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Coalition demands administrator resignation after using racial slur

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Coalition demands administrator resignation after using racial slur

City College students and Black Student Union members hold “Black Lives Matter” and “I Support This Speaker” signs during a Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Nov. 19, at the Administration Building at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. They hold the signs in protest of Lyndsay Maas’ use of the N-word in the Gender Equity Work Group meeting, which she said in reference to a racist comment made by a student towards a black student.

City College students and Black Student Union members hold “Black Lives Matter” and “I Support This Speaker” signs during a Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Nov. 19, at the Administration Building at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. They hold the signs in protest of Lyndsay Maas’ use of the N-word in the Gender Equity Work Group meeting, which she said in reference to a racist comment made by a student towards a black student.

Alejandro Gonzalez Valle

City College students and Black Student Union members hold “Black Lives Matter” and “I Support This Speaker” signs during a Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Nov. 19, at the Administration Building at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. They hold the signs in protest of Lyndsay Maas’ use of the N-word in the Gender Equity Work Group meeting, which she said in reference to a racist comment made by a student towards a black student.

Alejandro Gonzalez Valle

Alejandro Gonzalez Valle

City College students and Black Student Union members hold “Black Lives Matter” and “I Support This Speaker” signs during a Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Nov. 19, at the Administration Building at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. They hold the signs in protest of Lyndsay Maas’ use of the N-word in the Gender Equity Work Group meeting, which she said in reference to a racist comment made by a student towards a black student.

Daniel Wallace, Associate Editor

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Dozens of people are demanding the resignation of Vice President of Business Services Lyndsay Maas over her use of a racial slur during a Gender Equity Workgroup meeting.

This incident comes amidst widespread allegations of administrative negligence handling issues of gender equity and harassment. Several faculty members have come out saying they felt the administration “alienated and gaslighted” them after they filed harassment complaints, and first year student Nia Revis said that students have been called monkeys and been called the N-word, with which she’s been struggling to receive help for from the administration.

On Monday, the Board of Trustees heard emotionally charged public comment for nearly an hour by a room packed with students, faculty and staff, including several Black Student Union members who had heard about the workgroup incident. Many of them displayed “Black Lives Matter” signs, and many spoke on how they had experienced racism at the college and how college officials had done nothing to help them.

During the workgroup’s Nov. 14 meeting, a member told the group about a black student reporting that they had been called the N-word at the library. When it was Maas’ turn to speak on the topic, she said the actual N-word while quoting what had been said to the student — but what happened afterwards is in dispute.

In a letter written by the newly formed SBCC Coalition for Justice demanding Maas’ resignation, the group wrote that Maas chose to continue speaking without acknowledging how egregious it was of her to use the racial slur.

Maas said she did stop to acknowledge her use of the slur.

“I apologized right away,” she said.

Maas went back to speaking about the topic they had been discussing, but after a short period of time a faculty member of color spoke up to voice concern over her use of the N-word. Maas said she started crying and became so emotional she was unable to compose herself, so she decided to leave the room.

The letter asserts that after she came back in the room, she tried to explain herself but did not try to listen to the other people in the room about the incident.

Maas said that after she returned, she listened closely to the group as it finished the conversation it was having. But after the group finished, she said there was silence from the group. She apologized again during the silence, she said, but not one of the group members tried to speak to her about what happened.

“I stood there waiting for my turn to be allowed to speak, still crying, still emotional,” she said.

“No one ever acknowledged me.”

The following day, Superintendent-President Anthony Beebe wrote a letter (linked here) directing administrators to complete “significant” cultural sensitivity training within the next six months. He added that Maas recognized that verbalizing the word was a serious mistake, apologized for the transgression and she is very remorseful and embarrassed for what happened.

During Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting, City College student Isabel Carrillo spoke on behalf of the newly formed SBCC Student Coalition for Justice, reading from a letter of demands addressed to Beebe and the trustees. She demanded that Maas resign immediately, adding that her use of the N-word was emblematic of institutional racism at City College.

Akil Hill, a black admissions and records staff member, spoke to Beebe directly during his public comment, stating that he was offended by Beebe’s choice to talk about how his father was dark-skinned in his letter.

“The last thing you should say to someone who has been offended by that word is that ‘you can relate.’ Because you can not relate,” he said.

He went on to criticize Beebe for writing the letter instead of asking black faculty and staff for input on how to move forward from the incident.

