Chancellor Carol Christ announces efforts to increase faculty diversity

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Chancellor Carol Christ released a statement Monday titled “Plans to Advance Faculty Diversity” to share information about future plans and present efforts to increase the diversity of UC Berkeley’s faculty.

According to the statement, which adds to the campus’s Undergraduate Student Diversity Project released in Dec. 2018, UC Berkeley intends to create a more diverse faculty by increasing efforts to identify diverse applicants who apply for faculty positions, changing the criteria for the hiring of faculty and advancing the environment of diversity, equity and inclusivity for faculty.

According to Aastha Jha, chief of staff to ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President Melany Amarikwa, the faculty on campus is very homogenous. Jha also said that the different colleges on the campus have taken steps toward increasing diversity.

“We need to make sure our faculty is diverse,” Jha said. “(Faculty members are) often unaware what might make people uncomfortable.”

To achieve its diversity goals, the campus is planning to increase its faculty by 100 positions. Dr. Tyrone Hayes, a campus professor of integrative biology, said that he is the first and only person of color hired by the department for about 20 years.

A diverse staff is important, according to Hayes, to make students — particularly those of color — feel more welcome and have a better experience in college. To achieve a more diverse student body, a diverse faculty is needed to attract and encourage new students, Hayes added.

“Students don’t hear about these problems because teachers don’t have the experiences,” Hayes said. “It’s a disservice if we don’t make that effort.”

Hayes was, however, frustrated with the lack of inclusivity within his department. He said that he was excluded from multiple committees within the department, such as peer-review committees, because he had ideas that differed from some of his colleagues’ ideas.

Hayes said the campus environment is not changing to encourage a more diverse student body. He added that the new plan is a start, but that there are still many problems within the academic environment.

The committees outlined as a part of the Undergraduate Student Diversity Project have already met or plan to meet, according to ASUC Senator Amir Wright. Wright said the administration seeks to do more for diversity than it currently does, but is limited by Proposition 209 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex or ethnicity in California.

In an effort to encourage more student diversity on campus, the ASUC passed a resolution last December in opposition to Prop. 209, according to Wright.

“Walk through Sproul … tell me what the dominant races are,” Wright said. “You can tell the African American population here is only two percent.”

Contact Leon Chen at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @leonwchen.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the ASUC passed a resolution in opposition of Proposition 209 in December. In fact, the ASUC passed the resolution in January.