Written by Joe Fisk
Photos by Lindsey Brand
Front Range Community College has multiple groups dedicated to equity, inclusion, and diversity. Five faculty from FRCC Westminster have attended presentations by the Center for Urban Education (CUE). Additionally, at an administrative level, FRCC has an equity, inclusion, and diversity council.
CUE is a National Organization out of the Rossier School of Education of the University of Southern California and has a stated goal of bringing equity mindedness to higher education. Information on the mission of CUE can be found here.
(Pictured Above; Christine Mac and students)
Instructional Dean Andrea Decosmo and math department faculty Jim Voss, Christine Mac, Rita Quintana, and Joseph Brenkert, attended presentations by CUE at Community College of Aurora. Grant money allowed other institutions in the state to start working with CUE, such as Community College of Denver and Aims Community College. In the first year working with CUE, this group of faculty began looking at equity mindedness in themselves and their classrooms.
(Pictured Above; Joe Brenkert)
“[The goal is] viewing the world through an equity lens and really being able to recognize and see places where not everyone is included,” said Brenkert. “There can be some unintentional and implicit bias that is bubbling up to the surface that at first glance might not be there. Really, our first year was just looking at ourselves and working on our own equity mindedness. Looking at it in our classes and each other’s classes.”
With CUE, they began working with Kathy Mullins, to include faculty from the Brighton Center and expand to another campus.
“In our second year, we’ve now looked at how can we start sharing this information with others,” said Brenkert. “We’ve looked at sharing within our math department here and at Brighton campus. Doing it on more of a grassroots level. From this point, we’re looking at how we can expand this and include the rest of the college on this journey that the five of us have been lucky enough to be on, to view our classes and our students with this equity lense.”
(Pictured Above; Jim Voss and students)
Aside from bringing an ‘equity lens’ to higher education, CUE compares differences in degree attainment between different population groups. This has brought attention to achievement gaps in Colorado, specifically, and nationally, as well.
“We looked at what the differences are between higher education degree attainment between the white population and the Latinx population, and Colorado had the biggest gap,” said Brenkert. “It’s not just a buzzword; it’s not just people making this up. It hits close to home. Not just nationally but here in Colorado. And not just that it exists but that it exists worse here than in most places. It’s tough, because the fact that those achievement gaps persist nationally and statewide. They’re all over the place. Basically what that says is if we don’t focus on that, it’s never going to change.”
Jean Runyon, vice president of the FRCC Larimer campus and Elena Sandoval-Lucero, vice president of the FRCC Boulder County Campus lead the equity inclusion and diversity council. The council looks at student outcomes to close equity gaps.
“First, what we have to look at is are there any equity gaps in outcomes,” said Lucero-Sandoval. “And there are. Both based in gender and in different race and ethnicity (sic) to make sure that all students are experiencing success on our campuses. So we’re looking to close those gaps so students can be successful.”
The equity inclusion and diversity council hopes to improve the training, development, and techniques that are already implemented across FRCC.
“We’re looking at students, faculty, staff, and community and looking at things we already do,” said Lucero-Sandoval. “Different types of training we do, different types of professional development, and how can we include techniques and strategies to help all students be successful. Students don’t come here to fail. We are responsible for our student outcomes, and so we want to make sure that they continue to improve.”
The equity, inclusion and diversity council is seeking student representation and those interested are encouraged to apply here. Another way students can become involved is by communicating with their instructors about inclusion.
(Pictured Above; Rita Quintana and students)
“I think one of the best actions a student can take is that if they feel comfortable letting an instructor know if they do something that either makes them feel included or makes them feel not included,” said Brenkert. “In a lot of cases, we as instructors never know or never realize how our actions are being construed.”
Through equity mindedness and improving training, development and techniques, CUE and the equity, inclusion and diversity council hope to close gaps in equity and degree attainment and improve the diversity and inclusion at FRCC.