YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Ventura County

Campus Points to Diversity

Cal State Channel Islands president assures Latino leaders that progress is being made.

May 10, 2003|Fred Alvarez | Times Staff Writer

Cal State Channel Islands has taken significant steps to promote cultural diversity after being hit by charges that it is not doing enough, college President Richard Rush told Latino leaders Friday.

Those leaders criticized Rush last fall for creating a university whose students, faculty and top administrators were not reflective of Ventura County's surging Latino population, which now stands at 31%.

They also told the president that there weren't enough programs at the university to help Latinos get into and graduate from college.

Since then, Rush said, the university has laid the groundwork to launch a minor in Chicano studies, and talks are underway about making it a major. He told members of the League of United Latin American Citizens that of the 912 students who transferred to the Camarillo campus for the inaugural school year, 22% are Latino.

And he said no campus in the Cal State University system hired a higher percentage of Latino faculty members for this school year: Of the 17 instructors brought on board, three -- or 18% -- are Latino.

"We are not where we are going to be," Rush told the group of about two dozen Latino leaders. "But I think this shows we are making a solid effort."

While the progress was praised by many in attendance, some said there is still plenty to be done.

Members of the group called for creation of a Latino cultural center at the campus and asked that more of an effort be made to involve Latino activists on advisory boards and other groups that are helping to shape the university's future.

Irma Lopez, a longtime political activist and wife of Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez, asked Rush about the possibility of creating a charter school in Oxnard similar to University Preparation School launched last fall in Camarillo.

Community activist Marcos Vargas asked whether any thought had been given to creation of a public policy research center focused on Central Coast issues.

Retired parole officer Jess Gutierrez, a substitute teacher in Oxnard, told Rush that many in the room were growing weary of waiting for the university to tackle issues important to Latinos.

"We want to work with you. There's a wealth of information and people here who can assist you," Gutierrez said. "But we are going to stay with it, we are not going to let it go. We are not asking, we are demanding [because] that is a public institution."

Rush promised to continue meeting with the Latino leaders and working on the issues that concerned them.

"Together we can do this," Rush said. "That's why this university is here."

Los Angeles Times Articles