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In spring 2006, the Center hosted a teleconference entitled, Shattering the Barriers: Transforming the College Experience for Students of Color with Evette Castillo, Wynettta Lee, and Laura Rendon as our expert panelists. There were a number of questions we were unable to get to during the teleconference. The panelists address those questions below.

Unanswered Questions

1. Aloha...this is for Wynetta-you spoke of CSUMB having a faculty who are wonderful in incorporating service into curriculum, which I believe more faculty need to be doing because today’s students learn differently as you all have mentioned. But how do you get faculty to incorporate service and community into the curriculum, especially when the first reaction from faculty is “Service-learning is too much work?”

It is good to acknowledge that service learning is a lot of work, but it is worth the benefit that it provides for students. We are fortunate at CSUMB that we started the University with a commitment to service learning as an important element of our pedagogy. Faculty here have an innate commitment to service and it is incorporated into our curriculum as structured courses at two point in native students’ pathway and as tenure track faculty. The concept of service and learning through service is incorporated boldly or subtly in various courses and out or class experiences. The best person to speak to regarding Service Learning and faculty involvement at CSUMB is Dr. Seth Pollack ( seth_pollack@csumb.edu 100 Campus Center, Building 45A, CSU Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA 93933 phone: 831-582-3914).

2. What are some ways that alumni can support and help create change in campus climate around diversity?

The same attention to making students of color feel connected to the university as students is necessary for keeping them connected to the university as alumni. It might help to develop structures with a specific end. This catalyst of activity is necessary because everyone, especially alumni on a career ladder, are very busy. One idea is to develop a mentoring program for alumni of color to mentor students of color interested in similar careers. Then students can see people like them in their expected career paths and to see people like them who actually graduated from their respective institution. Majority race alumni can also serve as mentors for students of color, evidenced by my own research that discovered that students of color often find racial support through pre-college networks but really need career mentors who can help to demystify and to socialize them to their chosen profession. It is important to plant the seed for this involvement early, so their recruitment into this type of alumni program starts before they graduate.

In addition, promote campaigns that focus specifically on new centers or initiatives that relate to diversity. Alumni could help raise money for new Cross-Cultural Centers or a program/service that they coordinate; you can raise funds specifically for students of color to attend national conferences or for leadership development; San Diego State University hired a fundraising officer recently to work on a “leadership program” campaign for students that hopefully will have a multicultural track; work with your cultural centers on your campus or student leaders to create one (if you don’t have one), and help to get the support of students of color alumni who will always give back and support. Remember, people like to give gifts to those experiences and programs that were meaningful for them while in college.

Non-financially, alumni should form groups like the African-American Alumni Assoc. of MSU or Asian Pacific American Alums Assoc. of MSU, etc (if you don’t this have already). These are great groups for retention and lifelong commitment - they host programs throughout the year and invite current staff and students. Retention is strong with students of color when they can actually see and talk with successful alums just like them.

3. We have a small number of Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and Native Americans on our campus. I’ve been trying to form various organizations (i.e. Hispanic club, Multi-Cultural Club), none of which have been successful. What are some of the strategies for helping students connect?

Keep in mind that there is no one way to help students to connect to an institution. One strategy is to resist the urge to brainstorm an approach and to go directly to the source. Students are the best source of information to determine if they are feeling isolated and to get ideas of what needs to be done. If your numbers are very small it might be best to start with bring all groups together so that they can see a critical mass of students of color and to have an environment that facilitates some naturally forming connections. As your numbers grow, you can then provide opportunities for like groups to interact. The idea of a club might suggest a time commitment that students can’t give, so you might think of planned events. For example, you might select one of the Kwanza days as a title for an event to bring African American students together for a discussion and light meal (food is always a great lure). This event, or another event, could happen, say three times per year. Letting students plan the event also helps them to be involved without obligation of keeping a club alive.

Another way to get students involved is to call together a group of students, such as a focus group, and get them talking about what they need, their concerns, etc. There is a lot of data that you can glean from their perspectives. Rather than forming separate student groups right away given such small numbers, it would probably be best to bring them all together initially for an event or social or for purposes like a mentoring program for other first-year students. If you don’t already, it might be a good idea to employ some students of color in your office as peer leaders or program coordinators who can help market the office and its programs, help you coordinate events, etc. This exposure and visibility may help with students forming more groups in the future.

