Progress on Student Demands from COBA

Coalition Of Black Students and Allies

On June 23, 2020, the Coalition of Black Students and Allies sent a letter to the University of Arizona Administration with a list of 21 demands, including #8, the implementation of an online tool to track the progress of the list of demands.

This page is intended to be a place where the list of demands will be maintained and status updates will be tracked. As plans are developed, the responsible administrators who will oversee this work, in consultation with the advisory board, will be added.

Oversight: The hiring process for a Project Director for Diversity & Inclusion began in September 2020. This Project Director will report directly to the Associate Vice Provost for Diversity & Inclusion and the job description is specifically focused on managing and advancing progress on the planned actions. The Hiring Committee has a tentative start date of January 2021.

  • Update: The interview process for the Project Director is currently in progress with an anticipated start date of January 2021. 
  • UPDATE: January 2021 - Denise TrimbleSmith was hired and began on January 11, 2021. 

LINK TO COBA STATEMENTS

 1. We demand a live and public streaming of President Robbins, Chief Brian Seastone, and their colleagues acknowledging and apologizing for the events that occurred at the “Celebration of Black Lives” event that happened on Saturday, June 6th, 2020, effective immediately. Regardless of whether the intentions were to “protect” the students by following “University protocol,” the heavy policing and intense interaction with all parties involved were not only violent and traumatizing but also unnecessary and preventable. Again, Black student organizers and Black Tucson organizers should not have been forced to experience such a triggering interaction with President Robbins, Chief Brian Seastone, and his officers as well as delegates from both of their teams. Lastly, this should not be a scripted broadcast because we are exacerbated by President Robbins’s lofty and ingenuine statements.

Responsible SVP: Lisa Rulney

Responsible Administrator: Brian Seastone

  • UPDATE: President Robbins, Chief Seastone, CFO Rulney and other campus leaders met with COBA representatives on July 14 for a conversation which was live streamed. The university leaders acknowledge that while the “Celebration of Black Lives” event was highly successful and impactful, and a credit to the organizers, the interactions with campus police immediately prior to the event caused alarm to some.

2. We demand the immediate divestment and budget reduction of the University of Arizona Police Department (UAPD) 5.8 million budget and allocate 30% of the funds to support initiatives and goals of the Cultural and Resource Centers. The presence of any form of policing does not keep students safe, they promote fear and perpetuate harm for Black students on our campus. The funds need to be invested in the Cultural and Resource centers so that they can better serve the needs of the students who utilize the space. The long-term goal of this demand would be to create a police-free campus and replace all forms of policing with community-based accountability and transformative models of public safety.

Responsible SVP: Lisa Rulney

Responsible Administrator: Kathy Whisman & Garth Perry

  • UPDATE:  During the October 20, 2020 meeting with COBA and the Executive Leadership Team (ELT), the University stated that a review of UAPD by an external company under the  'Reimagining the Campus Safety Partnership' project will commence in November 2020. The project provides an opportunity to think innovatively regarding the implementation of community policing practices that support our most vulnerable populations. Various campus partners are invited to be involved in the project, including the Executive Leadership Team, the Cultural Centers and COBA students. The University will use the information gathered to develop plans for immediate and long-term implementation. We have continued needs for policing on our campuses, and these needs cannot be met adequately with a reduced UAPD force.  We are committed to increased training and use of better policing practices, such as community-based models to reduce risks to BIPOC and those with mental illness.  
  • UPDATE: December 2020 - The 'Reimagining the Campus Safety' project began in November 2020 with the external company. Various campus partners including the leadership team, administrators, Cultural Centers and COBA students participated in sessions to discuss the current role of the UAPD and ideas for a reimagined campus safety partnership. 

3. We demand the University of Arizona to sever its ties with Tucson Police Department, Border Patrol and ICE, and other local municipal police departments.

Responsible SVP: Lisa Rulney

Responsible Administrator: Brian Seastone

  • UPDATE: The Tucson Police Department, Border Patrol, ICE, and other local municipal police departments provide services to many different populations of the campus community including international students. The University will work with COBA and these entities to ensure that all members of the campus community are protected. Updates on progress will be published on this site.  

