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Eliminating discrimination on campus:

Umpqua Unites Committee dreams of future Diversity Office

UCC recently went through a civil rights audit that investigated how the school deals with diversity.

The audits are done under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and Section 504, a federal civil rights law which prohibits disability discrimination by any program with federal funding, including public schools. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 also regulate school civil rights.

The audit was conducted on campus Jan. 13, 14 and 15. Students of color, students with disabilities, English-language learners and students in programs traditionally male or female were interviewed.

To ensure compliance with the mission of the Office for Civil Rights, Oregon’s Department of Education each year audits approximately two community colleges. “Comprehensive reviews are conducted to prevent discrimination and ensure equal access to programs, courses and the information therein, for each Oregon student,” according to the Oregon Department of Education’s website.

The campus has been focusing on increasing diversity awareness through the Got Respect campaign which has been listening to students who have felt discriminated against.

Although little specific information has been released, the Umpqua Unites committee is putting together data from the fall and winter Got Respect campaign to create a larger campus-wide survey.

Caroline Hopkins, Trio director, aids students who face discrimination. Though not a trained counselor, she helps students build confidence and increase their resiliency.

“I ask them to try to identify how that [discrimination] makes them feel and then make sure they understand that that’s not actually who they are. The discrimination is more of a deficiency in the person that is acting than in the student experiencing discrimination,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins explains that Umpqua Unites, the campus group helping with the Got Respect campaign, wants to grow in order to better help students. The purpose of this group is to move the college forward into a place where diversity and equity is held in high regards on campus.

“We have dreams of creating a Diversity Office,” Hopkins said.

The Diversity Office would be a safe space as well as an educational resource. It would hold ongoing trainings from year to year, continually assessing data regarding the current needs of students.

Based on data collected during this school year, Umpqua Unites wants to offer future trainings and events to build diversity awareness.

“The [audit] report will be public information once it has been completed. It takes a couple of months,” said Joyce Coleman, vice president of Student Services.