Chancellor-select addresses Black student underrepresentation, student fees

California State University Chancellor-select Joseph Castro addressed concerns about a wide range of issues affecting the 23-campus system – including underrepresentation of Black students and student fees – in a press conference organized by the Cal State Student Wire on Sept. 30.

Questioned by student journalists throughout the CSU, Castro spoke on issues of concern to the Cal Poly Pomona community. In addition to Black student enrollment and student fees, the chancellor also responded to questions concerning virtual instruction.

Castro met with CSU student journalists to address prominent campus concerns. (courtesy of CSU Wire)

When asked how he planned to increase the Black student population on CSU campuses with low representation, Castro responded, “I think that we need to look at the strategies that we’ve used in the past and presently and continuously ask, ‘Are these the right strategies going forward?’ and ‘What more can we do to increase the number of, in this case, African American students who attend the CSU?’… I think that all of us need to look at that and take steps to address this so that over time we can increase the representation of African American students and also work harder to retain them and help them graduate.”

According to available data from CPP’s Academic Research and Resources office, students who identify as Black made up only 3% of the campus’ student population — a rate that remained steady from 2010 to 2017.

In his introductory interview, Castro mentioned that he believes it is important for students of all backgrounds to be able to relate to their professors and advisors in authentic ways.

“It’s extraordinarily important, in my opinion, that our faculty become more diverse in ways where our faculty really understand our students’ lived experiences because they’ve walked similar paths and they’re able to inspire the very best in our talented students,” said Castro.

To address the need for diversifying faculty, Castro said, “One idea I have that I plan to discuss with University of California President Michael Drake, is how the UC and CSU can work in this way. The UC educates a large number of PhD students and graduates them and they’re becoming more and more diverse and I would like us to be in a position where we inspire those graduates to join our faculty, and I think that that’s a really nice potential synergistic relationship between the two large public university systems.”

Another important issue at CPP involves the continued payment of student fees for services and facilities that are currently closed to students.

When Castro was asked about addressing student fees he said, “I don’t yet have a full awareness of all the different kinds of campus fees across the system, but I can tell you that
philosophically, here at Fresno State, we have tried to make sure that the fees that we do
charge are appropriate.”

Castro added that fees such as the ones that go toward the fitness centers and student unions, like the CPP’s BRIC and BSC, will continue to be funded by students.

“Those are like the houses that some of our families own and they will be used in the coming
years and it’s really important that we continue to fund those and support those,” Castro said.

“And I realize that is a bit of a sacrifice, but I do think that it’s worthwhile for you and other CSU students,” he added.

When asked if he was willing to explore different options rather than having students fund the services, such as utilizing the reserves.

Castro responded, “Reserves are really like a savings account at home and once you spend a dollar of your savings account, unless you replenish it, it’s gone forever and if you use it for
expenses that are recurring, thats a really bad formula for problems.”

Castro, who will assume his position as the CSU Chancellor on Jan. 4, 2021, added, “I believe that the CSU system is the most important and consequential system in the country and I believe that because of the diversity of the students that we educate and that we will educate in the coming years.”

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