4. We demand the funds allocated to the University of Arizona Police Department under the reasons for institutional support and operations to be redirected to relieve any furlough, permanent budget cuts associated with COVID-19. The furlough and budget cuts have disproportionately impacted not only Black and students of color but faculty and staff as well. The University of Arizona must reevaluate its priorities and responsibilities and start supporting community financial wellness caused by this public health crisis. The pandemic should not be used as an excuse to make inequitable budget cuts and cause further financial burdens.

Responsible SVP: Lisa Rulney

Responsible Administrator: Garth Perry

  • Update: CFO Rulney, President Robbins and Provost Folks, are deeply committed to protecting the UArizona workforce and our students to the highest extent possible as we manage the institution through the pandemic-induced financial crisis, and position it to thrive post-pandemic.  The challenges that face the institution are profound, and the future remains unclear at this time, but prioritizing equitable outcomes remains a key consideration for all campus leaders.

5. We demand specific funds to be created and allocated to expand the physical spaces in the Cultural and Resource Centers. It is very crucial for every Cultural and Resource Center to have the privilege to have a large space to create more programming for students. Some of the major centers that would reap the benefits of having more space include AASA, NASA, APASA, ISRC, etc. There are several other spaces on campus that thrive due to the amount of space accessible to them. Furthermore, the lack of operating space prevents the Cultural and Resource Centers from reaching the communities that they are meant to reach; there needs to be more equity in space.

Responsible SVP: Lisa Rulney

Responsible Administrator: Thomas McDonald & Jose Teran

  • UPDATE: The Associate Vice Provost, Diversity & Inclusion, Ivy Banks, began meeting with the Jen Hoefle Olson, Interim Executive Director, Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement, Thomas McDonald, Chief of Staff, Business Affairs, and Jose Teran, Assistant Director, Space Planning and Management, to discuss the space needs of each Cultural Center. The group has begun to identify plans and will report progress on this site as plans develop. 

6. We demand a community-based response to emergencies and crises that do not require the presence of UAPD or any form of police. Creating community-based crisis programs employ first responders that are not the police to handle disturbances where crimes are not being committed. For instance, if a student is having an anxiety attack or mental health crisis, someone from Campus Health and/or Counseling & Psych Services (CAPS) should be called. These programs take police out of the equation when someone is going through anything related to a mental crisis or lack of basic needs such as housing and transportation. When police are called, situations can easily escalate and the use of force can be disproportionate, especially towards Black people. It is time for the University of Arizona and its police department to reimagine what it could look like to have the right responders respond to the right situation.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Amy Athey & Glenn Matchett-Morris

  • UPDATE: CAPS is engaged in conversations with Housing & Residential Life to modify current protocols which involve UAPD responding to mental health crises. To this end, CAPS has committed to serving as the first and primary contact in mental health crises. Updates on progress will be reported on this site. 

7. We demand the integration of Cultural Competency training at the incoming freshman orientation as well as in the Housing and Residential Life that are more radical and centered on transformative justice. The Cultural and Resource centers do an excellent job of creating programming and events centered around educating student interns and staff members (Directors, Co-Directors, Counselors, etc) on social justice topics that explore intersectionality. We demand these types of teachings and programmings to extend outside of the Cultural and Resource Centers and other parts of the campus. For instance, the Cultural Competency trainings should cover the following intersectional topics: Power and Privilege, Microaggressions, How to be an Accomplice/Ally, Taking Space and Making Space, Social Justice topics focused on branches of White Supremacy, Intergenerational trauma amongst QT+BIPOC, Restorative Justice Circles, etc. The training and programming should be a paid position led by a queer and trans, Black, indigenous, person of Color. It is crucial that students, as well as staff and faculty, have an opportunity to explore these topics below the surface and extensively share dialogue focused on these discussions because it is not enough to just say “Inclusion: Harness the power of diversity.”

