regular meetings of a legislative body within a calendar year or more than two meetings if the body meets fewer than ten times per calendar year.

While some aspects of AB 2449 may seem confusing and restrictive as it relates to remote attendance and participation of members using teleconferencing, some of the new provisions are centered on ensuring the public has an opportunity to attend and participate, at least as allowed through real time public comment, in the discussions and deliberations. Academic senate leaders can consider ways to work within the updated Brown Act to bring more voices via public attendance and comment, to be inclusive of a greater number and diversity of faculty voices, and, through increased access for public members, to potentially nurture future senate leaders.

While the Brown Act and its newest modifications resulting from AB 2449 put in place the legal requirements for the work of academic senates to be transparent and inclusive, being attentive to transparency and inclusion is also a key aspect of implementing a framework of inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism, and accessibility while conducting the work of an academic senate.

Aligned with the expectation that academic senates be transparent and inclusive, in June 2021, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) adopted a new Policy on Social Justice. This policy states in part, “The Commission recognizes the moral necessity of promoting equity and diversity through its policies and practices, and creating a climate of inclusion and anti-racism among its membership” (ACCJC, 2021). Throughout the ACCJC social justice policy, one can find references to the importance of “promoting inclusionary practices.” The ACCJC Policy on Social Justice acknowledges “historical and systemic institutional racist structures and policies that exist in society, stemming from prejudice, discrimination, and implicit biases, which have benefited white people and disadvantaged people of color.” In many cases, these structures have been barriers to participation in academic senate convenings and representation on academic senates by people of color; academic senate, curriculum committee, and other subcommittee leaders should examine current structures, engage with underrepresented faculty, and be intentional in inclusive approaches, including leveraging the technology and teleconferencing allowances of AB 2449.

Legislation such as AB 2449, although limited in its time frame given it is to sunset on January 1, 2026, provides an opportunity for local senate leaders to encourage attendance and participation, even when remote, at academic senate, curriculum, and other sub-committee meetings. Arguments can be made to support any future legislative changes that will allow more access to local academic senate meetings via teleconferencing methods. This access is especially important for those who cannot physically be in the meetings or for those colleges that have affiliated centers that are a significant distance from the main campus. Having more flexibility around public meeting policy can assist colleges in increasing the levels of inclusion, diversity, equity, antiracism, and access in spaces where increased participation can lead to more rich and varied conversations around local policymaking and the establishment of processes and procedures.


AB 2449, Blanca Rubio, California Assembly. (2022). (Enacted) https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB2449.

Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. (2021, June). Policy on Cocial Justice. https://accjc.org/wp-content/uploads/Policy-on-Social-Justice.pdf.

Concurrence in Senate Amendments AB 2449 (Blanca Rubio.) (2022, August 8). Assembly Floor Analysis. https://alcl.assembly.ca.gov/sites/alcl.assembly.ca.gov/files/AB%202449%20%28B.%20Rubio%29.pdf

Office of the Attorney General. (2003). The Brown Act: Open Meetings for Local Legislative Bodies. https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/media/the-brown-act.pdf.

[1] The text of Executive Order N-29-20 is available at https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/3.17.20-N-29-20-EO.pdf.
[2] The text of Executive Order N-35-20 is available at https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/3.21.20-EO-N-35-20.pdf.
[3] The text of AB 361 is available at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB361
[4] The text of AB 2339 is available at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB2449

Awards Season Is Here

Standards and Practices Committee Chair

With the fall term underway and student energy returning to college campuses, faculty will be reconnecting with their colleagues. That return will spark a myriad of thoughts about dedicated and inspirational fellow faculty that go the extra mile for their students. An excellent way to recognize and honor amazing colleagues is with statewide awards, through which the system celebrates the incredible work being performed by faculty across the state.

Three statewide awards that recognize and honor the excellence of faculty are facilitated by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges’ Standards and Practices Committee. Information for all awards may be found on the ASCCC webpage under the “Services” tab, including award descriptions, application materials with scoring rubrics, and directions for online submission.

Some recent additions to the awards process are online submission and increased emphasis on inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism, and accessibility (IDEAA). Each award now has a website with award details and a link to the online application. All information and application materials are to be submitted through the web application. For the current year, scoring rubrics have been updated to reflect an increased focus on equity and social justice. The specific mechanism depends on the award, with some including IDEAA as an additional level to existing criteria and others as an entirely new criterion.  

