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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Santa Fe College addresses equity goals

The college provides access to partnership programs, affinity groups, trainings and more

<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-76665d78-afbd-6fcf-7b95-987bc825b4f0"><span id="docs-internal-guid-76665d78-afbd-6fcf-7b95-987bc825b4f0">Pictured is the Santa Fe College clock tower. </span></span></p>

Pictured is the Santa Fe College clock tower. 

In the wake of decreased overall enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Fe College lowered some of its equity goals for demographic distribution.

According to the college’s 2020-2021 Educational Equity Act Report, a report about its efforts for nondiscrimination and equal access to education and employment, Santa Fe has updated some of its equity goals, or goals regarding demographic diversity.

The only group that achieved its 2019-2020 overall student enrollment goal is “other minorities” — a category that includes people who are Asian, Native American, Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Alaska native, biracial and multiracial, Santa Fe’s equity officer and Title IX coordinator Lara Zwilling said. The other seven demographic groups include people who are Black, Hispanic, white, female, male, have limited English-language proficiency skills (LEP) or are students with disabilities.

Zwilling said the college’s goals are not based on the previous year’s goals but current enrollment and employment expectations. Due to the pandemic and changing trends, Zwilling said the goals have changed.

Black, white, male and LEP students are among the groups with decreased overall enrollment goals for the 2020-2021 academic year, according to the report. Meanwhile, the overall enrollment goals for Hispanic, other minorities, females and students with disabilities increased.

Compared to Fall 2020, new student enrollment for Fall 2021 is up 24% as of June 28, Zwilling said. Yet, she said this growth is overshadowed by the decrease in overall enrollment from the previous year.

Zwilling said the college aims to increase diversity through virtual events for incoming students, re-engagement efforts with former students, affinity groups and partnership programs.

One program that promotes student equity is My Brother’s Keeper, a recruitment and retention program for Black men that supports student academic and personal growth, according to the college’s website.

“We just want to make sure we’re student-facing, we’re here, and we’re here to serve students,” Zwilling said. “Our goal is a more diverse campus. And so, that is what we’re constantly striving for.”

Jamaal Baptiste, a 24-year-old information technologies student and MBK ambassador, said MBK provides financial opportunities and a sense of belonging within a predominantly white space. 

“I believe it serves as more of a pipeline for more disadvantaged groups, primarily Black males going into college with little direction,” Baptiste said.

Beyond the student population, the decrease in equity goals extends to the college’s staff.

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The Hispanic male full-time executive, administrative and managerial staff goal decreased from a stated 3% goal in Fall 2020 to a 2% Fall 2021 goal while raising or maintaining the goals for all other groups, according to the report. The EAM goal for white male staff remained at 30% of EAM positions for Fall 2021.

For increasing diversity among the staff, Zwilling said the college is currently developing an Association of Hispanic Faculty & Staff affinity group and has purchased advertising packages to find niche publications for hiring.

Due to a decline in enrollment, Lela Frye, the director of human resources, said an increase in hiring opportunities is not expected. She noted Santa Fe partners with UF for a faculty development project that strives to increase Santa Fe’s faculty diversity and give underrepresented UF doctoral students teaching experience. 

The partnership is an opportunity for potential minority faculty candidates, and the project’s students are considered Santa Fe adjunct faculty when teaching, she said.

Santa Fe also aims to increase equity opportunities and awareness by offering free workshops to the college’s students and employees, Zwilling said. 

In partnership with the Racial Equity Institute, Santa Fe has offered two online interactive workshops in June and has plans to offer another one later this year, according to the college’s website. The trainings focus on increasing awareness of institutional racism and how it has affected society and institutions, as well as teach how to use the information provided and pursue institutional change.

“The more people that understand and have this knowledge and this training, the better we’ll be able to continue to move forward as an equitable society,” said Cheryl Calhoun, Santa Fe’s dean of access and inclusion.

Contact Antonia LaRocca at Follow her on Twitter @antoniarlarocca.

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Antonia LaRocca

Antonia LaRocca is a staff writer at The Alligator.

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