Kamilah Mirza/ The Mainstream
Council works for more inclusivity on campus
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, or D.E.I., is currently in the beginning stages of work to create and promote a more inclusive and diverse atmosphere on campus. The D.E.I. wants to start a campus-wide dialogue regarding students’ needs related to diversity, equity and inclusion. They are also working on implementing a cultural competency plan for campus in accordance with the Oregon HB 2864 bill and the HECC Equity Lens.
In 2015 the Higher Education Coordination Commission (HECC) created a work group to analyze and develop recommendations based on data regarding underrepresented or underserved communities in higher education. Their 2014-2015 survey reported 56.6 % of UCC students did not disclose their race or ethnicity; however, 47.7 % of students did report their ages to be between 35-64+ which makes them non-traditional students. The survey also showed 150 students identified as disabled and 353 students were veterans. Among staff, 69.4% reported themselves as white, 30.6 % were a blend of different races/ethnicities or unknown. This survey also gave information on Oregon community colleges’ cultural competency training. UCC did not answer questions regarding their training or plans.
What the D.E.I. is currently doing
The D.E.I is working on assessing the current landscape of our campus population to better understand how to meet the needs of our students’ success as well as to help staff and faculty understand how to reach students at their needed level.“What does support look like to you? When dealing with faculty are they reaching out to connect with you? Do you feel connected and supported on campus or in this academic environment?,” Mitch Mitchell, director of advising and Career Services and member of the D.E.I., is asking. “We can recruit a student, but what are we doing to keep them here? Recruitment is one step of the story; we need to look at the environment and the culture around retaining the student. Our main goal is to devise a plan for how we’re going to implement initiatives on campus, find where the need is in compliance of the bill [Oregon HB 2864], and have students feel celebrated on this campus. Even if there are a low number of diverse students, they should still feel celebrated,” Mitchell says. “They should still feel like Roseburg is a place for them. Institutions need to meet the students where they are.”
Marjan Coester, Director of Student Engagement and member of DEI, stated, “Our student programs are currently centered around information, education and celebration. For example we did our event for National Coming Out day. For general education, I have been putting up an educational fact on slides on the monitors around campus about recognition or celebration. For our staff, I helped do “O.U.C.H. that Stereotype Hurts” training which involves bystander intervention. We also have been involved in anti-oppression training with the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.”
Student Safety and Acknowledgment
Students facing adversity on campus have options for safe places and safe people to look to. “Community colleges need to be mindful that we are a community. A community shouldn’t have a dominant narrative. Students, faculty, and staff concerns should be acknowledged and recognized. It’s not for someone else to affirm my experiences, it’s for them to acknowledge and help be an advocate for change,” Mitchell says.“We also have to recognize culture shock for students, faculty, and staff members of color. We want them to be able to acclimate to a white-centric system.”
Other members of the DEI, such as advisor Danna-May Blommer are working toward awareness for students impacted by trauma. Blommer recently attended a Trauma Informed Oregon workshop. Mitchell is also interested in helping students with trauma, “I am a part of a trauma informed team, and I think it would be highly important for us to be able to connect and work through trauma. We don’t want this institution to retraumatize someone.” In regards to safety, Coester stated, “I would say anyone who is a member of the DEI is a safe person. The best thing for people to know is there is always a safe place and a safe face and the best place to start is at the Student Center.”
Current Members and Future Involvement
The current members of the DEI Council are Emery
Smith, Emily Fiocco, Mitch Mitchell, Danielle Hasket, Micque Shoemaker, Heather
Freilinger, Marjan Coester, Ellis Poole, Ronda Stearns, April Hamlin, Robin Van
Winkle, Joseph Villa, Danna-May Blommer, and student representatives Tasha
Powell and T Krone.“This is an open door counsel, if there are any students
interested in participating. We typically meet every other Thursday for full
council meetings. The dates for our next council meetings will be on Nov. 14
and Dec. 12,” Coester says.
HB 2864 and the HECC Equity Lens
In 2014, the Higher Education Coordination Commision (HECC) adopted the Equity Lens to address and develop recommendations regarding disparities among diverse groups of peoples in higher education through continuing education. The equity lens is a clear articulation of an institution’s goals and resources directed to assist underrepresented students, “with a particular focus on racial equity,” according to the Oregon Department of Education. In April 2017, the Oregon House Bill 2864 was passed; requiring public institutions of higher education to implement a committee or other entity to establish cultural competency training for the institutions’s employees; no later than December 31, 2020.
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