On January 26, the Division of Student Equity and Support Programs (SESP), hosted an experience that brought together a cohort of 40 Skyline College staff, faculty, and administrators. The afternoon commenced with welcoming remarks from Dean Lasana O. Hotep, President Dr. Stanback Stroud, and Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Angélica Garcia. Dr. Stanback Stroud shared, “When we have our own developed consciousness, when we have our own level of sophistication and cultural fluency, it improves and raises the standards of excellence of our institution of higher education.”

Every spring semester, the Equity Training Series (ETS) brings together a dedicated group of staff, faculty, and administrators, representing a variety of departments, to engage in a teaching and learning experience centered on equity. ETS is designed to equip participants with skills, strategies, and tools in the areas of pedagogy and cultural fluency to address the challenges that impact Skyline College’s diverse student populations. The ETS orientation marked the beginning of an eight-week experience where participants have the opportunity to learn from subject matter experts about various topics including: Critical Pedagogy, Whiteness and Teacher Education, Supporting Men of Color, and Disability in Higher Education. Throughout this experience, participants will develop projects that incorporate lessons learned from ETS into their daily work on campus.

Following welcoming remarks, the cohort engaged in a group activity to examine how race, gender, residency status, economic background, and being first-generation all play a role in shaping a student’s educational journey. The activity transitioned into a presentation, facilitated by Hotep, which provided the context for why our college has made a commitment to become more culturally fluent, racially literate, and knowledgeable about issues that affect our students. The presentation featured a number of interesting research studies, video clips, and theories that highlight the existing disparities in educational institutions. Hotep also explained how philosophies, such as Deficit Thinking and Color-Blindness, prevents educators from addressing the root causes of inequity.

“The natural inclination, based on the narrative in this country is, if you work hard, you can accomplish anything you want.” Hotep said. “But in our work, many of us don’t have the vocabulary, the orientation, the training, and the background to be able to navigate and address issues that have to deal with race, culture, and ethnicity in a way that continues to have harmonious human relationships.”

Throughout the presentation, participants actively engaged in group discussions and raised important questions.

Rick Hough, Professor of Mathematics shared, “The food and company were great. The presentation was fast-paced and engaging. I’m excited to keep discovering during the semester and hopefully will learn to put the theory into practice for our students.”

Article by Katrina Pantig

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