The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

State Chancellor discusses vision for community college at town hall meeting
State Chancellor Eloy Oakley in the student center at City College April 25. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

by Ben Irwin | Editor-in-chief | [email protected]

After a tour of City College and a faculty meet-and-greet, Eloy Oakley, state chancellor of California Community Colleges, spoke at a town hall meeting in the Student Center at City College April 25 on the visions and goals for California community colleges, and fielded questions about social injustice, faculty and staff diversity, student voice and equity.

“We believe it’s time to have the difficult conversations,” said Oakley. “It is sorely needed, particularly in light of what’s going on across the country and what’s going on in our communities.”

Oakley recognized the recently reopened wound left from the shooting death of former City College student Stephon Clark by City of Sacramento police, and praised City College’s leadership in opening up the campus to social injustice dialogues.

“This college has served its community for decades and experiences everything the community experiences,” Oakley said. “Thank you—for the work you have done, the example you set couldn’t be more clearly what we aspire every community college to do in all of our communities.”

Oakley fielded a question from Eric Williams, City College business administration major and president of the Business Society, who wondered if faculty are properly equipped to handle social injustice situations like Clark’s death and the string of threatening and racist graffiti on campus over the last two semesters.

Eric Williams, business administration major and president of the Business Society, asks the state chancellor if faculty are being properly equipped to handle threatening vandalism and social injustice. At the Town Hall with State Chancellor Eloy Oakley in the student center at City College April 25. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

“I think there are elephant-in-the-room questions we have to deal with, and that certainly is one of them,” said Oakley. “Generally speaking for our system, the majority don’t have the tools they need to deal with these issues. That’s why it’s important to have faculty and staff that come from those experiences, and they are much better equipped to deal with these situations, and have a better opinion of what to say and what not to say.”
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Oakley also said that he believes that 99.9 percent of faculty and staff in the system want to do everything in their power to do the right thing, and that while faculty and staff diversity is a priority, the demographics of the system are not going to change overnight, so community colleges need to think about how to engrain more training and support to deal with the difficult conversations on race and ethnicity.

Oakley said that emphasis needs to be placed on diversifying faculty and staff.

“We need to get connected to the experiences of our students in ways that we haven’t done before,” said Oakley. “Part of that is the way we hire. Every hire you make, ensure that hire understands the students he or she is going to serve in whatever capacity that you’re hiring, and that they have the tools necessary and the understanding how to support the students.”

Jonathan Leong, business major at Cosumnes River College, asked about student involvement in faculty and staff recruiting practices. Oakley responded by emphasizing the importance of student voices being heard.

“Many students are invited to fair hiring committees,” said Oakley. “Students need to be empowered to speak up. We as educators don’t understand the context your living in because we only understand the context we lived in as students, and we keep on thinking its the same context but its not; my experience was very different from yours. We have to keep hearing your story.”

Oakley stated that California Community Colleges is focused on redesigning the system and colleges around the needs of the students. He shared a powerpoint outlining his vision for success goals, including increasing the numbers of degrees and certificates by 20 percent, increasing transfer rates to UCs and CSUs by 35%, decreasing the units required  for a degree, increasing employment for career education students, reducing regional gaps, and reducing and erasing equity gaps.

“We have to be clearly honest about it and intentionally lean into it [equity],” said Oakley. “We have the privilege of accepting every student from every background regardless of [whether] it’s their first time, or third time, right out of high school, or right out of prison. That’s the beauty of what we do at California community colleges.”

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