“Power concedes nothing without a demand.” Fredrick Douglass
“Get in trouble. Good trouble. Necessary trouble.” John Lewis
I was honored to collaborate with my colleagues at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) to draft a letter to our campus President and his cabinet calling for action to address systemic racism on our campus. Because of the giants who’ve gone before use, we realize there are risk and repercussions for our bravery. We are sharing this widely with the hope that those of you who care about us and future generations, will raise your voices in support of our efforts. You can show your support by signing here.
The full letter is listed below:
July 20, 2020
Dear President Ochoa & Members of the President’s Cabinet,
We, the Black faculty at CSUMB, are writing today to express our concern for the lack of campus action in addressing systemic racism at CSUMB. We appreciate the sentiment expressed in President Ochoa’s May 31, 2020 letter on the killings of George Floyd and others and were encouraged by the President’s acknowledgment of systemic racism in American institutions. Yet, we are dismayed by the lack of direct actions presented on behalf of our campus leadership to move beyond merely recognizing systemic racism to investing in a strategic approach to dismantling racist policies and practices (unwritten policies). At this point, we are not confident that this administration has done everything within its power to address the concerns presented by Black faculty, staff, and students. For years, many of us have experienced inequalities, on this campus, in how we have been treated and in how our issues have been addressed. When we have been brave enough to come forward with our concerns, our issues go unresolved in a human resources system that is seemingly ill-prepared to address complex human relations matters. It is our full contention that unless our campus leaders fully address concerns levied by Black faculty and others, this campus will continually lack the capacity to support our students to become the agents of change envisioned by the founders of this institution.
We, the Black faculty at CSUMB, propose the following Calls to Action we believe will demonstrate CSUMB’s commitment to the lives of ALL Black faculty, staff, students, and community members who are a vital part of the CSUMB campus community.
- We call for the campus to prioritize a review and response to the CFA Call to Action Proposal. These demands are critical to addressing systemic anti-Black racism at CSUMB and across the CSU.
- We call for funding support and a physical space for the newly created Center for Black Student Success. Our students should see themselves represented on the campus and should feel supported by faculty and staff who are dedicated to their advancement. As such, we are requesting compensation for one full time staff person, one course buy-out for a faculty per semester, and adequate space to accommodate our work in support of our students.
- We call for accountability for campus law enforcement to include: a) a review of budgetary allocations relative to other campus departments; b) information on the types of weapons stored on campus or at the disposal of campus police; c) the establishment of an Independent Campus Review Board to provide oversight and review of police practices; d) quarterly reports to show patterns and practices of police encounters; and e) funding for campus researchers to conduct yearly quantitative and qualitative studies on the experiences of faculty, staff, and students with campus police; the annual campus-wide dissemination of findings; and in response to the findings, action steps presented by the campus by the President’s Committee on Equity and Inclusion (PCEI) within six months of receipt of the findings.
- We call for funding (course release time) for two equity advisors to be assigned to each faculty and administrator search. Without intentionally interrupting current practices, the diversity of our faculty composition will not change. Therefore, we believe the establishment of equity advisors, who are presented for approval to the Office of Inclusive Excellence (OIE), will provide search committees with critical insight during the hiring process.
- We call for an annual review of campus recruitment and retention strategies. In doing so, we call for an annual meeting between the African American Faculty and Staff Heritage Alliance, College Deans, Chief Diversity Officer, and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs to discuss recruitment and retention strategies and the racial breakdown of faculty, staff, and students.
- We call for the next round of hiring to include a cluster hire of at least three faculty whose interests center on Black history, ethics, culture, politics, health, inequities, economics, or other discipline-related category. We call for a system of accountability that examines the causes and consequences of Colleges and Departments having ZERO Black faculty.
- We call for an annual report from the Office of Inclusive Excellence establishing goals and outcomes each year. The report should include (at a minimum): a) an update on hiring equity; b) retention strategies and goals; c) anonymized exit interview results for Black faculty and staff; and d) a comprehensive qualitative analysis of critical issues presented by current black faculty, staff, and students.
- We call for an audit of current curricula to identify courses related to Black Studies and support for the development of a suite of courses to advance knowledge of Black history and contemporary issues. We call for an expedited review and implementation of a well-resourced Ethnic and Gender Studies major. We call for a strategic approach to the development and enrollment of courses related to Black history and other contemporary Black issues (e.g., strategies to prevent the cancellation of low-enrolled courses, prioritization of Black faculty for the development courses related to the subjects as noted above).
- We call for a campus-supported mentoring program for Black faculty to support their professional development and career trajectories. As the number of Black faculty at CSUMB are so low, the focus should include identifying Black faculty and administrators throughout the CSU to serve as mentors for CSUMB Black faculty.
- We call for the campus to adopt and institutionalize an Anti-racist Agenda to include: a) a requirement of anti-racist training for all faculty, staff and administrators with criteria outlined in RTP and evaluations; b) intentional efforts to elevate Black scholarship; c) intentional efforts to identify anti-blackness and other exclusionary practices embedded in university policies and culture; d) increased efforts to increase the hiring and development of Black campus staff; e) hiring at least three tenure-line Black faculty by the start of the Fall 2022 academic year; f) a plan to support the development and advancement of Black Deans and Chairs; g) strategic approaches to elevate Black faculty and staff to senior positions on campus; and h) the development of meaningful partnerships with the Black community in Seaside and surrounding municipalities.
We, as Black faculty at CSUMB, are not content with the current climate for Black faculty, staff, and students at CSUMB and are presenting these Calls to Action in order to drive systemic change. We believe these Calls to Action are realistic and doable, and if enacted, will demonstrate that Black Lives Matter at CSUMB.
It is our desire that Dr. Ochoa and the President’s Cabinet will engage the African American Heritage Faculty and Staff Alliance in a dialogue to begin addressing these Calls to Action and will quickly move to examine how systemic racism is currently embedded in this administration’s policies and practices. Further, it is our hope that Dr. Ochoa responds to these Calls for Action prior to the start of the Fall 2020 academic year.
Photo Credit: African American Faculty and Staff Heritage Alliance at CSUMB/Office of Inclusive Excellence