CSUN students learn the importance of diverse faculty

The Faculty of Color lecture explained the importance of having ethnically diverse professors to diversify the campus, Wednesday.

Students of all backgrounds attended the lecture and expressed the need for having a multiracial faculty to serve as their role models.

Lexa Palvszewski, senior film production major, has several mentors that are faculty of color, which is why she thinks it’s important to have them on campus. Palvszewski believes they do more service, are more relatable to students and more approachable than the white faculty.

“The student body population is not all one race, which is why the faculty should not be one race,” said Palvszewski.

J. Luke Woods, assistant professor at San Diego State University and host of the lecture, had a female ethnic faculty member as a mentor when he attended college. The teacher became his second mother and called him regularly to make sure he was okay and had enough to eat.

As a Pan-African studies major, Woods noticed the number of racially diverse faculty decreased dramatically and was concerned about this trend.

“The U.S. is becoming more and more diverse every day and the importance of cross cultural understanding is increasing,” said Wood.

On a national level, 70 percent of assistant professors and 85 percent of full-time professors are white, said Wood. At CSUN, 4.7 percent of the faculty are black and 12.5 percent are Asian, said Wood.

Wood discussed how a diverse faculty could support students of all ethnicities and highlighted current research on the issue.

“Great minds don’t think alike,” Wood said.

Cedrick D. Hackett, assistant professor in Pan-African studies, organized the first speaker series on faculty of color to support racially diverse faculty and students. Faculty of color supports ethnic students on a personal and emotional level, said Hackett.

“There is a 2.2 percent drop in African-American enrollment,” said Hackett. “The increase in tuition fees means less faculty of color,” he said.

Joseph Clemmons, an African-American senior and liberal studies major, came to the event to receive extra credit for his class and left wanting to learn more.

“It inspired me to look further into the representation of color at CSUN and other places,” said Clemmons.

Wood explained the difficulties he had as someone who was ethnically diverse to get a teaching job. He received a job at a small school in Tennessee as the only faculty of color and became the advisor for all the ethnic students.  He said he was the only one who understood what the students went through. When the other faculty left for the day, Wood still had a long line outside his door.

“There are fewer and fewer jobs out there and it makes it difficult for ethnic faculty because people are most likely to hire those who look like them,” said Wood.

Wood explained the importance of having diverse faculty, which means that they teach students a different value system, they challenge myths and stereotypes and help students understand the world.

“Faculty of color share a common social experience with people of color and they are most likely to interact with students and serve as visible examples of success and resilience,” said Wood. “Somebody else did it, which means that I can do it.”

People believe ethnic people are not qualified candidates, but they do not understand the working culture and think hiring them would result in a lower standard, said Wood.