Latinx Student, Faculty & Staff Listening Session with President Snyder
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Please know that all of the members of the Latinx Community at LMU want to be at the table with you and our university leadership as we work to address these issues. As committees and task forces are formed, please consider the Latinx Staff Association and Latinx Faculty Association as well as our Latinx students as partners and include us.
Summary of concerns and action items by constituency:
- Staff Training Program: We ask that the university instate (with our input and guidance) a program to provide professional development and training to all Latinx staff and faculty to ensure upward movement in the LMU ranks. This will help with retention of talent and representation of the Latinx community at all levels, especially university leadership where there is currently none.
- Advocate/Community Navigator: The creation of an Advocate or Community Navigator position to be housed in the Office of Mission and Ministry. This case worker position would provide whole-person care for our co-workers to address the multiple issues that plague and trap low-income communities of color. This office would ensure that staff members, prioritizing hourly Facilities Management (FM) workers, have access to appropriate resources and care, are listened to, treated with dignity, and helped in solving whatever issues present themselves by identifying resources, helping to complete paperwork, and doing follow-up. The person in this position would be fully bilingual with speaking, reading and writing proficiency in English and Spanish. They must also be bicultural and demonstrate full cultural awareness and competency in cultural nuances and intersectionality for communities of color. Finally, the position requires a demonstrated commitment to the universal apostolic preferences of the Society of Jesus, which includes “walking with the excluded.”
- Facilities Management Staff:
- As mentioned by the Latinx Staff Association (LSA) at the listening session between LMU's senior leadership and the Latinx community, there are at least three urgent issues related to Facilities Management staff, especially related to the approximately 70 custodians (94% of whom are Black or Latinx). These three issues are (1) furloughs; (2) lack of communication at the immediate supervisor and campus communications levels; and (3) basic and continuous computer training and appropriate time, space, and equipment to access computers and important university communications and online training, such as state and federally mandated sexual harassment prevention training.
- Furloughs: LSA fully supports the suggestion of currently furloughed custodians for LMU's leadership to figure out a way to rotate furloughs, allowing custodians to periodically switch between now and whenever it is safe for all custodians to return to regular work on campus. This request is especially urgent because custodians furloughed since March 2020 have begun to receive notices from the state of California that their respective 26-week periods to receive unemployment benefits are expired. Although unemployment benefits are being renewed automatically for 13 additional weeks, this still means that custodians' unemployment benefits will expire towards the beginning of March 2021 – approximately one year after they were furloughed in March 2020. LSA understands that current circumstances related to the pandemic are unpredictable. Still, we do not anticipate that all custodians will be brought back to work during the spring semester, so LSA fully supports the request of custodians and urges LMU's leadership to strongly consider beginning a rotation of furloughed and working custodians (and other members of the FM community disproportionately affected by furloughs, such as groundskeepers, tree trimmers, and Recycling Center staff). President Snyder stated at the Latinx Listening Session that he'll delegate exploring this possibility to Rebecca Chandler (Human Resources) and Mike Wong (Facilities Management), and LSA would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with both.
- *Action Item: Given that unemployment benefits are set to expire at the beginning of March 2021, LSA requests a meeting with Mike Wong and Rebecca Chandler sometime during the week of Monday, January 11, 2021 to discuss the possibility of switching furloughed FM staff with staff currently working.
- Communication breakdowns between custodians and immediate supervisors or university level communications: During the pandemic, LSA became aware that custodians receive very little to no communications from their immediate supervisors regarding updates related to the pandemic. LSA understands that immediate supervisors may have been overwhelmed by the amount and frequency of urgent campus communications to share with staff, but this communication breakdown may have been prevented if supervisors were not responsible for supervising a large number of custodians. (LSA discovered two cases where two supervisors, respectively, supervised at least 25 custodians, and one of those supervisors did not speak Spanish). While immediate supervisors did not communicate (and continue to not communicate) frequently with furloughed custodians to share campus updates, this situation could have been prevented if long before the pandemic custodians would have received sufficient computer training to access important campus communications for themselves. The immediate supervisors of furloughed custodians and groundskeepers have not been in contact since August to share any campus updates, and many custodians and groundskeepers lack the computer training and/or computer equipment at home to keep themselves aware of important campus updates.
- *Action Item: The Latinx Staff Association requests that the immediate supervisors of furloughed FM staff begin communicating campus updates bilingually (Spanish/English) and in a clear and accessible manner monthly (no less than once per month) via phone calls effective immediately and that all such communications be always available in Spanish.
