PERSPECTIVE--The question is, why are our campuses still rife with such racism a half-century after the racial integration of American higher education?
And even more important, what can be done about it? There have been protest against racial inequality and discrimination on college campuses across the nation. Faculty and staff of color experience being blackballed for speaking out against the injustice that they experience. The modern day Jim Crow that is identified as “undifferentiated” killings driven excluding people of color socially and economically.
People of color are overwhelmingly represented in food service, grounds keeping, custodial roles and fairly low-paid secretarial roles; and they are tragically underrepresented among tenured faculty members, deans, provosts and presidents, people who are in power.
If universities fail to address these issues in a meaningful way, what are the long-term effects? California State University, Northridge has managed to attract attention on this subject and as we know, all attention is not good attention. Case in point, earlier this year, when Africana Studies professor Dr. Karin Stanford received threatening emails, she had to stop teaching out of fear with little university support. In addition to this Shante Morgan-Durisseau, who is the founder of the Black Alumni Association and a great contributor to the black CSUN community made allegations of discrimination and harassment based on her race as a black woman.
There is an African American employee who will remain nameless, that has also experience heinous acts against her while employed at CSUN. These acts included harassment based on religion, separation from the university which caused all of her benefits for her and her child to be terminated and all of her employer paid contributions to end. This was deemed an accidental termination and because the employee spoke out, she was blackballed and has not been allowed to advance in her career after 11 years of service. This employee has an impeccable record, holds two masters degrees and is a proud alum of CSUN. “It is disheartening to think that in 2018, there is still such a refusal to trust and protect black women.”
The Sundial, which is the CSUN editorial reported the firing of Reggie Theus as the Men’s Basketball Coach. CSUN was put on three years’ probation and had a self-imposed one year ban from the postseason. Yet, President Dianne Harrison Hires a new coach, Mark Gottfried who is currently under federal Investigation. Gottfried spent six years at North Carolina State and was fired in February of last year.
It is shameful then, that black faculty, staff and students still face institutional racism in higher education. Black student enrollment has dropped steadily over the last 10 years, from 3,023 in fall 2008 to 1,849 in fall 2017, according to CSUN Institutional Research. To meaningfully tackle racism in higher education, we must listen when faculty, staff and students point out how universities create conditions where people of color are seen as being out of place.
On a final note, I am not surprised that Governor Brown cut funding to the CSU’s when it appears that much of it will continue to go towards legal fees and executive salaries. Tax payer dollars well spent?
(Diedra M. Greenaway, MS/MBA, is a Los Angeles City Budget Advocate and BA Budget Chair for the Department of Economic and Workforce Development. Diedra is a CityWatch contributor.)