Student Equity program provides resources for diverse communities

Student+Equity+Program+Coordinator+Monica+Delgado+has+worked+at+El+Camino+College+for+three+and+a+half+years.+%E2%80%9CEquity+has+always+been+something+I%E2%80%99m+passionate+about%2C+maybe+just+through+my+own+experience+and+seeing+inequities+in+the+world+and+especially+in+education%2C%22+Delgado+said.+Rosemary+Montalvo%2FThe+Union

Student Equity Program Coordinator Monica Delgado has worked at El Camino College for three and a half years. “Equity has always been something I’m passionate about, maybe just through my own experience and seeing inequities in the world and especially in education," Delgado said. Rosemary Montalvo/The Union

Upon entering the room, a sense of community and familiarity can be felt. From students eating lunch together, laughing in conversation, or just holding study sessions together, a feeling of comfortability is apparent.

A hub specifically catered to students of color on campus can be found at the side entrance of the new El Camino College Student Services Building.

The Student Equity & Achievement Village (SEA Village) located in Room 100 is a space for students of color to study, build community, get together and support each other, Monica Delgado, Student Equity Program coordinator said.

Under the Student Equity & Achievement Program, which houses over 10 programs catered to providing support services for underserved students from diverse backgrounds, the SEA Village is a place where students can come together.

One of the Student Equity programs, Knowledgeable, Engaged, and Aspiring Students (KEAS) is being phased out after this semester. It was focused on helping students of color get into and through transfer-level classes, specifically developmental English and mathematics, but since AB705 was passed the focus was no longer on developmental classes, Delgado said.

“The work of student equity is to continue supporting students of color, the goal is to close academic achievement gaps,” Delgado said. “We have to believe we can close achievement gaps and we have to do everything in our power to help students achieve, and not just some more than others.”

Delgado has been with ECC for three and a half years as the Student Equity program coordinator. Before that she coordinated service-learning projects for students at CSU, Long Beach and prior to that she was a director of a hip-hop art nonprofit organization.

“Equity has always been something I’m passionate about, maybe just through my own experience and seeing inequities in the world and especially in education, so it was just a good place for me to come here,” Delgado said.

Delgado said that by working at ECC she was able to put both worlds of her work at CSU, Long Beach and the hip-hop arts nonprofit together.

“At the nonprofit, there was like this energy, this youthful spirit and creative people and when I was at Cal State Long Beach it was this other side, academia and a little more dry,” Delgado said. “So I feel like I was able to bring two of my interests and passions together but all under the umbrella of equity in education, which I really love.”

Now that all of the equity programs are in the same building the program coordinators came together to create a shared space for students.

“We try to create a safe space and a comfortable place for students so they can express themselves and not feel discriminated against I have to deal with microaggressions,” Delgado said.

The equity counselors are right across the hall and they check in periodically to see how students are doing, Delgado said.

Tutors are also available to students in the SEA Village in a variety of subjects including mathematics, English, political science, computer science, history and Spanish.

“This is probably one of the only places on campus where they [students] can find tutors that they could relate to because they’re peer tutors and some are professional tutors which mean they’ve graduated already,” Delgado said. “They’re [the tutors] also people who were students and went through the process already so our students are able to identify with our tutors.”

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A white board filled with names of Student Equity & Achievement Village tutors and their time of availability to help students in their specific subjects in Room 100 of the Student Services Building on Thursday, Dec. 5. Rosemary Montalvo/The Union

Jazmin Cruz, 25, English tutor and former ECC student has been tutoring through the KEAS program since it began in 2015, said the bond she has with the students is the reason she continues to come back year after year to help students.

“You feel comfortable with the people here, it’s like a nice family or friendship bonding environment, that’s what I like about this place,” Cruz said. “I feel a responsibility to them [the students], to not let them down and just to help them.”

The space is equipped with several tables and chairs and eight computers in the back of the room available for students to use and they are allowed to print 10 free pages a day. Different workshops are provided for students periodically, but an official workshop schedule for the Village hasn’t been created yet, Delgado said.

In addition to tutors and counselors specifically accessible to the students, there are professors on campus who do through equity training so that they’re able to relate with underserved students, Delgado said.

“I like working here, you get to meet new people and hang out,” Jhakur Mc Leod, 22, psychology major, said. “Monica wants it to be a place where you can come in and do your work and talk and socialize.”

Mc Leod is a front desk worker at the SEA Village and is a part of the KEAS program.

“I mostly enjoy the counselors cause you get the sense that they actually care about your well-being and how you’re doing in your classes,” Mc Leod said. “They actually take time to help you set up a cohesive schedule, and make periodic checkups on you which is very helpful especially around times of high-stress semesters like fall.”

There is no sign up necessary to utilize the SEA Village, however, students are required to swipe in and out using their ECC student ID card and select the reason they’re using the space. It is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.