Beebe and the trustees are prohibited by the Brown Act to respond to people who speak during public comment, and so were unable to respond to Hill’s comments and the comments of others who spoke at the meeting.

Former Student Trustee Krystle Farmer, who in her resignation letter wrote that she had been frequently harassed during her time at the college, commented on how she had come to hate City College, having tried to go through the proper channels and seen no progress.

“I sat on this board and met with each of you individually for hours, and nothing was done,” she said, speaking directly to the trustees.

As for Maas, she said she is on leave until Nov. 30, deeply regrets the offense she caused and remains committed to helping fight racism at City College.

November 20 Correction:

This story has been changed from a previous version stating that Nia Revis spoke in the Gender Equity Workgroup meeting. Revis was not in the meeting, however she publicly said a week prior that she had been harassed and called the N-word in the library. The discussion during the workgroup meeting referenced Revis’s harassment in the library.

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16 Responses to “Coalition demands administrator resignation after using racial slur”

  1. Richard on November 20th, 2018 4:53 pm

    From the article “Beebe and the trustees are prohibited by the Brown Act to respond to people who speak during public comment”

    This isn’t strictly true. While the trustees may not enter into discussion regarding anything not listed on the agenda, there is nothing to stop them responding or commenting. Indeed, this is something that they have chosen to do in the past.

    From the Brown Act

    “No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda,
    except that members of the governing board or its staff may briefly respond to statements made or questions posed by persons expressing their public testimony rights during public comments.”

  2. Ellen Carey on November 20th, 2018 8:17 pm

    I am a member of the SBCC Coalition for Justice and was present at the Gender Equity Workgroup meeting at which Vice President Lyndsay Maas used the n-word. Our letter, which was mentioned in the article, includes a description of what took place in that meeting, and is available here:

    Based on what was reported in this article, Ms. Maas is misrepresenting the facts and failing to take responsibility for her actions. She is continuing to center herself, her experience, and her feelings rather than centering the people of color she harmed through her use of a racial slur and through her subsequent behavior. Most appalling, she is implying that she was somehow victimized by the people she harmed because “no one ever acknowledged” her when she returned to the meeting. This is the very definition of white fragility and serves to reinforce systemic racism and white supremacy even while claiming to oppose it (see or read the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo).

    There is a pattern at play here that goes beyond Ms. Maas and is indicative of the problematic culture of the SBCC Administration — a pattern in which those who speak out against oppression and inequity are ignored, silenced, and scapegoated; real offenses are dismissed or downplayed or misrepresented by the Administration; and members of the administration pay lip service to their commitment to address issues such as racism and misogyny without actually doing the intellectual and emotional labor required to effect meaningful change. This pattern amounts to gaslighting and serves to further marginalize those members of our community who are already most marginalized and to absolve individual administrators, including President Beebe, of responsibility for their complicity in the systems of oppression that they reinforce.

    To correct some of the specifics of Ms. Maas’s misrepresentation of events:

    Ms. Maas did not “apologize right away.” She muttered something like “That felt weird to say,” and continued to speak about the agenda item the committee was discussing. When a faculty member of color stopped her to address the harm caused by the racial slur, Ms. Maas said, “I’m so embarrassed,” started crying, and left the room, even as several members of the Workgroup asked her to stay to discuss the incident.

    Workgroup members, including me, acknowledged Ms. Maas’s presence when she returned to the meeting. She returned shortly before the meeting’s scheduled end, nearly 40 minutes after she had left, and stood close to the door. She did not come back into the circle, did not take her seat, did not ask any questions about the harm she had caused or the discussion that had ensued in her absence. As Workgroup members began to leave, she spoke up, saying things like “I’m so embarrassed” and “I don’t know why I said that” and “I’ve never said that word before.” I asked whether she understood the difference in impact between referring to the word as “the n-word” and saying the whole word. Instead of taking that question as an opportunity to acknowledge the harm caused by her use of the whole word, she continued to focus on herself, saying, “Yes, that’s why I can’t understand why I said it.”

    Two days later, Ms. Maas sent what was intended as an apology email to members of the Gender Equity Workgroup. But again, rather than focusing on the impact of her behavior, or expressing a desire to better understand and address that impact, she focused on herself: her shock that Black students are called the n-word on campus; her distress over causing harm; her “strong feelings” about “what occurred;” her insistence that she had already apologized on Wednesday; her concern that people may now associate her with racism.

