A Focus on Student Success, Equity and Basic Needs
Oct. 2, 2019
I hope your fall quarter is off to a great start. I think you’ll agree that Welcome Day really set the tone for the new academic year. There was such positive energy from everyone I saw and spoke with, and from the more than 2,000 students and family members who attended. Thank you so very much for your wonderful work that day, and all the activities and good information you provided to our students. What a truly welcoming way to introduce students to De Anza College! Once again, thank you to the faculty who brought us the concept of Welcome Day, to the Office of Communications staff who developed and implemented the event, to Custodial Operations for their invaluable work, and to each and every one of you.
This year – as always – our priorities will be focused on working toward student success and retention, using an equity framework. That equity is not possible, however, when some of our students cannot feel secure about such basic needs as food and housing. With the high cost of living here in Silicon Valley, our own recent survey found nearly four out of 10 students had confronted food insecurity in some form, while more than half faced housing insecurity. Sixteen percent were homeless in the prior year.
With the leadership of Student Services and the Office of Outreach – and thanks to generous donations from community members – the De Anza College Food Pantry has grown significantly over the last five years. The Office of Communications has initiated a campaign to make students more aware of the Food Pantry and other resources available to them, including overnight parking programs and referrals for other forms of emergency housing (the image on this email is from our print and online materials on food, transportation and housing resources). If you know a student who needs assistance, please tell them about our webpage with comprehensive information about these programs: deanza.edu/resources.
I ask that we work collectively, as the De Anza College community, toward the vision of having the basic needs of every student met. Senior staff members and Food Pantry program coordinator Erika Flores met recently with our community partners who help address student basic needs, and provide referrals when necessary, to discuss how we might increase service to our students. We will have a College Council meeting in October that will include this topic, and an update to the Facilities Master Plan will acknowledge the broad housing crisis facing Silicon Valley. Chancellor Judy Miner’s email on Monday – about how positively our community regards De Anza and our sister college – noted that the district will be considering ways to assist our most vulnerable students. At the Opening Day event, I asked that faculty and staff consider a one-time donation, or ongoing payroll deduction of any size, toward student basic needs. Donation forms are available in the President’s Office, the Office of Communications, and through our Foundation.
We’re well aware that housing and transportation issues have affected our enrollment, so it’s good news that, as of today, we are only very slightly down as compared to last fall. Thank you for working to maintain enrollment and serve our students well. In terms of other updates: You may remember that 79% of students participating in the spring DASB election voted to change the college’s mascot from the Dons, an exclusively male symbol that has painful associations with colonialism. We are launching the selection process for a new mascot this fall, working in close consultation with a DASB subcommittee and our coaches and student athletes. This will be a comprehensive, consultative process, with multiple opportunities for you to give feedback, including through surveys – the first of which is scheduled to be sent next week. More information will be coming soon.
As we head into the fall and this academic year, focusing on student success, equity, and the basic needs of all students, I hope we will also be patient with one another, particularly in areas of the college that have experienced retirements and have hired new staff, and are perhaps operating in different ways. Kindness goes a long way in helping us serve our students.
Christina G. Espinosa-Pieb