Black Student Union (BSU) Demands and Student Update

1. Creation of Black/Ethnic Studies Department

DEMAND:
We DEMAND a Black/Ethnic Studies Department be created at SRJC.

RESPONSE:
Status: In Progress

Vice President, Academic Affairs/Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jane Saldaña-Talley worked with Academic Senate to support faculty’s efforts to create an ethnic studies department. All agreed it would be important to work with and follow the guidance of Black and African American faculty.

The Academic Senate held a Special Meeting on July 22, 2020 that included a listening session and Q and A with the Black Student Union (BSU), and an urgent discussion of and possible action on endorsement of the creation of a Black/Ethnic Studies program at SRJC. (see Academic Senate summary below). Following comments from BSU, students, faculty, staff, Academic Senate Senators and other attendees, the Academic Senate entertained several amendments to the action item and voted to approve the item as amended.

From Academic Senate

The Academic Senate shall endorse creation of a Black Studies Major as the first and most urgent component of an Ethnic Studies Program at SRJC and, to that end, partner with the Vice President of Academic Affairs in creating an ad-hoc task force of faculty, students, staff and experts that will recommend the curricular content and requirements of such a program. To be clear, by "curricular content" we do not mean creation of Course Outlines of Record or the content of CORs. The task force will identify which courses these programs should include and make recommendations accordingly. Any needed curriculum development (creation of courses that the college needs for the programs but does not yet have on the books) would be a subsequent phase and would be the work of the discipline faculty.

Black Studies and Ethnic Studies Task Force

At its Special Meeting on July 22, the Academic Senate voted to “endorse creation of a Black Studies major as the first and most urgent component of an Ethnic Studies program at SRJC and, to that end, partner with the Vice President of Academic Affairs in creating an ad-hoc task force.” Additionally, while advising on academic programs is within the Senate’s purview as defined in California Education Code, the Senate felt that it is important that this task force be inclusive and create opportunities for staff and students in addition to faculty members.

This task force was created to research existing Black Studies and Ethnic Studies majors and programs throughout the California Community Colleges and other California higher-education systems and recommend the courses that Black Studies and Ethnic Studies majors at SRJC should include. Any needed curriculum development (creating specific courses) would occur in a subsequent stage of the process of developing the program, after this task force completes its work.

On Thursday, August 27, Academic Senate President Julie Thompson and Vice President, Academic Affairs/Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jane Saldaña-Talley sent a call for participants to faculty members interested in joining this faculty-led task force. The task force was intended to include up to ten faculty members, and two members each appointed by Student Government Assembly, Classified Senate, and the Administration. A request for appointees was send to Student Government Assembly and Classified Senate.

Statements of interest were due September 8 and task force members were introduced during the September 16 Academic Senate meeting.

The first meeting of the Black Studies/Ethnic Studies Task Force was October 13. Academic Senate President Julie Thompson, President Dr. Frank Chong and Vice President, Academic Affairs/Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jane Saldaña-Talley met with the group to kick off the effort, clarify their role and purpose, and requesting that the Task Force come forward soon with specifics regarding how they would organize and what they anticipate in the way of timeline and future reports. The task force consisted of 13 faculty members, two classified professionals, two students, and two managers, all representatives of SRJC’s BIPOC community.

Recommendations from the Black Studies/Ethnic Studies Task Force were presented to the Academic Senate during the November 18 meeting and a vote to support the recommendations was placed (but not voted) on the December 2 meeting agenda, and again appeared on the December 16 Academic Senate agenda.

On December 16, the SRJC Academic Senate voted to support the recommendations of the Black Studies and Ethnic Studies Task Force. Following the completion of this momentous work the Task Force was disbanded.

Academic Senate President Julie Thompson and Vice President, Academic Affairs/Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jane Saldaña-Talley conferred in early January and agreed to convene a group of key faculty and administrators to begin preliminary planning to create an Ethnic Studies Department at SRJC and understand the impact of the new CSU Ethnic Studies requirement. The group included members of the Academic Senate Executive Committee, co-chairs of the Curriculum Review Committee, department chairs and deans from Behavioral Sciences, Social Sciences and English, and faculty union leaders. The meeting was held Friday, March 12.

