Chicano Latino Alumni Association releases petition to highlight underrepresentation

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The campus Chicano Latino Alumni Association launched an online petition directed at Chancellor Nicholas Dirks on Sept. 18 to highlight underrepresentation of Chicano and Latino individuals in campus senior management positions.

The petition — published by Action Network with a goal of 800 signatures — points out the disproportionate number of Chicano and Latino students, administrators and faculty members on campus in comparison with the population of Chicano and Latino individuals in California as a whole.

The document goes on to point out that Dirks “chose to attend an out-of-state Cal football game rather than attend the first Chicano Latino Legacy Celebration” and asks him to respond promptly or risk losing the CLAA’s partnership as a representative of the campus.

“For us, it’s about having parity and accurate representation on the student level, on the faculty level and on the higher administrative level,” said Sbeydeh Viveros-Walton, a member of the CLAA who is in charge of the upcoming press release regarding the petition.

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof and incoming Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Na’ilah Nasir could not be reached by phone or email.

According to a joint report from CLAA, the Chicana Latino Student Development Office and the Center for Latino Policy Research, almost 40 percent of California’s population is composed of Chicano and Latino individuals, while 11 percent of campus students, staff and faculty comes from this demographic.

The report was brought about in an effort to emphasize the presence of the Chicano and Latino community on campus, and came to fruition during the two-year planning process for the first Chicano and Latino Alumni Legacy Celebration. Its recommendations focus on increasing overall funding for the state education system, fundraising for specific groups, hiring strategies and community engagement, among other areas.

“Finding community is difficult here for some of us,” said Edgar Robles, transfer director of the Bridges Multicultural Resource Center, a coalition of seven groups advocating for underrepresented students on campus.

According to Robles, many underrepresented students come from “low-income backgrounds” and are first-generation college students.

“Coming to Cal, we don’t have resources that a lot of students have, so that’s why we do this work,” Robles said.

While the petition addresses the lack of Chicano and Latino members in senior administration and faculty, students feel affected by the issue of underrepresentation as well.

“What does it mean for our numbers to continuously be so low and underrepresented in terms of senior management leadership?” said campus senior Alejandra Lopez in an email. “What does that demonstrate to students like myself?”

Former campus chancellor Robert Birgeneau said in an email that appointments of Chicano and Latino individuals were attempted during his tenure but not always successful. Potential Chicano and Latino nominees were reached out to, but several were not able to be persuaded to accept employment because of “different reasons for the individuals involved.”

While the demands of several student minority groups have been met — such as a recent joint task force between campus administration and the campus’s Black Student Union — many groups are still actively advocating for underrepresented students.

“Other student groups and faculty groups on campus who are from underrepresented minority groups are also experiencing similar issues,” said Patricia Baquedano-Lopez, chair for the Center for Latino Policy Research and professor in the campus Graduate School of Education. “So more than anything, we hope that this is the beginning of a good conversation.”

Contact Ericka Shin and Pamela Larson at [email protected].