Affirmative Action/Cultural Diversity at the Fall Session


The Affirmative Action/Cultural Diversity Committee sponsored two breakouts at the Fall Session, focusing on teaching and learning diversity and the effects of Proposition 209.

Led by Toni Forsyth, DeAnza College, and Neelam Canto-Lugo, Yuba College, the Teaching and Learning Diversity breakout featured a discussion by Toni Forsyth who is director of the "Center for the Study of Teaching and Learning Diversity in Higher Education" at DeAnza College. Funded by a grant from the Chancellor's Office, the Center is sponsoring a national conference April 8-ll, l998 at the Doubletree Hotel in Monterey. One of the features of the conference is an emphasis on different teaching and learning styles, reflecting needs of our diverse study body. In order to illustrate a diverse teaching style, Neelam Canto-Lugo used those attending the breakout as students in an experiential activity, involving one group playing the role of indigenous people and the other group playing the role of invaders trying to impose new cultural standards. In a discussion following the activity, there was extensive discussion and comment of how it felt to be in both groups and how the groups tried to work together and separately to fulfill their roles.

In another breakout entitled "The Post Prop 209 World" Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Jose Peralez was joined by Ron Cataraha, director of Human Resources at Rio Hondo College, and Annjennette McFarlin, from Grossmont College, in describing the community college world now that Proposition 209 has been declared the law in California, following judicial review of several challenges brought by Prop 209 opponents. Vice Chancellor Peralez reported that on October l0, l997 the Governor was given "standing," the legal status to proceed with his law suit asking that many community college laws and regulations be declared unconstitutional under Proposition 209. However, numerous updates have been issued by the Chancellor's office advising districts to continue to adhere to guidelines regarding employment, affirmative action and minority, women and disabled contracting goals. State statutes still direct districts to undertake these activities. Districts must continue to comply with these laws until an appellate court declares them to be unconstitutional or until the Legislature amends or repeals them. In the course of the breakout there were members of the audience, supporters of Proposition 209, who challenged the Vice Chancellor, who very effectively countered their arguments.

Also on the panel Annjennete McFarlin, speech instructor at Grossmont College, reported on the very effective intern program that she directs for the San Diego area. Many of the interns have been hired full time in the community colleges. Ron Cataraha, human resources director at Rio Hondo College, discussed efforts at his college to maintain diversity despite the adoption of Proposition 209.

According to a Board of Governors agenda item for the November l2-l3, l997 meeting it is hoped that "a comprehensive system consensus will emerge that commits sufficient resources to ensure that we find and fund new ways to maintain our commitment to diversity in a post-Proposition 209 environment." (This article is indebted to the Board Agenda Item 6.3 November l2-l3, l997 for some details.)

Center for the Study of Teaching and Learning Diversity in Higher Education Sponsors a National Conference on Teaching and Learning Diversity in American Higher Education.

Toni Forsyth, Senate president and English faculty member at DeAnza College is the director of the Center for the Study of Teaching and Learning Diversity in Higher Education, funded at DeAnza College under a Chancellor's Office Grant. Many research and other activities are being carried out and planned by the Center, but one of particular interest to community college faculty is the National Conference on Teaching and Learning Diversity in American Higher Education planned for April 8-ll, l998 at the Doubletree Hotel in Monterey.

The Conference features notable addresses and dialogues with, among others, Broadway award winning actor B.D. Wong who will open the conference with an address entitled "All the World's a State: Supporting the Transformation from Exclusion to Inclusion." Other speakers include Claude Steele speaking on "How Stereotypes Shape Intellectual Identities: Minority Students Achievement and Success;" Susan Johnson discussing "Teaching and Learning Alternatives, " and Jose Cuellar, "Higher Education at the Crossroads: Hanging Out at the Corner of Lecture and Arts." In addition to breakout panels on a variety of topics and issues, there will be preconference workshops with community college faculty offering full and half-day presentations on such topics as "Crosscultural Communication in the Classroom," "Learning Styles and Teaching Skills," and "Micro-Teaching: A Teaching Skills Workshop." In addition there will be a unique "City as Text" workshop using the special Monterey environment as a subject for aspects of teaching literature, history, and environmental studies.

Proposals for those wishing to make presentations are still being accepted. Please Contact Toni Forsyth at DeAnza College for more details, including registration information and a conference brochure: 408-864-8993.


At the l997 Fall Session several resolutions were adopted relating to affirmative action and cultural diversity issues. Among the issues addressed by the resolutions were these:

  1. Calling on the Chancellor to search the Education Code and Title 5 to remove gender-biased words/phrases and replace them with gender neutral terms in areas of the law and Title 5 that relate to community colleges.
  2. Urging local senates to continue to ensure that affirmative action regulations be enforced on their campuses, citing the Senate's many positions in support of affirmative action over the years.
  3. Direct the Executive Committee to work with the Chancellor's Office to hold a series of affirmative action workshops that will involve teams of attendees from all segments of the colleges in order to address ways of promoting diversity efforts in community colleges.
  4. Working with the Chancellor's Office in its review of Title 5 to include "sexual orientation" in the antidiscrimination statement for California Community College system.
  5. Urge local senates to support affirmative action by including training for hiring committees, promotion of faculty intern and mentoring programs, and to continue outreach efforts to hire diverse recruitment efforts.
  6. Urge the Chancellor's Office and the Board of Governors to be aware of, and to stop, discriminatory practices in hiring at some colleges using "lateral transfer" as an excuse and to correct regulations which permit hiring loopholes under the guise of "business necessity" and college "reorganization."