Missed chance reflects needs

Black History Month sees low event list, outreach

By The Advocate, Editorial Board

The National College Resources Foundation hosted a Historically Black College and University Tour at Diablo Valley College on Feb. 11 to provide students with information about transferring and three $65,000 scholarships.

The efforts of DVC’s faculty, Umoja program and Equity Committee in bringing the HBCU tour, along with 12 other Black History Month events, to DVC through cross-constituency planning should be applauded.

Contra Costa College’s effort during this celebration’s 90th anniversary to inform students, however, was uninspired. This was due to the expectation that the African-American studies department and the Black Student Union would organize events.

Relying on these two groups this year proved problematic because history professor Manu Ampim is on sabbatical and the BSU has been inactive since the start of the fall 2015 semester.

Last semester, DVC Umoja Coordinator Yvonne Canada said she, various departments and the Pan-African Union started to organize the nine events on campus and four in the community celebrating or acknowledging African-American history. CCC in contrast only has four events planned on its campus.

This is especially disturbing because CCC has a larger percentage of African-American and first generation college students based on headcount, according to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office online DataMart.

While DVC’s and Los Medanos College’s African-American student population makes up 5 and 16 percent, respectively, CCC’s population is at 20 percent.

Further, CCC’s first-generation students make up about 35 percent of its demographic, while LMC is at about 32 percent and DVC at 20 percent.

An email was sent to faculty at LMC and CCC on Dec. 18 informing them that all students are welcome to attend DVC’s events.

But wait. Why would the college with the largest demographic of African-American students not send any of them to this academically and culturally enriching event?

CCC Student Life Coordinator Erika Greene said, “It’s sad we didn’t follow up with the email. When (faculty) got the email we should have marked it on our calendars and let students know — we need to accept responsibility for dropping the ball.

Students at CCC should have been provided information about the HBCU Tour considering Gov. Jerry Brown’s Equity Plan to increase the college transfer and completion rates for African-American, Latino and white males.

While the NCRF would charge the college to include it in a tour, which only visited five campuses statewide, it is worthwhile to use some of the $556,170 available to CCC in equity funds to cover the cost such an event.

We need to come together as a college community if we want to nurture an environment of success for those who are often forgotten.