In early April, Academic Senate President Julie Thompson and Vice President, Academic Affairs/Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jane Saldaña-Talley invited faculty members interested in serving on a faculty workgroup to draft course outlines for foundational courses in Ethnic Studies programs. Faculty members must meet minimum qualifications in Ethnic Studies.  Selections will be made by Vice President Saldaña -Talley and representatives of the Black Studies/Ethnic Studies Task Force and the Academic Senate Executive Committee.  The workgroup will be announced in mid-May.

The District and AFA are finalizing the bargainable provisions of the AFA/District Contract that will enable the Ethnic Studies Department to be created.  A key provision will allow for the transfer of contract faculty into this new department, which will provide for election of a department chair, hiring of adjunct faculty, submission of faculty staffing requests, and development of an Ethnic Studies curriculum.


2.
a. Creation of Office for Black Student Development
b. Creation of a Strategic Plan with a Diversity Focus

DEMAND:
(A) We DEMAND an Office for Black Student Development. This office should have ample funding to increase Black student’s enrollment, retention, completion, graduation, and successful transfer. This office should have a full-time coordinator.

(B) We DEMAND SRJC create a Strategic Plan that will increase retention rates for marginalized students, sustain a diverse curriculum, provide anti-racist training, and promote a more safe and inclusive campus. This should include a plan to have ALL Students educated to live, think, and work cross-culturally and promote diversity and Inclusion.

RESPONSE:
Status: In Progress

(A) Office space adjacent to the college’s Intercultural Center has been identified to establish the new Sawubona Black Student Support Center. With guidance from BSU, the new center will be remodeled this summer to create a space that is welcoming to Black/African American Students – new carpet, new furniture, built-in speakers, new paint, sound proofing, signage, and improvements to doors.

The district is committed to hiring a full-time coordinator who will lead the new Sawubona Center. With input from BSU, BLAC, and the UMOJA team, a job description was created. The Job description was approved by the board in April and is currently out for internal recruitment. We anticipate having a coordinator hired before the end of the spring semester. Vice President, Student Services/Assistant Superintendent Dr. Pedro Avila is currently exploring options to establish a permanent budget for the Sawubona Center.

Additionally, the district has hired two part-time Black/African American therapists who are providing services to students and will be integrated into the future Sawubona Center.

(B) Under the leadership of Vice President, Academic Affairs/Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jane Saldaña-Talley and Senior Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Research Dr. Jeremy Smotherman, we are committed to revisiting the current Strategic Plan and including a focus on increasing retention rates for Black/African American and other marginalized students, sustaining a diverse curriculum, providing anti-racist training, and promoting a more safe and inclusive campus.


3.
a. Hiring of Faculty and Staff of Color
b. Ongoing Professional Learning Around Anti-Racism

DEMAND:
(A) We DEMAND more faculty and staff of color.

(B) We DEMAND all staff, faculty, and administration (including the Board of Trustees) be required to participate in ongoing professional learning around anti-racism during orientation and then every (2 years) thereafter. That SRJC trains faculty who are not yet prepared to be involved in such courses to be able to do so.

RESPONSE:
Status: Ongoing

(A) SRJC has made steady progress diversifying of our employees in the last decade, and we recognize that we still have a long way to go in increasing the rate at which we hire faculty and staff who reflect the diversity of our community and our students. As one example of our progress, we recently hired two new Black/African American faculty who will start in Fall 2021. The following initiatives will be a priority to address this demand:

