Recently, an article was written by Mercy Sosa, a student who serves as the digital editor for Sacramento State University’s “State Hornet.” The article was an interview conducted by Sosa that details the experience of an assistant professor who works at the school.
Sac State was quick to highlight their position as the fourth most diverse place in the western United States back in 2019, with their largest group being led by Hispanics, the Latinx faculty making up only 7.5 percent.
Similar to Elmhurst University’s plan for the spring of 2022, Sac State has already applied and been approved for the recognition of being a “Hispanic Serving Institution,” or HSI. This is an official title approved by the U.S. Department of Education when schools meet certain criteria such as having over 25 percent full-time undergraduate Hispanic students.
The benefit of becoming an HSI once having met the criteria, is the ability to fund Hispanic students through grants, rewarding the institutions who are meant to be “Hispanic serving.”
The catch is that the criteria to become an HSI is heavily based on the number of Hispanic students a school has, even though the school could still remain indifferent with the amount of action they take when supporting Hispanic students throughout the year.
What I hope is realized on our campus is the intent behind the actions of preformative allyship will quickly be brought to light. Dropping the news of becoming a HSI during a multicultural lecture series that is hardly funded to begin with, with no other mention of the goal, is disconcerting.
Having zero candidates from Hispanic or Latin backgrounds for a new vice president for the diversity, equity, and inclusion position is disheartening. Having absolutely no physical office with no faculty working there, and opting to fill the position with students, is unacceptable for our campus and its supposed values.
The reality is that EU can only throw so much money at its students through grants and scholarships.
EU can only present their admissions office in such a positive light by tokenizing Hispanic students to do Spanish-speaking tours, in an attempt to hold onto the loyalty of the Hispanic and Latin community.
EU needs tangible resources, transparency, and representation amongst its faculty to repair the disconnect and restore a booming community. Standards that come with the purpose and implementation methods of HSIs will need to be upheld.
Even before we get the title of an HSI, there are resources that are in desperate need of being implemented throughout campus — a good place to start would be a proper rebuilding of the ODI office space, with the hiring of people included.
After all, the COVID-19 Task Force was created within the span of weeks in order to keep EU open. Why can’t the same be done for students of diverse backgrounds with diverse needs? Why did we need to wait for a VP of DEI to be hired? Why are we not considered a priority?
Unfortunately, at EU, we don’t have the luxury of having a professor speaking out to advocate for students without having to fear facing serious repercussions from the administration.
Students have to constantly call on the administration for what feels like the bare minimum a prospective HSI should have for its students.
How did we end up here, and how did things end up going so backward at EU? Are we still sticking to our values, or are we more worried about our numbers and shiny new titles?
It would be a real shame to think about EU ending up in a similar fate as Sac State, but based on the lack of diversity and representation being perpetuated here, I am afraid we have already headed in the same direction.