The History of the Diversity in Culture Task Force at Ventura College

The Diversity in Culture Task Force began in late Fall 2013 as an Ad Hoc group of concerned faculty, staff, and administrators participating in the Professional Development Advisory Group at the campus. As Professional Development leaders we felt it was part of our responsibility to develop the culture of the campus for our students, and all on the campus that support students. We believed that a major element of the culture we wanted to develop was an appreciation for the wide range of diversity our campus serves. Not only to serve the various ethnic cultures but also cultures such as our Veterans, Women, Men, those with Physical and Emotional Challenges that may also create Learning Challenges, Returning students that are Parents, Foster Youth, Gay and Lesbian cultures, and more. Our goal was, and is, to be all inclusive.

From our first meeting forward we developed the idea that appreciation of the various cultures is best accomplished through education, awareness, and celebration. With this foundation of thought we began to gather the various people that were already working toward this end across our campus. This included our faculty, classified staff, and administrators. Our founding members were already working towards this goal by offering lectures, and events such as, Concerts, Film Festivals, Women’s History Month lectures, Black History Month lectures and events, Dia de Los Muertas celebration, Cesar Chavez celebration, Martin Luther King celebration, Autism Awareness, Veterans, Awareness of cultures of India, China, Mexico, Aztec, and more. We also decided that all elements that assist our campus cultures awareness of a quality life were a part of the awareness and appreciation that we wanted to promote. Therefore, we invited Earth Day celebrators, the Health and Wellness Faire, Think Before you Drink event, and the Psychology Student Club’s Domestic Violence Awareness event. Each of these events is free, and open to the full campus and the community.

Our group of like-minded founders soon realized that this task was far more than an Ad Hoc group. It was the beginning of a foundational element of respect and pride in the diversity of our campus. Although the college and state of California was deep in an economic downturn, our President, Dr. Greg Gillespie recognized the value of this vision. He found a small amount of funds to support our cause and vision. We took his support as evidence that we needed to build a solid task force that would continue well beyond the founding members. We developed a logo, a mission, a set of goals, and began a web site with a resource listing of the events. We became a hub for supporting the promotion of the various events. We became a family of supporters, where previously there was none.

At the end of our first year we were able to expand the offerings on the campus, by creating a Spanish Heritage Celebration one day event. This event was developed over the summer of 2014 to be offered shortly after the start of the Fall Semester 2014. This inaugural event schedule was developed by devoted core founding members, Mayo de La Rocha, Robert E. Lawson, Benjamin Somoza, and Dr. Gwendolyn Lewis Huddleston. A few dedicated classified staff were key to launching and supported the production and promotion of this event; Eileen Crumb, Sandy Mason, Sara Murillo, and Sabrina Canola.  By our third year 2016 this group is succeeding in its mission. The original listing of activities is still supported. However, in April 2016 the full membership of the group is working together to offer its first Diversity in Culture Festival.

The Diversity in Culture Task Force of Ventura College is a testament to the power of a few like-minded but culturally diverse people gathering to create something greater than they could possibly do alone.

This quote expresses the accomplishments of this group.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world;

Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead