22 Jun Talk is cheap — Answer these questions to determine if your parent/family program fosters institutional racism and/or bias
In recent weeks, many campuses have issued media statements affirming a commitment to promoting and respecting diversity and inclusion. Institutional racism and bias exist across our institutions — especially in parent/family programs. This is the perfect time to engage in honest reflection and assess whether your existing program honors diversity and truly strives for full inclusion.
Many of the parent/family programs we have encountered at both public and private colleges and universities cater to middle- and upper-class Caucasian families who have the means to attend Family Weekend events, donate, volunteer, and participate in Parent Associations.
Yet, these are the emerging majority of today’s first-time freshmen and current college students in many parts of the country. For example, in the California State University system where I was an assistant vice chancellor, approximately 70 percent of all undergraduates are students of color and half are Pell recipients. At many campuses today, it is not uncommon for upwards of 40 percent of the student population to be Pell recipients and/or self-identify as first-generation college students.
We have an important window of opportunity to seize as our nation again addresses rampant racial inequity, prejudice, and bias. Talk is cheap.
These five questions will help you determine if your program is poised for fine-tuning to better serve all parents/families:
- How is your campus’ commitment to diversity and inclusion demonstrated through the parent/family program?
- To what extent are you engaging in discussions with ethnically/racially and economically diverse parents/families to shape and improve your existing efforts?
- What materials, tools and resources are specific to African American families? Latinx families? Asia Pacific Islander Families? Native American families? The families of first-generation college students? The parents/families of students who are receiving Pell and/or Promise funds?
- What specific programs are currently offered or are anticipated to engage diverse parents/ families?
- How can the campus better engage diverse parents/families?
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Prioritizing all families through targeted programs and resources is the best way to convey that they matter, their student matters and they are a valued part of your campus community.
Laurie Weidner, APR, MA
CEO, Parent Education Partners
Parent Education Partners is an educational consulting firm that teams with colleges and universities to proactively engage parents/families as educational partners. The firm specializes in engaging highly diverse families using culturally relevant solutions and creates customized strategies designed to meet institutional goals. Learn more at www.parenteducationpartners.com