Cal State Fullerton’s Academic Senate voted to implement a new policy that aims to dismantle structures of oppression within higher education.
According to the university policy statement, “CSUF shall eliminate institutional barriers that hinder the success of any Titan and strengthen anti-racist, culturally responsive, and equity minded practices across all campus communities.”
Aitana Guia, associate history professor and committee chair in diversity and inclusion, championed the proposal and presented the topic during Thursday’s meeting.
“I can’t tell you how big of a deal this is for my committee and for our university,” Guia said. “There's such a need for this document that when we finally brought it to my committee, people were relieved and acclaimed the document, so we pushed it as far as we could at the time.”
Guia said the committee was tasked with writing the report last year after the 2019 Black Student Union’s town hall and racial slurs on campus. The town hall was spurred by the use of a racial slur on a fraternity’s virtual flyer.
The policy was pushed back due to COVID-19, prompting the committee to use that time to see what the campus was doing about diversity and inclusion. The committee made recommendations on current diversity training practices, hiring practices, cultural taxation practices and procedures, Guia said.
The policy earned 43 votes out of 47. Multiple members of the senate took turns applauding the committee for its work on the policy, while stating the importance of the document and how it will serve the campus.
“This is something that we need as a document to help our work, not only in hiring — retention, strategic planning, a lot of our policies we want to have more guidance on. How do we include? How do we diversify? What is equity? And we really wanted that to be centralized in this document so that folks can refer to this document and that we all have a similar starting point in our discussions over diversity, inclusion and equity,” said Alexandro Gradilla, Academic Senate secretary and associate professor of Chicana and Chicano studies.
Kristi Kanel, senator and professor of human services, said putting together the policy was a tedious process and that she hopes that it will be used as a precedent for future campus policies.
“All of our policies on every single committee, we can use this one policy here to help guide us as we revise to ensure that we are definitely an anti-racist and a proactive campus to really do the best we can to ensure that we don't have unwarranted biases in any of our policies,” Kanel said.
The new policy will be coupled with a multi-part equitable pedagogy professional development training module that will take 80 minutes to complete and will help current and future faculty develop inclusive and equitable approaches to learning.
The training was presented to the senate by Carolyn Thomas, professor of American studies and provost and vice president for academic affairs at CSUF.
Thomas said she hopes people see the guiding principles for social justice across all CSUF divisions.
“On our campus we all want to have every student walk into the classroom, meeting faculty who both believe in their ability to succeed and have the tools as teachers to ensure that they can learn effectively regardless of the way the student was taught previously, regardless of the inequities in our systems across the state,” Thomas said.