The Eureka branch of the NAACP is asking that Humboldt State University cease all efforts to recruit students of color until certain conditions are met, including ensuring that sufficient support systems are in place so “students of color thrive in this community.”
The NAACP’s one-page press release notes that students of color at HSU have shared stories with the organization detailing their “experiences of racism in many forms, including micro-aggressive behavior in HSU classrooms, overt racism on the streets, systemic racism in the pursuit of housing and employment and institutional racism in the form of more punitive measures than their white counterparts.” Additionally, the release states that the still-unsolved
April 15, 2017, slaying of HSU sophomore David Josiah Lawson, a 19-year-old black man from Riverside County, has left many students traumatized and afraid to “venture far from campus or their homes.”
And the NAACP charges that HSU administrators have done little to improve the situation. As their recruiters continue to travel to communities with large minority populations to enroll students of color, allegedly without giving them a fair and accurate picture of life in Humboldt, the NAACP says campus administrators have failed to “take an active role in addressing racism and safety concerns in the city of Arcata and Humboldt County, thus endangering the lives of the students to whom it extends acceptance letters.” Further, the release criticizes HSU administrators for failing to consistently stand with students at the monthly vigils held for Lawson or having a “regular presence” at the city’s monthly dialogue on race
events. “This is unacceptable,” the release states.
Protesters march from Humboldt State University to Arcata City Hall, demanding "justice for Josiah" Lawson.
Specifically, the NAACP is asking HSU to confront institutional racism and to actively engage with the campus community, the city and surrounding communities in speaking to the racism that students experience; to ensure that support is in place to help students of color thrive here; to budget for permanent staff and student support at the Cultural Centers for Academic Excellence; to be transparent in its recruiting efforts regarding the "climate of racism" in Humboldt County; to do more to serve the diverse population on campus; and to prioritize hiring more faculty of color and training current faculty in "cultural competency.”
“Alternatively, we request that HSU cease all recruitment until these measures are met in largely minority-majority populations and forgo the social and cultural diversity and revenue these students represent,” the release concludes.
HSU President Lisa Rossbacher sent out a statement this evening saying she was “astonished” by the NAACP’s request. “HSU is deeply committed to diversity and equity, and that would be a giant step backward for the values and the mission of this university,” Rossbacher said. “I know this group is committed to the ideals of the NAACP, and it must have been difficult for them to endorse this idea. It clarifies for me the depth of their concern.”
Rossbacher says that while she disagrees with many statements in the letter, she agrees “with the larger point that HSU and the North Coast need to do more” and that “we must find ways, and work together, to create a brighter future for all of our students.”
She did not respond to any of the NAACP’s specific demands.
Find the full press release from the NAACP here
and Rossbacher’s complete statement copied below.
The following statement from HSU President Lisa Rossbacher is in regard to the press release from the Eureka chapter of the NAACP:
“I was astonished that the Eureka NAACP chapter would suggest that HSU could or should stop recruiting students of color. HSU is deeply committed to diversity and equity, and that would be a giant step backward for the values and mission of this University. I know this group is committed to the ideals of the NAACP, and it must have been difficult for them to endorse this idea. It clarifies for me the depth of their concern.
I disagree with many of the statements in the letter, but I do agree with the larger point that HSU and the North Coast need to do more. Our country struggles with a history of racism and racial inequality on the national and local levels. We must find ways, and work together, to create a brighter future for all our students.”
End of statement