PULLMAN, Wash.–A series of demands to improve the climate for minorities at Washington State University today was presented to the Board of Regents.
About 40 students, members of a “coalition,” appeared before the regents this morning. Signs they carried identified concerns regarding recruitment and retention of students and faculty and staff of color, faculty tenure review, hiring policies and curriculum issues.
Spokespersons Carlos Adams and Petra Guerra, both graduate students, read a three-page letter to the board. It stated, “Coalition members realize that the Administration, the Alumni and the Board of Regents are committed to improve the climate of the University. However, example after example have shown the members of the Coalition that the marginalization of minority groups is still firmly entrenched in many of the attitudes, actions and beliefs of students, staff, faculty, alumni, administrators and board members. We recognize that at the very core of the problem there exists a huge gap in the definition of commitment and rhetorical and proactive responses.”
The coalition seeks a review and change in the faculty tenure process to allow a committee including members of various multicultural communities to be given the power to review and recommend changes and that a faculty member’s community service and involvement be a major portion of the criteria for tenure.
Demands also included that the case of Abdoulaya Saine, a professor of political science, be reopened and that he be granted tenure.
Immediate approval and implementation of a curriculum proposal providing for greater diversity content was also demanded.
Benefits for domestic partners; recruitment and mentoring programs for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people; and unisex bathrooms also were included in the letter’s demands.
“We argue that only with courage, understanding, good faith bargaining and, especially, a new level of commitment from all groups involved, can we receive the best possible education at Washington State University as we venture together into the next millennium,” the letter concluded.
Board President Richard Albrecht thanked the students for the presentation and the professional way in which they delivered their concerns. He said there is no question about the commitment of the regents and that members look forward to working with the coalition to achieve mutual aims.
Regent Phyllis Campbell, who described herself as a “Cougar of Color,” said the board is determined to improve the climate for minorities.
On action items, regents authorized the administration to proceed with the purchase of equipment for a new incinerator and pollution control system for the disposal of pathological, medical and low-level radioactive waste.
Regents also delegated authority to the administration to select a consulting firm and proceed with predesigns and schematic designs for an $11.7 million scholars hall and new facilities for the federally funded Institute for Shock Physics. They also gave the university the go-ahead to approve a contract, not to exceed $600,000, to Intecom for maintenance of the campus telephone switch.