4. What have you found to be effective in helping students know it is okay to reach for help without feeling they’ll be viewed as incompetent (particularly when many already feel marginalized)?

One strategy that I have found to be effective over the years with both graduate and undergraduate students is to help them to shift their thinking about seeking help from a deficit model (i.e. that they are deficient in some way) to a perspective of power (i.e. they are in power to attain success through seeking help). Whenever I can help students to see that help is a tool or resource, the same as a textbook, computer, calculator, or librarian, then they think of getting help as a resource for success rather than a need to fill a personal deficit. As an educator, I have found, and continue to find, that it starts with my perception of getting help and how I convey the offer of help. It is the teacher’s responsibility to be proactive in offering help when the need is identified, and to do it early enough that it makes a difference in the student’s learning. When I offer help as a part of my professional responsibility, as an entitlement for them as a student, it is usually well received. It is received even better when I can make students understand that learning is a reciprocal experience and that I have an expectation to learn something from them in return.

In my practice, I try to convey to students that seeking academic help early on (e.g., visiting professors in their office hours when they have a question about an assignment or lecture from class, tutoring, having someone review drafts of papers before final submission) is all proactive and it shows that you are committed to your learning and growing. This is “taking responsibility for their education.” I try my very best to let students of color know that “getting help” or “reaching out” to someone on campus is not about lacking in something or that there is a deficiency. Rather, I tell them that they are smart for using their resources and being knowledgeable about staying on top of enhancing their skills. I also like to go a bit further with students and ask them where their feelings of incompetence are coming from – are there peer and family pressures? If so, you may want to coach/counsel them in dealing with some of the extrinsic pressures and the internalization and impact of it on their lives.

5. Should diversity training be different for faculty and staff? If so, why and are there any examples of training used by other institutions that we can use/purchase?

I think it should be a bit different. Training for faculty should address how diverse students learn and how understanding different cultural contexts (their background) relates to the classroom experience (ex. first to attend college; what does it mean to be “the only one” in the classroom; being the “token” person of color called upon to answer for a larger group, stereotyping, etc.). Training for staff can be some of the above, but more about how to build relationships, community and how to work with different groups and perspectives.

6. How are you defining multicultural pedagogy? What does it look like? How do campuses move in that direction?

It is two-fold: weaving multicultural courses into the curriculum AND embracing different ways of teaching and learning, not necessarily “western ways of knowing and teaching” that we might normally be used to. Multicultural pedagogy is about diverse teaching styles, methods, and content. Campuses can move in this direction by starting with general education and revisiting graduation requirements - a good start would be with any implementation committees that work with your academic senates.

7. Do you have any suggestions for convincing faculty to come on board in order to support students of color initiatives?

Faculty generally are supportive but the workload in our colleges and universities often is a deterrent to being involved in any additional thing, no matter how noble the cause. It is important to incorporate initiatives into the fabric of the institution so that faculty support of students of color initiatives is not an add-on venture but is part of the culture (i.e. expected norms and behavior). One way of doing this is to develop an infrastructure to support faculty involvement. For example, meaningful and effective participation in such initiatives should have a prominent place in the promotion and tenure system so that involvement in not only recognized but is also rewarded by an institution that values this work.

8. The majority of our students are a Mexican American population (Hispanic), how do we get them to accept other cultures? OR How do we create a sense of a culturally diverse community at a commuter campus?

The process, I would imagine is the same as it would be for any other group—via an education process that facilitates learning and reflection. Students, traditional undergraduates anyway, tend to respond best when there is quality teaching that dispels stereotypes (some attitudes evolve without really knowing they are rooted in stereotypes) and to have time for reflection on the attitudes and beliefs that they hold about other people. Exposure is also good—it is hard to accept people with whom you never have contact. I am always amazed at how people discover that they have far more in common with other peoples than they have differences.

I agree with Wynetta’s answer…you cannot ask people to “accept” others if they are not exposed to others, interact with others, or have knowledge about them. You would have to do some purposeful programs on campus that expose Mexican American students to different cultures – speakers, movie series w/ discussion, workshops, panelists, trips in the community, etc. Also, you may want to survey or do a focus group with some of your students/student leaders and see where they come from in terms of diversity even within their own community. You could unveil regional diversity, language diversity, upbringing diversity, academic diversity, etc. which still counts as diversity in the community.

