Dear President Judy Sakaki,
Black students at Sonoma State University are in a state of emergency. Black students have continuously been overlooked and marginalized at Sonoma State University. Unfortunately, Sonoma State University fails to uphold the goals of their mission statement which include: “contributing to the health and well-being of the world at large” and “hav[ing] a broad cultural perspective”. The failure of the University to uphold its mission to Black students has led to a steady decline of Black students enrolled at Sonoma State. In 2015, Black students made up 3 percent (277 students) of the student population. In 2016, this drastically dropped to 2.2 percent (206 students) and had dropped again for the incoming 2017 class at 2.1 percent (203 Students).
It’s time that Sonoma State University foster a learning community that embraces, encourages, and supports Black students. We demand that action be taken to ensure that the health and wellbeing of Black students will become and remain a priority to the administration at Sonoma State University.
The demands stated below should be swiftly implemented at Sonoma State University in order to create the necessary institutional changes to support Black students. The resolution of these demands will foster a community that Black students are lacking, promote retention, and make Sonoma State University a more attractive institution to Black students.
- WE DEMAND the creation and permanent funding of a Black Resource Center dedicated to serving Black students. This resource center will provide assistance to Black students through, but not limited to, academic and enrichment programs such as tutoring, mentoring and group meetings. This will ensure that Black students at Sonoma State are supported during and after their educational career at the University. The Black Resource Center shall be housed in the former Commons building. The Resource Center shall include:
- Two permanently funded full time staff, a Director and Assistant Director,
- A private office for a CAPS counselor to meet with students,
- 4-5 computers and a printer to allow Black students access to much needed technology,
- A fully furnished socializing lounge that will create an environment for Black students to feel safe and welcomed throughout the day,
- A kitchenette equipped with a refrigerator, microwave, pantry, toaster oven and a sink, and cabinetry.
- Student assistant positions in the Black Resource Center, and
- For the Black Resource Center to feature Black art from Black artists at Sonoma State University.
- The name for the Resource Center will be decided by the Black Student Union.
- WE DEMAND the creation and permanent funding for a housing space designated for students who identify as Black. This requires a full time Resident Director who can cater to the needs of Black students as demonstrated by experience. This Black student housing unit will provide a safe space for Black students to live harmoniously with one another, create community and bonds with fellow Black students. The Black student housing unit will have CSA positions open for Black students to provide valuable leadership and guidance. The name of the Black student housing unit will be determined by the Black Student Union.
- WE DEMAND Sonoma State University allocate a $15,000 programming budget annually to the Black Student Union, one of the few organizations on-campus that caters to the leadership and academic development of Black students. The Black Student Union is constantly met with financial restraints that limit the programs and activities that the Black Student Union is able to provide.
- WE DEMAND a $2,500,000 endowment to be raised that will be used solely to fund scholarships to Black students. Aside from the racial tensions that Black students are exposed to at Sonoma State University, Black students tend to leave Sonoma State University because of the financial strain to stay at Sonoma State University. Furthermore, with the potential tuition increase that will be imposed on students, it is imperative that Black students receive the necessary financial aid to ensure financial security and maintain enrollment at Sonoma State University. Additionally, scholarship opportunities for Black students will attract many incoming Black students to Sonoma State University.
- WE DEMAND the hiring of 2 full-time and permanent psychologists with demonstrated experience in working with Black students, at the Counseling and Psychological Services Center. The mental and emotional strain Black students feel when facing various personal hardships, in addition to frequent exposure to racism on and off campus, has major negative effects on the retention and success of Black students.
- WE DEMAND the creation of a Black Studies Department with the requisite allocation of FTEs for faculty by the 2018-2019 academic year. It is imperative that Sonoma State University provides classes that outline and showcase, Black studies, because ultimately to understand Black studies is to understand the foundation of this world, as well as build on the expansive and enduring contribution of Black people, culture, and history to the world and its impact on the present and future.
- WE DEMAND that all of our demands be fully implemented by the 2018-2019 academic year and that President Sakaki schedule a meeting with the Black Student Union no later than March 31st of 2017.
Sonoma State Black Student Union