The Lumberjack

We still don’t feel safe

Racial discrimination on campus is rampant

I, Skye Kimya, believe I was detained on Feb. 14 over a $40 on-campus parking ticket because of the color of my skin.

Around 8 a.m. that morning, I walked out of a building on the northeast side of campus to find two parking officers giving me a ticket for where my car was parked.

After getting into a small verbal altercation with these parking officers, I realized it wasn’t worth the argument. I asked them to give me the ticket and let me go about my day.

The parking officers were not happy with me driving off while they were still giving me my ticket, and before I knew it, Humboldt State police Chief Donn G. Peterson was pulling me over in an undercover vehicle.

Within minutes, another University Police Department vehicle arrived to the scene. I was interrogated for approximately 10 minutes by two officers on each side of my car about the incident that had just occurred. After the officers spoke with each other for a few minutes, another cop car pulled up, and UPD officer Delmar Tompkins made his way to my driver side.

“Please step out of your vehicle and put your hands behind your back,” Tompkins said.

“Excuse me? I don’t understand,” I said.

I was told I was being detained under suspicion of assault with law enforcement. After questioning this accusation, I was told I was a threat at that time and needed to be detained for the safety of the officers because they did not know the full story yet.

Confused and scared, I got out of the car, did what Tompkins asked me to do and began to cry like a baby as he placed me in the back of his cop car.

Imagine being detained and told you are a threat, under suspicion of assault, by a white officer twice your size. Imagine feeling confused and alone. Imagine questioning what could possibly happen next.

When you grow up trying to understand the purpose behind discrimination, you begin to notice how common it is and wonder if it will ever go away.

At times, you lose hope for your children’s generation. Yet other times, you want to become the greatest activist that has ever walked this planet, in order to actually make things right for those future generations.

Students at HSU don’t feel at home. We don’t feel as though there are people by our side, and we don’t see the amount of people of color around campus that the HSU pamphlets and website photos presented to us when we were deciding which university to attend.

According to HSU’s “fast facts,” the incoming class of fall 2016 consisted of 549 Hispanic/Latino students, 51 African American students, 31 Asian students, 11 American Indian students and four Pacific Islander students.

Additionally, the entire fall 2016 student body consisted of 2,869 Hispanic/Latino students, 271 African American students, 279 Asian students, 89 American Indian students and 20 Pacific Islander students.

With a student body total of 8,503, you can imagine what it is like to see only 270 other faces similar to yours on one side, and only 88 other faces similar to yours on the other side.

Hispanic and Latino students made up almost 35 percent of the entire student body that same year. Seems like a reasonable amount, right?

HSU actually receives funds from the U.S Department of Education ever since they became a Hispanic-Serving Institution at the start of the fall 2013 semester.

To become a Hispanic-Serving Institution, the university has to have an undergraduate full-time equivalent enrollment of at least 25 percent Hispanic students, and HSU was at 26.6 percent for the fall 2013 semester.

HSU continues to flaunt a great amount of diversity that it does not have. These incoming students, like many of us who were once in their shoes, attend HSU and slowly begin to witness and experience how diverse this campus and community is truly NOT.

Just the other day, the NAACP Eureka Branch called out HSU and asked them to stop recruiting students from minority-majority neighborhoods until changes are made around campus and within the community.

A majority of the students of color who have attended HSU for at least two academic years have experienced some type of discrimination, whether it was verbal, physical or emotional.

In 2013, Tompkins had a civil lawsuit filed against him by a Fieldbrook man who alleged he was the victim of a brutal assault back in January 2012. It turns out the Fieldbrook man wasn’t lying and the Cal State University system paid him $135,000 to keep him quiet.

As students of color at this university, how are we supposed to feel safe if our own UPD officers don’t do things the right way and have our back?

Cases like the murders of HSU African American students Corey Clark (2001) and David Josiah Lawson (2017) are still unsolved to this day, and we as students have not seen enough action taken by our president, UPD and even the Arcata Police Department.

Students of color do not feel safe, nor protected here. The NAACP Eureka Branch is right and something has to change before HSU tries to drag more students of color to this campus.