- Basic and continuous computer training and appropriate work time and work space to access computers and important university communications: Since 2010, members of LSA have been aware of a lack of basic computer training for members of FM, including (but not limited to) custodians, groundskeepers, tree trimmers, irrigation specialists, and Recycling Center staff. Given that the overwhelming majority of these staff members are Latinx or Black, it reflects very poorly on a Jesuit institution for its senior leadership to neglect this issue. In 2016, members of LSA worked closely with Staff Senate to submit a formal proposal to President Snyder and (at the time) Provost Joseph Hellige to approve a minimum of 15 hours per year to permit all LMU staff (including FM staff) to attend professional development opportunities on campus (such as computer workshops) during work time. This proposal was delegated to Human Resources, which ignored the core request of the proposal. Instead, in a document entitled, "Facilities Management Digital Literacy and ESL Update" (dated 3/21/17), HR committed to begin a series of six workshops for computer training (along with other benefits, such as offers to sponsor any custodian's attendance for ESL classes off campus, and financial assistance for the purchase of personal computer equipment). To this day, only one workshop took place, and custodians are largely unaware of HR's offer to sponsor attendance to off-campus ESL classes or provide financial assistance to purchase a personal computer. As a result of not receiving sufficient and continuous computer training, or work time or work space to view important university communications before and during the pandemic, custodians remain in the dark, especially those who are currently furloughed. However, given LMU's renewed commitment toward anti-racism, LSA sincerely welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with any members of senior leadership (and the Black Faculty/Staff Association) to resolve issues faced by Black and Latinx Facilities Management staff and help LMU make progress in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Specifically, LSA would welcome a meeting with Patrick Frontiera (ITS) and Mike Wong and Martin Alvarez (Facilities Management) to discuss solutions to providing adequate computer training and computer access to FM's predominantly Black and Latinx staff.
- *Action Item: LSA requests a meeting with Patrick Frontiera (ITS) and Mike Wong and Martin Alvarez (FM) sometime during Phase 4 of LMU's plan to return to campus, when it would be safe to offer in-person computer training to FM staff.
- Continuing education and advancement: We envision LMU becoming the leader in creating a new culture where privilege and exclusivity are things of the past, replaced by the effort to provide all our coworkers with ESL, computer literacy, GED, and other advancement classes. These educational opportunities would be incentivized by being offered on campus, in Spanish, free of charge and during the end or beginning of a work shift. The participants would be paid their regular hourly rate while attending these classes.
- University Advancement: We ask that the university re-think the singular fundraising position that currently exists to fundraise for both LAA and AAAA, and instead reinstate the two separate staff positions that once existed and move swiftly to fill these roles. We suggest broadening the scope of the LAA position to include fundraising for the Latinx community across all units. The same is proposed for the AAAA position. This will create a holistic fundraising approach for all programs and initiatives that benefit our 2 communities, and ensure a substantial portfolio and workload for each position.
- The University’s commitment to the Latino community is exemplified by its actions. We request a dedicated University capital campaign focused specifically on the Latinx community needs.
- Marketing and Communications:
- We ask for social media experts to support LAA, AAAA, and API Alumni who can speak to each of our communities in our own unique voices. Understanding that hiring is challenging right now, we ask that a current staff member be temporarily assigned to this, and once budgetary constraints are lifted, hire full-time staff members who can work in this space.
- We also ask that MarCom work with our various groups to highlight cultural awareness by being purposeful around things like Latinx Heritage Month. This should be built into their annual plans and should include how the university is engaging students, alumni, faculty and staff in meaningful conversation and celebration during these times. We are committed to assisting in these efforts.
- Student Scholars Support: We ask that someone on campus be identified and responsible for working directly with the LAAA and AAAA scholars, in a hands-on way. These students are most in need of support as many of them are first-generation students and these scholarships are critical to their retention at LMU.
Historical context/Background – Recent Anti-Racism initiatives by the university were prompted by the spark in the Black Lives Matter Movement over the summer. However, BIPOC communities have decades-long history of advocacy for racial justice at this institution.
- Financial Aid – There is a good deal of anecdotal evidence of students receiving strong financial aid packages for the sake of first-year enrollment, but are students continuously given support following the first few years? Continuing students do not receive their packages until the summer months, just weeks before the start of a new academic year. To ensure graduation rates of upper-class Latinx students, we recommend strong financial support facing economic challenges.
- Increased resources and funding for programs such as Chicano Latino Student Services, First to Go, ACE, and the Social Justice Scholarships.
- Undocumented students are limited by their status in multiple ways and their needs should be foregrounded across university units and programs.
- CARES ACT and mutual aid fundraisers that took place this past summer were set up by the community, not the university. Undocumented students often have to advocate for themselves. LMU is also recognized in many circles as being innovative in our work with undocumented students, but this has been accomplished primarily through non-official systems and volunteers.
- Undocumented students have received assistance from the Emergency Fund administered by the Dean of Students as part of the efforts of the USAC (Undocumented Student Advisory Committee). We request that future university-wide fundraising campaigns feature prominently opportunities to give that will directly impact Undocumented Students and their support.
