Chancellor Eloy Oakley discusses how to improve diversity and equity on college campuses

Mariah Arviso, Digital Editor

Bakersfield College hosted a webinar with the Chancellor of Community Colleges, Eloy Oakley, on Oct. 26. Oakley discussed topics of diversity and student success.
The Chancellor had a few goals in mind that he believes will help increase student interactions with community colleges as well as their success. Some of those goals include increasing transfer rates to UC’s and CSU’s by 35 percent, decrease average unit obtainment for a degree to 79 percent, and reducing and erasing equity gaps in the college workplace.
“You know we have the great pleasure of serving the top 100 percent of students. That means we have to put equity at the center of everything we do because it is so low-income students and students that come from communities of color that have not had access to the kind of opportunity that many people throughout the state have, can have the same opportunities as everyone else. It is our privileged to be able to focus on this issue,” Oakley said.
According to Oakley, about 72 percent of students are POC or Black, 72 percent of the academic senate committee are white, 61 percent of the tenured faculty are white, 60 percent of non-tenured faculty are white, and 59 percent of the college leadership is white. Oakley recognized that no matter the race of each employee, he knows that they all are working to make sure that students will succeed in anything they are studying for.
“However, it’s also critically important that we recognize. We recognize that having greater diversity in the classroom and in the leadership of the campus, improves student success for all students,” Oakley said. “We have to take this moment to make progress in that direction to improve the culture on our campuses, to look at our curriculum, to ensure that it speaks to all of our students.”
The Chancellor’s main goal is to break down the structures of discrimination as they have seen in higher education. In order to do so, his team created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. Soon after the death of Gorge Floyd, Oakley and his team started to focus their attention on predominantly Black communities. They did research and spoke to the leaders of other community colleges and concluded that this was the best thing to do.
“With the reality of what has been happening… we felt we had to make the future of our students by taking on structural racism, head-on. We’ve asked for a system-wide review of police in first responding training, recognizing some of our finest law enforcement professionals have a responsibility and a direct role in improving the instruction and being held responsible for the kind of policing that’s happening in the community,” he said.
The topic of budgeting was brought up by BC President, Sonya Christian, in regard to the rebuilding and remodeling of the campus. Although there has been no set funding from the state of California’s budget, Oakley hopes that the federal government will be able to help out at least until after the election.