Executive Dean, Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Initiatives
Accreditation Liaison Officer
Q: What is your role as Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, Grants, and Research?
T: In my position I handle accreditation, strategic planning, grant development, research/data team, program review, student equity and achievement. We’ve been able to write many grants specific to student equity.
Q: Are you familiar with the surrounding area and the systemic problems in the community?
T: I grew up in Hemet and have experienced discrimination as a mixed Hispanic woman in my life. It was a very homogenous community back then, but now there’s more diversity and progression and I’m very happy to see that. However, there are still people who are unaware of the little insults, or microaggressions, they project and how it is damaging communities. When I first began here at MSJC, it was really important to bring up issues involving race, sex, and gender in order to correct issues as soon as possible and make progress. We [MSJC Board of Trustees] had very challenging conversations, but we came out better because of them.
Q: How long has the Equity Pledge been in development?
T: We started working on the pledge about 10 years ago. We have a core group of faculty members who have been focusing on equity challenges at the school. In the past year and a half, we’ve been pushing to release the pledge and not remain with the status quo. It has always been important to us for MSJC to stand for equity.
Q: Why equity and not equality?
T: This was a key factor for the pledge to move forward. We as a team had to decide on a word and definition and we couldn’t move forward until we all agreed. Equality implies that all students are treated equally and given equal benefits. For example, if MSJC wanted to be equal in giving students laptops for schoolwork, they would give every single student a laptop. This doesn’t necessarily work out because some students already have a laptop and would not benefit from a second one while students who don’t have laptops might be lacking other means to operate their new laptops. Each student has different needs in order to succeed and we wanted to meet those needs. We chose equity because it is defined as proportional representation, bringing students to the same level and allowing for a better educational system.
Q: Why is the pledge important?
T: The pledge is a symbolic gesture to show that the institution is working together to maintain equity among MSJC students. We only want you to sign the pledge if you truly believe in it. While we encourage our students to sign the pledge, it is the shared responsibility of our faculty and staff members to provide our students with a safe and friendly environment in order to succeed. We need to do the work, not the students. So far, we have almost 300 of our faculty members who have committed to the pledge!
Q: What plans are in store now that the Equity Pledge is in motion?
T: We have plans hopefully for the fall and spring. There’s plans for professional development with our faculty and staff. We’re sending our staff members for training and learning about equity, implicit bias, teaching men of color, LGBTQ+, and microaggressions.
We want to integrate equity and diversity into our curriculum and make changes to our syllabi to provide more variety to students. We also want to increase student engagement by holding more activities every month and focus on high-priority groups. It’s important to us for students to have a sense of belonging here at MSJC.
Last but not least, we want to address racism within our area. Racism is systemic, so how do you disrupt it? By gathering communities together and fixing issues within our system. Racism exists outside of MSJC, so we’re pulling together unified school districts and other institutions in the area to change our perspective as whole. We cannot move forward until we are all on the same page.
Q: What ways can students help with promoting student equity?
T: It’s all about being involved in whatever capacity. Be aware of things going on at any institution you’re at. We need to hear from you, students cannot stay silent. Share your information and share your feedback so it does rise. It’s so huge to have a community college here in San Jacinto because it’s educating our society and, more importantly, our leaders. We need more educational development available to our leaders because it allows for change and empathy. With education and cooperation, we can change the cycle of poverty.
Q: Any additional comments you would like students to hear?
T: We are here for our students to hear their voices. It doesn’t matter what you have faced, we will do everything possible to achieve their goals.