Following incidents of intolerance on various University of California campuses last year, the UC Office of the President is striving to create a more inclusive learning environment.
The UC All Campus Consortium On Research for Diversity recently awarded ten grants to nine graduate students and one faculty member who conducted research on schooling inequalities, with the hopes of closing the gap in access to higher education. Additionally, the UC plans to implement its first widespread campus climate assessment project.
UCSB linguistics professor Mary Bucholtz and Gevirtz Graduate School of Education professor Jin Sook Lee received the UC ACCORD faculty grant to fund the initial stages of their project, which employs a demanding linguistics curriculum to heighten college opportunities for high school students of diverse backgrounds.
Luliana Alonso, a UC ACCORD graduate student researcher, said the $10,000 grant is a coveted prize.
“Applicants go through a rigorous process to get to the interview stage,” Alonso said. “Less than half of applicants even get an interview.”
Additionally, UCSB Ph.D. student Brianne Davila was one of nine graduate students to obtain a $20,000 fellowship for her dissertation focusing on gender and race in the special education system.
According to Nancy Acevedo-Gio, a UC ACCORD graduate student researcher, obtaining the grant is no easy feat.
“It is almost a year-long process to find the people we fund,” Acevedo-Gio said. “It says a lot about the work and type of research that they do to have received these prestigious dissertation fellows.”
To further aid campuses grapple with issues of tolerance, the UCOP has commissioned a study to assess the university’s level of diversity in a more comprehensive manner than in years past.
By encouraging diversity, Interim University Diversity Coordinator Jesse Bernal said the survey will enhance students’ educational experience.
“There is a huge body of research showing that diversity enhances the university experience for everyone,” Bernal said. “It creates better critical reading and diverse skills, and therefore employers will be more inclined to hire students.”
Although the research required to produce the survey will be expensive, Bernal said the project will make higher education more enjoyable for students of all backgrounds.
“The idea is to have diversity and inclusion interwoven into all the work you do in a campus so that it becomes a part of the everyday activities,” Bernal said. “The ultimate goal, however, is to create an inclusive campus.”