Santa Fe College’s Student Life puts on events, trainings and programs to promote diversity, equity and inclusion at the college.
The department raises awareness about a different culture each month. In May, it offered Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month activity bags for currently enrolled students and created a trivia night to raise awareness for AAPI Heritage Month.
“It’s good to get the word out there,” 21-year-old Santa Fe College health services administration senior Kayla McCray, who works in Student Life at the front desk, said regarding the activity bags. “It’s good to just share the knowledge and to also have these certain students that may be a part of these, you know, different backgrounds have their voice heard.”
The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, a research and policy center at California State University, San Bernardino, found a 149% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in America from 2019 to 2020. The first spike occurred in March and April amid an increase in negative stereotyping of Asians relating to COVID-19. This is in contrast to the center’s report finding that there was a 7% decline in overall hate crimes in 2020.
The bags included materials for creating a sand mandala, a Chinese calligraphy lantern, a Shibori-dyed bandana and origami, according to Student Life’s website.
“We are just a small piece in this whole world that is beautiful with so much diversity,” said Marina Jordan, Santa Fe College’s international student support and advising coordinator.
For the AAPI Heritage Month trivia event, Megan Beery, a Student Life front desk specialist, said she learned a lot when creating the trivia questions.
“People are hurting,” Beery said regarding social injustice toward minority groups. “This is an opportunity to get more information to have a better understanding and then spread that information out just to help folks be more aware, raise compassion and knowledge.”
Reine Labak, a 19-year-old Santa Fe College clinical laboratory science student, said she likes the different Student Life activity bags.
“Every time there’s an activity bag on campus, I am right there getting one,” Labaki said.
Along with activity bags and trivia nights, the college provides opportunities for international students to be represented on campus.
As an international student from Lebanon, Labaki said she was surprised at how the college advocates for diversity.
“There’s people from all over the world, and they don’t really care who you are or where you’re from,” Labaki said. “They just want to be there for you, and they want you to excel in your education.”
As president of the college’s International Student Cultural Association, Labaki said she wants to help other international students at Santa Fe College adjust to college life.
Santa Fe College was one of five colleges to receive the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization in the Comprehensive Award category in 2021. The award recognized the college’s internationalization efforts in the excellence of programs, mission, strategies and results, according to the award website.
Alanis Gonzalez Maldonado, a 19-year-old Santa Fe College art education student, said she witnessed the college’s inclusivity efforts as a student from Puerto Rico and as a member of the college’s International Student Cultural Association.
“I do think that it’s very necessary, even though it’s not advocating for anything serious from the very start,” Gonzalez Maldonado said regarding the college’s inclusivity efforts and activities like the activity bags and trivia nights.
Yet, she said the events can work as outlets for bringing people together. Gonzalez Maldonado said she is hopeful serious conversations can begin from the events on how to integrate international students and different cultures on campus.
Santa Fe College also promotes inclusivity by enhancing its digital accessibility.
For Global Accessibility Awareness Day May 20, Santa Fe College posted four videos on its official TikTok account to share how it works to make its website accessible. The college’s web designer Aaron Hall explained through sign language and text captions how the college accomplishes its goal.
In the videos, Hall described how the college’s website is designed to be user-friendly for people who use screen-reader technology and for those who can’t use a computer mouse.
As of May 2021, more than 300 faculty completed the Accessibility and Copyright Primer training and over 2,000 instructional videos have been captioned over the last four years, according to the college’s website.
Contact Antonia LaRocca at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @antoniarlarocca.
Antonia LaRocca is a staff writer at The Alligator.