Picture a study group for English 1A at Yuba Community College District: a 15-year old who is still in high school, a 40-year old man trying to stay awake after working the night shift for a local warehouse, a single mother of three working and attending school full-time and a student from India with a PhD in mathematics.
The Yuba Community College District student body is diverse, although not quite as ethnically diverse as the state average among community colleges. Barely more than half, 51 percent, of students enrolled in the district, according to the District’s September 2006 Census Date Report, declare their ethnicity to be of Native American, Hispanic, African, Asian, Pacific Islander or other than Caucasian origin. However, an average 61 percent of all California Community College students in Fall 2003 were of ethnicities other than Caucasian, according to the Student Demographics Statewide Report.
According to YCCD Demographic Research Reports of 2004, the District has an ethnic population made up mainly of Caucasians and Hispanics with a growing number of other groups, such as Asian and Native American.
Judy Bean, professor of sociology and history at Woodland Community College, believes that diversity enriches one’s educational experience. “Diversity enlivens it– makes learning more complete and exciting,” she said.
In an informal student poll conducted by The Prospector at Woodland Community College, 30 students were asked about the benefits of having a multi-cultural campus. “You get more of an understanding of people, and you are not misinformed about people who are different than you,” Danielle Robicheau, a second year student at WCC, said.
Other students agreed, pointing out that being exposed to new cultures and viewpoints helps everyone learn. They believed racism can be minimized when different cultures meet. Woodland student, Arun Subramanian, added, “You become more tolerant of one another. Social bias is taken away from the new generation.”
One WCC student, Amy Stocking, noted that simply going to classes with people who are different is not really enough. In her opinion, the only way people can really get exposed to different cultures and strip away biases is to celebrate their diversity. Stocking suggested creating a multi-cultural club, where no group separates itself but rather everyone of any cultural background can join and share their ethnic differences.
Aside from its difference from the state average in ethnicity demographics, the Yuba Community College District is also very different from the state average in its age demographics. According to the YCCD Census Data Report in 2006, only six percent of the 9,531 students enrolled district-wide are below the age of seventeen, and only 28 percent are above age thirty.
Statewide, 20 percent of students enrolled in community colleges are under the age of seventeen, and 40 percent are over the age of thirty, according to the Student Demographics Report provided by the California Community Colleges Chancellor Office.
Gender demographics are also significantly different between YCCD and the state average. According the YCCD Census Data Report, 64 percent of students attending district classes are women, a significantly higher proportion of women than the statewide average. Statewide women make up 56 percent of the student body at California community colleges, according to the Statewide Demographics Report.
How do YCCD students feel about our larger number of women? Although most men surveyed did not have much to say regarding gender demographics, every female reacted positively.
“Women are pulling away from stereotypical roles,” Robicheau said. A few others agreed that women are encouraged to develop their minds and help their families be financially stable.
Stocking, a mother of two, said, “Men are now less reluctant to keep women at home because they are needed to help bring money in, especially with the cost of living.”