Photo courtesy of Humboldt State

Dr. Shaun Harper kicks off HSU’s Presidential Speaker Series

The focal topic of this year’s speaker series is racial equity
Translate

Dr. Shaun Harper spoke in the inaugural presentation of the series about how it is important for universities to have a strategic plan when it comes to tackling racial equity throughout their institution and academic curriculum.

The virtual presentation was held on Feb. 11 and also included a short presentation from Professor Pam Bowers and advanced graduate students in the social work department. Each event in the series will feature scholarly and creative work happening at HSU that corresponds to the topic.

Bowers and the group of graduate students are working on the Department of Social Work implicit curriculum needs assessment.

The masters project’s goal is to gain a better understanding of student and faculty experiences pertaining to microagressions, racial aggressions, homophobia, and transphobia that occurs at HSU, specifically within the Department of Social Work.

“This is about improving the educational climate,” Bowers said. “It is about continually examining our own prejudices and our own biases and finding ways to improve upon those and build with trust and humility.”

The presentation from the group was a good lead into Harper’s as it touched on many similar points. Each recognized that confronting the truth of the current and past educational climate is the only way for a University to truly enact change across campus.

“I need not tell you that the racial chaos that we’ve seen in our country over these past four plus years have had a spillover on to college and university campuses,” Harper said.

Harper and colleagues at the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center recently established the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates to better assist the widespread demand for racial climate assessments within the past couple of years. It is a quantitative survey that will be administered annually in hundreds of participating colleges and universities across the nation.

Over the past 17 years, Harper and colleagues have interviewed, face to face, with more than 10,000 students and 2,000 employees at colleges and universities. They assessed different aspects of equitable fairness that they sensed while on campus.

“After you graduate from Humboldt State, are you feeling prepared to go live, work and lead in a place that’s much more racially diverse?” Harper said to the audience regarding typical questions they ask students being assessed, specifically white students.

Harper said that many white students acknowledged their desire to want to, but the assessment showed that they don’t know much more as a college senior about race and racial equity and how to solve racial problems than they did when they were a high school senior.

“White students, would you know, therefore, matriculate through the institution, graduate and go into the world without understanding other people’s racialized experiences,” Harper said.

On the other hand, Harper said that the people who work at the institution don’t know how to do equity, they don’t know how to solve racial problems and they don’t know how to decolonize the curriculum. Therefore, it is extremely hard for students, specifically white students, to become equitable leaders and decision makers in various industries, despite the diversity of the United States of America.

“It’s not enough to just be a good white person or a good anti-racist white person,” Harper said.

There are practical recommendations that he suggests universities must do if they are indeed going to achieve and sustain racial equity. Denouncing white supremacy and racism in all their forms, specifying racial equity among equity groups across campus, investing in the reparation of historical negligence in equity and harm, and being much more intentional about integrating race and racial topics about people of color and cultural histories across the curriculum are all ways HSU can better support students of color.

Humboldt State University, along with thousands of other universities across the nation, have an opportunity to enact real change when it comes to racial equity. The first step is to confront the truths of racial inequity that lie within the environment on campus.

As the event came to a close, Dr. Lisa Bond-Maupin, the acting deputy chief of staff & special assistant to the president, assured those at the event that the university is listening to Harper and plans to utilize the information offered by each speaker in the series.

“For folks who may not be aware, HSU is preparing to engage in the National Collegiate Campus Climate survey, under the direction of our new Campus Diversity Officer Dr. Ndura,” Bond-Maupin said.

President Tom Jackson, Jr. started the Presidential Speaker Series to engage HSU and the local community in international conversation. The next event is being held on March 10 and will include Dr. George Yancy from Emory University.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on reddit

More Stories

Photo by Abraham Navarro | Cowboy Daddy's Drummer and Keyboard player Conner West, 25, and guitarist Skye Freitas, 24, jam out at the Gutswurrak Student Activity Center on April 28.

Local bands rock the Gutswurrak

by Ione Dellos Band members wait in front of the bathrooms, eyes anxiously fluttering from the stage to the growing audience in the Gutswurrak Student Activities Center. After the deepest sigh one could possibly take, they make their way to

Travis Allen pole vaults at the Green and Gold Track Event on Feb. 12 Photo by Morgan Hancock.

Athlete’s outperform at decathlon

by Carlos Pedraza The Cal Poly Humboldt Track and Field team participated in the Stanislaus State Multi-Event from Thursday April 7 to Saturday April 9. The team participated in over 10 different events, all of which were multi-day involving different

Photo by Morgan Hancock | Izzy Star hits a home run in final softball game of the season at the Bear River Recreation Center in Loleta, California on Saturday, April 30.

Cal Poly Humboldt plays its last softball game of the series

by Eddie Carpenter On April 30, Cal Poly Humboldt Softball played the last two games of their series against Cal State San Marcos. Due to weather conditions, the softball games had to be relocated to the Bear River Recreation Center

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply