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

Sonoma State University's Diversity Issue Continues
by Brittney Gorman
Tuesday May 7th, 2013 2:34 PM
Sonoma State University's diversity levels have always been criticized for being low. But with recent cuts in positions like Director of Diversity, we can only see the problem continuing.
Sonoma State University has always been criticized for it's low diversity. Most believe this is because Admissions is targeting recent high school grads of a higher income, mainly caucasian area. Being one of the least diverse campus's in California has made students that are apart of the minority groups feel uncomfortable in the classrooms, on campus and even at parties. As a student at Sonoma State University, a team of five others and myself decided to study further into the subject of students comfort levels on campus. I helped to interview forty eight students of color and ask what their comfort level on campus was, rating from a level of very comfortable all the way to a feeling of complete discomfort. From these surveys and interviews, we discovered that 57% of students of color felt comfortable on campus based on their racial background. During these interviews, I heard many horrifying stories of students being treated harshly because of their race. One Latina student even had a teacher ask them if their "language barrier would be a problem" when in fact, the students first language was english. This brought me to have concern on what our faculty was doing to stop problems like these from existing on our campus. My group and I interviewed three faculty members to get a better understanding on what they thought about incidents like these and the low diversity rate on campus. I came to find out that due to budget cuts my school was terminating positions of diversity and student support importance. Positions such as Director of Diversity and Director of Education Programs, which are positions that were put in place to help students report issues in diversity or racial discrimination. These problems are not going away yet the positions that are meant to help resolve them are. When our University makes moves like this it shows the students what our President and higher faculty is really focused on. We spend millions of dollars on facilities like our brand new Green Music Center and a huge new Rec center, which puts us in extreme debt. But instead of stopping things like this we decide to get rid of important positions that will help our students feel safe on campus. This is only going to cause the diversity level on SSU's campus to continue to stay low and the retention rate of minorities to increase.