Finding Our Way to Equity, Transformation at SoCal Equity Institute 2.0




On October 18th, 14 students and 57 colleagues representing 19 colleges across Southern California gathered to engage in a two-day intensive wayfinding experience, “Equity Institute 2.0:  Finding Our Way to Equity,” at Santa Ana College. Facilitated by 3CSN coordinators Lauren Servais and Nika Hogan, the event delivered on its invitation to “push past complacency into an avocation of engaging, embodying, and enacting the revolutionary call for equitable learning environments, democratic engagement, and social justice through education, which is at the heart of the Vision for Success.” 

Day 1 began with a warm welcome from Santa Ana College Faculty Coordinator Mary Huebsch,  Assistant Dean Teresa Mercado-Cota, and Vice President of Student Services Dr. Vaniethia Hubbard.  After this welcome, Lauren Servais introduced the powerful metaphor of equity as wayfinding.  Participants then shared goals for the institute, read and discussed a “Brave Space” text set, and  worked together to establish a community agreement for the institute brave space. We were then prepared for serial testimony about our experience as insiders and outsiders at our tables which generated powerful discussion.  A Critical Friend protocol followed which involved sharing a problem with a small group and receiving their feedback. Our final activity of the day was a discussion of a passage from the homework reading that allowed us to engage with the text at the tables as well as a gallery walk that helped us to decide which text we wanted to read for the next day as well as to begin engaging in some critical reflection of the material. 

Day 2 built on the work we did on Day 1.  After reviewing and reflecting on our homework reading, we completed a Write Around, an interactive gallery walk in which we all added insights and dialogue with both the passage from the readings and the comments that were written by participants the day before.   Many powerful insights were surfaced. One participant wrote: “For white people, [they] must lean into and sit with uncomfortability. This is a glimpse into the lives of People of Color. [White people] need to continue to do the work, make a mistake, [and] try again.” 

Once we completed the Write Around and reflected on it, we dived into Theatre of the Oppressed work.  One of the attendees engaged participation from the whole group to enact a prior experience where police held him at gunpoint. Everyone could feel the participant’s fear in the moment. A healthy and productive dialogue followed centered around real-life experiences and how education and trauma are interrelated. 

The final activity of the day was to use backwards design as a wayfinder to make campuses more equitable.  Participants worked together to create short and long-term plans. One notable example was a group of Santa Ana students and staff who worked together on a plan to create a food pantry on campus.     

 The Institute ended with everyone sharing a one-word reflection describing how we were feeling.  A frequently used word was “grateful.” Many of us stayed behind to continue the conversation and expressed a desire to stay connected.  We can’t wait to continue this important work at our upcoming events!

Our next Equity Institute will be here before you know it!  In the meantime, we have great events coming up in the Spring including Equity 101 Online!  Don’t miss our Spring regional summits, Tutor Expo, LINKS, and the Reading Apprenticeship Conference.  Learn more and register here:

A special shout out to Raquel Serratos, Mary Huebsch, and Teresa Mercado-Cota for all of your efforts in planning the event as well as everything you did to ensure that the day-of experience was beautiful for all involved.  We see and appreciate you!

Here are some of the images from this special event: