HSI Speaker Series is Creating A Community Dialogue

HSI Speaker Series is Creating A Community Dialogue

HSI Speaker Series is Creating A Community Dialogue

This spring, John Jay College proudly announced the 2018-2019 HSI speaker series. The series, which celebrates and promotes the College’s federal designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), is part of an ongoing conversation about how the College can develop policies and best practices to help Hispanic students succeed.

The College has been an HSI since the 1980s, and in recent years, the number of Hispanic students on campus has grown to nearly half the student body at 47%. Ensuring that these students have the programs and services they need to graduate is among the College’s top priorities. In a formal letter addressed to the John Jay community, President Karol V. Mason emphasized this commitment.

“I am tremendously proud that John Jay became a federal HSI as a direct result of Hispanic students expressly choosing to be a part of the John Jay community,” she said. “In my eyes, promoting and celebrating our HSI status is a vital key for the success of all our students. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but a key first step in these efforts is to engage in a community conversation about what our HSI status means.”

Watch President Mason talk about the importance of diversity at John Jay.

Mason also thanked a core group of faculty, staff, and students that have been dedicated to deepening John Jay’s HSI status. In 2017, faculty members from the Latin American and Latina/o Studies Department wrote a comprehensive position paper to identify the challenges that Hispanic students face, as well as recommendations on how the College community can address them. Professor José Luis Morín, who coauthored the paper, said that focusing on improving the graduation and retention rates of Hispanic students would have a positive effect on all John Jay students. “By implementing the best practices outlined in the position paper, we would also benefit students facing similar challenges that many Latinx students encounter, including many low-income and first-generation college students,” he said.

The speaker series is only one part of the effort to embrace and expand upon John Jay’s HSI designation beyond enrollment numbers alone. There are six events scheduled in the series this spring, and more will be announced in the fall. The events are open to the public, and all John Jay community members are invited to attend.

In January, the series opened with David Rice, Associate Provost for Integrative Learning and Academic Accountability at Morehouse University, who attested to the importance of making visible the contributions of people of color in order to heighten their sense of belonging on campus. “The idea of visibility is about how attached to the community students are, and how valued they feel within it,” he said. “How can we create the type of social space where everyone is of value?”

Gina A. Garcia, Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and the second speaker in the series, delivered a powerful lecture on how institutions can create equitable learning environments by implementing anti-racist policies. “The mission is to disrupt systems of oppression,” she said.

Among the topics explored in the series are the intersections of personality and pop culture, the effect of government policies on college access and completion rates, culture and practices toward identity development, and harnessing social capital and ethnic resources.

To see the remaining lectures this spring, visit the HSI speaker series calendar.