University Attempts to Improve Campus Climate With Diversity Initiatives

    Throughout California, UC campuses are establishing committees focusing on the state of community and racial climate in the university.

    Here in La Jolla, the newly-formed UCSD Council on Climate, Equity and Inclusion met for the first time over the summer on July 22, 2010.

    The council was created by university administrators with several goals in mind. One primary responsibility of the council is to provide a clear assessment of a campus climate that is inclusive of diversity.

    Having done that — and identified areas in which the school needs to improve — the council will evaluate the research, theories and practices published by experts on campus communities. It will also  implement those findings in order to safeguard all members of the UCSD community.

    Another group with a similar focus is the UCSD Alumni Association’s Diversity and Outreach Committee, which recently held its second annual meeting. The committee hopes to increase the alumni role in improving UCSD’s campus climate for minority students.

    Members discussed proposed funding increases for student scholarships, which would increase access for students from disadvantaged economic backgrounds, and for programs such as the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services that reach out and recruit those students.

    When the search for new faculty began for this academic year, 12 faculty positions out of 33 were designated for focusing on diversity and establishing an inclusive climate at UCSD. This is twice as many as the original six positions demanded by the Black Student Union last year

    “UC San Diego is deeply committed to making positive changes to improve the campus climate and broaden the richness and diversity of its community and curriculum,” Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Paul Drake said in a e-mail.

    Scripps Institution of Oceanography is also participating in efforts to create a diverse environment at UCSD by trying to increased the number of  underrepresented students in the science community. Through UCSD Academic Connections, 20 students and four teachers from Compton High School participated in a Scripps summer program, touring the facilities and labs and getting an inside perspective on Scripps’ research.

    Student organizations such as the BSU and the A.S. Council have also been working collaborating to foster a campus culture of inclusion.

    According to Alyssa Peace, Associate Vice President of Diversity Affairs, the university began building resources centers for many minority organizations and groups in response to the BSU’s list of demands.

    Additionally, council planned events, such as Triton Voices organized by the Student Affairs office which took place last Monday in Price Center, targeting freshmen. It featured multi-media presentations and testimonials and personal stories of students experiences with diversity at UCSD.

    “It’s a priority to engage incoming freshmen with diversity efforts at UCSD,” Peace said.

    Although the council is not directly involved with working with the list of demands the BSU presented last year, Peace said that the UCSD administration has made headway on a majority of them, such as the creation of the African–American Student Resource Center.

    The diversity initiatives have spread across other aspects of UCSD’s campus and student life. The administration has, in partnership with the BSU, commissioned murals with themes that advocate diversity, as well as advocating the creation of  a Chicano/a and Latino/a Studies minor and gathering faculty support.

    There is also an effort to increase the visibility of minority artists, including art that represents African American, Latino/a, and Asian-Pacific Islander backgrounds.

    Aries Yumul, a member of the Student Affirmative Action Committee, said diversity efforts have spread to other local  universities in the area, including collaborative work on diversity and campus climate with San Diego State and Cal State San Marcos.

    “A lot of discussion has happened already in regards to the diversity efforts,” Yumul said. “This year has just started, and a lot of issues have already been addressed. But we still have a long way to go, and it’s not going to be an easy effort.”

    Members of the Black Student Union could not be reached for comment.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal