“Equity,” “Diversity” and “Inclusion” are words that get thrown around a lot lately, but what do these words really mean? More importantly, what do these words mean when employed on the college campus and in the workplace?
25th Hour Communications had the pleasure of hosting two of California’s community college diversity and inclusion thought leaders, Dr. Keith Curry, president of Compton College, and Dr. Pamela Luster, president of San Diego Mesa College. The pair call themselves “The Equity Avengers” and host weekly conversations on social media about what diversity, equity and inclusion look like on college campuses.
“Looking at any situation and seeing who has access, who can be successful with that access, and have we built supports and inclusive practices to make sure that everyone who has access can reach success,” said Dr. Luster, on her definition of equity.
Her friendship with Dr. Curry was an unlikely one. During their conversation with 25th Hour Communications, Dr. Luster told their friendship origin story. While at a panel discussion with other college administrators discussing accreditation, she failed to give Dr. Curry a chance to speak. She had not, she realized, been totally equitable. That, she said, was a learning experience and when she realized what had happened, she immediately went to Dr. Curry to apologize.
That particular story illustrates the lack of equity, she said.
“‘Equity is asking yourself ‘who is missing from the room?’ and ‘who is in the room but isn’t getting their voice heard?’” said Dr. Luster.
Dr. Curry said his definition of equity is constantly evolving, but when considering how to ensure Compton College is equitable, he said he strives to include equity in all of his decision-making.
“I’m always looking at fairness. I’m looking at access. I’m looking at our student success,” he said. “And I’m really looking at how we are making sure our policies and procedures are equitable so that everyone has access, everyone is being successful, and it’s fair across the board.”
What makes their institutions effectively implement diversity, equity and inclusion into their policies and procedures? Dr. Curry said it’s Compton College and San Diego Mesa College’s commitment to these values at all levels of their schools, and more importantly, the ability of all members to be critical of their superiors.
Follow Dr. Curry (@Iamkeithcurry) and Dr. Luster (@SDMesaPrez) on Twitter and catch their weekly #EquityChat live on Twitter on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. PST.