Lack of teachers of color impacts students
If you’re taking a class at Loyola, there’s almost a three-in-four chance that your teacher is white.
However, despite the fact that Loyola’s student body is only 39.7% white, white professors make up 73.3% of full-time faculty, according to Rachel Hoorman, vice president of marketing and communications. Students of color said they felt the disparity.
Vairleene Einstein, an environmental studies student who is black and Haitian, said she had never had a black professor in nearly three and a half years at Loyola.
“It’s still shocking given the makeup of New Orleans’ population,” Einstein said. “So it’s weird when you see that the majority of teachers are white.”
Black professors make up 7.9% of the faculty, but black students make up 14.8% of the student body, according to Hoorman.
Einstein said the lack of teachers of color affected his personal experience at Loyola and impacted the content and focus of classes on campus.
“Often times, we overlook marginalized groups, which simply leads to the white-centered education we continue to receive,” Einstein said.
Alvin Hamilton, a young digital filmmaker who is black, said that while he feels somewhat represented on campus, he thinks black students could use more representation at Loyola.
Hamilton said it was difficult for people of color to aspire to careers without seeing representation in the fields. A more diverse faculty could help solve this problem, according to Hamilton.
“You just say to yourself, ‘Can I even get into an industry? Like, ‘Is this even a place for me?’ Hamilton said. “So this representation could go very far. “
Hispanic and Latin students have similar experiences with the lack of teachers of color they see on campus.
Crystal Pohl, a Latin philosophy student, only had one Hispanic teacher, who was in a Spanish class. She said it affected her overall experience at Loyola.
“Whenever I’m in class, they never talk about things from a Hispanic point of view or a black point of view,” Pohl said. “Usually it’s always from a white perspective.”
Pohl said that as she got to know Loyola before enrolling, the promotional material showed how diverse the school is. She said her experience regarding diversity did not reflect what she expected based on the brochure.
Hispanic professors are in a similar position to black professors in which they make up 6.8% of the full-time faculty, with Hispanic students making up 15.7%.
Lydia Mendoza, a junior in Hispanic and White psychology, said being half-white is a big factor in feeling represented on campus.
“I’m incredibly proud of my Hispanic heritage, and I feel like there aren’t enough professors or professors to make me feel that both sides are represented,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza also said the few Hispanic and Latin teachers on campus are often white.
Mendoza believes that the university needs to do a better job of hiring professors of color in all fields and that it needs to represent its students.
“If you want to be an institution serving Hispanics, you have to act on it. And you have to hire people who are going to do it that way. And you have to hire people who will serve the rest of the student body, ”Mendoza said.
Hamilton, Pohl, Mendoza, and Einstein all had a class on an underrepresented group taught by white professors. All said that although they felt that their teachers were qualified to teach the course, the experience would have been better with a teacher of this training.
“I think the education was very good. It was just limited, ”Einstein said,“ We had to get extra resources to get the minority perspective. “
“At the end of the day, it’s a white lady telling me the story of a whole continent,” Mendoza said. “What does she know about what she hasn’t learned from a book, or learned from being there?” “
Besides white professors, the only other group that exceeds its representation in the student body is full-time Asian professors at 6% compared to 2.5% of students.
Kedrick Perry, vice president of equity and inclusion, said having someone like you as a teacher helps motivate you and reduces impostor syndrome in students, especially those under-represented groups.
“The more you are able to see people who are like you achieve great things, the more you are able to see yourself achieve these things too,” said Perry.
Tanuja Singh, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, said many factors played a role in the disparity between white professors and professors of color. She said she did not see that this disparity affected the students negatively.
Perry said the data shows that students may not be academically affected, but it may affect their social aspirations.
“What it affects is just being yourself in those roles, which can affect motivation, which can affect impostor syndrome and that sort of thing,” Perry said.
Singh said Loyola, like other universities nationwide, seeks graduation degrees when hiring faculty. A terminal degree is the highest degree available in a particular academic field, such as a Doctor of Philosophy or Master of Fine Arts degree.
She said the number of people of color obtaining these degrees is significantly lower than that of white Americans.
“Although there has been a lot of progress made, the number of people graduating with these degrees is less. So the competition for these very highly qualified teachers is very high, ”Singh said.
Singh said another factor impacting faculty diversity was the disruption of Loyola’s hiring due to the financial shortfall. She said having a traditionally white faculty and a break from hiring makes it difficult to increase diversity.
“The percentages can’t change unless you make some important hiring decisions,” Singh said.
Despite the challenges, Singh said hiring a diverse faculty is a high priority for Loyola. She said the university trains faculty in implicit biases in order to help with hiring.
“Not only do students want this to happen and see faculty diversification, but staff and faculty want it as well, and everyone is really working on it,” Perry said.
Singh said the university is a doctoral fellow. Project, which aims to diversify the business faculty by helping people of color earn doctorates. This membership gives the school the ability to post job openings on the site, according to Singh.
Singh said nine of the last 21 full-time faculty members the university has hired are “non-white applicants.”
“As our population becomes more diverse, one of the biggest things we’re proud of is Loyola’s diversity as a university,” Singh said. “I would be just as proud when we could say that we are also a very diverse university in terms of faculty. “
Minority teachers currently make up 21.8% of full-time teachers at Loyola, according to Hoorman. Nationally, 24% of faculty were “non-white” in 2017, according to the Pew Research Center. This puts Loyola 9.1% below the national average for 2017.
“Unfortunately, this type of change doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s more of a marathon than a sprint,” said Perry. “But I think the impetus and the will is there to make this change happen.”
Despite Loyola’s faculty diversification efforts, many students still feel unrepresented on campus.
“Students want the chance to be heard and to be open with their teachers, but it’s just not the same when they’re not from the same background,” Einstein said.