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By Cynthia Menzel

The San Joaquin Delta College Teacher Association’s Social Justice Committee earned the Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award presented by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges.

The prestigious award honors faculty members’ tireless work on behalf of Delta College students through projects such as the Dreamer’s Success Center, Social Justice Radio Hour and Pathway to Law Program. SJDCTA is an affiliate of the Community College Association/CTA.

The Social Justice and Equity Committee members represent several disciplines: law, art, multimedia, history, early childhood, English and languages.  Committee members include CCA members Ricardo Aguilar, Spanish; Adriana Brogger, Radio & Television, Multimedia; Nena Bush, Early Childhood Education; Steven McCarty, business law; Mario Moreno, painting and drawing; and Evan Wade, history. 

The statewide award recognizes an individual or group that is exceptional in contributing to the advancement of intercultural harmony, equity, and campus diversity at their college and includes a cash reward of $5,000. 

“In the spirit of social justice, our committee unanimously agreed to use the monetary component of the award toward committee efforts for the advancement of social justice and equity on our campus and in our community,” said McCarty. “The committee plans on utilizing the proceeds for such efforts as supporting events or helping to provide resources, activities, or scholarships for students who are engaged in social justice advocacy.” 

“It has taken everyone’s participation, and this diversity award is recognition of our community as a whole, which we hope will inspire continued work in this area,” Moreno noted. “Silence is not an option for social justice advocacy, and we hope this award emboldens more progress for students and our community. ¡Órale!”

The CCA members founded the committee in 2018 intending to enhance diversity and create equity-minded changes.  They note that Delta college students are 46% Latino, 20% White, 18% Asian, 8.4% Black and 5.3 % who identify as multi-ethnic. 

The committee accomplished all but one goal within the first year. Their accomplishments to date include:

  • A Dream Center for undocumented students. The center provides legal-aid services, financial aid advising, mental health counseling and a study center, and it serviced over one thousand students during fall 2019. 
  • A state-approved social justice studies major. Faculty worked with the State Chancellor’s Office and the college curriculum committee to launch an introduction to social justice studies course and an introductory course concentrating on law and social governance.
  • A Social Justice Radio Show to broadcast challenging conversations related to social justice. The student-produced show is aired weekly and touches upon issues such as voting and social justice,  white privilege, and defining social justice.
  • An ethnic studies graduation requirement. Faculty are sponsoring various curriculum changes to support students, including an ethnic studies graduation requirement to the guided pathways sequence and developing an equity-minded honors program. Studies show that ethnic studies courses and an honors program increase student access, retention and success rates.  
  • Faculty training. Committee members underwent training on equity-minded pedagogy to introduce new teaching strategies and then facilitated three flex workshops to train faculty on topics such as undocumented Americans, social justice and pedagogy, and advocacy training for students.
  • A robust Pathway to Law program consisting of student services and curriculum to enhance opportunities for a diversity of students and to help diversify the legal profession.

Another committee goal is mental health. Student access and retention are strongly related to mental health, so the CCA members are advocating for mental health resources on campus and are lobbying to have a national mental-health organization charter on their campus.  

Silence is not an option for social justice advocacy, and we hope this award emboldens more progress for students and our community…

The CCA members serve as faculty advisors to Active Minds, which provides mental health support, food and resources; I Am/ Yo Soy!, a social club that provides scholarships for undocumented students; the Black Student Union, which provides student support and scholarships; and the Pathway to Law School Program, which provides legal access for underrepresented students. 

The CCA members were to be honored at the 2020 Spring Plenary Session on April 17, but that event has been postponed due to the Covid 19 pandemic.The Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award is sponsored by the Foundation for California Community Colleges.

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