    Heads up, white people: we ARE associated with racism. ALL of us. We’ve been steeped in racism, we benefit from racism, and we must each take personal responsibility for learning to recognize how we are complicit in racism and for working to dismantle racism.

    For Lyndsay Maas to “remain committed to helping fight racism at City College,” she must first become committed to acknowledging and fighting her own racism. Lying to The Channels about her behavior at the Gender Equity Workgroup meeting, behavior that was witnessed by over a dozen other people who have already shared a different version of events, is not a good way to demonstrate that commitment.

  3. Anonymous on November 21st, 2018 1:03 am

    >fighting her own racism

    Was she not in a meeting specifically to brainstorm ways to fight racism on campus?

    I hear black students use this word every single day on campus. Should we expel them for this?

    This fanaticism is pretty scary. Is every black student on campus so fragile, that hearing this word in the context of a quote sends them spiraling into a religious fervor, protesting and chanting for the destruction of someone’s livelihood? What a disparaging thing to assume about people, that they are so fragile just based upon their skin color. By what right does BSU claim to speak for every black student? It sounds like a Catholic mob chanting for the expulsion of unbelievers. “White fragility” indeed. How is a word tantamount to violence? It is extremely dangerous to cry wolf on things like violence, and racism. Those are serious problems, and BSU using them as opportunist tools frightens me.

    All this is going to do is motivate faculty to never, under any circumstances, disagree with or criticize any black students or peers, lest they be designated a racist and face their own version of tonight’s mob. Does that sound like a better education for black students? Being quarantined in the kiddie pools of social and intellectual interaction, where they won’t hear words that might “harm” them? That patronizing attitude is the only thing worth protesting in this godforsaken episode.

  4. Jaye on November 21st, 2018 12:34 pm

    Ellen, how do you like your academic classes at SBCC?

  5. Amina Rush on November 21st, 2018 2:29 pm

    … but they do it too. (blah). What a poor excuse! No personal responsibility whatsoever. People need to be aware of what they are saying and who they are saying it to. Plain and simple!

  6. Brandon Bernstein on November 21st, 2018 3:52 pm

    A lot of folks have been quoting Dr. Martin Luther King (e.g. At the board meeting, in private discussions, etc). Anthony Beebe has even quoted him in several communications ( Maybe after some deep, self-refection (which has been called on before, he could start quoting Michael Jackson instead: “Who am I to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs…I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways.” Let’s get to it, Superintendent-President Beebe. Folks have been harmed, silenced, and scapegoated on this campus for far, far too long by you and others that report to you.

  7. Blue on November 21st, 2018 5:56 pm

    @Anonymous – When white people use the n-word, IT IS NOT THE SAME THING as when African Americans say it. The vile history behind the word is the basis for this. White people perpetrated atrocities against African Americans all while using that word. So, no. It is not the same.

    It is a sweeping generalization and overstatement to suggest that white students would have to walk on egg shells for fear of offending African American students. That’s not the point. The matter at hand is, that word, and the hatred which gripped our country and brought it about, has NO PLACE at SBCC, or in the world.

  8. Hud Forp on November 22nd, 2018 8:15 am

    Maas was out of her depth, being appointed to chair that workgroup. Her background and training are in business services and facilities management—why would she be tasked with leading a group of faculty, with all of their training in analysis, interpretation, and public speaking, in seeking equity? Was this blowback inevitable because the group was being held tightly in check by the administration?

    This is just the latest incident that suggests an administration deeply out of touch with reality.

  9. Jaye on November 23rd, 2018 11:05 am

    It has become clear one unsafe space on campus has become participation in “equity workshops” where the price of good-faith participation is now your own job. Set clear ground rules for all parties, before even considering future participation in these workshops.

    Consider these encounters sacred spaces in which all agree upfront there will be no ex post facto Title Nine complaints; no threats to one campus employment or enrollment status; no campus wide email blasts; no unilateral demands; no outside protests; no doxxing; no reading other people’s minds or intentions; no apology demands; no apologies given; and no arbitrary and punitive definitions of so-called trigger words.

  10. James Golden on November 23rd, 2018 3:42 pm

    This is just like Papa Johns all over again!

    Lyndsay Maas was appointed as VP of Business Services in June of last year. Here’s the press release:

  11. Alex Madajian on November 24th, 2018 5:16 pm

    This is my most honest reaction. I drill down to the philosophical problem, and that is a misunderstanding of the value of words:

  12. Dingo on November 26th, 2018 1:21 pm

    Dear Alex McIntire Minion,

    I know it’s hard to cop to your relative privilege when you have amounted to very little in spite of it, but please here this: No one cares what you think.