Exemplary Program Award

The Exemplary Program Award was established by the Board of Governors in 1991 to recognize outstanding community college programs. Each college or district may nominate a single program. As many as two California Community College programs receive cash awards of $4,000, and up to four programs receive honorable mention plaques. The awards are sponsored by the Foundation for California Community Colleges and provide an excellent opportunity to showcase exceptional programs.

The ASCCC selects an annual theme related to the award’s traditions and statewide trends. The California Community Colleges system is the largest public higher education system in the United States, enrolling about 1.8 million students. California community colleges have had to adapt to a changing landscape, including fire, pandemic, social injustice, and civil unrest, in order to best serve their students. In light of the work that colleges and faculty have done to maintain the focus on student success, the ASCCC Executive Committee selected the theme of “Walk a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes: An Ethnic Studies Approach to California Community Colleges Curriculum” for this year’s 2022-23 Exemplary Program Award. Excellence in this area will involve demonstrating an understanding of the experiences, challenges, and thought processes of students and the promotion of efforts to teach ethnic studies centered on African-American, Chicano/Latino, Asian-American, and Native American studies courses that enable students to learn about their own stories. Winners of this prestigious award will be honored at the January 2023 Board of Governors meeting.

Completed applications are due by November 6, 2022. Full details may be found on the ASCCC Exemplary Program Award site at https://asccc.org/events/exemplary-program-award-0.

Hayward Award

The Hayward Award for Excellence in Education is sponsored annually by the Foundation for California Community Colleges. This award honors community college full-time and part-time faculty who demonstrate the highest level of commitment to their students, colleges, and profession. Award recipients, nominated by their colleges’ academic senates and selected by representatives of the ASCCC, must have a record of outstanding performance of professional activities as well as a record of active participation on campus.  

All faculty, classroom and non-classroom, are eligible for consideration. Each local academic senate may nominate one full-time and one part-time faculty member. Up to four recipients—two full-time and two-part-time faculty members—may be selected. Winners will be honored at the March 2023 Board of Governors meeting.  

Completed applications are due by December 18, 2022. Full details may be found on the ASCCC Hayward Award site at https://asccc.org/events/hayward-award-0.

Regina Stanback Stroud Diversity Award

The Regina Stanback Stroud Diversity Award honors committed faculty who consistently rise to meet the challenges faced by students and is sponsored this year by the Foundation for California Community Colleges. Serving the most diverse student population of any higher education system in the United States, the California Community Colleges system is largely comprised of demographic groups that have traditionally faced barriers to education. California community college faculty have both a challenge and a responsibility to demonstrate the sustained attention and support necessary to fully engage and excite these students. This prestigious award acknowledges an individual or group that is exceptional in contributing to the advancement of intercultural harmony, equity, and campus diversity at their college.

Each college or district may nominate one faculty member or group of faculty. All faculty are eligible, part-time and full-time, classroom and non-classroom. Winners receive $5,000 and are honored at the ASCCC Spring Plenary Session in April.

Completed applications are due by February 5, 2023. Full details may be found on the ASCCC Regina Stanback Stroud Diversity Award site at https://asccc.org/events/stanback-stroud-diversity-award-0.

Application Tips

  • Start the nomination process early so that all components of the application may be completed before the submission deadline.
  • Use the rubrics when writing the application, providing ample evidence for each of the criteria.
  • Compose the award application using any document processing program and cut and paste into the web application to ensure work is not lost.

Local Honors

Recognizing the work of faculty on local college campuses is another way to celebrate and elevate the good work that is done. A college or district academic senate could establish annual awards, with position categories such as full-time, part-time, classified professionals, and administrators and perhaps with themes. Local academic senates may also establish an honored or distinguished faculty award for distinguished service over an extended period. The academic senate itself or an awards committee could facilitate these awards. Such local awards could then serve as starting points for nominations for statewide awards.

More than ever after the past few challenging and exhausting years, the community college system should celebrate and thank faculty for their perseverance, creativity, innovation, and dedication to diverse students. Simply by nominating outstanding individuals for statewide awards, local academic senates are recognizing and appreciating the work performed by faculty, including how they inspire students and their colleagues, and validating and encouraging them to continue their excellent work.

Faculty Empowerment Leadership Academy: Participation Matters

Southwestern College, Faculty Empowerment Leadership Academy 2022

Note: The following article is not an official statement of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. The article is intended to engender discussion and consideration by local colleges but should not be seen as the endorsement of any position or practice by the ASCCC

The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges’ Faculty Empowerment and Leadership Academy (FELA) is a one-to-one statewide mentoring program designed to focus on the development of faculty from historically underrepresented groups in higher education who teach at California community colleges. The program was launched in 2021 during one of the most challenging and unprecedented times, in the midst of a global pandemic. Participation in this program is meaningful, invaluable, and potentially life-altering. It can impact the participants’ personal growth and development, and the program’s mission for mentoring diverse faculty can be exactly what faculty from historically underrepresented groups need to succeed in the California Community Colleges system.