  • Evaluating current faculty recruitment data to strategize on how to increase the rate of selection for future Black/African American faculty and staff;
  • Implementing best practices from institutions that are recognized for their diversity/equity/inclusion efforts in order to propose revisions to SRJC recruitment practices and hiring and equivalency procedures;
  • Incorporating additional targeted outreach, networking and strategic partnership efforts with educational institutions that have demonstrated success in supporting graduate students of color in order to attract more Black/African American applicants to apply for recruitments at the District. This effort is demonstrated by the partnership developed in Spring 2020 with the District’s College Recruiting Program which has led to the implementation of an Administrative Mentorship Program in collaboration with UC Berkeley (the Academic Senate is considering options for a Faculty Mentorship Program as an extension of the Teaching Fellows Program). The EEOAC also implemented a College Recruiting Program with a Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) in Spring 2021;
  • Review District and instructional department webpages to incorporate inclusion and anti-racism in all areas (District DEI webpage implemented Fall 2020 to highlight employee affinity groups, HSI designation and District commitment to Black Lives Matter movement);
  • Incorporating additional training in the hiring orientation to assist hiring committees in understanding the importance of considering candidates who demonstrate a commitment to diversity/equity/inclusion as a priority over other candidates.

(B) Professional development opportunities on topics related to anti-racism and diversity/equity/inclusion have been offered consistently and the District’s intention is to expand programming on these topics.

  • BSU has demanded that trainings on equity and anti-racism be mandatory and the District will consider working with the labor unions (AFA, CFT and SEIU) to negotiate this recommendation. The Academic Senate voted in favor of an agenda item to request that AFA negotiate required faculty professional development on equity, diversity, inclusivity and anti-racism at the January 20, 2021 Academic Senate meeting.
  • The focus for Fall 2020 Professional Development Activity Day was shifted to anti-racism with the plenary presentation by Lasana Hotep, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging at the University of California, Berkeley, on Embracing the Paradigm Shift: Core Competencies of An Equity Advancing Educator and Advocate. Lasana also offered a same-day PDA follow-up workshop on addressing issues around race in hiring, supervising, teaching and leading. The following workshops were also offered at Fall PDA:
    • How to be an Antiracist (book review)
    • Community Conversation placeholder (Lasana Hotep workshop)
    • Equity Circle COVID Conversations: A Report on our Monthly Meetings
  • Spring 2021 PDA provided another opportunity to provide all-District training on anti-racism, diversity and inclusion. The plenary lecture for Spring PDA was provided by Dr. Juana Maria Rodriguez, Professor and Chair, UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Department. Dr. Rodriguez  presented on “Public Women: Sex, Power, and Portraiture in the Mexican Archives” which included an in-depth discussion on gender and racial discrimination in Mexico. The following workshops were offered at Spring 2021 PDA:
    • Join the Umoja Learning Community and Become Umojafied
    • Psychology as an Anti-Racist Discipline
    • Open Educational Resources and Remote Instruction, An Issue of Equity
    • SRJC's Title V HSI "Lanzamiento" Initiative, An Overview and Invitation
    • Equity in Online Course Design and Practices
    • Student Veterans: A Diverse Population with Diverse Needs
    • What it means to be human: Ideologies of racism from religious racial development to pseudoscience
    • Living Undocumented in a World of Uncertainty
  • Plans for Fall 2021 PDA are underway and will include a plenary presentation focused on a review of our student, employee and local demographics in order to envision how we can improve our outreach and retention of diverse students and hiring and retention of diverse faculty and staff. A call for proposals has gone out with a request for workshop proposals focusing on topics related to anti-racism and diversity, equity and inclusion. The Professional Development Committee is in discussion regarding how to offer a variety of professional development opportunities at Fall 2021 PDA on these topics.
  • The District is researching additional professional development opportunities to be offered on an ongoing basis on anti-racism related topics in collaboration with input from the community, EEOAC, the Professional Development Committee and the Embracing a Culture of Inclusion program along with various employee affinity groups. EEOAC implemented a survey in Spring 2020 to solicit input from the college community on anti-racism professional development topics.
  • The new faculty experience program includes agenda items with the new faculty orientation for ‘Equity in the Classroom: Black Faculty, Staff & Student Panel’, ‘SRJC Culture: Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-racism’ and equity data will also be presented by Institutional Research.
  • The new hire orientation for Classified and Management includes training from the Embracing a Culture of Inclusion program on understanding what inclusion means at SRJC and provides tips for addressing bias and racism in the work environment.
  • The 2020-2023 District EEO Plan includes a goal for the Board of Trustees to receive training on elimination of bias in hiring and employment every two years. The Board of Trustees received this training in December 2020 and any new Trustees will receive the same training within six months of their officially assuming their duties as a Trustee. Human Resources collaborated with the Academic Senate to offer a training similar to what was provided to the Board of Trustees in order to inform discussions taking place in Spring 2021 regarding revisions to the Faculty Hiring and Equivalency Procedures.
  • The District’s Embracing a Culture of Inclusion (ECI) Program implemented a New Faculty Mixer event in Fall 2020 to provide new faculty with an opportunity to discuss the importance of equity-mindedness in supporting our students. Additional initiatives will be implemented by ECI in Spring 2021 and beyond to develop surveys for employee affinity groups as an opportunity for individuals in these groups to provide input on creating an inclusive work environment. ECI will also be implementing professional development opportunities on anti-racism. Lastly, ECI is in discussion about the development of an ‘Allies for Change’ group to serve as a bias response team to address issues of exclusion and racism in the workplace.

