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Word Evokes Historic Hurt

Santa Barbara City College has had many issues arise regarding constituents’ inequities in its history. This year has been especially difficult for many reasons; Women have been targeted and retaliated against on campus for filing Title IX reports. Black students, staff, and faculty continue to be harassed and discriminated against, impacting their retention and ability to succeed.

On Wednesday, November 14, 2018, a high level administrator, Lyndsay Maas, used the unabbreviated “N” word at a meeting that had revealed several students were being called the word in the library and throughout campus. Rather than stopping to acknowledge her egregious use of such a harmful word, Maas continued to speak. When a faculty member of color stopped her to address the harm caused by the use of this racial slur, Maas expressed embarrassment and began to leave the room. Members of the workgroup asked her to stay to discuss the issue, but she chose to leave. Several members of the workgroup, which included students, staff, faculty, and administrators, were deeply impacted by this experience.

As of January 25, Maas is back on campus. Moreover, the irony is not lost that this administrative decision to allow her return was announced the day after the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and with Black History Month approaching. We want to make clear that our concerns are much bigger than Lyndsay Maas. Her return is a symptom of the systemic racism on SBCC’s campus and the disenfranchisement of people on its margins. We encourage you to watch the Board Meetings, speak with those closest to the pain, and consider the following:

Who has power in this situation? What privileges (race, gender, class, etc.) are at play? Who shares a similar background to the majority of those who will adjudicate the situation (e.g., the Board, Administration, etc.)?

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