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Skyline College hosted their second training event, “Whiteness in Higher Education Classrooms”, on Jan. 17. — one of many training events for Skyline College faculty and staff that are part of the Equity Training Series
“The Equity Training Series (ETS) is an intentional sequence of experiences designed to equip participants with skills, strategies, and tools in the areas of pedagogy and cultural fluency,” Skyline College’s website explains.
“Whiteness in Higher Education Classrooms” began with a lecture by Dr. Christine E. Sleeter, professor emerita at California State University, Monterey Bay. Dr. Sleeter spoke about how the higher education system is still based on this idea of whites being the dominant group and that this notion influences everything from the hiring process of faculty and staff to how subjects are taught in class.
Shanna Cooper, Instructional Aide II at Skyline College and one of the event attendees, said that “In this specific workshop, I have learned about defining whiteness, what it is, and how it affects students, as well as staff, and hiring decisions, and things like that,”
According to Katrina Pantig, manager for the Equity Institute and a facilitator for this year’s ETS, as well as ETS last year said that the content for the training series for ETS each year are based on what the Equity Institute thinks Skyline faculty and staff could improve on to better serve Skyline students. One of the ways they do this, Pantig points out, is by looking at the student demographics, and thinking of what can help faculty and staff better serve Skyline students who are underserved.
“There are a lot of different things we do,” Pantig said. “We do research, we look at what’s relevant — what are the needs of our colleagues, and the needs of our students?”
Pantig believes that structural issues at Skyline College are not really discussed when talking about how faculty and staff can better serve the students, and that that is just as important as other issues that are more discussed, such as the cost of housing.
“An area that is rarely touched on, is kind of like — as systems of higher learning, what is it inherently about the structures, the policies, and the practices that we have?” Pantig said. “What about those things that impact the student’s experiences, and what about those things that create certain barriers to the students? — And that’s a different way to look at it.”
Dr. Cheryl Johnson is now the new dean for the Student Equity and Support programs, and she pointed out that next year, the ETS will be facilitated by her, and that it will be changed somewhat at that point.
“What’s going to be slightly different is that it will be organized in partnership with the Center for Teaching and Transformative Learning,” she said.
Dr. Johnson expressed belief that the “Whiteness in Higher Education Classrooms” event will help faculty and staff better serve Skyline students, because it will help inform faculty and staff about the history of college education, and how that affects their pupils.
What will next year’s ETS events be discussing and how will it help Skyline faculty and staff better serve Skyline students? Faculty and staff who attend next year, will soon find out.