Academic Senate approves EODAC committee charge, despite opposition

Anthony Vasquez, Editor-in-Chief

BC’s Academic Senate implements and debates academic and professional issues that revolve around BC’s campus and curriculum system. Their senate body, which is built up of a majority of classified staff, faculty, and one student body representation, held a meeting on Feb. 15, which caused a stir as they debated whether or not to approve the charge for the Equal Opportunity & Diversity Advisory Council (EODAC), which focuses on improving issues that surround college diversity. A charge is the set of tasks and duties of a committee. It denotes who it provides updates to and which groups it communicates with, as well as dictating membership and voting rights. 

The charge proposed as an alternative EODAC involved creating a new committee titled DEI that would implement strictly-faculty voting seats for issues that revolve around campus diversity. The majority of voting members that had been present at the meeting held different views on the charge, which caused a mass debate for the entire session.

A senator at the meeting mentioned that it was crucial to consider the fact that only 25% of BC’s faculty are people of color, and if they intend to create a committee that focuses on diversity on campus, this statistic should be acknowledged.

Andrea Thorson, professor of communication at BC and faculty co-chair of EODAC, voiced her opinion at the meeting by stating that the idea of creating another committee “creates a segregated committee, which is shameful.” She even elaborated on the fact that the EODAC committee already brings diverse opinions onto campus, and that if faculty were to create DEI, it would only make the faculty more “disgustingly entitled,” due to the fact that they intend to bring more faculty power, and that could result in a decrease of student representation.

Shehrazad Barraj, president of the Bakersfield College Student Government Association, and a student trustee for KCCD, also expressed her opinions of DEI during a portion of the meeting’s public comment. She stated, “I am speaking on behalf of the students that have an issue with the lack of diversity within the voting body of the DEI Committee.” 

She also emphasized that EODAC already focuses on what the proposed committee aimed to work on, except that the proposed committee only wants to include faculty in the conversation of diversity. 

“EODAC allows for more inclusion as the voting body is significantly bigger, accepting more variation of voices on all fronts– as well as having a co-chair from every group, faculty, admin, classified, and students as well. Meanwhile, DEI would only honor the voices of faculty.”

Another student who had voiced an opinion regarding DEI’s plans to create an only faculty committee was the Student Government Association representative Tania Escalante. She had questioned a faculty member’s claim, which stated that voting faculty members would welcome students to attend the committee, but that the students would not have the ability to voice their concerns. “You say like faculty knows students better but how would you know if the only reason you want students there is to warm the seat?”

When it came to the final vote on approving the EODAC charge, the final vote came out to a majority vote of 11, enough to approve the EODAC charge to increase student representation with a student co-chair and four student voting members, in addition to nine classified and nine faculty representative on the committee.