$6.9 million could go towards student equity and achievement


Academic Senate President Darcie McClelland stands as she counts the votes for the Student Equity and Achievement Plan at the Tuesday, Nov. 1, meeting. The plan passed 27-0 with one abstain and goes to the College Council for approval. (Anthony Lipari | The Union)

El Camino College’s Academic Senate passed a measure that could allocate $6.9 million from the state to go towards student equity and achievement during its meeting on Nov. 1.

The Student Equity and Achievement Plan, which passed 27-0 with one abstention, aims to benefit 25 programs that focus on improving achievement gaps at El Camino College.

With the Academic Senate approval, the Student Equity and Achievement Plan will go to the College Council for a second approval. Once approved, it goes to the Board of Trustees for the final approval.

Academic Senate President Darcie McClelland said the plan helps close equity gaps, especially for Black students.

“The state gives us money to improve equity,” McClelland said. “In order for us to get that money, we have to have a plan in place for what we’re going to do to close those equity gaps.”

Out of the 25 programs funded in the plan, the Student Equity and Achievement Office would receive the most amount of money at approximately $1.4 million followed by general counseling which would get $1.1 million.

Other programs included in the plan are the Black Student Success Center, Social Justice Center, First Year Experience, Project Success and the Transfer Center.

That money is also allocated towards part-time and full-time salaries, along with benefits for both.

McClelland said the intervention to close equity gaps in the math and English courses is the most important part of the plan.

“Those are our courses where students are being held up from continuing our education,” McClelland said. “They’re courses that are required for pretty much every degree on this campus.”

McClelland said the plan will be on the agenda for the Monday, Nov. 21, Board of Trustees meeting.

“It needs to be approved by the end of the month,” McClelland said.

The reasoning behind the urgency is because it has to go to the state after the Board of Trustees meeting.

Human Development professor and former Academic Senate President Kristie Daniel-Digregorio said getting “surgical” and “spotlighting” Black students is one of the best parts about the plan.

“That gives me goosebumps just thinking about it,” Daniel-Digregorio said.

Dean of Counseling and Student Success Dipte Patel said passing the plan was good for El Camino.

“At the college, we need to be on the same page and working together to bridge those equity gaps,” Patel said. “The plan… took in input from many areas on student services and instruction of how we can work towards those goals.”

Other members, like Math professor Lars Kjeseth, support the plan but also believes that improvements can be made.

“There only seems to be a very few ways in which they’re reaching instructional faculty through the [Student Equity and Achievement] budget,” Kjeseth said.

However, Kjeseth said the plan’s second reading was better than the first one at the previous Oct. 18 meeting.

“The report was really very much a rough draft three weeks ago [Oct. 18],” Kjeseth said. “You can actually read it and get some sense of what the plan is.”

Kjeseth said more needs to be done in the classroom in understanding the inequities that students face.

“We’re not in a place where we’re really addressing the inequities that exist in how we teach and how we think about grading and how we think about curriculum,” Kjeseth said.

Nonetheless, the optimism for the new plan is spread throughout El Camino employees who believe that it can bridge the gaps in student achievement.

“One college one team,” Vice President of Student Services Ross Miyashiro said. “To close student equity gaps and give every student at El Camino College the same chance of fulfilling their academic goals.”