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Ivy Banks

  • UPDATE: An online diversity and inclusion training will be required of all entering UA students. A search is in progress for a Director of Training Initiatives that will oversee campus wide diversity and inclusion training efforts. The Director of Training will be part of the new Diversity and Inclusion Division under the Associate Vice Provost, Diversity and Inclusion. The position is posted with an anticipated start date of January 2021.
  • UPDATE - December 2020: The Director of Training interviews are currently in progress with the anticipated January 2021 start date. 
  • Update - January 2021: All students that transferred or enrolled in Spring 2021 were required to complete the Diversity & Inclusion online training. The goal is to implement the training campus-wide in Fall 2021. 
  • Update - February 2021: Earl Lee began in Feb 2021 as the Director, Campus D&I Training. 

8. We demand implementation of an online tool within the University of Arizona website that tracks the progress of the list of demands. One of the many reasons why the 2016 list of demands were not achieved is that there was no one appointed to keep track of its progress. As a result, there has been a lack of accountability as well as a mandated report of the progress of the list. With that being said, the list must be on the University of Arizona website, with an online program that indicates what the President and Administration have done to meet each demand.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Ivy Banks

  • UPDATE: The website will be maintained by the Project Director, Diversity and Inclusion. 

8a. Furthermore, in conjunction with this demand, we demand an advisory board made up of queer and trans, Black, indigenous, people of Color (QT+BIPOC) including students and staff/faculty members from the Cultural and Resource Centers to not only oversee but participate in making sure the demands are being met and prioritized.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Ivy Banks

  • UPDATE: Ongoing - Currently in discussion phase.
  • Update - Feb 2021: Discussing the development of the Diversity Student Advisory Board with input from ASAU.

9. We demand an accountability system for faculty/administrators who have said any overt racist, anti-Black, homophobic, transphobic comments. The only form of reporting set in place is on the Dean of Students website, where the form only has two options of reporting:  Academic integrity and Student Code of Conduct. There needs to be a greater, transparent system of accountability for faculty and Administrators. Most of the interactions where Black students experience racism or microaggression are in the classroom setting from their own professors and advisors, therefore, it is important that students have a clear option of addressing and reporting these incidences.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Andrea Romero, Kendal Washington White

  • UPDATE: The newly created Bias Education & Support Team (BEST) has been created for the purposes of receiving reports and supporting members of the campus community impacted by bias incidents. In addition to providing education and support, BEST is also committed to tracking bias reporting trends over time. De-identified trend data will be used to inform campus leadership of ways the campus climate can be proactively improved. The BEST team does not investigate or adjudicate but will refer incidents that violate the Universities long-standing non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy to the appropriate University officials. The BEST team formed in summer 2020 and began formally meeting to review incidents in September 2020. Incidents are being reported and addressed swiftly.

10. We demand an increase in mental health resources and create mental health funds for queer and trans, Black, indigenous, people of Color (QT+BIPOC). Racial and ethnic students are harmed by microaggressions and other stereotypes that define their experience at the University of Arizona. As a result, these students are disproportionately represented among those seeking an increase in mental health resources. Yet, their academic success and achievements depend on being able to maintain and sustain their emotional and psychological health. The creation of diversity initiatives means that the University must develop resources that support the success of these students despite the unjust treatment and discrimination. We call for a renewed focus and initiative on the recruitment and retention of mental health professionals who better represent the diversity of our student body. This means recruiting and hiring more Queer and Trans, Black, Indigenous, People of Color such as mental health therapists, and counselors who can better represent and serve the students and their needs by having an understanding of how race, culture, gender, sexuality and other intersections affect how students navigate their life on campus.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Glenn Matchett-Morris, Ivy Banks

  • UPDATE: Funding has been approved for the hiring of four CAPS Embedded Mental Health Counselor positions who will be employed by CAPS and embedded in each Cultural Center. The CAPS Embedded Mental Health Counselor positions for each Cultural Center will post in November 2020 with an anticipated start date of February/March 2021. 
  • UPDATE - December 2020: The Embedded Mental Health Counselor positions have posted and recruitment efforts are underway. Candidates my apply using the following links: AASA Job Posting, APASA Job Posting, GSC Job Posting, NASA Job Posting.
  • Update - February 2021: Embedded Mental Health Counselor interviews have transitioned to the offer phase.

11. We demand the expansion of accessible all-gender bathrooms across the University of Arizona campus. The third floor of the Student Union and the dorms should not be the only accessible areas for all-gender bathrooms; that is inexcusable. Trans, non-binary, gender non-confirming, and anyone else should not feel forced to choose between men's and women's rooms; that is form of policing that is an enactment of power that is upholding the gender binary.

