The University of California (UC) system employs predominantly white men as administrators and faculty members, according to the Left Out college diversity report released this month by the Campaign for College Opportunity. UC San Diego is one of the most egregious offenders, with a less diverse faculty than other UC campuses.
The study discovered that 72 percent of faculty and administrators are white, compared to 64 percent in the California State University system and 62 percent in the California Community Colleges. UC student enrollment is 54 percent female, but only 27 percent of the UC Regents are female. The only place where UC administrator gender representation is close to that of the student body is the UC Office of the President (UCOP), where 57 percent of employees are female. In most other categories, women make up less than 40 percent of UC employees.
At UCSD, 74 percent of tenured faculty are white, and only six percent are Latinx, who comprise of 20 percent of the student population. The greatest disparity is the UCSD Academic Senate, where 77 percent of representatives are white, and 13 percent are Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander (AANHPI). In contrast, AANHPI students make up 49 percent of the student body.
“In my opinion, having a teacher, professor, or mentor that resembled me was essential to feeling that I belonged and helping me envision my future,” said Theresa Jean Ambo, a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Education Studies Department at UCSD. “Had I not had women of color in these roles, I might not have been bold enough to see myself pursuing an advanced degree.”
Lack of diversity on campus has fueled racially charged incidents, like the infamous Compton Cookout in 2010, where a fraternity hosted a party that belittled African Americans by perpetuating racist stereotypes. UCSD administration addressed the Compton Cookout and the outbreak of racist incidents that followed it with the creation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) requirement. Students are required to take one DEI class as part of the general education requirement.
More recently, Identity Evropa posted anti-DACA banners on Price Center, interrupted lectures, and harassed professors. In recent incidents, the UCSD administration reaffirmed its values of inclusivity, but took no action to rectify the situation.
“I believe the important dialogue to have is how to make sure our faculty of color is retained and that we ensure that they are made visible and appreciated on our campus without their emotional, mental, and physical labor being tokenized and exploited,” said Abraham Galvan, Associated Students of UCSD Vice President of Campus Affairs and Associate Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. “Faculty of color are often faculty who teach DEI requirement courses, sit on EDI committees, and are stretched very thin. Faculty of color are also often some of the people that face the most negative reviews in Course and Professor Evaluations, often because the DEI courses may be considered too controversial or political in the eyes of students.”
The UC system has many plans in place to increase diversity, including a program to recruit faculty that are first-generation graduates. UCOP created the President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, which encourages women and minority students to pursue academic careers in the UC system. The University Committee on Affirmative Action, Diversity, and Equity was created to research better hiring practices that for recruiting diverse faculty.
“The University of California is committed to recognizing and nurturing merit, talent, and achievement by supporting diversity and equal opportunity,” UCOP Director of Media Relations Claire Doan told The Triton. “The UC system has expanded its efforts to recruit, support and retain diverse faculty and leadership at each of its campuses. And the university is making progress: New faculty hires over the past five years are more diverse—in terms of both race and gender—than the current overall faculty population.”
The main argument against diversifying faculty is that there is a “pipeline problem.” In other words, there aren’t enough qualified minorities to fill those position. However, racial and sexist bias often leads people to believe that there are less qualified minorities, when many are qualified for faculty positions. The report says that this is not an excuse for non-action on diversification on campus, but a call for colleges to overcome bias and create an inclusive and diverse faculty presence.
Students of color also face significant obstacles on campus. Racist incidents and the university’s failure to adequately respond creates an unhealthy learning environment for minorities. Students empowered by the lack of minority representation in administrators often perpetuate these incidents and chalk campus with racist messages or put flyers up that send a message to minorities that they are not welcome on campus.
“As a student of color at UCSD, I think it was very obvious that there is a lack of diversity when navigating this campus with multiple classes and multiple professors,” said Galvan. “There are many students of color who wish there was more representation in the faculty and staff at UCSD, especially when systemic hardships already make this campus unwelcoming for many.”
Ethan Coston is a staff writer for The Triton. You can follow him @Ethan4Books