• Character Clearinghouse Logo

Panel Discussion: Reflections on Next Steps to Minimizing Inequalities

The last session of the 2015 Jon C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values consisted of a panel of individuals within the Tallahassee community reflecting on local, global, and national changes that can be implemented to minimize the gap of widening inequalities. In order to give our audience an in depth idea of the dialogue and conversation within the session, we have listed below the bios of the panelists as well as the questions asked by participants.

  • Student Involvement in programs like study abroad, greek life, and outdoor recreation generally impose additional financial costs on students, which may present a barrier to access. How can universities create inclusive communities within these types of specialized programs while still addressing cost to continue?
  • In the promotion of access to higher education to first generation students, how do we cater to those that are undocumented?
  • Within your positions, how do you balance a tri-learning approach where you are educating staff and faculty; students; and yourself in regards to issues of inequality?
  • It has been documented that student access in higher education has increased exponentially, but there are many reasons to believe the supports are lagging behind. How can we better support students with marginalized identities in the realm of academia, human resources undocumented students, and tri/student support services?
  • Which upcoming policy changes most excite or give hope for minimizing inequalities? Which give you the most concern?
  • How can we empower our minority students to advocate for their populations and how can they navigate the university bureaucracy?
  • Often, the outreach and research done for communities of color and those affected by college access are done by people who similarly identity, such as the panel today. What advice or actions can we take to engage white and/or privileged staff and faculty to also engage in this work? Because it is indeed, the responsibility of everyone to reduce these inequalities.
  • When hiring, the employers at institutions want the candidate that best fits. Although diverse employees are important, often the best is a person of privilege (white, older male). What is the right balance of diversity in hiring? Does the concept of affirmative action work? Can it apply in employment settings?
  • How do we as advocates, work to develop, promote, and sustain an environment at our institutions, that value all students in all depths and uses resources to work for access?
  • Given your experiences, which identities need to stay in our dialogues? Which identities do we need to pay more attention to when it comes to inequalities in education?

Charlie Davis III

Charlie Davis, III is the Director of the CARE Upward Bound Program at Florida State University. He received his BS in Elementary Education from Florida State University and his MEd in Sport Management from Florida A&M University. He has devoted almost 10 years to the Upward Bound Program, but 7 years and 5 months, as full time staff. Prior to working with the Upward Bound Program, Mr. Davis taught 4th grade for two and half years at Kate Sullivan Elementary, located in Tallahassee, FL. He believes in the equality and advancement of students who come from low-socioeconomic status families and are first generation college bound students. Mr. Davis currently resides in Gadsden County with his wife and two children.

Juan Escalante

Juan is a Researcher at Florida Center for Reading Research. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Juan Escalante arrived with his family to the United States in the year 2000. Raised in South Florida, Escalante became undocumented in 2006 after the family’s lawyer failed to provide proper counsel.After graduating from with honors from high school in 2007, Juan took an interest in political advocacy and direct action. After enrolling in Broward College in 2008, his involvement led to the development of a variety of projects that helped highlight the plight of undocumented immigrants, particularly those who sought to enroll at institutions of higher education, as well as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act – a Congressional bill that would allow for undocumented youth to obtain legal status via military service or higher education. Currently, Escalante is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University. The first in his family to have graduated from college, Escalante is expected to complete his second degree this upcoming August. Escalante remains a fierce advocate for immigrant rights, even as a recent beneficiary of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. He has been interview by Univision’s Jorge Ramos, and his work has been profiled by The New York Times, The Huffington Post, CNN, as well as a variety of national and state publications.

Renisha Gibbs

Renisha Gibbs serves as the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources and the Finance and Administration Chief of Staff. In these roles, Renisha is responsible for university-wide planning and administration of the Human Resources and Diversity function for faculty and staff and provides leadership to the Division of Finance and Administration as Chief of Staff. In addition, Renisha serves as a key consultant to faculty, staff and students, as appropriate, throughout all levels of the University’s community and represents the University’s interests in community activities, regulatory agencies and professional associations. Renisha has held several positions of increased responsibilities within FSU Human Resources, most recently serving as a Director in Human Resources leading the Equal Opportunity and Compliance, Employee and Labor Relations, and Facilities Human Resources functional units. Prior to FSU, she held several positions within human resources at the Florida Department of Highway Safety. Her concentration areas include Employee and Labor Relations, Performance Management, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Legal Compliance. Renisha, an FSU alumna, earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and her Master of Science Degree in Human Resource Management from Troy University. Additionally, Renisha holds several nationally recognized professional certifications, including designation as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from the Human Resources Certification Institute and as a Certified Affirmative Action Professional (CAAP) from the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity. Further, she has been certified in Campus Title IX Administration and as a Florida Public Sector Labor Relations Professional.

Lara Perez-Felkner

Dr. Lara Perez-Felkner is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Sociology in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida State University. She is also an Affiliated Faculty member in the Department of Sociology and the Center for Higher Education Research, Teaching, and Innovation (CHERTI) at FSU, and a Research Affiliate of the Joint Centers for Education Research and Population Research Center at NORC at the University of Chicago. Her research examines how young people’s social contexts influence their college and career outcomes. She focuses on the mechanisms that shape entry into and persistence in fields in which they have traditionally been underrepresented. In particular, she investigates racial-ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic disparities in post-secondary educational attainment and entry to scientific career fields. Dr. Perez-Felkner’s recent work includes numerous solo- and lead-authored articles and chapters in edited volumes. Dr. Perez-Felkner teaches graduate courses in Sociology of Education, Sociology of Higher Education, and Outcomes of Higher Education, and Applied Regression. Impressed by the enthusiasm and caliber of FSU students, she is currently collaborating with and supporting multiple graduate and undergraduate students involved in research on higher education policies and pathways to degrees in the sciences.