James Von Essen
The Associated Student Government voted at its special meeting Friday to develop a required orientation focused on educating students about racial and gender issues in light of the recent racist graffiti.
The senate discussed the administration’s response to racist graffiti found in a bathroom, which Interim Superintendent-President Helen Benjamin described as a hate crime, and the college’s handling of the campus lockdown, in which an alert was issued to students warning of an armed intruder.
Senate President Alexandra Montes De Oca said the hateful graffiti found on campus was “a call to action,” and members all agreed that the incident required a response to create a safe environment for students regardless of race, sexual orientation or any other factors.
Vice President of Operations and Finances Ezekiel Contreras Forrest said only issuing a statement would be “a band-aid,” and that something should be done to help prevent these types of racially charged events from happening again.
“If they feel they’re unsafe, it’s not giving them anything tangible,” said Forrest.
The senate voted to implement a 0.5 unit, 2-day orientation course that all incoming students would be required to complete prior to their first semester at City College. The vote passed with no opposition.
The idea was based off a similar personal development course required of incoming international students, which is intended to prepare them for their new school.
The orientation class would be centered towards tolerance and campus conduct, educating students on issues related to race and gender equality. The school will also be looking to require all faculty to complete a similar training session.
The senate said it aims to have the orientation ready as soon as possible, though it’s unlikely to be put into place until next fall.
“I prefer quality of things,” said Montes De Oca. “I want a good speaker, I want to put a lot of thought into it.”
Members agreed that having the course be a requirement to attend City College would be attacking the root of the problem, instead of just a response to symptoms.
Student Advocate Syd Abad said many attempts have been made for similar training sessions in the past, but since they were voluntary, “the people that go aren’t the ones that need it.”
Senate members also discussed the lockdown of the entire school on Wednesday, when an alert was sent out warning students of an armed intruder on campus, telling them they should be ready to “RUN, HIDE OR FIGHT!”
Many members said the chaos that followed as a result shed light on the faults in the protocols followed for these types of threats.
“I would have liked to see a clear, transparent message of what was going on,” said Montes De Oca. “Instead of run, hide or fight.”
The senate will be releasing a statement on the incident this week, and is looking to work with administration to update the response procedures for emergency situations.