FELA’s model is the only statewide faculty mentoring program for part-time and full-time faculty in historically marginalized communities, such as Black, Indigenous, people of color, and women (ASCCC, 2021). Only a few colleges in the California Community College system formally provide mentoring programs for part-time faculty employed in the system, as is noted in the ASCCC Mentorship Handbook (ASCCC, 2021).  Three examples of well-developed programs are Peralta College’s Faculty Diversity Internship Program, Los Angeles Community College District’s Project Match, and Los Rios Community College District’s Faculty Diversity Internship Program.  The existence of these mentoring programs is definitely a step in the right direction; however, participation and access to the resources and support are offered only to faculty who work in these particular institutions. FELA’s statewide mentoring model, on the other hand, has a broader reach. Being a part of a statewide mentoring program for both part-time and full-time faculty helps participants to build new relationships and to access new resources and support opportunities.

Participation in FELA Matters

College students in California represent some of the most diverse communities, with over 66% being from Hispanic, African-American, Asian, Native American, Filipino, and Pacific Islander ethnicities (California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, n.d.) .  However, the community college system has not yet reached its goal of a truly diverse faculty body (Bean & Sharif-Idiris, 2022). In California’s 116 community colleges, individuals from underrepresented groups account for 36% of academic tenured and tenure-track faculty, while White faculty account for over 56% of the overall group statewide as of spring 2022 (California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, n,d.). Research shows that faculty diversity has benefits for all students; however, increasing faculty diversity may be particularly helpful in reducing academic disparities for students of color (Llamas, Nguyen, & Tran, 2021).

FELA’s mentoring program not only supports part-time and full-time faculty but also demonstrates the ASCCC’s recognition that mentorship is a key component to the success of new faculty, whether employed full-time or part-time, as well as those seeking employment in the California Community Colleges system. In addition, participation in FELA illustrates how a formalized mentoring model, established to support diverse faculty, can be tailored for any campus, as is highlighted in the Mentorship Handbook (ASCCC, 2021). Another benefit for tailoring FELA’s existing model as opposed to starting a brand new mentoring program is the ability to participate in a mentoring program that is accessible remotely and also offers a hybrid model for participating in training opportunities during the program.

FELA’s Mission:  To Connect, To Empower, and To Guide

  • To Connect: Connecting with potential mentors means reaching out to professors from multiple programs and being open to having mentors across disciplines. FELA's mentoring program connects mentees to full-time professors who provide not only group mentoring while participating in monthly meetings but also one-on-one mentoring focusing on personal growth and development.
  • To Empower: Teaching during a pandemic resulted in multiple challenges, but it also emphasized that despite the challenges faculty also have to focus on self-care in order to better support their students and help them succeed. Participation in monthly virtual workshops helps mentees to be a part of a supporting network with co-mentees and faculty mentors. The virtual space becomes an opportunity for courageous conversations and ongoing check-ins.
  • To Guide: Providing networking opportunities during the program with faculty and administrators helps to develop faculty as local and statewide leaders through personal and professional development. FELA fellows attend the ASCCC Faculty Leadership Institute, where they are awarded their FELA certificates and have the opportunity to meet in person fellow cohort members while also learning more about leadership, policy, and advocacy initiatives with the ASCCC.   

Faculty Need to Mentor and Be Mentored

FELA’s mentorship program helps to build relationships among faculty across disciplines and throughout the community college system. FELA’s mission supports the need to formally establish mentoring programs to identify and mentor women and faculty of color who in turn are role models to students of color.

Community colleges are in a unique position to not only recruit, hire, and retain diverse faculty but also to provide faculty with a formalized pathway that can be adapted to the respective college in order to better support diverse faculty within the institution. The ASCCC FELA mentoring program is an excellent example of how an existing framework and core competencies can accomplish this goal for future generations of educators in the California Community Colleges system.  


Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (2021). Mentorship Handbook. https://www.asccc.org/sites/default/files/publications/asccc_mentorship_handbook_2021.pdf.
Bean, M.V, & Sharif-Idiris, M. (2022, April). Cluster hiring for faculty diversification. Rostrum. Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. https://www.asccc.org/content/cluster-hiring-faculty-diversification.

California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. (n,d). Management Information Systems Data Mart. https://datamart.cccco.edu/datamart.aspx.

