After reviewing these findings, the Committee believes there are several areas where we as a campus community can begin to make a difference by involving ourselves in actions and activities to promote a more positive campus climate for diversity. None of these can be done by any one person, group, or category of people. They require all of us to take a share of responsibility for working toward the kind of campus where there is respect and welcome for all of us as individuals and as members of ethnic and other groups which we are part of. We encourage everyone to consider ways in which they, in their particular roles on the campus, can contribute in some way to reexamining, improving, innovating, changing, or otherwise assisting in achieving the goal of a positive diversity environment, one which will allow people of all backgrounds to feel welcome, excel, and contribute to our society.
The following specific areas, we feel, merit particular attention.
Curriculum. A number of useful suggestions were made for curriculum developments, but it is clear that what is perceived by students (and some faculty) as the "diversity agenda" could benefit first from a review and renewal of the program. A clear policy on why "diversity" classes should be mandatory needs to be established and disseminated after a full discussion on the question. Very widespread lingering doubts about the need for, the effectiveness of, and the extent of such classes is apparent among administrators, faculty, and especially students. Many classes, such as Race and Racism and Perspectives on Gender, have received both sincere criticism and unmerited "bad press" to the point where students almost inevitably enter the class with some sort of hesitation, preconceived notions of a negative experience to come, and sometimes open hostility. This makes for an even more difficult task for the faculty trying to teach about what is already challenging subject matter. If these classes are going to serve the purpose of broadening and enlightening students, such a reevaluation and confirmation should be considered.
Apparently a large number of students have misunderstood one of the themes of the Race and Racism course, and this misunderstanding has led to a great deal of resentment. Many Euro-American students report that they resent being told that they are "the only ones who are racist." These students have not understood the principle that racism is a product of a combination of prejudice and power. Members of minority populations can be prejudiced, but without political and economic power, their biases are not the same as what is generally meant by racism. This misunderstanding of the terms "racism" and "prejudice" must be cleared up. But it is also clear that many of our Euro-American students are not particularly powerful as individuals--being from the working and middle classes--and, therefore, do not identify with the powerful and themselves feel disadvantaged in society.
A similar problem is found with Perspectives on Gender. Although the instructors do not blame "all men" for the challenges women face, students often come away thinking that is what they have heard. It is a difficult lesson to uncover oppression and make proposals for change without leaping into guilt, blame, and conflict. It is a challenge worthy of our most talented teachers which requires the understanding and support of students and administrators.
Specific curriculum-building suggestions usually request more of something, such as more classes of interest to particular minorities; classes on the culture, history, religion, and languages of non-Western, or non-European peoples. The greatest number of such requests came from students who were interested in Middle-Eastern and Asian cultures, in particular language classes in Vietnamese and Chinese were requested as well. Having more non-European or non-Western content in current courses is of interest to both faculty and students. Other people requested more courses in Ethnic Studies, Women's Studies, Black Studies, and Chicano/Chicana Studies. There is a great deal of interest in, and need for, the development of new classes.
Some faculty requested help in adapting their current curriculum to accommodate such interests. Several mentioned the fact that other faculty had been the most helpful in this regard, and that faculty-led workshops could be of assistance. Students assert that classes such as "World Literature" are not very representative of large parts of the world (such as Africa), and that "Hispanic Culture" covers material from only a small portion of the Hispanic world. We should discuss addressing these criticisms in the context of the ten-week quarter, and consider the possibility that the most popular classes be converted to a series.
Workshops, seminars, and awareness education. Various forms of workshops were recalled as positive and effective experiences. Three varieties are in particular demand; "content" oriented programs, "sensitivity" awareness education, and "service" education (i.e. for a "customer service" orientation). Content programs would include discussion groups for educating members of the campus community, but especially faculty, about customs, languages, holidays, and history of diverse groups. Content workshops could also assist with curriculum development to reduce ethnocentric bias in course material.,/
Sensitivity awareness education could benefit the entire campus community. As one respondent put it we need an "all-campus consciousness-raising session to help recognize what racism is." Reports of previous successful programs along these lines suggests that investment is such programs pays off. Also suggested were visits to department meetings in addition to professional development seminars, preferably conducted, where possible, by ethnic minorities in the same department or school. Classes such as Intercultural Communication are reported to fill the need for one-on-one exposure experiences with members of other ethnic groups. There was a suggestion that we produce a list of offensive words and phrases to help people avoid inadvertently giving offense. Such a program or list could help eliminate problems like the current use of the term "Mexican Mafia," which was mentioned by several people as being both offensive and commonly used on campus.
