Small steps, transformative results

By Ritchie Bermudez

A California college is challenging people to deepen their commitment to equity and social justice.

Some people say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Cuesta College in California is using a 21-day challenge to build community and create an inclusive culture. The 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge, which began Feb. 24, provides participants with daily activities to develop learning and understanding of racial equity and social justice issues and build more effective habits.

“Given the mission of Cuesta College as an open-access higher education institution, our hope is every student feels welcome and valued on our campus,” Director of Student Equity and Success Centers Que Dang said. “The Challenge is one of many ways we invest in building the skills for our students, faculty, and staff to ensure that we’re doing what it takes to live up to our mission.”

About 300 students, faculty and staff, and community members have signed up to participate.

The challenge is sponsored by the college’s Equity and Student Success Committee. According to the committee, the goal is to inspire transformative results through small steps such as building positive habits, collaborating with others to establish a sense of teamwork and engaging in meaningful conversations.

The first day of the challenge offered participants an option to watch either a video about breaking down racial barriers in the U.S., or short videos featuring conversations on race. Participants also are encouraged to keep a reflection log during the challenge.

The idea for the challenge came from Ali Michaels, author of “Raising Race Questions.” Michaels was a keynote speaker last fall at an event for faculty and staff. She noted that attending a few events about social justice and racial issues is not enough and that conversations need to continue and happen often. In addition to students, faculty, and staff, these conversations can extend to the local community.

“To learn, grow, and support racial equity and social justice, you need to set intentions and work at it all the time,” Dang said. “The best way to deepen our learning and commitment to equity is to learn from and with each other. Having conversations on these important topics is key to moving towards action to addressing how we build a more inclusive and socially just San Luis Obispo community.”

Learn more here.

Ritchie Bermudez

is associate director of marketing and communications at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California.