Opportunity and Equity Update: Demographic Data Collection and Use

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Opportunity and equity is the central focus of the 2030 Strategic Impact Plan and the lens through which the College will examine its success in all areas. In October 2020, Valencia College President Sandy Shugart commissioned equity initiatives in four key areas to evaluate our current processes and develop recommendations for equity-minded practices. In an effort to ensure you have the most updated information on the progress, findings and recommendations of the teams involved in this work, a new Opportunity and Equity series will be published in The Grove on a bi-weekly basis. This update highlights the work of the Demographic Data Collection and Use team.

The Demographic Data Collection and Use work team, chaired by Daryl Davis, assistant vice president, analytics and reporting, Ryan Kane, assistant vice president, equity and access, and Edwin Sanchez, assistant vice president, admissions, records and graduation, is comprised of 13 individuals from different areas of the College, including Organizational Development and Human Resources, Admissions, Learning Assessment and Marketing, as well as faculty members. 

The team completed thoughtful research in order to recommend a consistent set of demographic choices in applications for students and employees that allow individuals to more accurately describe their identity, enable the College to more effectively disaggregate and describe our data, and to remain compliant with state and other reporting of demographic information.

“Our work team readily acknowledged that individuals should have an opportunity to select their multiple identities as part of any application process. They provided deep insight to our employee and student experiences and were committed to creating systems that support creating a culture of belonging. The recommendations that we have developed not only affirm our commitment to inclusion but also help us to identify how best to utilize demographic data to enhance opportunities and experiences for our students and colleagues,” shared Ryan. 

The work team submitted the following recommendations to Valencia’s Senior Team in April and asked to consider these recommendations for further development and implementation as appropriate:

  1. Develop a single set of demographic data options for all student applicants, employee applicants and employees at the time of hire. This includes “Ethnicity” (Hispanic, non-Hispanic) and “Race” (Black/African American, Asian, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, White).
  2. Allow all applicants (students and employees) to select more than one option for race and ethnicity as part of their application or employees at time of hire paperwork.
  3. A third “tell us more about yourself” option offered to all student applicants (credit and Continuing Education), all employee applicants and all employees at the time of hire. This option will invite individuals to further acknowledge their multiple identities (with regard to race and ethnicity) to the College, and by including this in addition to the current race and ethnicity prompts, will allow the College to still meet our state reporting requirements.
  4. Be deliberate in using the term “gender” instead of “sex” with regard to demographic data.
  5. Include a non-binary option for all applicants and employees at the time of hire when completing the request for “gender” in applicant and employee at time of hire paperwork.
  6. Be intentional in what limited circumstances we should use the term “other” when gathering demographic data. We recommend using terms such as “not listed” instead of “other” when this option is absolutely necessary in gathering demographic data.
  7. Develop language prompts for applicants (students and employees) that explain the importance of collecting accurate demographic data to allow Valencia College to learn more about our College community and promote an equitable environment.
  8. Develop language for applicants (students and employees) to indicate how their data may be used by the College (e.g., disaggregated recruitment and retention based on demographic data, outreach for specific programs and events).
  9. Develop a specific set of procedures for those who maintain the data to respond to internal requests for data to be used as outlined in number 7 above.
  10. Develop internal systems to allow current students and employees to provide updated demographic data to align with applicant and new employee data that is collected.
  11. Develop a communication strategy to current students and employees about the demographic data collection, opportunities for updates, how data may be used and demonstrate the College’s continued commitment to equity and inclusion.

As a result of the discussion with Senior Team, the work team met in June to begin the development of an implementation plan for the above recommendations. The work team chairs will meet this month to converge the ideas and then communicate with College partners to develop a timeline for implementation.

In addition to the Opportunity and Equity Updates, you are invited to reference the Opportunity and Equity Initiatives at Valencia Work Document, which codifies our existing equity initiatives. This dynamic document was created to be a live resource that will evolve through successive updates from each work team and will be expanded and revised as needed.

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