A CALL TO ACTION THE BLACK STUDENT UNION LABELS: A LONG TIME COMING

Graphic courtesy of Black Student Union Instagram

Black Lives Matter isn’t just a minority chant any more. Even Chapman University President Daniele Struppa has gone on record supporting Black Lives Matter issues. 

But Chapman’s Black Student Union (BSU) is pushing him to do more. Enough is enough, its leaders say. Now they have laid out their own action plan for Chapman. 

A 12 point action plan.

Photographed: Sage Okolo. Photo courtesy of BSU Instagram

“This was just a long time coming,” said TV production major and BSU social media manager, Sage Okolo.

The major thrust: A more inclusive and just student experience, not just for the students at Chapman now, but also for those to come. 

BSU has at least gotten Chapman administrators to go on record to make improvements. Struppa announced in June:

“We do indeed believe that Black lives matter, and that our black students deserve the very best that Chapman can offer.”

The university is taking a serious look at all the BSU action points.

“We are committed to seeing this through,” said Dean of Students Jerry Price.

The action plan calls for recruitment and hiring of more Black faculty and staff “outside the traditional realms of social sciences and humanities.” 

Also, it wants Chapman to hire a Black therapist.  Although there was a hiring freeze due to COVID, progress has been made in this department as two Black interns have been recruited and have proper certifications to practice. 

BSU emphasizes the importance of required diversity training at all levels on campus. Ranging from student leaders, Greek life, incoming students, and all other faculty/staff including public safety. It suggests that diversity training could be done in a form similar to Healthy Panther, mandatory and through orientation, the first-year experience team has already had this in the works since last academic year. 

The university’s orientation team made part of that happen this semester with a mandatory diversity training labeled “We are Chapman Part 2: building a campus climate of allyship. ” Students were able to get that training and experience.  

“We are blown away from the support we’ve seen from students and other clubs and organizations,” said Okolo.

Student Government Association President, Philip Goodrich.

Student Government Association (SGA) just recently started an initiative by creating 12 different task forces all catered to a specific action item. The task forces are made up of SGA officers and senators and have already had initial meetings in order to plan ahead on what’s the best way to go about the items. 

“The task forces will exist as long as they’re productive,” adds SGA President Philip 

More problematic is BSU’s demand for Black Greek life on campus. It would have Greek Life Senator Karmen Pantoja, leading that specific task force. But, it’s not as easy as inviting them over, as the chapters have to be willing to choose Chapman to join according to Dean Price.

Price said it’s important for students to understand that the university administration is not the one that can make all the decisions, but that it is shared governance amongst department chairs, the board of trustees, SGA, and many others. 

Here is a look at all 12 points in the action plan, and what the administration response has been so far:

  1. Calling for aggressive recruitment of Black faculty and staff in disciplines outside of the traditional realms of social sciences and humanities.

Administration response:  The responsibility of faculty hiring relies on faculty and academic departments and therefore must be addressed by them. However there has been a hiring of three faculty members who identify as Black this year as well as a creating of an advisory committee announced by Provost Pfieffer “to help redefine and elevate the recently vacant director of diversity and inclusion position.”

  1. Calling for Black therapists to be hired and available on campus to help with mental health for Black students.
    1. Administration response: Andrew Kami, the director of Student Psychological Counseling Services, has just hired his first group of interns, five of whom are persons of color, including two who identify as Black.
  1. For a re-hiring of the Case Manager position. 

Administration response: Similar to the hiring of a Black therapist, “we (admin) now feel the time is appropriate to submit a request for an exemption from the hiring freeze so we can fill this case manager position soon.”

  1. Mandatory Diversity/Implicit Bias Training for all students, faculty, and any public safety or fire and life officers. This can be held during the beginning of the semester, just like Healthy Panther.

Administration response:  They can “now confirm that (they) will be implementing the required component in orientation related to diversity and inclusion….. The requirement will have two components: one that focuses on understanding how diversity is vital to our educational mission, and one that focuses on community behavioral expectations.”

  1. Required diversity classes in the general education program. This will be made possible by creating a required Diversity GE inquiry using pre-existing courses.
  2. We are calling for Ethnic Studies to be approved by the administration in order to become an official minor at Chapman University by the end of fall semester 2020.

Response is combined with action item 5. Administration response: “President Struppa is challenging each dean to advance their own efforts to increase curricular diversity in their respective schools and colleges.” Admin recommends that BSU “share (their) proposal with the faculty leadership who oversee the general education curriculum.”

  1. We are calling for improved recruiting and screening practices of prospective students and faculty to increase diversity and promote inclusivity in undergraduate enrollment as well as in the Chapman faculty, staff, and community as a whole. 

Administration response: They welcome the opportunity to facilitate a meeting with the leadership in the Admission Office so they can share their current strategies with BSU and listen to any input and suggestions they may have. 

  1. We are demanding that hate speech, committed by students or faculty members, be met with disciplinary violations. 

Administration response: Recommends that BSU work with SGA and the multicultural student organizations to form a task force of students, faculty, and staff to take on the challenge of recommending a range of responses to racist and other offensive actions and comments.  

  1. We are calling for improved and additional screening practices for any faculty members being considered for tenure, as well as an increase in the amount of Black professors hired into tenure-track positions.

Administration response: Admin is asking for more clarifying language from this action plan in order to be able to fully address the issue. As well as starting a conversation with faculty senate themselves. 

  1. We are calling for Black Greek life to be brought to the Chapman campus. 

Administration response: Student Affairs staff have been in contact with some Black fraternities and sororities to reiterate our interest in supporting one or more chapters.  

  1. We are calling for all Greek life advisors, Presidents, Executive board members, active members, and incoming members, to attend diversity training.
  2. We are calling for all student leaders and Executive board members to attend diversity-leadership training.

Administration response: This would best be done through the help of SGA as a peer-lead conversation would be best “appropriate and effective.”

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