Student Equity Program provides help for students

By Leslie Santibanez-Molina
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Members of Ujima huddle closely together and discuss everyday topics while on break from their next class. The atmosphere in the room can be related to a family gathering. (Diego D. Garcia | Viewpoints)

With the arrival of the fall semester the Student Equity Program is here to help students who are in need of textbooks, free gas money and food.

Textbooks are materials students use to pass a course. Without a reliable mode of transportation or access to textbooks, students tend to drop courses.

The Guardian, which is a British newspaper, describes American colleges being filled with too many barriers.”

According to the Student Equity Chair, Kristi Woods reports that the program has been around since the mid 90s but did not receive proper funding until 2014.

Riverside City College now has a plan to counter the difficulties students face in college. The plan is known as the Student Equity Program. RCC’s Student Equity Program Report describes the goal of the program as “don’t lose the student.”

The program has a priority of helping students succeed in college.

“Their goal is to ensure that all students are getting equitable access to programs … and are succeeding at rates that are proportional to their population,” Woods said.

To gain a clearer understanding on their students, RCC gathered data. This data focuses on Student Equity groups and how their success rates are compared to other Equity groups. These Equity groups are based on students backgrounds and the distinct challenges they face in college.

For instance Asian Pacific Islander, Latinos and African American students may have different obstacles. The executive summary addresses the reasons behind the challenges these groups of students face.

Previous RCC programs often failed to assist students from these groups. RCC’s S.E.P. report mentioned how “the programs were often dependent … on faculty and staff willing to put in additional time to make such programs work effectively.”

This would result in students not improving their success rates, thus creating gaps. To counteract these gaps the S.E.P. Report plans to, “address systemic institutional barriers that impede students success.”

Anyone can be part of the program, but must meet one requirement to qualify for assistance. Students must already be in a qualifying program such as  La Casa and Ujima Project.These programs offer a variety of benefits for students such as meal vouchers, gas cards, textbook loans, lending libraries and child care. RCC receives government funding for these programs.

Family is essential to the program and is reflected in their motto which is “each one, reach one.”

Woods also says that communication between students and instructors results in more trust.   

Although RCC’s S.E.P. report data focuses on Student Equity groups college success rate, anyone is welcome in any program. The overall goal of the Student Equity Program is to help students.