Editorial: It’s time for diversity issues to take center stage at ARC

Los Rios Chancellor Brian King address faculty during his convocation speech prior to the start of the Spring 2016 semester where he talked about diversity issues facing the district. (Screencapture from 'Fast Forward: Los Rios Convocation - 2016')

In light of the recent nation-wide push to increase student and faculty diversity on college campuses, it’s about time that American River College joins the conversation and addresses their own issues with diversity.

Often times, it is easy to live under the assumption that problems involving diversity were something that only our parents and grandparents dealt with and ignore the facts that are right in front of us.

According to a student equity report released in 2015, African American students at ARC haven’t had a success rate of greater than 55 percent since 2011, which is a staggering 16 percent below the success rate of the whole student body.

In comparison to the low success rate of African American students, the most recently released ARC staff demographics, self-reported by the college in 2009, have the faculty population at only six percent African American.

That’s only 88 African American faculty out of the 1,491 total faculty members on campus. How can that be representative of a student population that sits at 19 percent African American?

On a campus of roughly 30,000, we have a case of a pie chart not matching a populace.

During his recent convocation speech to each school within the Los Rios Community College District, Chancellor Brian King stressed the fact that academic outcomes are not the same for all students.

King presented a graph showing that the 6-year overall completion rate of African American and Latino Los Rios students is only around 39 percent.

“It’s morally unacceptable to look at what we’re doing and say that those outcomes are OK,” King said.

King and the Los Rios district as a whole should be applauded for the recognition of the problem that our schools face, but the issue lies deeper than graphs on a power point. There has been a continual lack of avenues for students, who are regularly on campus, to find a safe haven or place to feel accepted.

A quick glance at the list of recognized clubs on campus would show several that appear to welcome students of all backgrounds to an educational space, but further digging reveals that far fewer actually operate.

ARC and the Los Rios district need more faculty members like English professor Susan Howe, who has pioneered the first ever gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender literature course at ARC.

Students have flocked to the course and several who are enrolled have expressed that different educational opportunities, like this one, are what foster diversity and breakdown the barriers that separate us.

The problem is clear and now that it’s been publicly recognized by administration, we won’t see it fading into the background until it’s been addressed.

Chancellor King and Los Rios administration, the ball is now in your court. What are you going to do with it?

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1 Comment on "Editorial: It’s time for diversity issues to take center stage at ARC"

  1. The issue of appropriate and fair ethnic representation among faculty has stuck out like a sore thumb for so long, and as a student at ARC, was easily detected. As a multiracial Latina who did graduate and transferred to a university, I had the motivation to become the first in my family to be a college graduate, but there are those in the student body who need more encouragement as some families in urban culture do not understand and/or view a higher education as a wedge between themselves and the aspiring degree holder. Seeing someone who looks like you at the whiteboard, who is also a member of the historically disenfranchised set of society is crucial to those students who are being knocked down for trying to rise up in the career world.

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