“(Students and faculty are) fighting for the same thing. And when we fight together, we win. That has been historically proven, every single time we’ve joined fights together,” said Angelmarie Taylor.
At CSU Channel Islands, Taylor, a SQE student organizer and fourth-year business major, helped lead SQE’s first systemwide solidarity days event on her campus. The collective action between faculty and students, she says, “is vital for our own safety, it’s vital for the movement.”
“Students organizing are putting these huge targets on our backs. So often when this happens, it’s our faculty who are coming in and giving us support, encouragement, and compassion when nobody else is,” said Taylor. “I think it’s vital for both parties to really win and get our voices heard and demands met at the end of the day.”
SQE’s Solidarity Days is an opportunity for student organizers and faculty activists to engage and build community with student, staff, and faculty members across their campuses over shared struggles and advocacy and to dialogue through an anti-racism and social justice lens for a more just CSU system.
Student and faculty needs and advocacy intersect, says G. Chris Brown, CFA Associate Vice President, South, as CFA readies for bargaining, which includes an article on health and safety, a shared point of advocacy for faculty and students.
Student organizers at CSUCI, CSU Fullerton, and Sonoma State spoke about the need for an increase in hiring full-time counselors on campus, an investment in mental health resource centers, finding alternatives to policing on campus, and reforms around Title IX to protect survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
“Faculty teaching conditions are student learning conditions,” said Brown, a criminal justice professor at CSU Fullerton. “Our interests are the same. It’s necessary for us to be present physically to show that solidarity because people often don’t see that.”
Each campus had specific goals, too. Taylor says, “Channel Islands is one of the only CSUs that actually doesn’t have any resource centers for any students, at all,” a change SQE is pursuing.
Likewise, SQE organizers and CFA members tabled on Titan Walk at CSU Fullerton, a lively thoroughfare connecting the campus student union and bookstore to other campus buildings.
SQE student organizer Kahlila Mudarri-Spencer, a fourth-year English major and Spanish minor, who helped lead their solidarity day, says, “we are trying to get a resource center for disabled students on campus. So that was definitely something that we were focusing on during Solidarity Day.”
Currently at CSU Fullerton, the Diversity Initiatives & Resource Centers (DIRC) offers six identity-based resource centers, says Mudarri-Spencer, and SQE is advocating with Abled Advocators for a disability resource center so, she says, students with disabilities can share an inclusive space and “make friends and community with people who have similar life experiences.”
Inside a conference room on Sonoma State’s campus, student organizers Josue Chavez and Naomi Martin led a panel presentation on uniting mental health resources and community well-being ideas to faculty and staff members in the audience.
Chavez says that “when we talk about mental health and the core of defunding the police, as scary as it sounds for a lot of people, they are all very interconnected.”
“When we talk about ‘what does it mean for us to re-envision safety?’ or ‘why do we have these systems that we call ‘safety protocols?’ And they are actually just ending up harming people,” said Chavez.
Participating students said these first days of visible solidarity events went well continued support and collective action from and with faculty is vital for campaign wins.
“The unity between faculty and students really allows for the continuation of the values of CFA and SQE and of the students to be passed onto the next generation of people who are going through the school” said Mudarri-Spencer. “Students graduate. That’s the goal. And a lot of campaigns are bigger than a few years on a campus.”
“What I’ve been seeing and experiencing, at the end of the day, is we’re all kind of on the same page making small steps for the futures that we all envision and a mission on accomplishing,” said Chavez. “We know this work is going to outlive us, so how can we pace ourselves within mind, within heart as we make ourselves available for one another.”