CFA Chapters Take Action on Behalf of Faculty and Students in November

The CFA chapter at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, pushed back against racism, and the CSU Los Angeles CFA chapter called for stronger campus leadership last month.

The Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, chapter is advocating on behalf of a member who CFA believes was racially profiled by University Police while on campus during the fall quarter.  Faculty at CSU Los Angeles are banding together with students over the administration’s shoddy handling of several mass shooting threats over the span of less than a month.

A Cal Poly SLO faculty member of color was pulled over by police while driving on campus this fall, according to an open letter sent by the Cal Poly SLO CFA Executive Board to all faculty.  The faculty member was allegedly handcuffed and searched for weapons, but was released without citation or explanation.  University Police say they have no records of such a traffic stop.  CFA has filed a grievance.

 “The treatment that this faculty member was subjected to was disturbing and humiliating and the faculty member’s dignity was severely compromised,” the email from the executive board says. “The faculty member continues to fear being randomly stopped again by campus police.”

Cal Poly is one of the least diverse sites in the 23-campus CSU, and has received national attention in the last few years over racist incidents. The campus administration recently shared sobering results from a campus climate survey in which several campus groups reported feeling marginalized.  This was the second climate survey undertaken since campus President Jeffrey D. Armstrong started his tenure.

“Given how little progress has been achieved to date at Cal Poly, we must start depending on ourselves as a community of faculty, staff, and students to do the real work of racial justice and social transformation that this campus so sorely needs and demand more progress from ourselves and the administration,” says the letter.

The CSU LA campus received threats of violence on October 29 at the Annex Link, a computer lab, and November 2 at the library, in addition to other threats.  While University Police and President William Covino maintain that they followed appropriate protocol of notifying students and staff, many in the campus community disagree.  Many students, faculty and staff did not receive text messages or emails, and those who did felt the university waited too long to spread the word.

The threats were found to be non-credible, according to police, but rumors and conjecture on social media flowed freely while administrators decided on a response.  In the meantime, many students are skipping classes due to safety concerns.

“People feel like a shooting is something that could happen.  They are already feeling tense and traumatized, and the statements from our campus president do not acknowledge that,” said CFA LA Chapter President Anthony Ratcliff.  “Our president is not showing adequate leadership, and he’s not considering the atmosphere that we’re living in.”

Within weeks of these threats, the community was horrified when two teenagers were killed during a shooting at Saugus High School on November 14.  Saugus High in Santa Clarita is a mere 40 miles from the CSU LA campus.

The culmination of these events adds to stress of academics and exams.  Though University Police added more officers to campus, the administration did not add more mental health counselors.

The CSU LA CFA Executive Board sent President Covino an open letter, calling on him to better communicate with more transparency during crises; provide valuable safety training for all campus stakeholders, not just police; and hire more mental health counselors.

The administration has not “re-structured the current level of mental health counselors at Cal State LA, which is currently 1 counselor to 2,700 students—nearly twice the recommended ratio of 1-to-1500. This is substandard mental health support on a good day, but extremely irresponsible during a time of heightened collective trauma,” says the open letter.

CFA is proud of the leadership role our members are taking to advocate for faculty rights on campuses across the state.