    Seriously. They don’t.

    You are an imitation of an imitation.

    You don’t even live here anymore, right? Find a new hobby.

  13. Denice Spangler Adams on November 26th, 2018 1:57 pm

    Students, Faculty, Administrators, and Trustees: carry on. Ignore bad behavior by a handful of loud , organized nihilists using intimidation tactics. Don’t let them win. Freedom of Speech must be protected from the self-Appointed PC Police. I don’t know you Ms. Mass, however I admire your courage and willingness to accept any leadership position in today’s hostile, mob-indoctrinated anarchist environment. These young screamers appear to be historically and politically ignorant, do not respect or value SBCC, over estimate their own significance, and do not respect of appreciate the thousands contributing since 1980 to make SBCC an exemplary institution recognized worldwide. Why listen to these few determined to take over and destroy SBCC? Do not fear loss of jobs or recall. The greater Santa Barbara community is not yet under total mob-rule, and the Court did rule in favor of Dr. McIntyre.. The greater Santa Barbara Community will back President Dr Bebe; SBCC’s Professional Faculty who are focused on teaching to obtain essential student outcomes; our elected Trustees; and our valued leaders Mr Armstrong, Mr Vincent and the generous SBCC Foundation Donors who work together To benefit SBCC and students there to learn. To the few protesting students: you are Americans. America is not a salad bowl. America is a melting pot. SBCC is one school community of non-hyphenated individuals committed to scholarship.

  14. Elizabeth Singson on November 26th, 2018 3:51 pm

    Ellen Carey – YOU are a racist! The proof is in your own words. Don’t like the N-word? What about the W-word? How about if you traded those ‘colors’ in your comments, would you recognize then that you are being as racist as any other?

    We are PEOPLE, not colors. Having lived in MANY different countries around the world, I can attest that the people of the United States are MORE segregated and more separatist than when I first lived here in 1969. I too am ‘dark’ skinned and have often been referred to as “African American”, which I am neither African nor American, so shouldn’t that term be demeaning to ME? I was born of a Filipino mother and a Canadian (Scottish) father and yet I have never asked to be called “Filipino Canadian”. In fact, people in other countries don’t say they are “African Italians” or “African Dutch”… Sure, there are probably some groups that have been made (I bet within the last 30-50 years) with some funny names like that, but why not call EVERYONE ‘People’!

    Why are YOU segregating yourselves? Why are you putting yourselves (no matter your color) into some ‘group’ in the first place?

    Oh, and by the way, my neighbor is African American, or is it American African? He was born in Africa (South Africa actually) by an American mother. He then lived in South Africa and then Namibia before coming to the US to go to college at UCSB. He saw the ‘race’ listing for African American and checked the box for it! He was even awarded a scholarship for “African American” students interested in Engineering. Later, after attending a meeting of other “African American” students, he was harrassed and kicked out because, Although HE TRULY WAS an “African American” (holding dual citizenship), he wasn’t considered a “person of color” (I guess white people have no color). Then, when someone found out he wasn’t “black” they tried to take his scholarship away too!

    Sorry, but the US has so many racists (in my opinion) because we create them IN SCHOOLS. Demanding someone that used the “N-word” be fired or asked to resign is CRAZY!! It that word was SOOOOO bad, then whenever a black person used it to another black person, the second one should be pointing his finger at the fellow and calling him racist and demanding that he leave and get sensitivity training. After all, we can’t go after just WHITE people for using it, can we? Of course not… THAT WOULD BE RACIST!

  15. Mark McIntire on November 27th, 2018 11:45 am

    “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. “ – – Eleanor Roosevelt

    Oh wait she’s a white woman… Never mind.

    Mark McIntire

  16. Sage whitey on December 9th, 2018 4:29 pm

    Saddened by the attention to skin color- identity politics that have taken people of color back decades. Lynch mob tactics that gang up on a productive and good administrator that said the word in a sentence that disparaged And was unapproving of the use of it- to defeat people of color is OVER THE TOP. Those that called for her resignation are worse than the bloke that originally used the damn WORD. My kid will not be attending a college that focuses so much on color of skin.. God forbid she is imperfect and callednsomeone by wrong pronoun. We outta here- California 👋🏼

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Coalition demands administrator resignation after using racial slur