9. You all have touched on how many students of color come from areas of poverty and one of the challenges of this as a result is the trepidation of pursuing a college education. How would you begin to outreach to local school to pursue higher education when resources are limited?

At CSUMB, we start our outreach via articulation of our vision and core values as an institution. Right out there for the world to see we state that we value populations that historically have been underserved in higher education. This is a shared value among all members of the CSUMB community and we all work very hard to see that all students, including low income students, feel empowered and deserving of a college education. We understand that for these students, college is a family affair and we welcome parents and try to minimize the run-around for addressing their questions or challenges for getting their family members into college. As importantly, we work to develop relationships with high school counselors and community college counselors since this group of professionals often have the most influence on helping students to decide where to go to college. Developing these relationships are not quick fixes and evolve over time but the benefit is well worth the investment.

Utilize your very own continuing students and alumni as the “voice” in the community and for your campus. Often times, students of color need to “see” that others like them are doing it and are successful. Perhaps a mentoring program where upperclassmen give talks at high schools, show students the campus, sit with them in class, etc. would be good exposure to first trying to understand what college is. Reaching out to the families and parents is important too. Show them how to obtain scholarships, sponsorships, discuss “college going” and academic expectations, etc. Students of color miss out on opportunities most of the time because of misinformation or fear of the unknown. It is our responsibility as educators to outreach and share knowledge if our campuses want to be a strong community with respect to diversity. Lastly, build relationships with high school counselors and build as many programs that work with both high school and college groups. High school conferences, such as the ones sponsored by SDSU’s student of color communities for example, have been a successful avenue of outreach and recruitment.

10. How do we introduce students to take a more assertive and responsible approach to their own education, while still valuing their previous cultural experiences?

I think you would have to first talk with students of color about what it means to be responsible citizens of an academic community. High school is different than college and all students need to know this difference, in terms of how to behave, how to go to class, plagiarism, resources, etc. You have to understand students of color from their perspectives, background, and their cultural contexts (they have to have a grasp of that too personally themselves), but it’s our responsibility as educators and practitioners to teach and talk about informally with them about personal responsibility and ownership while in their college years. We can do this through mediums such as orientation, welcome week programs, first-year seminars, etc.

11. As I watch your presentation, I am struck by the fact that you are all women. The group I am sitting with includes only one man. What do you think the impact is on delivering services, etc. for students of color when the “support” is almost exclusively women? What message does this send to men of color? What does this say about the value of what we are trying to do?

There was a time when the female presence in higher education was nearly nonexistent and now we frequently out number men in various sectors of our nation’s colleges. The impact of delivering services for students of color should not be gender related. I would hope that the services would be perhaps a little more nurturing but that is not empirically based. Many students are the product of single, female head of household families, which make a female dominated environment a familiar circumstance. I am convinced that differences in race, gender, income, etc. is not as important in serving students as the quality of the relationship and the intent and attitude of the service provider. The message that it should send to men of color is that we need to foster the development of a critical mass for this group and that each and every one is very important to make that happen—not only in higher education but also in other fields. The responsibility lies on both higher education professionals to make an environment that supports retention of this population and on men of color to be vested in completing their education and continuing on into the education pipeline beyond the baccalaureate degree.

Good observation. I think it’s critical to have men of color voices always present. Research shows that women are attending colleges across the nation more than men. Since men are already a minority on our campuses, it is extremely critical that we respond and provide support for them, especially men of color. I think it’s great on the other hand that we have a strong female population in numbers because historically, we weren’t allowed to attend institutions of higher education or be educated beyond high school for that matter. Women have come a long way, but we still are not taken seriously enough in the world of work as managers, leaders, etc in comparison to men. Today, it’s important that we do recognize our areas of concern for men of color – lack of staff/faculty/students, support programs, academic success, etc. At Tulane University, a new student organization was established, and they call themselves, “Men of Color.” They are doing great work as a retention group. In my experience in Student Affairs, it’s a heavy female profession too, so we also have to look at careers that men pursue and perhaps groom more undergraduate men for our field.

