Rocio Rosales, assistant professor of psychology, spoke on Monday in the President’s Dining Room about Mexican American college students and integrating culture for equal education opportunities.
“It was an important presentation and can move us forward in becoming a Latino-focused institution,” Jonathan Reed, interim dean of arts and sciences, said.
Although the University of La Verne boasts a 40 percent Latino student population, there are very few services and programs in place to help these individuals, Rosales said.
“The issue itself is being more responsive when dealing with the issues in classes,” Hector Delgado, professor of sociology, said.
Rosales argued that the university should be actively changing the experience of Latinos through programs, cultural classes and activities.
The persistence theory, the acculturation theory and the model of well-being were three theories mentioned that could be used when integrating a minority population in college.
“Ideally what you want is mainstream courses that incorporate Latino history,” Delgado said.
General education courses that incorporate various cultures often either leave out the Latino cultures and histories or they negatively skew what they teach the class, Rosales said.
Latinos are the largest minority group in America, but have the lowest educational rates, she said.
Rosales provided relevant statistics: 13 percent of Latinos have college degrees compared with 18 percent of African Americans, 31 percent of caucasians of European decent and 50 percent of Asians.
Rosales said that there were support systems in place for her where she attended college, and she felt that she was valued because of it.
“Graduation rates are dismal and the education system doesn’t meet the needs of Mexican American students,” Rosales said.
Rosales said that they neglect to prepare Latino students in high school, leaving them unprepared for college.
“They graduate without the requirements needed to be accepted into college,” Rosales said.
Even if accepted, she said, many Latinos find college intimidating.
“Latino students find universities to be intimidating, because universities are based on white values and norms, and we find this relates to the drop-out rates,” Rosales said.
Delgado said that it is important for a university to be balanced, and not lean too heavily on either side.
“A Latino-centric university is just as bad as a white-centric university or a black-centric university,” Delgado said.
Some students said that while it is important to ensure all ethnicities are given the same treatment, care needs to be taken to ensure that there is not too much focus on one ethnicity.
Audience members raised the question of what happens when the university is based on Latino values, even though there are many other ethnicities and minorities on campus.
“It’s a conversation that rarely takes place, and probably conversations that will continue elsewhere throughout the week,” Delgado said.
During the discussion period of the lecture, the audience discussed what being white means.
“Race is merely a social construction,” Cleveland Hayes, associate professor of education, said.
White does not necessarily pertain to a skin color, rather its is an idea, he said. It is a subjective term based on an individual’s personal background and experiences.
“It’s not the first time we’ve talked about these issues on campus and it won’t be the last,” Rosales said.
Annunciata Williams can be reached at email@example.com.