On Tuesday, Oct. 4, Student Congress was pleased to welcome four members of the Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (IDEI) Team: Dr. Quincy Bevely, Mr. Sokeo Ros, Ms. Perla Castillo Calderon, and Mr. Saaid Mendoza.
They began with a short presentation, explaining who they were, their responsibilities, and upcoming news for their department, followed by a period of questions asked by members of the Student Congress.
The IDEI team is a group of educators, leaders, artists, mentors, advisors, and community organizers who serve all of PC’s constituencies in order to foster an inclusive culture. They aim to do this through innovation and creative dismantling of inequitable practices. Students may wish to contact the IDEI center, which is located in Harkins 312, to apply for funding and support for DEI initiatives through their grant program, report a bias incident or harassment, and engage in intercultural opportunities.
One upcoming event presented by Mr. Sokeo Ros is the fifth anniversary of Moore Hall, which will be celebrated from 6-8 p.m. on Nov. 5.
The IDEI team made themselves available to answer questions from members of Congress. One member of Congress pointed out that the class of 2026 fell short of the diversity standard. They asked if the team has worked with the admissions office or has plans to work with them soon. The question was answered with an emphasis on the PC 200 Committee, a group responsible for recruiting more students of color. Moreover, they had ideas of a pipeline for students, especially those who cannot afford to visit PC, and increased funding for prospective individual students. The IDEI team recognized the need for representation in not just the student body, but the faculty as well and both cultural and systemic changes.
One member of Congress asked: “Are you involved in the process of looking for a new Director of the Black Studies program?” The team answered that they were not involved in this process, and the discussion shifted toward the school’s low retention rates for faculty members of color. They added, “It is a huge loss for the school and should encourage us to begin to engage in conversations surrounding why this is happening and what we as a community can do to help.”
Another member of Congress asked: “Should or could students have a role in helping faculty of color retention rates?” The team answered that students, faculty, and staff must hold each other accountable when creating a positive work environment. Students can take initiative and change the culture of acceptable behavior on and off campus. The team suggested that students stop by the IDEI office in Harkins if they have ideas and thoughts they wish to share on this topic.
This answer went hand in hand with the question that another member inquired: One member asked the team, “What have been some of the challenges that they have had to overcome? How can we as student body representatives be of support?” The team responded that one of the main challenges they face is the misconception that they are there to protect the college in matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but their actual role is to serve the students. The work they do is motivated by students and for students. They struggle with getting the word out about who they are and what services they provide. The team called on the students at the meeting to help spread the word and help clearly communicate their purpose to the student body.
The next question regarded mini-grants. The group told the members of Congress that there are ten $300 grants and ten $2500 grants. This money can be used to fund new DEI work, administrative staff connections, student organization events, and bringing in outside speakers.
Another member of Congress asked, “Throughout the course of the year, what growth do you hope to see? Is there anything you want to see changed or developed?” A change the IDEI team would like to see is more support from the faculty on campus to better serve their office as well as the student body. By getting more of the faculty involved, the role of changemaker will not fall exclusively to the IDEI team as the work they do is emotional and intense and requires a strong support system that needs to be better developed throughout the community.
One member asked if there were any plans for the Smith Hill Annex on Douglas Ave. It is currently still being finalized, but as it has been more open to the local community, it is being utilized. In the near future, the team hopes to see more students use the space to bridge the gap between the community and our student body.
The IDEI team was extremely knowledgeable and Student Congress looks forward to interacting with them again soon. Following the discussion, a vote occurred that approved the establishment of the PC Hellenic Society.