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State task force discusses equity in higher education

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The state’s Recovery with Equity Task Force works on achieving equity in higher education in California. The group has made 11 recommendations. (Image courtesy of Pixabay)
By Liv Pearson

California’s Recovery with Equity Task Force held a briefing May 11 for student leaders on the Recovery with Equity Roadmap and discussed plans to achieve equity for students. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s senior policy advisor for higher education, Lande Ajose, who established the Recovery with Equity Task Force last summer, briefly expanded on the project’s 11 recommendations, which focus on achieving equity amongst students. The recommendations list includes ideas such as to cultivate inclusive, and engaging and equity-oriented learning environments.

“This means students need to be able to see themselves not just in the people who are on campus, but in the curriculum itself,” Ajose said. “They need to be able to see themselves … in leadership roles. It’s about making sure that the learning itself is reflective of and responsive to the students who are in our student body.”

Establishing an Integrated Admissions Platform was another of the suggestions. Ajose suggested a platform such as Californiacolleges.edu.

“There, you would find applications to any UC, any CSU,” she said. “You can enroll in any Community College.” 

Aidan Arasasingham, president of the University of California Student Association, spoke about the importance of students’ voices being heard, especially when it comes to equity.

“The fact that this report charts a bold course for not going back to normal, but creating a new normal that is more inclusive and supportive of students, really reflects the values throughout this process of listening to the students,” Arasasingham said. 

Stephen Kodur, president of Student Senate for California Community Colleges, addressed student financial aid resources as another focal point.

“I want to highlight the investments in student support,” Kodur said. “College affordability is a huge issue and that’s why the California Community College System, along with the UC system and the CSU system, we’ve actually formed a fixed financial aid coalition. We are trying to get more resources in the hands of our students by improving Cal Grant.”

Kodur said eliminating some of those barriers, such as time out of high school and age, would allow for more students to receive financial aid. An emphasis on financial aid and resources, he added, would allow for more student success

Community College enrollment in California has declined 12% during the pandemic, which is a historic drop. 

“Some colleges, like mine near the Central Valley, it’s actually closer to 20%,” Kodur said. “It’s primarily due to students not having the resources that they need to succeed.”  

Cal State Student Association President Zahraa Khuraibet said the CSSA. has been “advocating for a Cradle-to-Career data system for a long time.” and that the association is pleased to see that the governor’s proposed budget, as well as the task force’s recommendations, included this. 

“California has been long overdue for this type of system and it would benefit our students immensely,” Khuraibet said.

More information on the Cradle-to-Career Data System can be found on the California Department of Education website Cde.ca.gov.

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