4.
a. Immediate Removal of Anyone Accused and Convicted of Embezzlement, Briberies, Discrimination and Bullying
b. Immediate Disarming of District Police

DEMAND:
(A) We DEMAND the IMMEDIATE removal, ANYONE, in leadership, staff, faculty, or administration that has been accused and convicted of embezzlement, briberies, discrimination, bullying, stigmatizing or harassing be removed from their positions IMMEDIATELY.

(B) We DEMAND the IMMEDIATE DISARMING of District Police.

RESPONSE:
Status: Ongoing

(A) We will review and investigate all accusations of such behavior that may have occurred recently and the District will follow Board Policy/Procedures 2.15/P, 2.7/P, 4.14P and 8.2.1 in handling complaints. The District is reviewing the process for receiving and initiating complaints of this nature.

(B) Cabinet has met with BSU and the SRJC Police Department to have an open conversation about BSU’s concerns and requests, and are committed to continuing the conversation. (Please also see response to Demand 5)


5.
a. Defunding District Police
b. Input and Approval of Campus Security Presence at BSU Events

DEMAND:
(A) We DEMAND that the District Police be defunded and that money be diverted to student service programs and alternative campus safety programs.

(B) We DEMAND that any Campus Security at BSU events need BSU input and approval.

RESPONSE:
Status: Ongoing

(A) Cabinet has met with BSU and the SRJC Police Department to have an open conversation about BSU’s concerns and requests, and are committed to continuing the conversation. From that, District Police has been implementing the following:

Collaboration

The District Police Department is committed to working with the BSU to ensure everyone’s safety, including all students, employees and community members, on any campus. The District Police have worked closely with the Latinx population and have helped implement a plan with the Dream Center to protect our DACA students. The District Police have also worked closely with the Second Chance Club including assisting with a successful car show fundraiser. The District Police, through conversations held at the end of last year, understand the BSU’s concerns and plan to work collaboratively with BSU to utilize a similar planning approach to build relationships while continuing to provide safety at future events and striving to help attendees at BSU events feel that they are treated equitably and with respect.

The District Police have met with Student Life staff to standardize the security assessments for events on campus to include considerations such as size, time, controversy, dignitary presence, traffic and access.

The District Police are a part of the District BCARE Team, which evaluates students in crisis to ensure resources, such as counseling and mental health support, are utilized as the primary response, except in incidents where a person is an immediate harm to themselves or to others. The result is that the BCARE Team’s non-law enforcement professionals are able to use their available resources to intervene and act without endangering anyone’s safety in the vast majority of cases.

Training

California law enforcement has been and continues to be a leader for the rest of the country in officer training requirements. 

The District Police are trained at the academy level and at the field training level about crisis intervention.  Peace officers also receive an additional 40-hour course on crisis intervention with an emphasis on support services and resources available in Sonoma County. 

