Racial complaint jeopardizes director’s job

 

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Southwestern College academic faculty leaders are calling for the termination of a new administrator after complaints of a racial nature were brought to the Governing Board during an emergency special meeting on Friday, Feb. 19.

A complaint was launched after Dr. Guadalupe Corona, the new director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, attempted to cancel the first meeting of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee.

Corona allegedly said unnamed people were concerned that “there were too many African-Americans” on the new committee.

“The idea that ‘too many African-Americans’ are serving on this or any other committee is appalling and more so when it is expressed in regards to a committee with this particular charge,” said Andrew Rempt, Learning Assistance Services Coordinator and Academic Senate President-Elect.

Articulation Officer Veronica Burton, who was on the committee, said that the reason for there being African-Americans on the committee is because there have been issues in the past and they were willing to work on the issue.

“The reason African-Americans volunteered to be on (the committee) is because a lot of the problems centered around us, because there are so few of us on campus,” Burton said. “ The few that are left on campus are on that committee, if you look around and count there aren’t that many.”

Faculty, staff, classified staff and administrators told the board that in their opinion the actions of Corona have created a lack of confidence in her ability to lead the new department and committee created to address equity, diversity and inclusion issues in a proactive manner on campus.

“I have absolutely no confidence that the Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is capable of advancing the causes embodied in the position,” Rempt said.

Although Rempt was not at the initial EDI tri-chair meeting, he was at a subsequent SWC leadership meeting held on Feb. 16, in which both he and Academic Senate President, Patricia Flores-Charter were informed that people were asking questions and wanted to avoid a “brown and black” problem.

“Andrew and I met with Melinda (Nish) and shared the information we received and were concerned that this problem had been created by a catering to a few people with agendas and to our new director of equity, diversity and inclusion,” Flores-Charter said.

On February 4th, at the EDI tri-chair committee’s first meeting, Corona mentioned concerns from unnamed people to her co-chairs, Janelle Williams and Ursula Williams, that the committee lacked diversity.

Co-chair of the EDI and Civic Center Leasing Coordinator Ursula Williams said that the problem began with the EDI Director.

“The blame lies squarely with Dr. Corona,” Williams said. “This situation stemmed from her office that we were all so excited to have because this was supposed to move us forward and instead its taken us back.”

Governing Board members still have not reached a decision on what course of action they will take.

CSEA President, Andre Harris said that SWC has a history of not facing its racial issues.

“When there is an issue, it gets swept under the rug,” Harris said. “They let it cool down, then it’s kumbaya, everyone’s happy.

Rempt said that in previous instances of racial tension, regardless of what the reason was, actions were taken quicker.

“Regardless of the issue, someone goes up to HR and has an issue with an African-American administrator, she is out of here before the close of day,” Rempt said. “This issue has now been going on for days and you have had the leadership of all the major representative groups, faculty, administrative and classified, say that we have a serious issue and something needs to be done and its now taking board action for that to happen.”

Rempt said that any action against Corona depends on her current employment status.

“She’s just been hired here,” Rempt said. “If she’s on probation, then she’s an at-will employee and she can be dismissed. If she has a contract with special terms, there may be some negotiation. If she has any decency she’ll resign.”

After about four hours of deliberation, the SWC Governing board decided to adjourn the meeting with no final resolution.

“The board at this time does not have any reportable actions,” said board president Nora Vargas. “We take these issues very seriously and we are going to continue this discussion and we are getting ready to ensure that we either have continued the meeting before or by March 8th so we can continue to have discussions over these items.”

Corona did not attend the governing board meeting and was unavailable for comment before print.

Originial story published: Racial complaint jeopardizes director’s job

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