The Lumberjack student newspaper

Administration’s feigned empathy, not enough

In light of ENAACP demands, we demand HSU act.

Humboldt State University must strongly consider the Eureka NAACP chapter’s letter about recruitment of students of color.

The Eureka NAACP posted a press release on April 26 insisting the college stop sending recruiters to minority-majority communities for the sake of the money these students bring the college.

Colleges will receive access to certain federal funding based on a number of reasons, one of those is the amount of diversity in student enrollment. For example, Humboldt State is a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, to be a Hispanic-Serving Institution means the college’s demographic is at least 25 percent latino. The government awards this title and this allows the college access to “new programs and millions of dollars in targeted grants.”

Therefore the ENAACP asks that HSU stop recruiting students of color for the sake of access to this type of funding, claiming it is misleading to gather students to a toxic environment.

The ENAACP continues to present several reasonable demands in addition to ceasing minority-majority recruitment.

The ENAACP asks of HSU to:

  • “Honor the experiences of students of color by confronting its institutional racism and actively engaging with the campus community, the City of Arcata and the surrounding communities in speaking to the racism that students experience.
  • Ensure that support is in place so that students of color thrive in this community.
  • Provide budget for permanent staff and student support for the Cultural Centers for Academic Excellence
  • Transparency concerning the climate of racism in Humboldt County be the top priority in recruiting and marketing
  • Do more to serve our diverse population of students with appropriate funding and staffing for the programs that serve them
  • Prioritize hiring more faculty of color, and training current faculty and staff in “cultural competency””

We believe that these are reasonable requests to follow and that HSU must act accordingly.

Though the demand to cease recruitment of students of color is extreme, we believe it is rightfully based off of the reality of the discriminatory climate in Humboldt county. The organization is not without proof.

“Students of color at Humboldt State University have shared with us their experiences of racism in many forms including micro-aggressive behavior in HSU classrooms, overt racism on the streets, systemic racism in the pursuit of housing and employment, and institutional racism in the form of more punitive measures than their white counterparts,” ENAACP said in the press release. “We hear them.”

However, it seems that HSU is quick to defend and less quick to act. In a response letter, HSU President Lisa Rossbacher expressed minor empathy for the basis of these demands and proceeded to insist HSU is doing what it can.

“I disagree with many of the statements in the letter, but I do agree with the larger point that HSU and the North Coast need to do more,” Rossbacher said. “Our country struggles with a history of racism and racial inequality on the national and local levels. We must find ways, and work together, to create a brighter future for all our students.”

This is an indirect response to a list of clearly well made ideas and initiatives that the college could easily adapt to. Although Rossbacher agree’s, she does not address these bullet points and does not respond with any implications of having an actual plan to address the major issue of racism, just keeps insisting more must be done.

For example, Rossbacher has been consistently missing from discussions on dialogue and protests over the murder of HSU student Josiah Lawson. April 15 marked a year since his death and his case remains unsolved. When students gather in remembrance and protest of his death, Rossbacher is consistently nowhere to be found.

The press release also addresses the lack of presence from administration, stating that “there has been no consistent presence of HSU administrators at the monthly vigils organized and facilitated by the students and Charmaine Lawson, the mother of David Josiah Lawson.”

They also note the lack of regular presence of administration at the monthly Dialogue on Race meetings and recognizes that this is unacceptable.

Though we do not believe HSU should stop recruiting in the middle of a budget crisis, we do believe HSU and its admins and leaders, such as Rossbacher, should stop responding with feigned empathy, she should start acting and start showing up to represent the students of color that represent the institution.

We, as HSU students who have experienced this discrimination and have heard the stories of discrimination against our peers, are angry. We are tired of repeating ourselves. The toxic and racist climate of Humboldt county and Humboldt State University must be acted upon immediately.

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