Llamas, J. D., Nguyen, K., & Tran, A. (2021). The case for greater faculty diversity: examining the educational impacts of student-faculty racial/ethnic match. Race Ethnicity and Education, 24:3, 375-391. DOI: 10.1080/13613324.2019.1679759.

Increasing Recognition and Advancing Equity for Afghan Community College Students

Palomar College
MiraCosta College
Modesto Junior College

Note: The following article is not an official statement of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. The article is intended to engender discussion and consideration by local colleges but should not be seen as the endorsement of any position or practice by the ASCCC.

Over a year has passed since the chaotic U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. Since that time, millions of lives in Afghanistan and the global diaspora have been permanently altered. Those in Afghanistan struggle to survive under the hegemony of the Taliban regime, the U.S. and global sanctions, recent natural disasters, and the subsequent economic and humanitarian crises. An influx of refugees, including many unaccompanied minors and interpreters for the U.S. military, are working to rebuild their lives in the U.S. while facing innumerable challenges and uncertainties about their futures.
To understand the current conditions and needs of Afghan students, one must understand their histories and lived experiences. Afghans have experienced decades of unrest, including war and displacement fueled by centuries of colonial and imperial violence as well as global capitalism (Dossa, 2014). Due to the geopolitical history of Afghanistan, external interest lies in the country’s rare-earthing minerals, the mass production of opium, and the interests of neighboring countries. Continued violence has occurred due to political uncertainty and unsafety, resulting in untold losses to human life and an increasingly large global refugee population (Alemi & Stempel, 2018) that has once again grown because of emergency evacuations and ongoing displacement. Between 2008 and 2020, many Afghans resettled through the Special Immigrant Visa program for Afghan translators and others who helped the U.S. military (Saydee & Saydee, 2021). As a result of these varying experiences and factors leading to resettlement, the lived experiences of the Afghan community are uniquely diverse and cannot be assumed nor compared.

Afghanistan continues to rank as the most dangerous country in the world (Haltiwanger, 2019). The Taliban continue to forbid girls and women their basic human rights to work, seek education, and be legally protected (Amnesty International, 2022) and the international communities have once again abandoned the safety of Afghans. In light of these ongoing crises, community colleges should examine how they are currently serving students of Afghan descent and the ways in which they can improve to actualize their values of access and equity.

Afghan Students in Community Colleges

For decades, the Afghan diaspora has added to the diverse student body and communities served by community colleges. For recent arrivals, colleges are “educational gateways for higher education” (Phan, 2018, p. 564) and provide access to critical language and skill development, citizenship courses, and much more. Similar to other refugee populations (Mangan & Winter, 2017), Afghan students remain largely misrecognized and frequently invalidated within higher education. The community college system does not accurately track students who identify as Central Asian and Middle Eastern and instead incorrectly aggregates these two ethnic categories under the racial identity of White (Sadat, 2019). As a result, many Afghan students are not considered for scholarship opportunities in postsecondary education (Sadat, 2019). Along with this overarching invisibility and erasure, the intersectionality and social capital that Afghan students represent and contribute are missing in the narrative of diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism. An intersectional lens will reveal a complex fabric of identities based on gender, religion, socio-economic status, ethnicity, sexuality, military-affiliated support, migration history, current immigration status, disability, and more.   

Intersectional Barriers and Challenges

For newly arrived Afghans, the path to attending community college is not easily accessible or apparent. Furthermore, newly arrived students experience layered barriers of forcefully leaving their home country, incurring trauma, financial insecurities, religious bigotry, and racial marginality. Xenophobia, Islamophobia, and various practices of discrimination and othering impact students’ lives and further exacerbate ongoing post-resettlement stressors that impact their well-being (Alemi & Stempel, 2018; Sadat Ahadi, 2021). Basic needs, such as housing, food, and healthcare insecurity further impact the well-being and academic success of newly arrived Afghan students. Many who arrive in the U.S. are also challenged with the loss of educational, occupational, and social status due to the lack of transferability of prior credits, degrees, and work experience (Gatling, 2021; Stempel & Alemi, 2021).

Many refugee students also experience trauma due to the emotional suffering and torture they faced before reaching their post-resettlement country (Jamil et al., 2007). Students’ traumatic life experiences may include witnessing bomb explosions, death, beatings, sexual assault, and further political violence. Leaving their families behind, they are now in a new country without lucrative employment and with limited financial support (Joyce et al., 2010). Language and socio-cultural differences may present further challenges for Afghan students.

