The Sun Rises on Equity and Diversity Issues: Looking Ahead to 2009-2010

Chair, Equity and Diversity Action Committee

With all the activities occurring at our colleges, the ones with due dates and compliance requirements often rise and stay at the top of the to-do list. That means that issues like hiring diverse faculty, developing culturally-competent curriculum, or increasing student equity find a home on the back burners until there is motivation to move these issues to the front. The next academic year, 2009-2010, will be the right time to bring to the forefront all of those simmering, yet important discussions of equity and diversity. The reasons why next year is so opportune follow.

For the first time, the Academic Senate is planning an institute on equity and diversity. Our colleagues at the Faculty Association for California Community Colleges (FACCC) sponsored an equity and diversity conference, also for the first time, in January 2009, and it was a wonderful success. Building on FACCC's success, the Academic Senate's institute will take place February 19-20, 2010, in Anaheim, and while no planning has taken place yet, the Executive Committee is interested in keeping the cost for attendance very low. Strands and topics to be included will most likely include student equity and basic skills along with training for hiring committees and developing culturally sensitive teaching methodologies. These particular strands are important because local colleges have funding to support faculty development in these areas.

Yes, your college and district have funds to support many of your senate's activities regarding student equity and hiring diverse faculty and other equal employment opportunities. For once, senates do not have go to begging. Basic Skills Initiative funding may be used, depending on your local expenditure plan, for faculty to learn about student success for all cohorts of students, especially proven methodologies for some of our traditionally unsuccessful groups of students. Plus your human resources department has received funding for equal employment opportunity (EEO) activities, including training of faculty, outreach and recruiting, and other campus based activities to promote a campus climate that is welcoming and accepting of all. All these funds are included in the budget for 2009-2010! Your senate can begin planning now to use these funds appropriately for progress toward your college mission and goals.

Data on the 2007-08 expenditures of the $1.7 million statewide for EEO activities show that only 54 districts reported expenditures of the funds, and only 10 districts of those 54 reporting spent the entire amount allocated to them. Why wasn't the total amount expended on diversity and equity training, recruiting, and development more? Not all colleges were hiring last year, but the fact that there are still carry-over funds available from the last two years in this category seems to indicate a bigger problem than recent lack of hiring. Senates will be wise to begin the new academic year with knowledge of the amount available to be spent on these important activities. Check with your director of human resources or EEO director.

Planning must drive budgets, but in the case of EEO plans and budgets, the Chancellor's Office has provided budgets but has not collected official plans yet. Title 5 directs each district to develop an EEO plan, and the Chancellor's Office has provided a model that each district can use to create its local plan, yet the due date for submission of the EEO plans has been postponed many times. One of the key elements of Title 5 regarding EEO plans is "availability data," statewide data that was to be used as a standard for comparison to verify the diversity and composition of the pool. For any senate president who has examined the model plan, you know that all districts were directed to delay submission until the reliability of the availability data could be confirmed. Unfortunately, that confirmation could not be made for any employee group, and the recommendation is that the availability data is unreliable, and the Chancellor's Office will have to decide if there is an acceptable replacement for this data. Stay tuned because such a determination will be made by the end of this academic year or early in the next. The EEO plans will either be submitted next year without this major component, or the due date for the plans will be postponed again until new Title 5 regulations are developed that recognize a reasonable replacement for the availability data.

Speaking of new Title 5 regulations, the 2009-2010 academic year will see revisions to all the EEO regulations. All aspects of hiring committees, availability data, processes for resolving complaints, training for members of hiring committees and more are under discussion. Since many of these regulations directly impact faculty and local senates, wise senates will assign a faculty member to work with human resources on reviewing drafts of proposed revisions next year.

In summary, there are exciting opportunities ahead for meeting your college goals of creating a more inclusive campus climate in the coming year:

  • Funding is available through BSI and EEO, so dust off those Student Equity Plans and local diversity and equal employment plans. For EEO expenditures, work with your human resources staff on acceptable ways to allocate and spend these funds.
  • Save the date for the Academic Senate Equity and Diversity Institute in February 2010 and encourage as many faculty to attend as possible. EEO funds (see previous bullet) could be used for such travel.
  • Due dates and required elements of the EEO plans are still in flux. Watch for more information by fall. While you wait, consider implementing the required EEO Advisory Committee for your district. The committee could develop a spending plan for those EEO funds.
  • New Title 5 regulations pertaining to EEO will be developed next year. Plan to provide faculty input along with your local human resources staff.