Dr Abdimalik Buul, anti-racist activist, spoke with students at Santa Rosa Junior College about the lack of an equity model for students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in SRJC’s vision statement on March 5.
In this second three-part workshop âBlack Lives More Than Matterâ, Dr Buul reminded students of the relationship between the four levels of racism: personal, interpersonal, institutional and structural. Institutions, like the SRJC, were created in a racist society, but are also made up of individuals.
âThen you start to understand your role as an individual within the system, and then you finally move on to act in that role. Are you an accomplice or an agent of change, âsaid Dr Buul.
He said it is important to understand the root causes of racism so that we can develop a process of neutralization to eradicate it. Many racist practices and structures continue due to implicit biases, such as the assumption that the SRJC’s vision statement represents a modern student body when it has not been updated for eight years.
According to Dr. Buul, the SRJC’s vision statement is a statement of its values, and if students of color feel left out when reading it, it leads to internalized oppression.
The students were sent to sub-committee rooms to analyze the SRJC’s mission statement using the â5 whysâ method. You identify a problem with a broad “why” question and break it down into more specific “why” questions until the root is found.
Dr. Buul released the SRJC’s vision statement:
“SRJC aspires to be an inclusive, diverse and sustainable learning community that engages everyone.
Students were then asked, “Why is the SRJC vision statement not enough?” ”
The absence of the word “student” was immediately apparent.
âThere is no university without students. You are the reason this institution is built. You are the center, âsaid Dr Buul. “Not even focusing on the vision statement is a real and big omission.”
The students felt the vision statement was vague, especially the word âaspiresâ. For them, âaspiresâ means work in progress without a specific date for completion. It also prevents the SRJC from being held accountable if the goal of a diverse and sustainable learning community is never achieved.
âIt’s because they want to look good to potential students, because they want to get that funding. It’s about the money, âsaid a group of students.
Another group mentioned that the lack of specificity of the vision statement also means that different jurisdictions or faculties can interpret it as they see fit.
Dr. Buul asked the students what words or goals should be added to the vision statement.
Some of the words students chose were âsocio-economic status, equity, advocacy, cultural values, pluralistic environment, immigrants and transparencyâ.
Students suggested continuous monitoring to ensure the vision statement is followed and revised as necessary.
They also felt that the declaration should include measures on crisis prevention instead of an after-the-fact reaction.
Dr Buul called this approach an asset rather than a deficit. âIt’s about looking at the potential rather than the limitations of our students. We also want to be healers in our education space, âhe said.
The end goal suggested by the students for the statement was marketing within the college community, such as increased financial investment for student-run clubs and counselors. The number of SRJC clubs has declined in recent times as counselors are not receiving funding.
Dr Buul said club advisor funding makes a big difference in how these clubs can operate. When club counselors receive a stipend, they can spend time traveling with students on overnight trips and learning about community resources.
Before leaving, Dr Buul praised the students for their commitment to change.
âYou’re not just working for yourself right now, but for those who follow you. Wake up today and prepare for a better future than yesterday, âhe said.
The final installment of Dr. Buul’s âBlack Lives More Than Matterâ workshop series will take place from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm on April 2nd.