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan magnified existing challenges for Afghan students in community colleges. Student testimonials include painful and systemic challenges that prevented reunification with their family members who either fled or attempted to leave Afghanistan. Other students share their experience with housing shortages in the U.S. and living in motels for months before finding a home or living with large extended families in one apartment. Stressors such as resettlement, bicultural challenges, and isolation impact their wellbeing (Khairandesh & Rowbottom, 2021). Instructors should understand the reasons that students are late, absent, unfocused, or feeling depressed and provide equitable support. Thus, Afghan students’ lived experiences should be further explored by colleges rather than applying punitive policies and practices that further marginalize them.

Fostering Community and Belonging

Students share common struggles (Bernard, 2000), so having a community is significant in Afghan students’ lives to learn about employment opportunities, navigating the educational system and healthcare system (Hey, 2022). Providing collective opportunities for Afghan students will contribute to their persistence and completion in community college. Modesto Junior College (MJC) has been successful in supporting Afghan refugee students by partnering with organizations such as World Relief and International Rescue Committee. Through the power of partnering, the English language department at MJC has created courses and workshops tailored to the needs of the refugee student population, such as literacy and citizenship classes, English for childcare, and a language course that prepares students to obtain their driver’s licenses. The English language department has also offered panel discussions and sessions on cultural sensitivity and trauma-informed teaching for faculty in supporting refugee-background students. In addition, Afghan female students have been recruited to become Hambastagizanan—meaning “women united”—student leaders to coordinate on-campus gatherings for Afghan women to support one another in navigating the college system.
By creating support for Afghan students, college campuses have an opportunity to amplify their voices and give this student population the recognition they deserve. Professional development for all community college constituents should identify barriers and support for Afghan students. Collaboratively, colleges can learn about the skills and agency Afghan students possess and the ways they can contribute to both their campus and the local community.

Recommendations for Praxis

Community colleges can further support Afghan students and by extension all refugee and immigrant students in community colleges through measures like the following:

  • Disaggregate ethnicity by ensuring ethnic identities are not incorrectly aggregated (Sadat, 2019; Sadat Ahadi, 2021; Hey, 2022).
  • Provide ongoing professional development such as culturally relevant teaching, trauma-informed teaching, and counseling, challenging implicit and explicit bias, and all matters pertaining to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
  • Provide mental health services that account for the needs of refugee-background students.
  • Continue to provide and enhance culturally-responsive English language programs, services, and course offerings. Engage in culturally-responsive pedagogy and curriculum development (Ladson-Billings, 1995).
  • Create and open cultural hubs and spaces for students to congregate, dialogue, and feel a sense of belonging (Sadat, 2019; Sadat Ahadi, 2021).
  • Provide mentoring programs for new arrivals to navigate the community college system (Sadat, 2019; Sadat Ahadi, 2021).
  • Provide outreach to refugee and immigrant communities to map out the pathway to community college, along with student support resources (Sadat, 2019; Sadat Ahadi, 2021).
  • Provide basic-needs support—food, housing, transportation, childcare, and more—that is continuously responsive to students’ needs and recognizes varying help-seeking tendencies of marginalized communities.
  • For high-influx communities, translate college resources and supportive workshops into languages such as Dari/Farsi, and Pashto (Sadat, 2019; Sadat Ahadi, 2021). Hire more employees who speak these languages and identify with the community.
  • For high-influx communities, create affinity groups (Sadat Ahadi, 2021), such as Hambastagizanan at Modesto Junior College and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim & South Asian (AMEMSA+) at MiraCosta College, where students build community and receive peer support and faculty mentorship.
  • Recognize students' prior careers and credentials by creating easier pathways for evaluation of international credits to improve the economic outcomes for Afghan and other immigrants in similar positions (Stempel & Alemi, 2021).


Alemi, Q., & Stempel, C. (2018). Discrimination and distress among Afghan refugees in northern California: The moderating role of pre-and post-migration factors. PloS One, 13(5), e0196822–e0196822. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0196822

Amnesty International. (2022, July 27). Afghanistan: Taliban’s ‘suffocating crackdown’ destroying lives of women and girls. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/07/afghanistan-talibans-suffocating-crackdown-destroying-lives-of-women-and-girls-new-report/

Bernard, J. R. (2000). The satisfaction level of Afghan refugee students with student services at a San Francisco Bay Area college. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Dominguez Hills. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Dossa, P. (2014). Afghanistan remembers: Gendered narrations of violence and culinary practices. University of Toronto Press.

Gatling, B. (2021). “How can you trust a country?”: Precarity, personal narrative, and occupational folklore among Afghan refugees in the US. Journal of Folklore Research, 58(3), 53. https://doi.org/10.2979/jfolkrese.58.3.04

Haltiwanger, J. (2019, June 12). Afghanistan is officially the most dangerous country in the world — more proof the US war there has failed. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/afghanistan-is-officially-the-most-dang….

Hey, K. (2022). Voices of Afghan women: motivations, challenges, and resources of refugees pursuing community college education. Doctoral dissertation. California State University, Stanislaus.

Jamil, H., Farrag, M., Hakim-Larson, J., Kafaji, T., Abdulkhaleq, H., & Hammad, A. (2007). Mental health symptoms in Iraqi refugees: posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 14(1), 19-25.

Joyce, A., Earnest, J., De Mori, G., & Silvagni, G. (2010). The experiences of students from refugee backgrounds at universities in Australia: Reflections on the social, emotional and practical challenges. Journal of Refugee Studies, 23(1), 82-97.

Khairandesh, W., & Rowbottom, S. (2021). Supporting Afghan Students in Schools and Youth Programs in the United States. Switchboard. https://coresourceexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Toolkit-Suppo….

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal 32 (3), 465-491. https://doi.org/10.3102/00028312032003465.

Mangan, D., & Winter, L. A. (2017). (In)validation and (mis)recognition in higher education: The experiences of students from refugee backgrounds. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 36(4), 486–502. https://doi.org/10.1080/02601370.2017.1287131.

Phan, T. A. (2018). When One Door Closes, Another Opens: Community Colleges as Gateways to Higher Education for Refugee Students. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 42(7-8), 564–568. https://doi.org/10.1080/10668926.2018.1429966

Sadat, H. (2019). Unveiling the phenomenology of Afghan women in community college. Doctoral dissertation. San Diego State University.

Sadat Ahadi, H. (2021). Eradicating Xenophobia in Community College. ASCCC Rostrum. https://www.asccc.org/content/eradicating-xenophobia-community-college

Saydee, F., & Saydee, D. (2021, December). Afghan Backgrounder. Cultural Orientation Research Exchange. https://coresourceexchange.org/.

Stempel, C. & Alemi, Q. (2021). Challenges to the economic integration of Afghan refugees in the U.S. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 47(21), 4872–4892. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2020.1724420


Accessibility Is a Shared Responsibility of Faculty, Colleges, and the California Community College System

Imperial Valley College
ASCCC Area B Representative
Sacramento City College

Accessibility is everyone’s shared responsibility. Although the work of making a website or Canvas shell accessible can be complex, any accessibility specialist will say that faculty can learn without difficulty how to make their instructional environments fairly accessible.  

Multiple standards of accessibility exist, as do multiple imperfect ways of measuring that accessibility. Campus committees can easily become tangled up in defining perfect accessibility standards and then find that they have no way of measuring, achieving, or supporting them. For instance, the current widely accepted standard is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) [1].  These guidelines have different versions—2.0 or 2.1—much like computer operating systems have versions such as Windows 11 or Apple’s 12.3.1 [2].  Three levels of conformance also exist--A, AA, and AAA--as separate standards for each of the guidelines. [3] States or institutions determine which standard and level of conformance is acceptable for their constituents, and these become the goals that faculty and accessibility specialists must aim for when creating or cultivating digital materials.

The WCAG establish four principles for web accessibility standards. [4] Those principles set up the expectation that the content on a site will be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for all users. Specifically, users of a site will find the information and interface perceivable through elements such as color contrast. The interface and navigation will be operable for all users, with consideration, for example, for users who rely only on keyboards. The information and interface will be understandable, meaning simple and not confusing, and the content will be robust with reliable, accurate, and consistent interpretation. Each of these principles has multiple criteria for the levels of compliance. For example, under the principle of perceivability, in order to meet the AA level of compliance for version 2.1, text—except for captions and images of text, “can be resized without assistive technology up to 200 percent without loss of content or functionality.”

Considering the number of criteria and the technical skills required for interpreting and measuring the criteria, attention to the minutia  e of these standards is beyond the faculty scope of work. Fortunately, faculty are not usually expected to know all of these details. However, they should know that the larger context of accessibility is fairly complex and that the role of faculty is to do the best they can with the tools they have available.