12. DNA-wise, we are 99.9% the same and .01% different. Our diversity is important, but what role does our common origin play?

This should be where we start the discussion. People are far more comfortable with similarities than they are with difference. Understanding similarities places “difference” in proper perspective. It makes difference simply different and not comparatively better or worse.

13. What advice would you give to individuals working in multicultural student services offices that have limited resources to implement many of the wonderful programs you speak of?

  • Collaborate with other offices that can fiscally help with some of your programs – it would have to be a program that is a benefit for both offices.
  • Try doing collaborative programs with your surrounding colleges/universities that have multicultural student service offices to cut back some cost. I know SDSU/UCSD/USD Cross-Cultural Centers do a joint training session and various programs throughout the year.
  • Learn to fundraise yourself and ask for donations from community agencies or alumni for support.
  • With staff augmentation, I utilize graduate students, either on your campus or from a surrounding campus. Grad students are the best resource because they may need credit as well as the experience and exposure. Also, start a volunteer affiliate program where you train and have student leaders helping you coordinate programs – it’s a benefit to the office and the student gains leadership skills.
  • Have an advisory board that consists of students, staff, faculty, and community partners…many things can be acquired when you have a team of people that support the mission of the center (ex. facility fees waived, networks of possible speakers that might speak for free, someone could have a home or space that you could utilize for future use).

14. Understanding the diverse needs of students and the importance of “high touch” oriented initiatives or getting out of your office, if you have minimal staff and resources, what would you advise?

We tend to find a way to do what we value. Creative thinkers can find ways to accomplish two goals with one effort. For example, most people find time for lunch and that would be a great time to be with students. To talk to them and find out what they are thinking, what they are doing and what their passions and dreams are. This cannot be done isolated in an office. It is also a good way to build trust with students, which is very important when they find their way to your office with problems.

If you can’t get out of your office for a student organization meeting or to attend an event, perhaps you build some face time with your work hours and have them come visit for a session or peer group work. Maybe go to lunch with the student(s) too. If you can, block off a few hours of one day during the week that is open for drop-in advising with students. My Thursday afternoons have traditionally been blocked off for the campus community to drop-in and see me anytime. Most of the time, I use that as student office hours. It’s important to establish trust with student groups first, and you have to creatively find time to make that connection. Once you have the strong link, the relationship and frequency of visits becomes easier. It’s important to work with your immediate supervisor too and talk to them up front about everyone’s expectations and your commitment to serving students in this fashion. You’ll get a lot of support, if you’re on the same page, for “out of the office” time once you have that conversation.

15. Regarding cultural resource centers, should there be one multicultural center, where all underrepresented groups are housed? Or should each group have their own? Advantages and disadvantages?

There is no best recipe with how to offer services – all types are better than having no centers on campus! Think about residential living…there are single rooms, doubles, triples, suite style, apartment style, high rises, learning communities (social, academic, wellness, substance free)…the list goes on with the variety in how students live on campus and promoting their academic success – there’s something for everyone…the same goes with cultural centers. Retention of students of color is going to happen in multiple formats, and I think one multicultural center AND several centers are the best model. If you have just one, be mindful to represent many voices and perspectives; if you have multiple, be mindful to bring the groups together often. Again, a great model to look at is at Oregon State University.

16. How has legislation such as California’s Prop. 209 affected the ability for a campus to create students of color communities and how can this be addressed?

It has taken the “ease” out of it because we are fairly restricted in what we can and cannot do. However, the key is to find balance in what we do, i.e. we cannot single out any group for an advantage in the admission process. However, good recruitment efforts will identify the best qualified students, including students of color. People sometimes forget that there is such a thing as a high performing student of color (see Kassie Freeman’s and Sharon Fries Britt). The challenge of recruitment is only part of the puzzle, retaining those we recruit is equally important.

17. How do we help parents understand the impact of pulling their children back into home situations that take away from the student’s academic performance?

Recruitment should target families, not just the student. The college education process should start by full disclosure of what college is and what that means for the student over the course of attaining a degree (that includes letting them know that most students take more than four years to complete their degrees. Parents often do not have any idea of what going to college means and universities leave them to form their own ideas. The model they all have is that of high school, where the student could participate in learning and still be an active member of the family. Demystifying the college process should start in the recruitment phase and continue through graduation for both the student and for their respective families.

