Charmaine Lawson holds an important meeting with Chancellor
Charmaine Lawson and HSU student advocates held a meeting on student safety on Nov. 4 with California State University board of trustees chair Adam Day, and Chancellor of the CSU Timothy White.
Charmaine Lawson is the mother of David Josiah Lawson, a criminology major at HSU, who was murdered at an off-campus party April 15, 2017. Josiah Lawson’s case remains unsolved and his murder has prompted students to raise issues of safety and support on campus, particularly for students of color who move to Humboldt and are unfamiliar with the area.
Lawson said the meeting was to allow the students to express to Day and White their experiences and concerns involving safety on and off campus, poor housing conditions on and off campus and funding of multicultural centers which provide stable, reliable and safe sanctuary for students of color.
“This is the opportunity where we get our voices heard,” Lawson said before the meeting.
Charmaine Lawson met Day at a CSU board of trustees meeting in Long Beach. She asked him to be her guest at Humboldt to talk about safety for black and brown students.
Charmaine Lawson said White wasn’t originally going to attend the meeting but he arranged his schedule just so he could make it. She said her son did not have safety at Humboldt and wanted Day and White to hear directly from students the problems they have on campus.
“We want to make safety top priority for new students,” Lawson said.
Attending in support of Lawson was lead staff for California Faculty Administrator’s Statewide Council for Affirmative Action Audrena Redmond and CFA Associate Vice President of Affirmative Action North, Cecil Canton.
Redmond said there hasn’t been enough action since Josiah’s death and it was very important that Day and White came to the meeting. She said if this was the first they listened to the student concerns of safety and support on campus then the line of communication is broken somewhere in the CSU.
Redmond said responsibility is starting to be taken after the treatment of Lawson during a board of trustees meeting where a police officer stood behind her holding his gun belt.
“Policing of black bodies especially toward a grieving mother is inhumane,” Redmond said.
Deema Hindawi, active member of M.E.CH.A and employee at the Multicultural Center, was one of the student advocates to express their concerns on continuous problems at HSU that has not been fixed. She said there is no point in calling UPD for help because they take too long and most students of color don’t even feel safe around them. Hindawi said the Multicultural Center at HSU is a reason why people of color are staying here but they are underfunded and have no professional staff that overlooks the center.
“As students we run the center,” Hindawi said. “We need professional staff but that’s not something the university is giving us.”
Hindawi also addressed the safety of students and said she doesn’t feel comfortable walking over the Sunset Ave bridge because there aren’t any lights. She said she sometimes doesn’t leave school until midnight and feels it’s necessary to carry a stun gun for safety.
“I have been hearing that the bridge will have lights since I was a freshman,” Hindawi said. “I’m a third year now.”
Active member of Students for Equality and Education and M.E.CH.A at HSU Nathaniel Mcguigan addressed the poor quality of on-campus housing and said students are forced to live in poor living conditions. Mcguigan said the campus dorms are too expensive and there are problems with mold and bed bugs.
“I would like to see improving conditions of on-campus housing,” Mcguigan said.
Cecil Canton was positive after the meeting and said it appeared Day and White were actually listening and staying present. A major problem Canton said is the disconnect from campus and community. He said the campus doesn’t see their nexus with the community until there is a negative action that takes place.
“The community is in the campus and the campus is in the community,” Canton said.
Canton said campuses have to ask themselves how they can work together with community. He said problems of safety for faculty, staff, and students are at all CSUs. Canton knows proof is in doing and action is needed.
“We can’t afford anymore deaths at Humboldt, or any CSU’s,” Canton said.