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North Bay / Marin | Education & Student Activism | Racial Justice

Diversity at Sonoma State University
by Jovani Carrillo
Wednesday May 1st, 2013 1:28 PM
Sonoma State University has always been thought of as a mostly White students on campus. Research suggest that the other races feel that SSU should be more diverse and some feel uncomfortable that its not.
When we started to do our research about diversity at Sonoma State University, I felt that students where more comfortable than they were in 2008. In 2008 a study was conducted about diversity on campus and found out that students were not all that comfortable at Sonoma State. When we got assigned to research this again in 2013 my personal opinion was that comfortable levels would be high, but that wasn’t the case at all. In 2007 32.4% of students said that they felt comfortable at Sonoma State, while in 2013 there were 37.5% which was not a huge difference. The mixed comfort levels in 2007 were 17.6%, while in 2013 they were 16.7%. Gathering all of our numbers and putting them into a Chi-square test for homogeneity we found out that the comfort levels were really no different than the 2008 study.

To me that was not surprising. Especially after some of the events that took place while we were doing our surveys. For example how some of the students of color felt attached when they heard about the BSU poster had been marked with the “n” word. I feel like Sonoma State needs to create a safer environment for the students.

I was also shocked about how Sonoma State is now going to cut some services for the students. We found out that Elisa Velazques will be cut off from her position as Director of Diversity due to budget cuts. Also Bruce Peterson is retiring, who is the Director of EOP and no replacement will be hired. You would think that after all these incidents that have been happening at Sonoma State they would think twice about terminating these positions. Even though Sonoma State says it’s because of budget cuts, the students still need services to talk to someone if an issue comes up. Being part of this research team made me realize that lots of racial issues has come up on this campus over the years. One that stood out to me was when an organization on campus told a Latina student that she should go clean her toilet with a toothbrush. Some incidents like these don’t get reported and while that may be true students need support at Sonoma State. By terminating positions such as Elisa Velazques as Director of Diversity it puts the students more at a disadvantage. Sonoma State should really reconsider what they have done. If they believe that the problem will go away then they need to be aware that racial issues are still going to happen. They are not doing anything good by cutting off these services for students.