Service education, or as one student put it, teaching people "common courtesy," is apparently needed. Certainly such education would reduce the risk of rudeness being mistaken for racism by simply reducing rudeness. Comments suggested that the staff at several program offices and in various administrative offices would benefit from such programs.
Hiring, retention and promotion of faculty and staff. It is abundantly clear that ethnic minority faculty and staff play a critical role in the retention of students of underrepresented groups. The difficulties in hiring and retaining minority faculty and staff are a concern identified by survey respondents. Improvements in this area could offer a major boost to the diversity of the campus community and to the experience of our students. Every effort needs to be made to encourage programs (such as the Forgivable Loan program) which get more minorities into the applicant pools for faculty positions. Similarly, despite the current state political climate which is critical of affirmative action as it has been practiced, we will need to find ways to achieve the goals of inclusiveness of all ethnic groups in staff and faculty hiring, and offering opportunities for advancement.
Concerns about affirmative action as it contributes to the hiring of unqualified minorities, nepotism and inadequate opportunities for individuals to move up in rank and salary, are indicated by responses to the survey. These factors may contribute to perceptions of discrimination and reverse discrimination in staff and faculty employment, class climate, and campus climate.
The survey was limited in collecting responses from part-time faculty who surely play a role in students' views of diversity in the curriculum and who may provide another perspective on the campus.
Recruitment and retention of students of diverse backgrounds. The campus needs to maintain strong efforts to continue to recruit underrepresented students so that our campus will increasingly approach the diversity of our society. Ethnic minority students benefit from having a critical mass of others with whom to explore their heritages and so that they will not feel isolated. Retention efforts are vital for all students, and we must endeavor to provide adequate support services needed to facilitate the success of all our students.
Improving the campus environment. Improvements in the physical and social environment can lead to healthier relations on campus. Increasing the number of places where small informal meetings and "bull sessions" can take place in a relaxed atmosphere has been suggested as a means of reducing the isolation. This might be accomplished by setting up tables and benches in sheltered areas, especially north of the library. Reducing physical and social barriers also can be accomplished through improved campus communications. Maintained bulletin boards, and a campus newspaper that is published 2-3 times a week--a high quality, relevant paper can help.
Complaints about racist and sexist graffiti are scattered throughout the survey responses. This problem is more than cosmetic, since some people see the inability to keep bathroom doors clean as a lack of concern about the problem of racism and an unacceptable tolerance of insults. If walls are cleaned only once a quarter, regardless of the incidence of graffiti, it is not unreasonable for people who see racial slurs left in high traffic areas for ten weeks to interpret this as a lack of concern.
Cultural events. It would be useful to establish a central calendar where different organizations and programs can register their activities. Making the calendar accessible by e-mail also would be helpful. Since some people mentioned their desire to have the holidays of various religions and cultures recognized, it would be helpful to include the announcement of holidays, especially religious holidays which might result in segments of the campus population not being at school.
Communication. Evidently there is a great deal of misperception about the structure and functioning of services at our institution. Numbers of students cited concerns about the number of minorities receiving scholarships and financial aid, suggesting it was nearly impossible for others to get such assistance. In fact, data indicates that distribution of scholarships and aid is largely to non-minority students. Service areas are perceived by some as being responsive and available for minorities but not for others. This is clearly not the case, as staff at EOP, the Learning Center, the career center, and many other programs can attest.
What causes these misperceptions? Probably it has a lot to do with the fact that many of our services for students do not have enough funding to serve everyone fully. But another part of it is lack of information. Perhaps if information about resources were more widely distributed and inaccuracies corrected, some negative perceptions would be changed. In addition there are many areas in which the campus is well served and those programs should be highlighted.
Finally, the administration, faculty, staff, and students must be made aware of the serious nature of the responses to our survey. This survey was voluntary; that so many individuals chose to write comments, sometimes highly emotional ones, about their campus experiences indicates that these feelings run deep. Clearly, communication across levels and in many areas of campus life must continue and improve if we are to alleviate the problems and foster a campus climate that welcomes diversity.