Continuing the conversation on cultural taxation

Cultural taxation is the burden placed on ethnic minority faculty in carrying out their responsibility for service to the university. Yet as, Cecil Canton, CFA Associate Vice President, has noted, it is “not usually rewarded by the institution on whose behalf the service was performed.” CFA has been drawing attention to this phenomenon and to continue this conversation, we presented new research about cultural taxation at the statewide Assembly earlier this month. 

We calculated student to faculty ratios (SFR) for students and faculty of the same race or ethnicity and visualized them in the form of a data poster. The presentation begins with the big picture: breaking down the numbers of represented faculty by classification and by how they identify according to race/ethnicity. 

An analysis of student to faculty ratios by race/ethnicity helps us understand the scale and scope of cultural taxation. Overall, there are 16.6 students per faculty (by headcount) in the CSU. By contrast, there are 64.0 Latinx students per Latinx faculty member. The poster and accompanying data tables show how the ratios vary from campus to campus, and by race/ethnicity. 

Finally, we expand this conversation further with a closer look at the SFRs for students and tenure line faculty only. Each of the data points illustrated in the poster is the median student to tenure line faculty ratio of all campuses for each race/ethnicity (you can find the full table of all campuses and all the images in this poster here). For example, across the 23 campuses, the median ratio of Latinx students to Latinx tenure line faculty is 200.3 to 1. This is in comparison to 14.3 white students per white tenure line faculty.

A note of caution: The relatively low SFRs in some cases may seem to tell a positive story; for Black students to Black faculty, the SFR is 14.8 to 1; for Native American students to Native American faculty, it is 5.4 to 1.  Both are below the overall system ratios. In both cases, however, the low ratios reflect the small numbers (relative and absolute) of both students and faculty in the CSU who identify as Black and Native American.

One way CFA has worked to address cultural taxation of faculty is through the negotiation of Article 20.37 of our Collective Bargaining Agreement, which provides for “assigned time to faculty employees who are engaged in exceptional levels of service that support the CSU’s priorities, but who are not otherwise receiving an adjustment in workload to reflect their effort.”

CFA Bargaining Team Chair Kevin Wehr says, “In bargaining for this provision, we were particularly mindful of the ‘cultural taxation’ of faculty of color and LGBT faculty in serving students. Students of color, LGBT students, and first-generation students often look to faculty who are like them for advising, assistance, and supervision, and the administration has traditionally failed to recognize the importance and value of this work.”

You can read more about Assigned Time for Exceptional Levels of Service awards in this here.