COCC effort to diversify the campus

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Graphic by Spencer Light | The Broadside (Contact: slight@cocc.edu)

By Marcus LeGrand | The Broadside (Contact: Mlegrand2@cocc.edu)

What is Central Oregon Community College doing to diversify its instructional staff and student population? After spending time with Dr. Shirley Metcalf discussing the matter, it’s a work in progress.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, minority instructors at the Community College level is 24 percent versus 27 percent at four-year institutions. Currently at COCC, 11 percent of the instructors are people of color. This is a far cry from the national average, where 48 percent of the students on community college campuses are white and 52 percent are students of color. At COCC, 74 percent of the students are Caucasian and the remainder are Native American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander and Black.

The passing of legislation HB-2864, a bill which requires Oregon’s public colleges and universities to provide cultural competency training for faculty and staff  improves cultural inclusion for students.

“COCC is in a strong position in support of the bill requirements and future work will include annual reports to the Board and opportunities for campus contributions to diversity goals,” COCC’s Director of Multicultural Activities, Karen Roth said.   

However, even though COCC is creating many student-based programs, what is being done to diversify the campus with the needed instructors to match the growing number of students who classify as students of color?  

Since becoming President, Metcalf has made a concerted effort to target local high schools, especially students who are Latino/Hispanic and Native American through COCC-lead program(s): Latin@ Student and Native American.  The programs include ¡Avanza, GANAS (Summer Symposium), AfroCentric Club and STRIVE Summer Training to Revive Indigenous Vision and Empowerment). These preparation programs for Latino high school students in five high schools in Central Oregon have a curriculum that is designed to increase the post-secondary aspirations to develop leadership, goal-setting, and career exploration.  

All these programs and organizations help support their academic and career goals by helping them to overcome educational barriers to success. The program coordinators plan and facilitate educational events and cultural programs for the campus and the community. 

Total enrollment has increased, including online and small increases in Hispanic and Native American student population.  

Metcalf and her staff have created student and campus assessments geared toward understanding their mission to make COCC a safe, respectful and inclusive campus by extending resources to target this population of student in these communities.

However, for these programs to expand and exist, staff are in need of support, and stabilizing funding has been an ongoing concern.

COCC continually is looking to build a pipeline of students who are interested in CTE, STEM, and technology, all while trying to comply with the standards of the AACC. In order for the students of color to feel they are a part of the discussion, COCC must surround them with faces that looks like theirs and discuss ideals that promote unity. For comments or concerns, send replies via email to mlegrand2@cocc.edu. ■

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