Because individual colleges are at various stages of support for these standards, providing one set of easy-to-follow guidelines for all faculty is not realistic. A college’s support resources will likely determine the extent to which faculty are able to easily provide materials that reach all students equally. The issue is simply the context of each college’s progress. For example, one college may have a fully supported accessibility support team and a peer online course review process that helps faculty make their instructional materials and Canvas shells accessible to the Chancellor’s Office website standard of WCAG 2.1, level AA. Another college may lack a support mechanism and have adopted the WCAG 2.1 level A standard, relying on a robust team of support staff in disability services to provide service where support is lacking because of small campus size.
One thing that the inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility , and anti-racism effort and Chancellor’s Office commitment to accessibility [5] has demonstrated, however, is that accessibility is not going away, and everyone shares responsibility for creating accessible and therefore inclusive materials. Academic Senate for California Community Colleges Resolution 13.02 S22 Faculty Responsibility for Equitable, Accessible Learning Environments [6] makes clear that faculty should retain purview of their materials and should do due diligence in "fulfilling their responsibility as educators in all modalities, and also develop other resources as appropriate" and should have support of the "Academic Senate for California Community Colleges work[ing] with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and other stakeholders to guide the development of the local infrastructure necessary to support faculty with professional learning, tools, and expert support in the creation of fully accessible learning environments."

Interested faculty may start with their campus colleagues who work to support distance education or disabled students on campus. Free workshops are facilitated by the CCC Accessibility Center, with information available at https://cccaccessibility.org/training/accessibility-training-opportunities. @ONE offers a self-paced course about accessibility available at https://onlinenetworkofeducators.org/course-cards/canvas-accessibility-course-sp/. Any of these resources can be a good place to begin one’s efforts to increase accessibility for students.

[1] The guidelines are available at https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/.
[2] Version 2.0 is available at https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/.  Version 2.1 is available at https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/.
[3] The levels of conformance can be found at https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG2AAA-Conformance.
[4] The accessibility principles are available at https://www.w3.org/WAI/fundamentals/accessibility-principles/.
[5] The commitment can be accessed at https://www.cccco.edu/About-Us/Vision-for-Success/diversity-equity-inclusion.
[6] The text of the resolution is available at https://asccc.org/resolutions/faculty-responsibility-equitable-accessible-learning-environments.

Changing the Face of the Tech Industry

Academic Senate President, Calbright College
Academic Senate Vice President, Calbright College

Faculty Voices

This section of the Rostrum is dedicated to publishing the personal stories and perspectives of individual faculty members from community colleges around the state. The statements and stories included in this section come directly from the writers and may not reflect the positions or views of the ASCCC. Although these selections must meet the ASCCC’s publication standards, they will be edited less than other Rostrum articles in order to more fully preserve the writers’ voices.

Michael’s Experience: The Only Black Man in the Office

I have worked in the IT industry for over 35 years. During my tenure, I have noticed the lack of diversity in the industry. For many years, I have been the only black male in the office. I can remember being ridiculed by my colleagues as they questioned my credentials and abilities. There were several times I was overlooked when it came to promotion time. Of course, this made me angry, but it also made me want to strive to be better than the person next to me.

After proving my capability and competence multiple times, I gained more confidence in my abilities to work in a biased environment. I began to develop a skill set that would continuously benefit me throughout my career. I learned that, as a person of color, I had to work twice as hard to prove myself to others. This knowledge drove me to success in the private sector.

I knew I had to do something for those attempting to navigate their way through the system. Teaching was always a passion of mine, and I could think of no better way to help others achieve their dreams of being in the IT world. I have been teaching in higher education for little over a decade, and I have witnessed the lack of color in the classroom firsthand. After a couple of semesters with one student of color and no female-identified students in my class, I began recruiting students to help change the demographic in my classroom. I realized the importance of my presence on campus as a role model. If I could show my students that people of color can be successful in IT, maybe they could picture themselves in a similar role.

As I began to change the landscape of my classrooms, I emphasized that no matter what color the students were, they could succeed. My go-to saying is “everyone arrives at the dance at different times; our goal is to make sure everyone is there for the last dance.” As I told my students this, I began to realize that it took a lot of pressure off students of color who were new to IT. I held every student to the same standard and offered other services to help those who were new and inexperienced with technology. My students began to flourish and gain confidence. Students began to encourage each other and work together. By maintaining high expectations of students, placing students in balanced cohorts, and creating a team environment, I was able to create a positive vibe in the classroom.

Elizabeth’s Experience: The Only Woman in the Lecture Hall

As a former California community college student, I was the only woman in the lecture hall for the most challenging technical courses that I took. In lower-level courses, there were few women and few people of color. As an undergraduate, I joined a newly-formed college team that entered cybersecurity competitions. I was the only woman on the team. We advanced to the national competition both years that I was a member. The first year, out of sixty competitors, a student from Cal Poly and I were the only two women at nationals. The teams included fewer than five students of color. The second year, there were three of us at nationals: two students from Stanford and me. None of the teams had female coaches.

