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Faculty supports diversity training

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Samantha LaMartinez, doctoral student in clinical psychology, speaks to the Faculty Assembly about microaggressions she has experienced from professors Wednesday in the Campus Center Ballroom. / photo by Layla Abbas

Samantha LaMartinez, doctoral student in clinical psychology, speaks to the Faculty Assembly about microaggressions she has experienced from professors Wednesday in the Campus Center Ballroom. / photo by Layla Abbas

Christian Shepherd
News Editor

University of La Verne Faculty called on one another to take action to address the discrimination minority students endure after hearing a group of more than 20 students share stories of microaggressions they have experienced on campus.

The students, who all wore signs that read “#ULV culture,” presented their list of demands and grievances to more than 70 faculty members at the Faculty Assembly meeting Wednesday.

The demonstration Wednesday in the Campus Center Ballroom during the Faculty Assembly meeting was the latest in a series of public protests and demonstrations in which students presented examples of microaggressions and cultural incompetency they have witnessed at ULV.

After hearing students share their experiences as minorities on campus, many faculty members thanked them for calling for change, and some called their colleagues to take action.

“We know some of the people who have been saying this s***,” said Isaac Carter, assistant professor of education. “And you all know who they are.

Start talking to them. Start holding them accountable. This has to stop.

This is not a new problem, this is a problem that has been placed in our laps and for a long time has been neglected.”

The students’ demands before the faculty Wednesday were similar to those presented to President Devorah Lieberman and Provost Jonathan Reed two weeks ago. They included:

• A change in the faculty and employee handbooks that address training around diversity, inclusion, neurodiversity, mental health, gender, disabilities, sexuality, socioeconomic status;

• A system that enforces these diversity competencies and is a part of all evaluative processes and any merit pay increases;

• A change in the current Eurocentric, patriarchal curriculum to match the diverse backgrounds of students;

• The addition of “cultural competency” in the faculty promotion and tenure criteria;

• A minority postdoctoral fellowship program to recruit and retain more faculty of color.

Microaggressions are subtle, derogatory statements that seem small to the person making them but are hurtful to the subject of the comment, Assistant Professor of Psychology Christine Ma-Kellams said.

After a meeting with Lieberman and Reed on Oct. 26, students were concerned that mandatory diversity training had to be approved by Faculty Senate.

Faculty Senate endorsed mandatory training for all full- and part-time faculty last week.

“We have to start acting… We have to hold ourselves responsible as adults,” Carter said. “How can we lead them if we can’t lead ourselves?”

Nadine Nakamura, associate professor of psychology, acknowledged the students’ organized effort.

“You are being listened to right now because you took collective action,” Nakamura said. “If you didn’t all come together and demand people listen to you, all of those things you’ve been doing would be ignored. You’ve been trying and it’s come to this.”

Some of the students shared their own experiences here, underscoring the need for change.

Samantha LaMartinez, a clinical psychology doctoral student, said she took a history of psychology course at ULV that only taught the work of white male psychologists.

“Most of whom believed in eugenics, which means (that) they would not agree with … me being here,” LaMartinez said.

LaMartinez said at the end of the course she and another student of color brought up the lack of diversity in the curriculum, and the professor said it was hard to find information on people of color in psychology and requested that she and the other students send in any information they could find.

Suzanna Bratzler, a master’s in education student, said the first class she ever took at ULV was titled Diversity for Educators.

“That class changed my life. My eyes and my heart were opened to what is really going on in American culture,” Bratzler said. “As a cisgender, straight, financially stable, able-bodied white person, I had the privilege of choosing not to see how my views contributed to the suppression of minorities.”

Bratzler added that the course she took is no longer offered.

“I had a professor start her class and tell her students that there is not a difference between gender and biological sex, which instantly undermined every trans person’s identity,” Andrea Dukes, senior sociology major, said.

Alma Martinez, associate professor of theater arts, asked students if they have recognized any positive change.

“The only steps we have seen are these little meetings that we’ve had,” Osaze Stewart, senior criminology major, said. “To us, that is just a lot of talking. We want more action.”

Christian Shepherd can be reached at christian.shepherd@laverne.edu.

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