Student activism and protests lead to private meeting with President Haynes

Meeting includes expression of social justice demands and discussion of potential actions


Cory Kay, News Editor


CSUSM President Karen Haynes held a private, invitation-based meeting Tuesday, March 28 in which she discussed future social justice actions with a group of student activists.

The meeting, held in the Office of the President, resulted from student protests and a list of demands created by students aiming to address and improve social justice state of the campus. The main purpose of the occasion was for students to express their beliefs and for President Haynes to respond to the list of student demands.

CSUSM student and social justice activist Karen GuzmXn compiled a list that reflected the desires of student activists to be presented at the meeting, and represented the United Students for Social Justice Coalition and its mission.

The coalition is new to CSUSM and formed after a series of student protests, all involving the climate of diversity on campus.

GuzmXn said that she hoped to go over “actual student demands that the university will comply with,” which include “trying to ensure that there are more faculty of color that are hired [and] having gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.”

“It’s kind of a huge array of things… I think [these are] issues every student can relate to,” GuzmXn said before the meeting. “A lot of the demands also include faculty, so it’s a very collective and campus-oriented document.”

President Haynes opened the meeting by discussing her thoughts of the list of student demands and the actions she planned to take to respond to a number of them.

Regarding gender-neutral bathrooms, Haynes discussed actions that have already been taken, such as the restrooms in the USU, as well as future plans to address this issue.

“There are now a number [of gender-neutral restrooms] in place, and we are trying to see if it is possible to make any changes in existing buildings, given code and cost,” said Haynes.

Haynes also responded to the request to increase the hiring of faculty members of color.

“We hired about 26 new faculty each of the last two years, and almost half of those faculty were from underrepresented minority communities,” Haynes said.

In doing so, Haynes also mentioned, “we’ve increased tenure-track faculty by 16 percent over the last two years.”

Latishia Rivera, student and member of Feminists Unite, brought up concerns of Title IX representation and resources for sexual assault survivors.

Rivera mentioned that, while CSUSM does offer resources for sexual assault victims, the campus may need a resource that can serve as legal representation for the survivors. This would allow the university to go beyond helping victims cope and serve the success of the survivor.

GuzmXn also expressed a number of other requests made by student activists. These include increased transparency of student success fees, reimplementation of a food bank system and increased ethnic and women’s studies programs, which are strongly related to social justice issues.

As GuzmXn, Rivera and other students expressed concerns, Haynes took note of the thoughts voiced to move forward in addressing them.

This meeting, the result of a rise in student activism, served as a way for President Haynes and students to attempt to resolve social justice issues that impact the current and future state of the collective community.