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Community colleges partner with USC against racism

June 11, 2020

The USC Race and Equity Center is uniting with California’s community colleges

By Ross Brenneman

Protests against police brutality began worldwide in late May after video footage showing Minneapolis police officers killing George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. (Photo licensed under Flickr Creative Commons via user Karen Eliot.)

A new initiative from the USC Race and Equity Center will bring together leaders from California’s community colleges to address issues related to race and racism.

The California Community College Equity Leadership Alliance will use a three-pronged approach to help administrators and faculty leaders learn how to better address the concerns of students and employees of color, who have long cited the persistence of racist policies and attitudes within their institutions.

In the aftermath of mass, worldwide protests following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, students across the country have pressed their schools and universities to take tangible actions that improve the education of Black students.

“Merely proclaiming in written statements that Black Lives Matter is insufficient,” says USC Rossier School of Education Professor Shaun Harper, who leads the USC Race and Equity Center and created the Alliance. “I am grateful to the presidents who responded favorably to my invitation to take serious, strategic action to dismantle systemic racism, address longstanding racial climate problems and eliminate racial inequities on their campuses.”

Three-part plan

To date, 60 community colleges, including all nine in the Los Angeles Community College District, have joined the Alliance. California’s community colleges are responsible for the education of more than 1.2 million students each year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The Alliance will use the following approach for member institutions:

  • Professional learning: Beginning in June 2020, the Center will annually host a dozen eConvenings, each on a particular aspect of racial equity. These high-quality professional learning experiences for high-level administrators and faculty leaders will be held virtually throughout the year, one per month. Each eConvening will explore strategies and practical approaches for equity issues.
  • Virtual racial equity resource portal: The Center is developing an online repository of resources and tools for Alliance member colleges. Downloadable equity-related rubrics, readings, case studies, videos, slide decks, and conversation scripts will be included in the portal and accessible to all employees at member colleges.
  • Campus climate surveys: Using the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) as a model, the students, faculty and staff of each member institution will be surveyed about their feelings of belonging and inclusion, encounters with racism on campus, the frequency and depth of cross-cultural interactions, appraisals of institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion, and other related topics.

“Tremendous strategy, intentionality and expertise went into the creation of this Alliance,” said Compton College President Keith Curry. “I am convinced it will make every campus that participates more equitable and inclusive.”

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