CFA leader to Assembly Higher Ed Committee: Racism, implicit bias wreaking havoc on CSU

CFA leader Cecil Canton spoke truth to power about racism plaguing the California State University during an Assembly Higher Education Committee hearing last week.

The hearing, held at San Jose State University on Thursday, Oct. 6, explored questions about lack of faculty diversity in the CSU, UC and community college systems, including why the systems have been unable to make major gains in the area of faculty diversity, despite numerous programs within the three systems. Discussion during the hearing also tackled how to improve faculty diversity within public higher education in California.

In a background document issued by the Higher Education Committee in advance of the hearing, the committee noted that despite ongoing “activity and interest, the lack of faculty diversity remains a significant issue in all three segments.”

During his testimony, Canton, CFA’s Vice President of Affirmative Action and a Professor of Criminal Justice at Sacramento State, said democracy is failing many of its most vulnerable citizens, failing to protect their pursuit of the American Dream, and failing to appropriately educate them.

“This condition has been especially acute in ‘The People’s University,’ where the CSU administration has failed to grasp the devastation that structural racism, white supremacy, and implicit bias have wrought on the life changes of our students and their families. And even on the CSU system itself,” Canton told lawmakers. “Over time, as the student body of the CSU became darker, funding for the CSU became lighter!”

“Today’s students, the majority being students of color, are paying more for their education than their counterparts, the majority being white, did just a couple of decades ago. Without an honest look at how these issues have impacted the development of the CSU in terms of both faculty and student diversity—and taking the requisite steps to address them—the managers of the system are abrogating their leadership responsibility.”

Legislators and hearing attendees sat silently during Canton’s testimony, with some nodding in affirmation.

UC Berkeley Professor Gibor Basri and Lynette Nyaggah, President of the Community College Association, also testified during the hearing.

Click here to read Canton’s complete remarks.