We have had a series of hate crimes on our campus, most of which are not officially reported. The latest one targets me, with a swastika, my name, and a threat to me posted in one of the men's bathrooms on campus.Of particular alarm is the fact that, even though we have been vocal about the need for notification of hate crimes, I was NOT told about the threat to me until a week had passed, even though I was at a university-sanctioned conference. My family was not informed, either.|
This has been typical of the response to hate crimes, which appear to be escalating, on our campus. Even before this latest (and there are more) incident, in response to a meeting where we shared our collective concerns, Black faculty organized into a group called, "Black Faculty Organized" and wrote the following statement. A group of students, meanwhile, organized a "OCTOBER 21st COMMITTEE" to put on a teach-in. The statement below was issued publically, trashed publically by the local newspapers, and never prompted a dialogue with the administration or with white faculty collectively. Now we have another series of hate crimes, including the one that targettedme, with no change in the administrative posture. Meanwhile, the teach-in appears to have inflamed some students, generating more of a backlash from those students who are "tired of hearing about race" and "all this multicultural stuff."
October 10, 1996:.
BLACK FACULTY ORGANIZED
The Black faculty were attracted to California State University San Marcos because of its unique Mission Statement. The Mission Statement "demands fairness and decency of all persons in the community." It promises an environment in which students will be prepared to "live cooperatively and competitively in a world of cultural and ethnic diversity." It supports a curriculum that will "focus on international concerns of race, gender and cultural diversity." The Black faculty assumed these values would be implemented and serve as a cornerstone for students, staff, administration and faculty. The message we as Black faculty drew from the Mission Statement was "come, we want you, we will support your efforts to contribute to the development of this institution."
Two factors have caused California State University San Marcos to fall far short of these lofty goals and values. A deeply embedded institutional racism has contributed to the creation of a hostile working environment. We hope that public awareness of the situation at CSU San Marcos will facilitate a dialogue and generate meaningful reforms. We are seeking to open that dialogue and we will conclude our statement with some needed reforms.
Institutional racism exists when a racial group uses ostensibly neutral and objective standards, policies, and procedures to perpetuate their dominance and control. Institutional racism exists where white dominance over people of color is embedded (either overtly or covertly) in the operation of social institutions. Procedures that appear neutral and fair (e.g., the use of student evaluations to assess the teaching effectiveness of faculty, or peer review of faculty for retention, promotion, and tenure) can be applied in a manner that perpetuates racial inequiality and reifies stereotypical notions about the supposed inferiority of people of color and women. If left unaddressed, institutional racism contributes to the creation of a hostile working environment in which people of color, women, Jews, gays and lesbians are harrased simply because they are different.
Racism is embedded in daily operations at CSU San Marcos: from Black faculty interaction with students to Black faculty relations with faculty colleagues to Black faculty interactions with campus administration. We are SPECIFICALLY talking about the following:
--Racial epithets have hurled at Black faculty in the classroom and threats of violence are a recurring problem. Black faculty operate in an environment where armed members of the campus police attend their classes and where they are escorted by the police to their cars. Just yesterday another death threat was issued.
--A similar incident occurred previous with a white faculty member who taught a course that focussed on people of color.
--The intitial response to thse two incidents by the administration was tepid. The administration was slow in responding to the most recent incidents with the Black faculty member and there never was a formal, offical, and effective response to the situation with the White faculty member.
--There is some danger of interracial conflict between students as a result of racist graffiti, swastikas, and the exchange of White Power signs. These actions greatly contribute to our hostile working environment.
--The efforts by Gay and Lesbian students to organize and form student grups is now exposing them to crimes of hate.
--Student teaching evaluations are used to assess the effectiveness of Black faculty in the classroom. These evaluations then are used to make retention, tenure and promotion decisions about Black faculty. This ostensibly neutral and objective process is a prime example of institutional racism. Why? First, White students have organized their classmates to provide negative teaching evaluations of Black faculty teaching performance or to undermine Black faculty by registering complaints with non-Black authority figures. Second, overt and subtle racist comments that appear on teaching evalutions are not "screened out" during peer review of Black faculty. Third, whtie students have organized to petition for the removal of Black faculty who teach about race and gender and/or bring rigorous standards to the classroom. It is clear from this discussion that using evaluations from students who harbor racist views is a poor way to assess the effectiveness of Black faculty. Nonetheless, these evaluations are used by our non-Black peers to assess our effectiveness in the classroom.
--Black faculty attend job search meetings where our faculty colleagues routinely state "there are no qualified Black candidates" or "we do a disservice to individuals and the university when we bring in unqualified minorities." What does that make us if there are no qualified Black candidates?
--Given these attitudes it is not surprising that the most recent statistics from the Office of the Chancellor ranks CSU San Marcos near the bottom of the 22 campuses in this system in terms of percentage of Black faculty. There currently are no Black full professors and retention, tenure and promotion of Black faculty has been highly problematic.
--Both faculty and administrators have used racist epithets and made racist comments. Typically these comments are made in the presence of non-Black faculty who then report their disgust back to their Black colleagues. However the statements are occasionally made in the presence of Black faculty. This practice has an especially chilling effect on untenured Black faculty and Black staff.
--An inept and insensitive bureaucracy has bungled our efforts to diversify the faculty. This bureaucracy has botched searches by: transmitting contracts that lowered the previously held rank of prospective Black faculty hires; extending contract offers with below market salary proposals. Those Black faculty hired at San Marcos later discover that similarly eperienced and trained non-Black colleagues received higher salaries and greater research support.
--Tenure and promotion is tied to publication in refereed journals that are deemed worthy by non-Black peer review committee members. This disadvantages Black faculty who find that their work in African American communities and in Afrocentric journals is ignored, undervalued, and discounted.
--The lack of a critical mass of Black faculty exacerbates our personal and professional isolation. Consequently, the problems we face are confronted in isolation.
We anticipate the administration and our faculty colleagues will respond to this listing of SOME of the racist practices and incidents on this campus by mouthing their rhetorical commitment to diversity, equality, and tolerance. We expect them to deplore this situaiton and promise to do better. This very public wringing of hands will be part of a policy of containment. However, holding convocations about racial tolerance and claiming fealty to the mission statment does not address the pattern of embedded institutional racism at CSU San Marcos. Once the attention dies down, we expect a return to the same old institutional practices. We expect colleagues to use grants, teaching evaluations, retention, tenure and prmotion decisions, and other levers in the administrative machinery to settle scores. In the current climate of racial animus, anyone who addresses issues is an open target for reprisal.
Today we call on interested and supportive members of the Black commuinities to stand with us as we seek to hold this public institution accountable. This university belongs to all of us and not just a privileged few. We also call on members of groups who experience institutionalized and individual repressions on the basis of race, gender, religion, sexuality, ethnicity and politics to demand accountability. While Blacks have been the focal point of hate groups on this campus, hate groups are also likely to target feminists, Asians, Jews, Native Americans, gays and lesbians, Chicanos, and political progressives. In fact, we must form truly progressive coalitions to defeat the institutional pillars of racism.
The Black faculty plan to join our student supporters who are calling for a day of learning healing and reconciliation. We support that call because we hope it will lead t the operationalization of the vlaues found in the Mission Statement. The Black faculty are issuing a call for the following institutional solutions to the hostile working environment and pattern of institutionalized racism at California State Univeristy San Marcos:
--Clear procedures must be established and followed when the physical safety of faculty is threatened. Faculty should not be forced to live in fear while administors "pass the buck."
--Hate crimes whould be treated seriously and immediately reported to appropriate federal and state law enforcement offices.
--Those engagin in hate crimes should face a policy of zero tolerance that includes expulsion from the university.
--Classes on racial harassment that are similar to sexual harassment classes should be available for managers, staff, faculty and students.
--Efforts should be made to increase the numbers of Black students at CSU San Marcos by visiting comunities in North Cunty and metropolitan areas.
--There must be immediate reforms in hirng to increase the number of Black faculty, staff, and managers.
--There must be immediate reforms in a retention, tenure, and promotion process that operates to exclude Black faculty as gatekeepers for their non-Black colleagues.
--The professional isolation of Black faculty must be reduced by providing grant seed monies to establish a Black Studies Consortium with ties to Black Studies scholars throughout the system and the state. This Consortium can then become a resource for the receipt of additional grant monies and provide additional faculty peers for the retention, tenure and promotion process.
The low numbers of Black students, staff and faculty at CSU San Marcos give this "diversity" campus perhaps the worst record on diversity in the California State University system. When we diversify, we diverge from Whiteness, from White Power, and from the cultural hegemony of any single dominant group. this shift in paradigm is clearly very threatening for some of our students and colleagues. Howeer the shift in the paradigm must occur if we are to realize the lofty goals and values of the California State University Mission Statement.