Anthony Ramos recently joined Elgin Community College in the newly created role of executive director of equity, diversity, & inclusion (EDI). Noting the significant foundation to support a culture of EDI already in existence at ECC, Ramos looks forward to helping sharpen the college's collective efforts concerning equity, diversity, and inclusion.
"The sense of belonging established when inclusive learning communities exist allows us to create the social and academic connections necessary to support student success," said Ramos. "Part of creating this culture is our directness in saying 'we value you, all that you are, and you are welcome here.'"
Establishing an organized framework that supports EDI necessitates considering many factors. Individuals' unique backgrounds and social connections shape their perceptions of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, nationality, and other aspects of identity. Recognizing and honoring this diversity among our students and the various identities and experiences they bring to our campus informs ECC's work to create inclusive and equitable learning environments.
Ramos shared that in a previous role as a sociology instructor, he would often engage students in thinking about ways in which families, peers, schools, media, and other social institutions formed perceptions of themselves and others, sharing his personal experiences as examples. "As an Asian American, there have been expectations on my abilities as they relate to math and science. However, growing up in a mostly single-parent, lower-income household, I needed to work to support my family, which impacted my ability to successfully navigate high school and college."
In addressing equity, Ramos stresses a willingness to be vulnerable and look deeply at our policies, practices, and procedures to ensure each student has the appropriate support. ECC's equity work will require the continued evaluation of student demographic and assessment data to help understand how students are progressing through their studies and when they are experiencing barriers to success. This evaluation includes analyzing data by race, gender, age, income, and other identities to fully understand how diverse populations are navigating the institution and ECC’s processes while pursuing their goals.
"It is a privilege to do the work that I do in higher education, and specifically in community colleges, where we have a deep responsibility to operate from an equity-based framework of both access and student success," said Ramos. "Through this work and our commitment to equity, we change lives — not only for those in our classrooms today but also for their families and future generations."