Students ask Board of Regents for change

Isabella Breda, Editor in Chief

In a unique opportunity to directly interact with the Board of Regents, California Lutheran University students shared ideas regarding how to implement institutional change on Friday Feb. 21.

“I think by now, administration would understand it needs to do better,” senior and former Associated Students of California Lutheran University Government President Nick Steinwender said. “It feels like you’re hiding information from us, and it feels like overall, no one does their job.”

Students presented ideas ranging from providing additional resources for the Center for Cultural Engagement and Inclusion to develop their own policies and procedures for crisis management, to implementing diversity training within The Freshmen Seminar, a required class for all incoming first-year students.

“As a peer advisor, we get diversity training,” ASCLUG senator Karyme Lara Chagoya said. “For the students, they don’t get that.”

Chagoya said the student unrest on campus in response to the administrative inaction to the two allegedly racist incidents was avoidable. “If we heard something would’ve happened the first week, we wouldn’t have needed to do a walkout,” Chagoya said.

Board of Regents Chair Susie Lundeen-Smuck and Vice-Chair Deborah Sweeney asked students if there were clear policies in place in what to do in this type of situation, to which the answer was no.

“If you’re caught drinking, your [Resident Assistant] writes you up, you go to a conduct meeting, we know what happens,” Chagoya said. “We don’t know, if there’s hate crime or incident, what happens?”

Representatives from Black Student Union and Sisters’ Circle leadership including Sisters’ Circle President Zino Ayetuoma, BSU President Urael Blackshear and BSU Social Media Manager Taylor Brown said that on Wednesday, administration agreed to meet some of their goals for institutional change.

BSU leadership said the university’s commitments include revisiting the definition of harassment and discrimination in relationship to race and ethnicity in the student handbook, working with RISE to evaluate the student athletics department and conduct diversity and inclusion training, holding a Black Graduation Ceremony, adding a Student Inclusion and Equity Fund to fundraising efforts on Giving Day, allocating resources to the Black Professionalism Series arm of BSU, operating a Black Student Recruitment and Retention Team, active Feb. 18 and dedicating a BSU space in the Student Union.

These commitments however, don’t include their proposition of a living-learning community in the residence halls, and there is still work to be done to address the racial climate on campus.

“There’s an African American Literature class on campus, the teacher is a white male and in class he said the n-word, like the hard -er,” Ayetuoma said. “It’s like they’re bringing in a lot of black students and there’s nothing being offered on campus, there’s no classes for them to take. When there is a course it’s just really uncomfortable for black students to be in that course [with a white professor].”

Blackshear said conversations with administration about making change on campus began in fall 2018.

“They didn’t do anything until now,when it’s in their face,” Brown said.

Regents Lundeen-Smuck and Sweeney said they typically receive information about the campus environment and specifically student life during meetings with academic affairs.

“Our goal is to be as responsive as possible,” Sweeney said.

Steinwender said while attending a Regent retreat in August 2018, during his time serving on the Board as Student Body President, he was told “students were not a shareholder” in the university.

“Administration is here for a large pay check, but the students are the sole source of revenue and we are never listened to,” Steinwender said. “My concern from being on the board is we will talk about this and feel like there is change, but it will be swept under the rug.”