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Cabrillo College Q: How can it better serve its Hispanic students?

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Cabrillo College first won designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution in 2006, a federal identifier that makes colleges eligible for related federal grant programs. Since then, Cabrillo’s Hispanic-identified student population has increased by more than 20%. Last fall, 47% of its students identified as Hispanic, meaning they come from a Spanish-speaking background. To qualify for the designation, higher education institutions must have an enrollment of at least 25% Hispanic students. UC Santa Cruz won the same designation in 2014.

Now, Cabrillo is revisiting the question of how he can best serve his Hispanic students and the greater Hispanic community around them. And it brings to the fore — for a fall decision — the ongoing question of renaming the Cabrillo, given its name’s triumphant roots.

On Monday evening, a task force consisting of President Matt Wettstein and more than 70 staff and faculty members released its recommendations on how to do just that. As the Cabrillo Board of Trustees heard and discussed the report, Wettstein announced a $400,000 investment in the next academic year and increased inclusion efforts.

In addition to increasing the marketing budget, the money will go toward hiring a position focused on Spanish-language marketing and outreach, as well as providing travel funds to conferences and funding public art on campus, community events and speakers.

As recent studies show that the epidemic continues, jobs and money will come disproportionate impact on underrepresented groups, including Latino and Hispanic communities. 2019 to 2021, Hispanic undergraduate Enrollment fell 7%According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

At Cabrillo, the percentage of Hispanic students during that period was approximately 42%, according to an online database. Datamart. But like many groups at the college and across the country, the overall number of Hispanic students at Cabrillo dropped from 7,295 to 6,527.

The task force began meeting a year ago after a faculty group Chicano/Latino Affairs Council — which is made up of faculty, staff and students — made it clear that they want to improve the college’s work with Hispanic students.

Wetstein appointed a task force, which began meeting monthly, looking at other organizations; It reviewed best practices, including Gina Garcia’s book “Becoming Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Opportunities for Colleges and Universities.”

In its report, the task force focused on Recommendations for six different topics of work: policy and advocacy, curriculum and professional development, accountability framework/equity auditing system creation, external community outreach, internal community spaces and student support services.

Among its recommendations:

  • develop a plan to create an ethnic studies department;
  • Create mechanisms to audit the College’s progress on HSI-enhancing initiatives;
  • seeking funding for the renovation and expansion of the science lab at the Watsonville Center;
  • On an annual basis, provide free Cabrillo tuition to 50 employees to complete ethnic studies classes;
  • Support the creation of Latinx-focused mural/public art projects (indoor and outdoor) on the Watsonville and Aptos campuses.

Another recommendation directly addresses the simmering issue of Cabrillo College’s name. The issue, first raised nearly two years ago, prompted a series of community forums and surveys. Now, the Name discovery process Wind towards a conclusion. The task force recommended the Board of Trustees reach a final decision by the end of the fall semester.

At this point, the Name Exploration Subcommittee is scheduled to finalize its report in October and present it at the November 14 Board of Trustees meeting.

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