Clackamas Community College introduces diversity committee

Story by Emily Roberts

The college created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee in an effort to create an environment that is understanding for students and staff of different backgrounds.

“What I noticed when I came here is that there is a lot of interest here in diversity, equity and inclusion, but there’s a lot of one-offs,” said Clackamas Community College president Tim Cook. “There wasn’t a cohesive overall plan to look at how our students are doing, to look at how our staff is doing, to look at how the college is addressing diversity, equity and inclusion. I’m glad people are interested in it, but you just can’t get there with these little pieces here and there without having some connection to all that.”

The DEI is comprised of faculty, students, Associated Student Government and members of the community. The college hired an outside consultant to help as well.

Global Leadership Solutions, LLC, Inc. has a contract with the college from Jan. 14, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2021; they’ve been hired in order to help the DEI committee develop a plan to improve the community.

John Ginsburg, director of student life and Title IX coordinator for students as well as the co-facilitator of the DEI, said, “Such a plan is wide-ranging and could have an impact on making sure that everything the college does is inclusive, from hiring practices to marketing to campus events.”

The consultants are being paid a maximum of $49,999, according to the contract. But where does that funding come from?

Cook said, “I have a small contingency budget just to spend on different initiatives, different things. I think they call it the president’s budget.”

From the money held aside for the president’s spending, he decided to put a portion of it towards the diversity consultants.

Cook’s past experiences with colleges may paint a clearer picture. His previous employer, Clark College in Vancouver, Wash., had reportedly struggled with inclusion and equity among both students and staff.

“My experience there helped inform me about what worked, what didn’t work, trying to think about those aspects” Cook said.

Stephanie Schaefer, a full-time counselor and member of the DEI, said, “I would say higher education as a whole was originally designed generally by a specific type of person for a specific type of person. Just CCC being an institution of higher education, that’ll happen, whether or not it’s intentional, that’s just the system of higher education. I would say our country is built on practices that exclude others.”

In 2017, Clackamas Community College’s demographics were 48.8 percent Caucasian. At least 18 percent of students identified themselves as people of color, but 33.6 percent of students didn’t identify their racial or ethnic background.

From 2013 to 2017, the numbers for each ethnicity remained around the same percentage, with the Hispanic demographic rising from 7.4 percent to 9.5 percent.

Cook has suggested that the college could do a better job attracting more diverse people who better represent Clackamas County.

But what’s the plan for making the college a better place for everyone?

As Cook said, “The overall plan is that we have a plan.”

The contract states that for phase one for winter quarter is an environmental scan. For phase two of the same quarter is DEI strategic planning. Phase three is DEI strategic plan development. Lastly, phase three of the fall quarter is for the DEI strategic plan to be finalized and submitted to the college.