De-escalation techniques and training have been implemented at the academy level and continue through the professional development training peace officers receive.  In addition, peace officers completed Bias and Racial Profiling Course in January 2021.  The facilitation was done by Nick Neisius, an African American officer out of the Mill Valley Police Department, a certified POST instructor and a SRJC Recruit Training Officer.  Our officers have received de-escalation training and we have officers going through upcoming classes at SSU soon. Additionally, Sergeant James has taken a Hate Crimes Investigation course and a LGBTQ Awareness train the trainer course this past February.     

Our dispatchers received cultural diversity training in February through Kim Turner LLC our CSOs will soon receive this training as well.  Officer Bromham and Dispatcher Lankford have ongoing conversations with our cadets and are planning in house training for them this semester.

Policy

The District Police policy states that when time and circumstances reasonably permit, and when safety would not be compromised, officers should consider actions that increase officer safety and decrease the need for using force. Such options include summoning additional resources, formulating a plan with responding officers before entering an unstable situation that does not appear to require immediate intervention and employing other tactics that ensure everyone’s safety.

It is required that any officer present and observing another law enforcement officer or employee using force that is clearly beyond that which is necessary shall, when in a position to do so, intervene to prevent the use of unreasonable force.

Data Collection

The District Police continue to work with the collective Sonoma County law enforcement agencies in implementing data collection of detentions and searches for the Racial Identity Profiling Act (RIPA). The software piece just became available and is going through a testing phase. Live data collection is expected to begin earlier than legally required. Note, the goal was to begin as of January 1 but the software piece, which needed to be created, took longer than originally planned.

Body Worn Cameras

The District Police have acquired and implemented body worn cameras for all officers.

Advocacy and Leadership

Chancellor’s Office Executive Vice Chancellor, Marty Alvarado and Vice Chancellor Sheneui Weber invited Vice President, Academic Affairs/Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jane Saldaña-Talley and Dean Josh Adams to join a planning session in response to Chancellor Oakley’s Call to Action around ways in which California Community Colleges can influence and support police reform.  SRJC’s Public Safety Training Center is highly regarded throughout the state for its model programs, and contributions to the development of course content used by programs across the state.

As part of the California Community College’s Call to Action agenda, the Chancellor’s Office has formed a Campus Police Reform Task Force that will inform state-level policy, data, and strategy shifts needed to ensure transparent campus-based police reforms that advance our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and provide the most welcoming environment possible for students and others on campus.  SRJC Vice President of Academic Affairs/Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Jane Saldaña-Talley has been invited to join the Task Force to represent the California Community College’s Chief Instructional Officers (CCCCIO) Executive Board.  Over the next year, Dr. Saldana-Talley will participate in a series of meetings intended to result in action-oriented recommendations and strategies.  The first meeting of the Task Force was held April 16, 2021.  The Task Force meets again on May 10.

(B) The SRJC District Police Department will not participate in any BSU events unless requested. They will continue to patrol and will be available as needed by calling 707.527.1000


6. Comprehensive Racial Awareness and Inclusion Curriculum

DEMAND:
We DEMAND the creation and enforcement of a Comprehensive Racial Awareness and Inclusion Curriculum throughout all campuses, departments, and units that is mandatory for ALL students, faculty, staff, and administration. This curriculum must be VETTED, MAINTAINED, and OVERSEEN by a board comprised of students, culturally competent staff, and faculty .

RESPONSE:
Status: In Progress

The Academic Senate convened a workgroup to recommend Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Antiracism Professional Learning.  The workgroup forwarded its recommendations to the Senate at the end of April 2021.


7. Retaliation for Supporting BSU Demands

DEMAND:
WE DEMAND there be no retaliation—including but not limited to: loss of jobs, threats, reprimand, change of job duties—against THE FACULTY, STAFF, AND ADMINISTRATORS THAT SUPPORT BLACK STUDENT UNION STUDENTS and these demands.

RESPONSE:
Status: Ongoing

We will ensure that no retaliation occurs.