Editorial: Our Hispanic-serving institution deserves more diverse faculty

The Runner Staff, Editorial Board

Graphic by Haydee Barahona / The Runner

California State University, Bakersfield has a diverse student population; however, we do not believe the university considers its underrepresented students’ need when hiring diverse faculty. With CSUB’s diversity cluster hire underway, it is important to highlight what we seek from these incoming faculty members.

Faculty actively serves as role models for students, especially at CSUB where there is a large population of first-generation students and Hispanic students, along with Asian, Black, and international students.

According to csub.edu, out of the 9,000 students at the university, about 68% are Latino, 7% are Asian, and 4% are African American. Meanwhile, only 35% of CSUB faculty are part of an ethnic minority, according to 2021 data from calstate.edu. As we can see, CSUB’s faculty demographic does not reflect that of its diverse student population.

We need to be in classrooms with professors that not only look like us but relate to us. The university has yet to provide its students with diverse faculty that can connect with us on a personal level and support us through the issues we face.

CSUB prides itself on being a Hispanic-serving institution. Yet, only about 16% of its faculty is Hispanic or Latino, according to csub.edu. With only a handful of faculty representing one of the largest communities on campus, it is difficult for us to find someone to open up to who will understand our lived experiences and our work.

According to csub.edu, “HSI universities work to meet the unique needs of Latina/o/x students, many of whom are first-generation.”

We need faculty who genuinely understand the trauma and hardships many first-generation students encounter.

First-generation students are the first to do many things, so we need faculty who understand our feelings and can guide us throughout our college experience. Seeing a successful professor that looks like us gives us reassurance and space to believe that we belong in places of higher education.

Faculty diversity is important because each faculty member brings carries their own lived experience that can provide students with an overall well-rounded education. We need more faculty members who are open-minded on certain issues that impact minority students and can speak out in support of students.

Many students are hesitant to participate in class discussions due to fear of judgment from their professor because they come from a different background than them.

A survey of over 1,000 undergraduate students conducted by Hodes Research for the Ph.D. Project concluded that “among minority students, 96 percent reported that studying under minority professors had a positive impact on their education.”

Diversity on campus should not stop at hiring faculty of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. We also need faculty members to represent all genders, sexual orientations, and disabilities. We want every student at CSUB to have a faculty member to have a faculty member whom they can talk to.

According to an article from The Education Trust, having a diverse faculty “builds empathy, a respect for others, and creativity, and improves problem-solving skills.”

When CSUB is hiring faculty, they should consider hiring diverse individuals in every department.

CSUB has a 78% retention rate, higher than California’s average, but only a 14% four-year graduation rate, 52.8 percent six-year graduation rate, and a 55.8% eight-year graduation rate, according to College Factual.

Given CSUB’s staggering four-year graduation numbers and Kern County having some of the lowest rates of basic literacy skills in California, supporting students by providing us with faculty that have a large array of diversity allows us to feel like we belong and are accepted.     There is something so euphoric about interacting with someone who is meant to be a guide but can also understand another person on a fundamental level. Diverse faculty provides us with a person whom we can see ourselves in.     

It is not enough to just look like the students on this campus. Hiring faculty that understand our background and personal experiences and advocate alongside us, will improve our education. We hope that CSUB takes the opportunity to build connections and mentorship between faculty and students.