If I understand this question correctly…you might be asking about family obligations that might affect a students’ academic work?? Well, it’s two-fold: we have to learn about the students’ background, responsibilities, and obligations first and help them to prioritize everything. By the same token, we have to include the families and parents and have conversations, sessions, meetings with them about expectations of college, their student’s role as a member of the academic community, future goals/objectives given the pursuit of the degree, etc. and balancing that with family responsibilities. We need to understand that students of color have commitments to their families and communities and that that is part of their success – past, present, and future. We need to be more mindful of that and to include all of who they are in the academic process.

18. Why can’t race be deemed as a factor for playing “catch-up” given that it was used as a legal factor for excluding individuals from admission in the first place?
Please address the reasons and historical context of why we are having these conversations in the first place. I think that this is necessary because of predominantly white institutions’ historical and legal exclusion of people of color and women. Without this, it would be an incomplete discussion.

Race as a factor for playing “catch-up” depends on where you are. For example, affirmative action was upheld for the University of Michigan after a long legal battle. The reasons and historical context are too long and too detailed for a proper discussion here. However, I will say that the issue of education and race pre-dates the civil rights movement and the famous Brown v. Board of Education Case (which celebrated its 50 th anniversary in 2004). Historians report that higher education in the United States was originally created for the sons of white elite families. Not only was race and gender a factor, income was also a factor. It is taking longer than it should to change the culture that evolved from historical origins but it is much better than it was.

In my opinion, inequity, social injustices, and racism will always exist to whatever degree, and it is my role and profession as an educator and practitioner to bring about and encourage new ways of thinking, learning, embracing, understanding, and working together as it relates to people from varying backgrounds and perspectives. I understand it as a part of my job, and I value the historical contexts and how diversity is a strength to all that we do. To not have these types of discussions is doing a disservice to the very work that we do as educators in the first place – to help others learn.

19. Students of color are not monolithic; many differences exist between groups and within groups...Could you offer some practical suggestions on how to work with students who are bi- or multiracial?

It is important to remember that students are students, they respond to environments that make them feel valued, empowered and important as a member of that particular community. Bi- and multiracial students potentially are slower to come to terms with their racial identity. However, even that varies and depends on how their nuclear family handled the subject and what their life experiences have been. I once read that students most often identify with the race of their mother and that is somewhat logical since mothers are often the primary care-giver. However, different families handle this matter differently and this group is quickly becoming a visible mass on our campuses. It is more important than ever to remember that students of color are not homogenous and work to avoid what James A. Anderson calls “mega grouping.” One way to do this is to let the students identify themselves and respect their racial identity even if your visual assessment suggest that they are part of another group. The key is to respect the student and to affirm their importance as an individual that is both unique and important to the university community.

Please refer to I believe Pope’s work on multiracial student identity. She has a great model in seeing how bi/multiracial students view themselves – some identify with both, one side or the other, and the context/setting plays a large role in what they feel comfortable with. This is a complex group because the student groups that form are either zero to maybe just one group on campus. What’s important, is to always ask students first how they themselves identify and what their needs are – working with students where they are is always a good beginning. You don’t ever want to assume that a student is in a certain place with their identity if they’re really not there. Programs on being bi/multiracial is always good; inviting faculty/staff of that background for a panel discussion is very successful; and talk with either University of Michigan or Michigan State as they recently sponsored a conference specifically for the Multiracial student. Perhaps there is an evaluation you can glean information from to adapt to your campus.

20. What are some strategies for recruiting students of color to a small, predominantly white college in a rural area?
What would it take to establish a strong multicultural program in this small, predominantly white college in a rural area?

  • Seek full or partial scholarship/tuition packages with residential living as one source of recruitment.
  • Work with your faculty/staff of color in brainstorming additional ideas on outreach. Perhaps they will come to a recruitment session you are planning and talk with prospective students.
  • Univ. of San Diego actually had a great teaching/certificate scholarship program that specifically targeted African American males to become teachers…they offered a small scholarship, mentoring, advising, a conference, all to recruit African American men into the profession of teaching. Sometimes the draw to a specific profession and major will help because of the need of people of color.
  • Work closely with high school counselors and making visits to them and/or bringing students to the campus for exposure. High school conferences, such as the ones sponsored by SDSU’s student of color communities for example, have been a successful avenue of outreach and recruitment.
  • A strong multicultural program can only exist unless you have strong students of color leaders to help the process along. If you have that, then you can have a good program or it can develop into one.

