Black Student Support: WAG Blasts CSUSB Failure
by Dianne Anderson
Attempts at equal education access have become a battlefield for community activists who plan to take their fight for Black students and employees to the next level in the inland empire.
Members of the Westside Action Group (WAG) say they have tried to get the California State University system to address the low representation of Black students at CSUSB due to poor outreach and the hostile campus climate.
Stan “Amiri” Futch, president of WAG, said the campus boasts of a higher percentage of Black students than other CSU’s. However, he is concerned the representation is much lower than it should be considering the local Black population.
“We have more African Americans in this community, but that being said, those numbers should be even higher,” Futch said.
Futch said the campus doesn’t have any targeted enrollment plan, or other official strategies to show how the campus intends to bring in more Black students. He takes issue with one letter from CSUSB President Dr. Tomas Morales that seemed politically correct, but did not address WAG concerns, and didn’t propose any solutions.
The letter mentioned CSUSB’s fast movement to get Black students out of the dorms that had brown water and other safety concerns, but Futch argues that the move was because it was a public health lawsuit waiting to happen.
“His [Dr. Morales] response was the African American students were there trying to save money, that the students chose to live in the dorms because they were cheaper than the new dorms,” Futch added.
WAG members have argued that all campus dorms should be equally safe and sanitary, and no one should have been allowed to live in the decrepit dorm in the first place.
“Rich people that have the money get the nice dorms? Shame on you,” he said. “Morales had no choice but to respond to that.”
WAG members have pushed their concerns since December 2019. They said although Dr. Morales attended one meeting in the past, he was invited to many meetings, and sent a Black representative in his place that had no power to change policy.
Trying to connect with CSU Chancellor White has been equally frustrating, Futch said. They sent two letters for help since March by certified mail and received no response. WAG tried to give them more time because of the pandemic.
“We thought maybe the secretary wasn’t in, or working from home. I was sending docs so someone would have to sign for it,” he said. “We knew they received the docs. I was tracking it.”
Because of privacy issues, he said the hostile campus climate is harder to track, but he personally knows of Black employees either forced out, or who left because of stress.
Several Black female professors with impeccable credentials were ousted from campus.
“Those women didn’t all just walk out the door, some fought for their jobs. That’s why we went to Dr. White. We thought maybe he’s not aware of what’s going on,” Futch said.
Walter Hawkins, a retired CSUSB data analyst, said that CSUSB’s lack of proper data collection on Black student enrollment at the campus is another concern because the numbers don’t add up.
He said that WAG was given one excuse for the disparity; that the true numbers are hard to glean because school is currently out. The other excuse was that getting at the right data is difficult because some Black students are multi-racial.
Data capture is not rocket science, he said, adding that Black students, even multi-racial Black students across 22 categories, could be easily aggregated with minimal effort.
But even accounting for that differential of multi-racial students would only bump up the representation of Black students by 1-2%, meaning the percentage would still fall short of Blacks that should be enrolled at the college.
Better outreach could be a simple remedy, but he said the campus doesn’t appear to want to fix the problem.
In the past, WAG brought in the Justice Department under former CSUSB president Anthony Evans to force the university to address its disparities. Back then, he said WAG and the community pushed for two years, and were not able to get results. They then took it to the Justice Department.
“The Justice Department basically said you’ve got problems, and as a result, he [Evans] had to sign a formal agreement with the community that they would address those issues. With Morales, we might have to do the same thing,” Hawkins said.
In 2018, WAG released its report stating that in the 2007-08 school year, there were 2,057 Black students. At last count, it was down to just 1,088 students. Hawkins then contended since the campus has not addressed the issue, Black students experienced a steep decline from 12.5 percent to 4.5 percent. But he said considering that the Black population runs higher locally than other areas, it should have never fallen below eight percent.
Worse, two years ago WAG tried unsuccessfully to get answers about how 1,600 local Black students had completed their A-G, but the campus only managed to get 108 freshmen enrolled. Back then, WAG reported that in the prior ten years, the university grew by 20 percent, the Hispanic enrollment grew by 109 percent, and Black students reduced by 47 percent.
He said CSUSB has essentially written Black students off.
“ Even if he would have had 25% of those, [it would show] they had an outreach program worth its salt,” he said. “All this stuff he’s talking about, working with the district and agreements, they don’t even follow up on it. They haven’t updated agreements with the school districts.”
Among the allegations, WAG claims CSUSB President Morales continues to refuse to provide data requested as required by various public information request policies and procedures, and that they have exceeded the legal time required to respond.
Robert C. Tenczar, associate vice president for Strategic Communication at CSUSB, disputed the allegations in an email.
He said that President Morales has written to the Westside Action Group providing detailed information, and they are in conversations with Westside Action Group regarding their Public Records Act request. He added that President Morales never refused to meet with a community group, and that the CSUSB misinformation out to the community is an incorrect statement.
“CSUSB’s enrollment of Black students stands at 5% as of the Fall 2019 term, while the CSU systemwide enrollment is at 4% and the UC systemwide enrollment is at 3%. CSUSB admitted 76% of the Black students from across California who applied, and 40% of those admitted chose to enroll.
“We also continue to be a leader in Black enrollment at the Inland Empire’s public universities, comparing to 3% of students at UC Riverside and 3.4% of students at Cal Poly Pomona,” according to a statement from CSUSB.
For a copy of the WAG Campus Climate report, email firstname.lastname@example.org