Diversity at CSU has skyrocketed while the operating budgets for the universityâ€™s diversity offices have been cut, according to Linda Ahuna-Hamill, the executive director of the Student Diversity Programs and Services offices.
The university reported 2,644 total minority students in attendance at CSU during fall 2001. The number grew to 3,631 by fall 2011 â€“â€“ a 37 percent jump over the past 10 years. But the state government has recently decreased funding to the diversity offices charged with receiving these students.
The Student Diversity Programs and Services office, which manages CSUâ€™s seven offices for minority students, typically figures out how to continue supporting their efforts when state funding is cut.
â€œBut thereâ€™s been some necessary cuts just because the amounts have been so great that this division canâ€™t absorb that amount of money,â€ Ahuna-Hamill said.
To compensate for the lack of financing, directors at the centers have looked to grant money from private donations to continue operations.
â€œBut itâ€™s soft money because it has to be renewed every year,â€ Ahuna-Hamill said.
The unstable funding situation has led diversity center directors to decrease the number of programs and services offered to the populations they serve.
â€œWhen weâ€™re saying programs â€¦ weâ€™re talking about celebrating their diversity and celebrating their heritage â€¦ Itâ€™s to acknowledge their presence here on the CSU campus,â€ said Shaunte McLachlan, Associated Students of CSU Department of Diversity director. â€œThe lack of funding has taken away their ability to put on these programs.â€
Without events that make individuals feel connected to the university, McLachlan fears the attractiveness of CSU to minority students will lessen and that campus diversity will plummet.
â€œItâ€™s just going to be a world thatâ€™s not very open-minded to different cultures and different people in general,â€ he said. â€œWe go to college to broaden our horizons, to learn about the differences between one another. And I think thatâ€™s really what lack of diversity hinders.â€
While acknowledging the challenges facing the university in maintaining and growing its minority population, Richard Salas, associate director of CSUâ€™s Hispanic culture center known as El Centro, is confident about the campusâ€™s future.
â€œI really believe that CSUâ€™s commitment to diversity is genuine and sincere,â€ he said. â€œIn terms of admin support, we are right there. Nothing but good can happen out of that. We are on the right path.â€
Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much state money do the diversity offices receive?
Resources for Disabled Students
Black/African American Cultural Center
Women and Gender Advocacy Center
Asian/Pacific American Cultural Center
Native American Cultural Center
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender Resource Center