21. The voice of especially male students of color is “missing” from the discussion including on the panel and in higher education in general. How can we be more inclusive of male students of color, how can we learn more about their experiences in higher education?

I suggest that you start by talking to the male students of color at your university and ask them why they chose to attend your institution. Recent male graduates are also a great data source. Ask them (current students and recent graduates) to be a sort of ambassador who will help you understand the best ways of recruiting other male students of color. This is only the first step. Institutions have to be prepared to work at retaining them to degree completion.

Good observation. I think it’s critical to have men of color voices always present. Research shows that women are attending colleges across the nation more than men. Since men are already a minority on our campuses, it is extremely critical that we respond and provide support for them, especially men of color. I think it’s great on the other hand that we have a strong female population in numbers because historically, we weren’t allowed to attend institutions of higher education or be educated beyond high school for that matter. Women have come a long way, but we still are not taken seriously enough in the world of work as managers, leaders, etc in comparison to men. Today, it’s important that we do recognize our areas of concern for men of color – lack of staff/faculty/students, support programs, academic success, etc. At Tulane University, a new student organization was established, and they call themselves, “Men of Color.” They are doing great work as a retention group. In my experience in Student Affairs, it’s a heavy female profession too, so we also have to look at careers that men pursue and perhaps groom more undergraduate men for our field.

22. As institutions seek models for students, such as representation in faculty, how do you dispel the notion you are promoting fragmentation, essentialism, and taking away from a “unified” American culture (I know there was never a unified culture, but it is one of those myths that are perpetuated and permeate our current culture)?

I think the thing we have to do first is to value diversity and how difference of backgrounds, perspectives, religions, languages, cultural contexts, etc. are gifts and strengths, not impediments or exercising separatism. To me, they are seen as enhancing a university community. For example, when I am hiring people, I look for people with different strengths and characteristics than myself to strengthen my operation. We are doing a disservice if we treat and think everyone is equal, everyone is not equal, we didn’t start from the same plane, opportunities or come from the same families and that’s a fact, historically, politically, economically, gender, etc. When we understand inequity, social injustice, and racism and how that affects us, we can work so much better together than be angered by our differences.

23. Wynetta mentioned earlier about why do students of color have to go to white students and take responsibility for integrating. How do you get white students to “go to” students of color? What work needs to be on that end? Strategies?

Education is the best tool that we have, which is why the classroom is so important in building a diverse community. Students enter our institutions believing that they are there to learn some particular content that will qualify them for a particular job. We, higher education professionals, want them to learn how to get along in the world and to be socially responsible citizens. These goals are often at odds. To get students attention so that they reach our goal before they leave to join the “real world,” we have to make them understand how diversity and their attitudes about it will have some impact on their goal. In other words, we have to make it personal for the students. From this attention grabber we can work to move them toward diversity for the greater and collective good of all. Another point that I want to make here is that students who know about other cultures and other norms are much more comfortable in initiating contact. As for strategies, initiatives that build a safe zone for students to interact are also helpful in getting students, regardless of race, to initiate contact with others. The important point here is not who initiates contact but that it should not be an expectation on any group; it should be a comfort zone for everyone.

If you have a cultural center(s) on campus, a great thing to do is hire majority culture students to be peer leaders or ambassadors. It’s important that there is this safe space for students of color, and that they feel at home, but it’s also important to include white students as staff or volunteers so that they understand that we need people from privileged positions as alleys in diversity work…we shouldn’t function in a vacuum or do the work independently.

24. What do you do when you are at the point when you have trained the willing faculty and the non-willing faculty still are not involved?

Finding out why they are not involved is a good start and will point you in a direction for a strategy. The deficit model is a norm in the country and it is easy to see the glass half empty. However, I encourage you to focus on the faculty who are trained and are willing to be involved and work on keeping them involved. The uninvolved faculty are probably waiting to see what happens, or they are trying to manage responsibilities, before they join the bandwagon. However, if faculty members are philosophically non-supportive of diversity on campus, then it is probably best to not have them overly involved with students who are still forming their own ideas and opinions. If involvement in diversity initiatives becomes part of the institutions culture (expected norms and behaviors), the hardcore faculty who are unwilling to be involved will most likely self-select out and seek institutions that are more compatible with their position.

