PULLMAN, Wash.–A Council on Chicana/o and Latina/o Affairs at Washington State University has been created by the WSU administration in response to what members of the university’s Chicana/o and Latina/o community say are serious problems.
WSU President Samuel Smith, Provost Gretchen Bataille and Ernestine Madison, Human Relations and Resources vice provost, were briefed on the problems by Chicana/o and Latina/o faculty and staff in a Nov. 6 meeting. The issues relate to an increasing “Hispanic” population in the state not reflected in numbers of university administrators, faculty and staff members, and students at WSU.
Attending were members of the WSU Chicana/o and Latina/o Faculty, Staff, and Student Organizations and Manuel Romero, executive director of the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs. Participants included Yolanda Flores-Niemann and Marcos Pizarro, both Comparative American Cultures faculty, and Victoria Salinas, Chicano/Latino student counselor, all of the WSU Chicana/o and Latina/o Faculty and Staff Association.
Pizarro said the representatives at the meeting “emphasized the severity of the problems” facing WSU’s Chicana/o and Latina/o community.
“We also explained the importance of the Chicana/o and Latina/o community to the future of the state and the university,” Pizarro said. “Given that the percentage of ‘Hispanic’ students in the elementary and secondary schools of Central and Eastern Washington was over 14 percent in 1990 and that in 1995 ‘Hispanics’ were 5.7 percent of the state’s population, WSU needs to begin to plan appropriately for greater inclusion of this population at the university.”
He said the representatives expressed the need for the “institutionalization of formal measures to initiate this process.”
During the meeting, administrators were asked to fund two full-time positions for the newly created council. The positions are needed because council members, both interim and permanent, have full-time jobs and responsibilities and will not be able to devote all their attention to the council’s responsibilities, said Pizarro. “There is a concern that the council will not be able to achieve its goals without funded positions.”
Although the administrators did not agree to fund the positions on Nov. 6, the request will be a key area of discussion at the next meeting with the administration in early December, he said.
Until a formal charge and appointment process for the council is developed, the administrators and representatives agreed that members of the organizations and the commission would serve as interim council members. The administrators also agreed to provide support to allow the council to “get off the ground” in the interim period, he said.
Pizarro said the provost will meet with the council to further address concerns presented at the Nov. 6 meeting.
The administration’s support for establishing a council was a successful first step, said Pizarro. “It resulted in the creation of a process whereby the Chicana/o and Latina/o community at the university and in the state can begin to address major concerns facing Chicanas/os and Latinas/os in the state of Washington,” said Pizarro.
Bataille concurred, saying, “We had a very cordial meeting to discuss issues important to the growing Chicano/Latino population in our state. We will continue to work with this group and with others to strength the programs that support diversity at WSU.”
“For some time, both the organizations and commission have been concerned about the state of affairs at Washington State University with respect to the Chicana/o and Latina/o community,” said Pizarro. “These groups recently initiated a dialogue about these concerns which revealed the need for immediate attention. The groups researched the history and reported on the current state of affairs at WSU for Chicanas/os and Latinas/os. This investigation led to the documentation of severe and recurring struggles.”
The result of the research and reporting is a 39-page report and strategy plan, “The Past, Present and Future of the Chicana/o and Latina/o Community at Washington State University.” It “served as the springboard” for the meeting discussions.
Major areas of concern pointed out to the administration in the report include:
* Chicana/o and Latina/o underrepresentation among administrators, .048 percent of the total.
* Low rates of faculty recruitment and retention caused by excessive and unrewarded
demands placed on faculty, lack of institutionalized support systems and career development programs, 1.14 percent of all tenure track faculty are “Hispanic.”
* Ineffective staff recruitment, retention, development and promotion plans, 1.37 percent of all full-time employees are “Hispanic.”
* Inadequate efforts to enhance student recruitment and retention, including lack of appropriate assistance with tuition costs, 3.14 percent and 3.31 percent of undergraduates and graduates respectively are “Hispanic.”
In response to these concerns, said Pizarro, the groups developed a strategic plan to curtail “future struggles” at WSU for the Chicana/o and Latina/o community. The strategy plan seeks:
* A racially diverse student population — a goal of the WSU administration for a number of years — that closely resembles that of the communities it serves through the hiring of additional staff and the creation of new programs.
* A WSU faculty and staff population that closely resembles that of the communities it serves through hiring efforts in each major department — with specific attention to areas of major concern to the Chicana/o and Latina/o community — and special programs designed to retain Chicana/o and Latina/o faculty and staff.
* Active efforts to incorporate Chicanas/os and Latinas/os into the WSU administration.
* The creation of a Council on Chicana/o and Latina/o Affairs, with paid positions, to ensure the implementation of measures to address the needs of the Chicana/o and Latina/o population.
NOTE: A result of the research and reporting of the WSU Chicana/o-Latina/o Faculty, Staff, and Student Organizations and the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs is a 39-page report, dated Oct. 8, 1997, entitled “The Past, Present and Future of the Chicana/o and Latina/o Community at Washington State University: A Report and Strategy Plan.” To request a copy of the report, delivered either by e-mail attachment or through the mail, contact Marcos Pizarro at 509/335-1826 or