NAACP at CSUMB holds community forum

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) hosted a community forum called Know Your Rights: Sex, Drugs and Cops at the Student Center on April 26th . The forum was actually meant to serve as a relaunch of the club as the new NAACP, since membership collapsed earlier in the year.

According to the club co-founder, Steven Goings – a counselor at the Personal Growth and Counseling Center – the club has been at CSUMB since 2012, and has had a large impact on the campus over the last seven years.

The community consisted of two panels, one of student leaders from various advocacy clubs and the other of selected CSUMB staff. The student panel consisted of Jeniece Smiley, president of Black Students United (BSU); Victoria Ordaz, executive vice-president of UndocuOtters; Kathybelle Barlow, member of Student Awareness for Disability Empowerment (SADE); Malcolm Tunnel, member of EMPOWER; Ulises Duenaz, president of Pride CSUMB; and Chelsey Butcher-Hebert, president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

The staff panel consisted of Shantel Martinez, Otter Cross Cultural Center Assistant Director; Wendy Smith, Title IX Coordinator and Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Prevention Administrator; Maria Lopez Cabrera, Undocumented Student Success Resource Specialist; Ellie Hail-Langner, Student Housing and Residential Life Conduct Coordinator; and Gary Rodriguez, Health Promotion and Prevention Specialist.

Students who attended the event were all given a Know-Your-Rights handout packet on the subjects of sex discrimination, recovery from drugs and alcohol and dealing with cops and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Sex, Drugs and Cops). However the event was really a recruitment drive for the NAACP. Students who attended were promised free memberships and given a pitch about the club. In order to stay affiliated with the national organization the club needs to keep 25 paid members at all times; the annual cost is $15 for students under 21 and $30 for students 21 and older.

NAACP member Karla Noyles moderated the panel. Each panelist brought up student issues related to the communities and clubs they were representing. The BSU complained about too few African American students on campus and classroom microaggressions, Students for Sensible Drug Policy worried that CSUMB does not have a Good Samaritan policy for students, SADE noted that the campus was getting increasingly difficult to navigate for people with mobility issues, and Pride said there should be more gender neutral bathrooms. The staff did their best to answer the various concerns of the student leaders and offer resources and support.

In his pitch for joining the NAACP, outgoing advisor Steven Goings vowed that if the club could get 8 students who committed to active membership in the 2018-19 academic year, the club would tackle the issues brought forth at the forum and would train students in civil rights and social justice skills and tactics. He also noted that it was a coalition of clubs – Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), the BSU, Out and About, and Students for Quality Education – that brought the NAACP to campus in the first place. Since some of the other clubs also mentioned they have lagging membership, he thinks they should band together with the NAACP as part of a social justice coalition.

Students interested in joining the club should send an email to interim president Zarian Williamson at [email protected] or to [email protected].

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