“I feel we have done a remarkable job creating spaces on campus and support programs for students of color and students in need,” said Yeranui Barsegyan, the program manager for the Student Equity and Achievement categorical program. “For example, our newly renovated Student Equity Office in SR 207 is a great place for students to come get assistance, do homework, meet with their counselors, and hang out with their peers. The space at the MCEC is also designed with students in mind. CalWORKS also has a brand new space on campus, SR 227.”
GCC’s DEI is one of many diversity and inclusion programs formed under the Academic Senate the college is a part of to promote equality across all genders, ages, races, and nationalities within the district, and it has seen increased numbers in equity change across several demographics.
According to the DEI page on the GCC website, GCC’s initiatives aim to “uphold an anti-racist and anti-bias” learning environment by creating learning communities for Black, Latinx, and current or former foster youth students, creating calls to action for current social issues, and offering professional development for staff and faculty.
The Black Scholars learning community supports the achievement of Black and African American students by connecting them with their peers and giving them a sense of visibility on campus. Black Scholars have meetings with other members of the program to build community and can speak with equity counselors about additional support.
“We have a ton of wonderful programs and services that are geared toward serving our diverse groups of students at GCC. The campus dedicates important resources to ensure that these programs are ongoing,” said Barsegyan.
La Comunidad similarly supports Latinx students and allows them to connect with peers in their community and receive counseling specific to their identities. The resources are a motivating factor for students to continue their academic journey.
GCC’s goal in offering race-based learning communities is to acknowledge the systemic racial disparities that impact students of color. The college works to address the socio-economic issues that disproportionately prevent students of color from making higher education a priority. Decreasing barriers to access and supporting empowerment in different communities will aid GCC in closing equity gaps in their system.
According to GCC’s student equity plan for 2019-2022, GCC is working towards large equity increases in Latinx, Black or African American, disabled, and foster students and their likelihood of staying enrolled in community college as well as transferring to four-year institutions.
GCC also offers several forms of financial support to ensure that students can prioritize their education.
The Guardian Scholars is a program that supports current or former foster youth students. It gives students in the foster care system a lower chance of dropping out of college, and it increases the likelihood that these students will attend college. It further aims to give additional support to those at risk and keep them in school. Through any of the learning communities, students may be eligible for meal vouchers, TAP cards, parking permits, and book vouchers.
There are more diversity and equity projects on the way that Barsegyan believes will be beneficial to a variety of students on campus.
“We started the GCC Adjunct Support program to help our adjuncts in all divisions within GCC to be prepared, informed, and supported when teaching their classes,” she said. “We started the Mentoring Men of Color this year and it has been a huge success. We want to now add a Mentoring Women of Color program as well as a Mentor in STEM program to help encourage our students to solidify their paths, gain leadership skills, and network.”
GCC plans on expanding their efforts towards creating an equitable experience for all of its students and using student feedback based recommendations to cater to their specific needs, Barsegyan explained.
Chelsea Corry can be reached at [email protected]