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Cuesta College adopts Student Equity Plan

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Cuesta College has adopted a Student Equity Plan for 2019-2022. Photo by John Pachio

Cuesta College has created a Student Equity Plan for 2019-2022 in efforts to remove educational and achievement gaps for groups who are underserved.

According to the plan, the main goal also includes reducing the equity gap for impacted groups, including the Latinx population by 40%, with the end goal to eliminate all achievement gaps by 2026. This objective is also reflected by the California Community College Chancellor Office’s Vision for Success.

Though the school has seen an increase of programs that support these groups like the Monarch Center, the plan is meant to highlight the biggest areas of opportunity. The plan targets specific areas of a student’s journey throughout Cuesta College, like having access to the college, transfer rates, course completion, and degree completion. 

Also in the plan is the fact that Cuesta College is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution, a title achieved in August of 2016. This title can be given once an educational institution reaches a Hispanic enrollment of 25%; Cuesta is currently at 33%. 

Though Cuesta’s enrollment demographics are continuing to move towards a more diverse campus, the equity plan points out how the faculty and staff do not reflect that same diversity. 

To show how aware Cuesta College is of its lack of diversity in leadership, Cuesta College Human Resources gathered data that showcases the composition of the school’s governance and staffing. 

Governance and Staffing Composition (per Cuesta College Human Resources, 2018-19 data): 

Board of Trustees: 100% White

Executive Team: 60% White, 20% Latinx, 20% Other

Academic Senate: 67% White, 21% Latinx, 4% Asian, 4% American Indian, 4% Other 

College Council: 57% White, 17% Latinx, 11% Other, 5% Black 

CCCUE Executive Board: 60% White, 40% Latinx 

CCFT Executive Board: 100% White 

Full-Time Faculty: 73% White, 11% Latinx, 4% Asian/Pacific Islander, 2% Native/American Indian, 1% Black, 9% Unknown 

Part-Time Faculty: 80% White, 7% Latinx, 2% Asian/Pacific Islander, 1% Black, 10% Unknown 

Administration: 78% White, 12% Latinx, 5% Black, 3% Asian/Pacific Islander, 2% 

Unknown Classified Staff: 67% White, 17% Latinx, 6% Asian/Pacific Islander, 2% Native/American Indian, 1% Black, 7% Unknown

“Cuesta College recognizes that we need to be reflective of our student community in order to fully serve all our students,” stated the plan. “On almost every indicator of student success, we as a college, are underperforming for Latinx and Black students. “Moreover, our underperformance is consistent year after year, warranting serious concern. Transfer to a four-year college is an example of our underperformance for all our groups, but especially for our Latinx students.”

The transfer rate data for Cuesta College is higher when compared to all community colleges in California. Data collected by the chancellor’s office breaks down the California community college transfer rate to a four-year college.

The most recent transfer rates for Cuesta College are from fall of 2015, in which 8% of first-time and full-time students were able to transfer out within “normal time” compared to the data gathered by the chancellor’s office, in which transfer rates for the group is 2%.

The Student Equity Plan states that this data must be discussed openly in order to begin the process of improving the school’s performance to achieve higher success.

Also included in the plan are professional developments which will aid Cuesta College in shifting into a student centered college. Cuesta College will continue with equity focused training that tackles the needs of minoritized students, the impact of white privilege in education, how best to support people of color, and more.

The school also hired Jeffery Alexander as the Outreach Director. The Outreach/Student Success Activities Office provides information to local high schools and parents about Cuesta College in efforts to promote the school and the positives of a higher education.

The Student Success activities also include financial aid outreach, the Edúcate Conference for Latinx high school students, the inclusion of Spanish at Cougar Welcome days, and more.

All of these efforts are a part of the Student Equity Plan and only a small portion of the level of depth that the report goes into. The end goal is to work towards closing the equity gap for minoritized students.