Students urge faculty to take campus equity seriously at forum


Students prepare to talk about their negative social experiences in and out of the classrooms of American River College, and how it has affected them. (Photo by Bram Martinez)

Bram Martinez

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As part of Black History Month, a group of American River College students and faculty listened in on talks given by members of the Umoja Sakhu Learning Community on Feb. 19. The subjects covered issues that affect students in ARC classrooms, such as religion and racism in and out of the classroom, and a lack of humanity and dignity towards some students.

Judy Mays, coordinator for Umoja Sakhu, introduced the event, which included eight students who spoke on various topics. In addition to the speeches, students read original poetry, one rapped an original song, one did an authentic Native American chant—but they all voiced their troubles.  

“ARC has a commitment to social justice, and there are issues and challenges that our students deal with that don’t get exposed,” Mays said. “We need to know what these things are in order to improve ourselves and to provide the best service possible to our students.”

The majority of them talked about social inequalities. These included educational change between students, problems with race identification, issues with a forced lifestyle, trouble with racist authority figures and rules made by teachers that remove any sense of dignity on the student.  

Matthew Montes, human services major, volunteered to speak, addressing the dignity of students. He said his problem was that students lose all sense of dignity as they enter the classroom even after fighting and paying to get placed in these classes.  Sometimes classes are across campus, so students’ basic needs, such as having time to use the restroom, are ignored as the teachers have their own methods of handling the students, Montes said.  

“I have heard a lot of students talk about the same issue. It’s throwing their concentration off, and it’s not encouraging students to come to class or learn,” Montes said. “It creates a barrier between the student and the teacher.”

The Umoja Sakhu Village Time Academic Enrichment is open weekly Monday and Wednesday at 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Raef Hall 162,and is open to all students.