Alvin Community College recently conducted a survey about the racial climate and students experience with race on campus.
The National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates was administered to the ACC campus and approximately 350 student chose to participate. The survey showed that many students of color feel like there is not enough discussion about race among students and staff and feel that should change.
The survey was developed by the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center.
Students were asked questions related to how they felt they mattered and were affirmed in the classroom, cross racial engagement, racial learning and literacy, encounters of racial stress, appraisal of institutional commitment and impact of external environments.
“Students make up the institution,” said Dr. Earnest Burnett, Speech instructor and ACC liaison for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “We want to find out how student felt with regards to their inclusion.”
The survey provided a great deal of data about students’ attitudes and experiences. One finding included African American and Hispanic students reporting that they feel like they did not matter as much as their white and Asian counterparts in the classroom. The survey also showed Hispanic and African American students felt that the college could do more to make them feel included on campus and in class.
“We have to make everybody feel inclusive,” Burnett said. “Make people feel welcome. Obviously we still have some work to do.”
The survey also found that students reported that the college provided enough support during the COVID-19 pandemic to all students regardless of race, Burnett said.
The survey is one of the projects of the Houston Guided Pathways to Success (GPS) Equity Initiative which was created to help build the capacity of Houston GPS partners to increase postsecondary student success—including enrollment, transfer, and completion—by closing gaps in postsecondary attainment by Pell-eligibility, race/ethnicity, sex, and first-generation status.
Additionally, the equity Initiative will aid Houston GPS partners in addressing the barriers and challenges, that have been exposed by recent events.
The GPS project will include other diversity and inclusion projects for students such as creating mentorships, ally training, roundtable discussions, minority leadership development.
The project will also include staff development such as an improved onboarding process, gathering best practices for training and more.
ACC staff members are developing some solutions to address some of the issues that were highlighted in the survey.
How college staff members treat students in and out of the classroom can impact whether a student feels included and valued, Burnett said. If a student doesn’t feel that they can share their experiences with regards to race, it will possibly alienate them and impact their performance in class, Burnett said.
“If the student says something that they disagree with when it comes to micro-aggressiveness in the classroom, they may fear that the faculty will use it against them,” he said.
Another vital solution is to increase diversity among staff members that reflect the diversity of the student body, Burnett said.
“Everybody has to have an equal opportunity to be able to rise,” he said.
One of the most important aspects to confronting the issue is to have facilitate conversations about race between students and staff. Several faculty members recently requested the development of workshops for strategies about discussing race in the classroom.
“Those are the more immediate solutions,” Burnett said. “How can we make them feel welcome? How can we make them feel like they matter? We can’t be afraid to have those discussions.”
To hear more about the survey and its results, you can listen an in-depth ACC podcast interview with Burnett available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon, Spotify and Youtube.
For more information about Houston GPS, visit https://uh.edu/provost/university/houstongps