- Undocumented students are burdened and placed in situations to expose their status. This is why there is a need for guaranteed resources such as a Dream Center that would provide:
- Physical Space. This is particularly important because we do not have any way to know how many undocumented undergraduate and graduate students we have on campus so we can offer them assistance. Only students who have received special scholarship consideration have been identified. Having a safe physical space will give students a place to go to begin the process of connecting. It will also allow for students from mixed status families, or students, faculty and staff who want to volunteer to assist as allies to have a place where they can connect. Additionally, the Dream Center would be a place to convene and support student orgs interested in immigrant rights, such as Resilience.
- Legal Assistance is currently provided by the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic through their connection with the Social Justice Scholars and in an as-needed basis. A Dream Center would make possible regularly scheduled and accessible legal consultations on our campus, along with the processing of sensitive documents.
- Secured Funding. The Dream Center could also provide a centralized office for addressing issues related to funding from fundraising, to financial aid counseling, to internships and other programs.
- The Dream Center Director: We envision a director to coordinate the wrap-around support currently provided through building coalitions through USAC and the generosity of faculty and staff volunteers. This director would coordinate all matters related to the undocumented student community including admissions, financial aid, on-campus work and research opportunities, housing, faculty advocate pair-ups, SPS support groups and mental health, legal aid through the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic and ongoing community-building programming and events as needed to support this student community.
- Public Facing: The present "anti-discrimination" statements of the university does not include immigration and citizenship status as protected categories within our own community. Although we understand that federal law will supersede any university statement in terms of employment, the university needs to add immigration status and citizenship to all of its statements that name all of the anti-bias categories we currently protect and support.
- We are grateful for the present five Social Justice Scholarships dedicated to undocumented students per school year, but would like to encourage building a special campaign to fund more students, especially transfer students. At this time, we only have one scholarship dedicated to a transfer student and increasing that number would be a very practical step in support of our outreach to the transfer student community. Considering the number of undocumented youth nationally, five scholarships per year is a very modest percentage of students we serve, which we are committed to grow. We hope that the category of undocumented student will eventually disappear due to just and comprehensive immigration reform, but until it does, these students are among the most vulnerable.
- Cognizant that racism is deeply rooted in all aspects of our society, the responsibility for promoting anti-racism should not only be placed on the faculties of Ethnic Studies departments, but should be integrated into every department.
- Faculty representation: We advocate most strongly for equitable representation, not just Latinx but also increased Black, API, and overall diversity within faculty, administration and departments university-wide. As demonstrated by research, such diversity has beneficial consequences in recruitment, retention, academic, career and institutional vibrancy.
- Invest in staff: We are concerned with the constant loss of BIPOC faculty and staff. We want the university to intentionally invest in mentoring, retention, wages and benefits to ensure longevity within the institution. We need staff that understand and can communicate with our community and can provide more impactful, tailored resources.
- We need data. In preparing for this meeting, we tried to undertake some data research to see what needs are most pertinent within our community. We have not been able to obtain substantive data. In consulting with the CLSS director, we were informed that they don’t have data available to them either. This data is necessary for us to keep the university accountable and also to have a better sense of ourselves and community on campus.
- The time to act is now. There are freshmen who are present and aware of these ongoing issues. We hope that you don’t repeat what happened during the last four years and wait for another class to graduate. These issues have always been urgent to us. By uplifting one community, we lift up everyone and make LMU a better place for everyone.
As members of the community who serve the institution in longer time arcs, we carry institutional memory and carry out long-standing advocacy. Many of the urgent issues throughout this document endure without a focused intervention from university leaders and we raise them once more at this historical juncture. Once again, we renew our commitment with all members of the university and for the betterment of the institution. Additionally, we affirm solidarity with the advocacy efforts of all affinity groups on campus. We insist structural change towards equity and inclusion will benefit every member of LMU and offer the following additions in extension of what has been outlined in this document:
- Increased representation in the curriculum. As the LMU Core Curriculum and other curricular requirements are evaluated in relation to anti-racism, we advocate for (a) a more representative and anti-racist Core curriculum and (b) testing, placement, and academic credit to be given to students who already speak a second language, allowing them into advanced language courses and encouraging a multilingual student body. While curricula of the university are the domain of the faculty, we ask for your explicit and proactive support of faculty initiatives to diversify and decolonize curricula.
- Increased representation in the faculty body. LMU should conduct an equitable and intentional expansion of Latinx faculty hiring in all schools and colleges.
- Equitable merit for service activities and institutionalized student support. For genuine structural change, we must end our dependence on ad hoc volunteerism, where our anti-racist programming, organizations, and activities are "staffed" by faculty and staff who happen to volunteer for a particular task. Furthermore, the university should recognize the well-documented augmented burden of BIPOC faculty mentoring and service activities in merit, compensation, tenure/promotion, and loads.
