The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) held their Civil Discourse and Equity Southern Regional Meeting at Fullerton College on Oct. 28 which ran in room 224 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The meeting was primarily for faculty and administrators, but welcomed students and classified staff to address issues surrounding social justice, equity and curriculum and equity and student perspective in the community college level. Representation for a variety of colleges were present for discussion which included East Los Angeles College, College of the Canyons and Barstow College.
“When you hear from other campuses the things they are doing or some of the things they are struggling with, it really provides you with either the motivation to have more conversations on your own campus, validates some of your efforts, or it allows you to take information back to the campus and introduce it to others so that we can more effectively work together,” said Eartha Johnson, a counselor from Victor Valley College.
Opening remarks introduced a few topics to spark some discussion ideas for the civil discussion portion of the meeting. Introduction topics included the travel ban, DACA, and faculty responsibilities.
“What happens if ICE comes to campus. What is our role. We know we are to follow the law, but what does that mean,” said Greg Schulz, president of Fullerton College. “It is really helpful to have these conversations and to share information like that.”
The ideas discussed during the regional meeting will also be used to enrich possible solutions and give the ASCCC a more accurate representation of local senates in the state level.
ASCCC is a nonprofit organization that represents the official voice of California community colleges such as Fullerton College. The organization has been representing community colleges officially in statute and regulation since 1978 when the Board of Governors adopted Section 53206 of Title 5.
Dolores Davison, secretary of ASCCC, and Sam Foster, At-Large Representative for ASCCC, led and facilitated the discussion as members of The Equity and Diversity Action Committee (EDAC).
EDAC was formed to respond to resolutions from the session that deal with the issues of equity and diversity in hiring, equal opportunity, and cultural diversity in the curriculum. The committee recommends strategies that promote student equity and student success, including effective teaching and student learning styles.
The regional meeting planned to have a total of four different sessions split into two breakout sessions held simultaneously in different rooms. However, since the number of attendees was about 30, a general session replaced the planned agenda by combining all of them.
The ASCCC northern regional meeting on civil discourse and equity was held the day prior at Solano College in Fairfield, California and also combined the sessions.
“If we had split into breakouts and tried to do those separately, the dialogue would not have been as rich,” Davison said.
During civil discourse, engagement in the meeting never ran dry and a plethora of ideas and solutions were exchanged. Those in attendance shared the action taken at their college along with the outcome. Such actions included the implementation of a DACA Day, lowering police intimidation on campus (by switching their vehicles from vans to Segway’s), and Dream Centers in community colleges.
Some staff and administrators also shared how, in their faculty senate, the conversations during civil discourse on equity are not civil and admitted feeling very “pushed back” in such an environment.
“While this is a friendly space with lots of allies, that is not universal,” said June McLaughlin, Academic President of Irvine Valley College. “Even students themselves don’t necessarily want to support the DACA students. I’d love to hear how much success everyone else is having.”
The tables then turned to not only students, but what professionals deal with in the community college level. This introduced PhD bias in the hiring process and the accidental discrimination of certain race groups due to application requirements.
After some final thoughts, Foster closed the regional meeting thanking everyone for participating in the discussions and enriching the dialogue on equity. Having representation from a multitude of community colleges helped the event attain great success.
“I loved the fact that there was a lot of faculty here and members who are trying to encourage a more open mind on campuses,” said Andrew Washington, Student Trustee of Fullerton College. “This was definitely a great experience.”
For more information on ASCCC and future events, visit their official website.