Latino Faculty Want to End 'Brown Out' at The Beach

What is happening at CSULB?

By Faculty from various colleges at CSULB
Published on LatinoLA: October 1, 2009

Latino Faculty Want to End 'Brown Out' at The Beach

Updated: from the Daily 49er on Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Is it time for a presidential commission on Latino issues at Cal State Long Beach?

There are some notable recent improvements at The Beach including Latino graduation rates, institutional prestige and faculty accomplishments. The campus is now explicit in expressing its appreciation and value of diversity and equity leading the U.S. Department of Education to designate CSULB as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in 2006.

The Beach is praised for granting many degrees to minority students, yet a more focused analysis of data suggests a different and disturbing narrative. How well does The Beach serve Latino students, faculty and staff?

A review of current conditions paints a disturbing story for our beloved campus. Recent events prompted a group of senior faculty to reflect on what has occurred over the past several years that, when taken together, paint a troubling trend, which raises the question: Is there a "Brown Out" at The Beach?

CSULB is an official HSI, but the federal development grant of about $3 million lacked support of Latino faculty, staff and students due to the exclusion of their recommendations in its inception and initial implementation.

Although graduation rates of Latino students have increased, the gap between Latino and white students has actually increased. Two out of three Latino faculty hired seem to be replacing Latino faculty who have left CSULB. There are fewer than 10 Latino faculty in the colleges of Health and Human Services, Education and the Arts.

Latino tenured and/or tenure-track faculty number 60 of about 900, or roughly 7%, yet nearly 27 percent of the student body is Latino.

Latinos do not occupy executive management positions in the divisions of Faculty Affairs and Student Services.

While the pool of "qualified" Latinos is relatively small, we had two highly qualified and highly ranked Latino candidates for the deanship of Health and Human Services, and for the associate vice president for academic personnel positions, although neither was offered the position.

Only two Latinos chair academic departments university-wide, one being the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies that has the same number of full-time faculty as it had when established 40 years ago.

Only one Latino is a college dean and not one is an associate dean -- a critical point as chairs and associate deans are the pipeline to develop competitive candidates for executive management positions.

There are no Latinos currently on the Academic Senate Executive Committee, nor as a chair of any Academic Senate committee or council.

No Latinos were appointed to serve on leadership teams for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation visit in spring 2009 and, in fact, there were no Latinos on any of the WASC committees -- a key factor as the WASC evaluation commended CSULB's stated commitment to diversity, but noted the lack of a strategic plan and vision for making that value a reality.

The California-Mexico Project and the Transnational Experience in the Caribbean Project, which have supported dozens of students on educational trips and established exchanges with Latin-American universities, are unfunded and not institutionalized.

Lastly, Latino students continue to express concerns regarding feelings of isolation and marginalization at CSULB.

Clearly, The Beach has wonderful projects and numerous staff and faculty working diligently to make CSULB an inclusive and welcoming campus. But this situation often occurs in isolation and in disconnected ways.

There may be a positive impact even when services are devoid of cultural contexts, however, institutional change will remain elusive. Still, these types of projects lack a strategic connection that can propel the campus to meet its own goals of providing a robust, diverse and inclusive environment for teaching, scholarship and service.

No one person can change an institutional culture, so this is not simply about presidential, Academic Senate, or staff and student leadership. Rather, persistent systemic problems need systemic analyses and solutions. It is our view that the Latino condition at CSULB will not simply improve because of its "Hispanic-Serving Institution" designation, but rather from a focused and systematic collaboration.

Is it time for a presidential commission on Latino issues at CSULB to review these issues? Yes, given the recent WASC report and the current demographic realities. We can no longer be satisfied as a campus with a lack of change -- or merely with incremental change. We expect that this campus community, highly lauded for its diversity, will have the will to boldly push from rhetoric into reality.

-- Luis Arroyo, Chicano and Latino Studies
-- Rebecca Lopez, Social Work
-- Susan Luevano, Librarian
-- Rosa Moreno-Alcaraz, Counseling and Psychological Services
-- Norma Noguera, Mathematics
-- Victor Rodriguez, Chicano and Latino Studies
-- Maythee Rojas, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
-- Olga Rubio, Education
-- Anna Sandoval, Chicano and Latino Studies
-- James Sauceda, director of the Multicultural Center
-- Corinne Martinez, Education

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