Despite the notion that community colleges are intended to promote equity in education for all, I witnessed and experienced a wide spectrum of harassment, hostility, and aggression directed towards minoritized students who were striving toward technical careers on countless occasions. Both fellow students and educators contributed to the creation of a hostile environment that was not conducive to supporting these students’ efforts to learn and grow.

In many ways, my professional experience mirrored my experience as a college student. Over the course of my career in the tech industry, I began to notice a pattern: I was almost always the only woman on the team. In multiple organizations, engineers who did not present as straight, white, or Asian males faced presumptions of incompetence, challenges in establishing credibility, exploitation, continual microaggressions,   degradation, hiring bias, harassment, and worse. People who did not “look like an engineer” were forced to go above and beyond to prove themselves repeatedly. Despite laws intended to protect against them, discriminatory employment practices still prevailed. At this point, I realized that the striking similarity between these academic and professional experiences helped to explain the ongoing lack of diversity in the tech industry. If we wanted to improve diversity in tech, we needed to educate and encourage a diverse population of students to fulfill technical roles.

During my first year of teaching at a community college, I became the head coach for the competition team that I had joined as a student. Our award-winning team had achieved gender parity and featured the first black female team captain while being led by the first female head coach. After only two semesters, departmental colleagues started remarking upon the dramatic increase in female enrollment in the intermediate and advanced technical courses that I taught. Students developed confidence as they developed technical skills and began to report that they were obtaining excellent jobs.

The Education to Industry Pipeline Is Broken

If the learning environment is hostile to underrepresented people of color and women in tech, the industry will continue to perpetuate the same hostile conditions that discourage students from diverse backgrounds, thus preserving the lack of diversity in the industry. The common argument has been that the lack of diversity in tech is due to a lack of qualified talent from diverse backgrounds. Colleges must ensure that curricula, programs, and classrooms are built and maintained in a way that will attract and retain minoritized students, which is fundamental to the creation and enrichment of a diverse employment pipeline.

How Can Faculty Support Positive Change?

Students arrive in college classrooms carrying a lot of trepidation and shame that has been bestowed on them by an academic system and society that judges them as inferior due to their race, gender, socioeconomic status, prior careers, or life circumstances. Students face endless challenges, including housing insecurity, abusive relationships, debilitating health conditions, racism, ageism, sexism, academic trauma, and countless people telling them that they cannot change their circumstances. Despite often believing that they are incapable of reaching their academic and professional goals, students enroll in technical courses with a desperate need to improve their situations so that they can support their families, often with the dream of ending multi-generational cycles of poverty. In order to achieve positive change for students, faculty must teach the subject matter in an extremely effective manner so that these students will be attractive candidates for employers. We coach them into believing that they can succeed and help them prepare to navigate the bias that they might face during the job search while implementing and enforcing a zero tolerance policy on academic harassment.

Critical Ingredients for Successful Vocational Education of Minoritized Students:

  • A safe and welcoming learning environment
  • Consistent meaningful feedback and encouragement
  • Teaching focused on building robust technical and soft skill sets
  • Educators who look like them or who share some similar past experiences
  • Knowledgeable and experienced subject matter experts
  • Supportive, empathetic educators who set high expectations
  • Equitable classroom supports that position a student to succeed
  • Coaching to set and achieve goals
  • Opportunities to build community with fellow students and alumni
  • Engagement with a diverse array of industry role models who can help students visualize themselves in future careers

How Academic Senate Leaders Can Support Positive Change:

  • Promote the hiring of diverse educators and administrators
  • Call out and intervene in situations that involve behavior such as tone policing
  • Amplify the voice of students who come from diverse backgrounds
  • Implement appropriate educational programs that will prepare students to be competitive on the job market
  • Educate and support teachers in the creation of a safe learning environment
  • Work with administrators to make sure students have the appropriate tools for success

Faculty must lead by example. Educators and administrators must hold themselves to high standards. Colleges must build effective vocational training programs that will attract and retain minoritized students. Local academic senates fulfill a fundamental role in achieving this goal by working with administration to create an inclusive environment where all are welcome and supported in their efforts to learn new skills. Faculty who have worked in industry or faced similar challenges to those encountered by students must have a significant stake in the creation of educational programs and student support services. Students share salient points about their backgrounds and the challenges they face with instructors and counselors, so faculty must advocate for that student voice and ensure that all students gain access to the appropriate supports that will best position them for success.