Stanislaus State Thought Paper: Implementing an Equity-Driven Systems Change (EDSC) Model for Advancing Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (DEISJ)
November 3, 2020
Understanding Our Students and Setting the Context for DEISJ Here At Stanislaus State as a “Student Ready” Campus.
Perhaps at no other time and especially during this crucial and very disruptive juncture in our nation’s history, intense attention has been focused on a reawakened interest in better understanding and dismantling some of the most obdurate problems confronting us in America today—namely addressing the painful, unjust, and persistent problem of racial and social justice inequities throughout all levels of our society.
Stanislaus State is a noteworthy campus that prides itself on its deep commitment to fostering strong, personal relationships between and among our students, faculty, staff, and community in order to champion, validate, and support our remarkable students (at both our main Turlock and Stockton branch campus). Indeed, as a campus with a very large majority of first-generation college students (74%), who are often from economically disadvantaged backgrounds (62% Pell-eligible), we also are very aware of the social and economic injustices that our students often confront in their daily experiences.
Therefore, it should not be surprising that many of our students may confront multiple challenges in their daily lives related to inequities in any number of domains, including racial, ethnic, economic, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, immigration status, as well as disparities in income, social and professional capital, access to health care, medical services, and psychological health care access.
Furthermore, students’ lives are much more complex, because by definition all people inhabit more than one demographic category. Identifying Hispanic students as a category will obscure the full complexity of their lives. For example, we must unpack what it means to be a Hispanic/Latin-X male or female student—or someone who also may, or may not, be undocumented--or someone who may come from a wealthy versus, middle-class, or underprivileged family background—or someone who is a fluent native English speaker, bilingual, or learning English. In short, as a campus, we must be attuned to and responsive to the complex intersectionality of these different categories of being and understand that these factors will differentially impact students’ experiences in complex and sometimes inexplicable ways.
In order to succeed on most traditional college campuses, students must figure out how to assimilate to their campus’ environment--to deduce, accept and adjust to their campus’ culture, explicit and implicit expectations, formal and informal rules, and successfully navigate their campus’ complex and sometimes confusing processes. On the other hand, if we purposefully intend to become more “student-centered” or a “student-ready” campus, then we must intentionally flip this equation on its head. Instead, we must start by better understanding the complex lives of our students, the challenges they may face, and the rich cultural and linguistic resources that they can share. We must be willing to modify our institution to better meet them where they are when they arrive and continue to support and scaffold them as they navigate in their progress to degree and to professional success upon graduation.
Indeed, it was especially gratifying that Stanislaus State publicly declared this position when in 2017, the Academic Senate and our campus’ University Strategic Plan was formally approved and adopted with our first Goal 1: To Be a Student-Ready University (see p.9).
Furthermore, our students also possess many strengths. For example, most of our students are strongly tied to their communities. They are resilient, gutsy, and courageous to have made a commitment to go to college and reach their dreams. So how can we reframe our “student-ready” approach? We need to intentionally reaffirm at least four core areas of attention:
(1) create a healing-oriented proactive culture that acknowledges the need to facilitate caring and inclusive social interactions with and among students in classrooms with faculty, as well as with staff and others both on and off campus;
(2) be mindful of, and affirm students’ backgrounds in an effort to embrace their communities and cultural knowledge – and use these resources as an asset in promoting their academic achievement;
(3) build bridges and collaborative opportunities to involve students in supporting and giving back to the communities where they belong; and
(4) intentionally encourage and equip all students to develop concrete professional skills that are relevant for employers in the local, national, and international areas.
Taken together, Stanislaus State has a powerful opportunity to capitalize on the richness of our student body to engage the entire campus in framing and co-creating our DEISJ action steps together within a comprehensive, collaborative and more transparent Equity-Driven Systems Change (EDSC) Model as outlined in this thought paper.
Please feel free to send additional comments, ideas, questions, and edits directly to Ellen Junn at email@example.com.
Updated: April 27, 2023