- Increased representation in senior leadership. We agree with President Snyder that there is an embarrassing absence of Latinx representation in the higher levels of administration. The past few years has seen substantial re-organization, hiring, promotions, and appointments, for Senior Vice Presidents, Provost, Associate and Assistant Provosts, Vice Presidents, Associate and Assistant Vice Presidents, Deans of most schools/colleges, and so forth, not to mention Regents, Trustees, and other key administrative positions, which evidence the failure of equitable representation and targeted hiring. Additionally, many of LMU's Latinx leaders have been overlooked for positions and have taken senior leadership positions at competing institutions.
- Support for the Latinx pipeline (from Admissions to Alumni) and targeted capital campaigns. We stress that in order to recruit, serve our students and continue a robust relationship with alumni we need a culturally-competent staff person dedicated to the work of the Latino Alumni Association. We need culturally competent advancement and communications staff. We need dedicated capital campaigns for Latinx and undocumented student scholarships and institutional structures. Furthermore, we stress the urgent necessity of a dedicated admissions recruiter and counselor for Latinx student recruitment. Related, we advocate for developing intentional pipelines from Latinx serving high schools to LMU. Without neglecting in any way public school pipelines, numerous and diverse Jesuit/Catholic high schools, such as Cristo Rey schools, would be on one end of this pipeline. The dedicated admissions counselor would develop recruitment and support programming and facilitate relationships with counselors, financial aid, etc. to ensure that students who are often the neediest, while demonstrating exceptional promise, have an opportunity to apply successfully to LMU.
- Achieve and sustain an HSI status. We are encouraged by President Snyder's support of our reaching Hispanic Serving Institution Status and stress that many of the particular requests we make, admissions recruitment and staffing, programmatic support, financial aid, LAA support, increasing staffing and faculty representation, will sustain the status and allow for a better university fabric, alignment with our historical, local, regional, national, and international context, and open multiple avenues for funding, grants, research, collaboration, co-curricular experiences and beyond - for the benefit of all.
The following are excerpted from the live chat during our meeting event with President Snyder of December 3, 2020.
- Possible early registration for first generation students? (Gabrielle Jeakle: CSA Advocacy worker).
- *Can get backing from CSA and FTG. ~Paco
- Please remove the statue of Junipero Serra (support for this shared by many)
- Stronger promotion of Day of Giving and opportunities to support initiatives for Latinx and other communities of color on LMU Social Media (AAAA, LAA, API channels).
- Add Social Justice Scholarship allocation on LMU giving pages.
- Stronger financial support for First To Go and ACE (statement shared by many on the chat).
- MarCom: More cultural sensitivity in university-wide communications, and a dedicated staff member with linguistic competence in Spanish so that we don't rely on Google Translate for any university communications.
- Internal leadership fellowships for staff and faculty beyond the existing version that only accepts very few each year. Is DEI a consideration in the selection process for it?
- Would like to see LMU build a connection with Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago to get more first-gen students to a 4-year institution.
- LMU should also continue to develop a pipeline with local non-profit organizations such as Heart of Los Angeles (managed by one of our alumni, Tony Brown, '92).
- Q: Regarding the Pell eligible % at LMU...what does that % look like at other private institutions, esp. in CA? And for those places that are doing better than us...how did they get there?
- Formally adopt the use of “Latinx” is in all university communications
Testimonials from the Chat:
"As an undocumented student without any reliance on the Dream Act nor DACA, I find it extremely hard to advance professionally. LMU has been such a blessing as it has awarded me the Social Justice Scholarship, but it has failed as an institution to cater professional development towards me and other undocumented students. Moreover, I think there should be a more in-depth intercultural training as the whole Latinx student body is treated the same when within us there are countless differences." - Unidentified Class of 2021
"As a prior recipient of the Fr. Donald P. Merrifield S.J. scholarship, I could not have afforded to stay at LMU for my senior year, even as ASLMU president, without this support from LAA. It is crucial to not only recruit, but to also retain Latinx students! As a first gen student, we bring so much to LMU and we want to stay!" - Alyssa Perez-2015/Staff
"The Dream Center is meant for ALL mixed status students, not just DACA. Soon the university will not have DACA because the program eligibility will become non conducive of new undocumented generations." - Leslie Arguelles '22
"As an alumni and first-gen student who worked for FTG, resources are critical. Often, FTG serves as the financial aid counseling office, as well as socioemotional support. They need more support." Christopher Reynoso '18
We urge you to examine our institutional processes and policies while taking into consideration what diversity, equity, and inclusion means for different historically marginalized groups. We look forward to working with you in continuing to pave the way for our Latinx community at LMU as we continue to celebrate the strong, vibrant and growing Lion community that forms part of the essence of that greater LMU community, as it has been for decades.
Latinx Student, Faculty and Staff