Humboldt State’s current budget crisis has been on everyone’s mind since the gravity of our school’s financial situation was brought to light. Besides the obvious, inevitable budget cuts and downsizing, our budget crisis has and will affect much more than our education.
Humboldt State’s own Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, or ODEI, was supposed to host a collaborative community roundtable in the Jolly Giant Common’s recreation room on March 21.
This meeting was meant to prompt discussions among students as well as the local community regarding possible strategies to make our community safer and more welcoming for students of color.
However, the event didn’t take place and hasn’t in some time.
HSU sophomore Davina Hernandez, 20, attempted to attend the latest meeting. The previous two meetings have been canceled or poorly attended, forcing it to be rescheduled.
“I went on a whim, but I was kind of disappointed when I showed up and literally only one other person was there,” Hernandez said. “It was literally just me, one other person and the person who was supposed to talk to us. I ended up leaving early.”
The event Equity Arcata is listed on HSU’s event page every week. It’s supposed to be a conglomerate of local business and community members uniting with the student body and faculty. They discuss ways to ensure that the area surrounding the school, as well as the campus itself, become more inclusive and safe for our large population of students of color.
HSU hired a new executive director of ODEI, Dr. Cheryl Johnson, to oversee the branch and coordinate for Title IX. This was the sole change to the department made by the school administration.
ODEI was created in order to ensure that every marginalized student is represented and advocated for on campus.
In lieu of our current political and societal climate, it seems that our school should prioritize the safety and well-being of our students of color by allocating more funds to ODEI. This is especially true following the death of HSU student David Josiah Lawson last April.
Our school’s administration disproportionately benefits from the presence of students of color on campus. However, they are not prepared to support them, especially in such a rural and isolated area.
ODEI student representative and HSU senior Elijah Chandler said it is clear that, while the passion and motivation to meet with students and advocate for our rights is there, the group lacks the funding and resources needed to meet the demands of our student body.
“We’ve had three successful meetings with over 50 people showing up,” Chandler said. “As of right now, we only have a few people really working through the school, and our schedules don’t always work out.”
Chandler has worked with ODEI since last October. He remarked on the importance of grassroots organizations such as ODEI.
“There’s currently a tier or hierarchy for our collective right now” Chandler said. “With admin[s] being our organizational guides [and] student leaders getting the word out, we have been talking to other community leaders as well, like former senators, the mayor of Arcata and members of the local NAACP chapter.”
It’s clear that, while our school may be in a dire financial crisis, our student body seems determined to not allow this situation to jeopardize their resources.