Diversity within the Community and Technical Colleges System
By Kellie Hale

The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) has a new vision statement that was unanimously approved on June 27, 2019. The new vision statement for the SBCTS reads as follows:

“Leading with racial equity, our colleges maximize student potential and transform lives within a culture of belonging that advances racial, social, and economic justice in the service to our diverse communities.”

Jan Yoshiwara, Executive Director of the SBCTC, has always had the desire to make sure diversity, equity, and inclusion are included at the forefront of the organization’s agenda. Danny Marshall, Program Administrator for Workforce Education for the SBCTC recently said, “We are always working towards inclusion and making sure our system is providing opportunities for the diverse communities.” It is important to note that the 34 community and technical colleges in the state of Washington may have their own vision statement for diversity and inclusion that they follow. Unfortunately, diversity and inclusion do not happen unless the development of opportunities is provided for those in our diverse communities.

By making the effort of really engaging with students of color or of different cultural backgrounds will allow them to feel more comfortable, which can result in them being open to engaging within the program and college system.

Unfortunately, diversity within faculty and classrooms in community and technical colleges are not very broad. For example, at Pierce College, there is only one faculty of color who is on the tenure track. I was talking to another faculty from a college, who is a woman of color, and she expressed that there are only three other faculty of color in her department. She made a comment to her students about “not getting used to this because it is not the norm.” Which is a sad statement.

I recently attended a meeting where one of the topic discussions was on diversity. It was a great discussion and one that is important to have; however, there are still some people who do not understand the importance of diversity or how to approach it. Not all community and technical colleges offer a diverse community. It is important for colleges to reach out to communities that are often overlooked.

For example, at Highline College, for the past 10 years, there is an annual Black and Brown Summit that offers workshops to young men of color at the College. Rashad Norris, Director of Community Engagement at Highline College is a co-founder of the Summit, along with other Highline employees. Mr. Norris said, “We started our first with the theme ‘Reach One, Teach One,’ and we’re at the moment now that we see when you reach one, you can reach many, and it’s a beautiful sight to see,” Norris said. “It’s something that I truly hold near and dear to my heart. “We’re looking forward to seeing where [summit attendees] land,” Norris said. “If not on this campus, then thriving at some other campus, knowing that the Black and Brown Male Summit is where they felt they got connected with what they want to do.”

The College also has a group for women of color called Young Educated Ladies Leading (YELL), which will have its annual Summit on May 16, 2020. The purpose of YELL is “to empower and motivate our young women of color to excel in academics and to accept nothing less than excellence from self.” Diversity starts with helping the majority of the population understand what it really means and how it can enrich their lives. Diversity doesn’t just happen “organically”. There needs to be steps and processes established to help the minority population feel included, empowered, and welcomed in spaces they may not have felt safe or accepted.

Note: The Black and Brown Summit was canceled due to COVID-19. Now, it will be a virtual summit that will take place every Monday during November.

Registration Link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfyhmJN6shStsgX4gUL2ZBCq2x_vMlV7BVpmY0vmGwQ2ayw1g/viewform 


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