25. We are in desperate need of bilingual professionals in the health care industry in this country, particular Spanish-speaking individuals. How can we increase recruitment of these individuals into healthcare professions?

One way is to groom undergraduate Spanish-speakers into the healthcare professions, but we have to be mindful of creating the “draw” into the profession such as providing scholarships, internship opportunities, mentoring and network opportunities with people in the field, etc. Univ. of San Diego actually had a great teaching/certificate scholarship program that specifically targeted African American males to become teachers…they offered a small scholarship, mentoring, advising, a conference, all to recruit African American men into the profession of teaching. Sometimes the draw to a specific profession and major will help because of the need of people of color, or in this case, Spanish-speakers. Perhaps another idea would be to work with your academic senate, general education implementation teams, and healthcare organizations that work with the health-related majors at UNLV to begin discussions about including a language requirement for graduation. Many programs have added language components to graduation requirements such as Business, Speech Communication, Political Science, and some Nursing programs, etc.

26. What strategies do you have for students of color who are in mainstream organizations, like Greek organizations, that don’t identify with their cultural group but their peers perceive them as students of color?

That was my very experience as an undergraduate! It’s important to always ask that student of color first how they themselves identify as a person of color in order to work with them – always work with where students are first (refer to Janet Helms People of Color Racial Identity Model). You never want to assume that a student is having problems or happy where they’re at. For me, students of color in mainstream Greek orgs. need to know that their student of color community supports them too. Connect students from a cultural org. with that student who might be greek more informally or to work as partners on a project for you. Have the Greek groups work more closely on a collaborative fundraiser or program with a Cultural group. It was important for me as a student of color and member of a predominantly white sorority, to stay connected to other students of color so I interned at the Cross-Cultural Center. Sometimes it was hard to please both sides (Greek and CCC) because my friends wanted me to choose certain events over others. Seeking counseling was helpful for me. Personally, if you know some of these students, you may also want to personally mentor them and draw them into the student of color community with socials, events, etc. just so that they feel connected and not like they betrayed any one group.

27. In these transformative efforts and initiatives, how can the energies of people of color not be consumed in the “teaching” of the institution? So that in Gloria Anzaldua’s word “on our backs;” the learning of diversity is not the responsibility of the few people of color. There is burn out and frustration, and the eclipse of that individual’s personal goals in pursuit of an often fruitless task, trying to accomplish the “conversion” of an unwieldy institution and faculty.

This work is indeed a burden on everyone, especially people of color. It also has potential to bring a depth of frustration that can be overwhelming. However, there is too much at stake to give up. What keeps me going is reflection on how blessed I am compared to prior generations in my family and with blessings come responsibilities. I also set realistic expectations for myself and for higher education. “One at a time” is my guiding premise. One student at a time, one faculty person at a time, one administrator at a time, one institution at a time is my strategy. This admittedly is incremental but it keeps the goal attainable and incremental success has exponential effects that will go well into the future.

From the top down in administration, it has to be supported that diversity work is “everybody’s work.” The exhaustion and frustration of “on our backs” will be ever-present if the message doesn’t emanate from the President on down. Unfortunately, we have to hang on and continue to do the work, but we have to be responsible to include others in this effort and show them that it is their responsibility too. When I understand that my role as an educator, is to “educate,” then I rest well at night knowing that I had to “teach” somebody, and that as a practitioner and educator who works from the heart, my passion for pluralism and diversity education comes easy, but I also rest well knowing that I’ve brought someone along in my teaching. For example, at Tulane University, I hate it when one of our offices within student affairs calls me when they have some kind of bias incident, and it seems as if they want me to come “fix” things for them. What I do is I assess the situation and involve all the parties involved into crafting a solution…but I ensure that we do it together. I am not a Band-Aid and nor should we see ourselves in that light. We have to help everyone understand that it is everyone’s role to teach diversity.

We have removed the name and institution of the individual(s) who posed the question to respect their privacy.

 

 

 


 

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