Responsible SVP: Lisa Rulney

Responsible Administrator: Chris Kopach

  • UPDATE: The Campus Map updates include an 'All Gender Restroom' filter under the 'Health & Safety' feature which provides a complete listing of the more than 50 'All Gender Restroom' facilities around campus. The University remains committed to including at least one gender-neutral restroom in new buildings constructed on campus. The Associate Vice Provost, Diversity and Inclusion has called a group together to begin the review of current all gender restroom listings in conjunction with accessibility. The group will begin meeting in January 2020 and provide updates on this site. 

12. We demand that all current staff of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) undergo racial trauma training to improve their services for BIPOC communities.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Glenn Matchett-Morris

  • UPDATE: CAPS is committed to seeking training to inform and improve their work with QT+BIPOC communities and aims to hold trainings for the entire staff every year.

13. We demand an increase in scholarships and funds for Black students. One of the many reasons why Black students drop out is because of the lack of scholarship and funds offered by the University as well as the inaccessibility to these scholarships. There is no reason or justification for Black students to be feeling discouraged from continuing their education because the University failed to do its part by providing accessible financial aid and resources.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Ivy Banks

  • UPDATE: Ongoing - Currently in discussion phase: Working with UA Foundation to develop more visibility for diversity scholarships and establish fundraising priorities in partnership with Office of Diversity & Inclusion. 

13a. Furthermore, we demand the hiring of Black financial advisors to find and distribute scholarships and financial aid geared towards Black students.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Ivy Banks

  • UPDATE: Ongoing - Currently in discussion phase: Working with UA Foundation to develop more visibility for diversity scholarships and establish fundraising priorities in partnership with Office of Diversity & Inclusion. 

14. We demand an immediate release of a report detailing all of the demands that the Administration was able to accomplish since the publication of the 2016 MSUA list of demands.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Ivy Banks

  • UPDATE: MSUA and VOICE demands will be added to this webpage detailing accomplishments and areas of opportunity which remain. The tentative goal in publishing this information is the end of the Fall 2020 semester. 
  • UPDATE - December 2020: Meetings to review the MSUA demands and provide a transparent response are underway. Ivy Banks began hosting meetings in December 2020 and will publish information upon completion of the meetings and the subsequent gathering of data. 
  • Update - February 2021: MSUA and VOICE demands added to the website. As information is received and meetings conducted, each page will be updated. 

15. We demand that the University of Arizona increase the number of Black students to 10%. The demographic data on the Equity, Inclusion & Title IX homepage shows that there is only 4.1% of Black students at the University. Having 4.1% of Black students is absolutely unacceptable and inexcusable.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Kasey Urquidez, Andrew Carnie

  • UPDATE: Funding was approved for an Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator position in Enrollment Management to focus specifically on serving Black students. Our goal is to have our Black student population be representative of that of Tucson and in Arizona. The website will be updated with a timeline which will include an anticipated start date once the search process begins. 
  • UPDATE - December 2020: The new Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator position is scheduled to post on the HR website in December 2020 with an anticipated start date of early-mid Spring 2020.
  • Update - March 2021: The new Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator will begin in March 2021. 

15a. Also, there needs to be more transparency with the demographic data and analytics on the Equity, Inclusion, and Title IX page home because the data is outdated and the numbers are from 5-10 years ago.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Ivy Banks

  • UPDATE: Ongoing - Currently in discussion phase

16. We demand to hire more Black faculty on tenure tracks, and the current percentage of Black faculty on tenure tracks must be increased by 10%. Based on the Faculty Tenure data on the University Analytics and Institutional Research, there is a total of 54 Black or African faculty in the whole university and only 17 Black or African American faculty that are on a tenure track. Having more Black professors allows the University to achieve intercultural competence, a critical aspect that would increase student classroom engagement, communication, academic success, and overall experience at the University.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Andrea Romero

  • UPDATE: In July2020, Provost Folks asserted that funding for the Strategic Priorities Faculty Initiative (SPFI) for FY21 would be held constant, despite widespread budget cuts elsewhere, and funding was approved from President Robbins to expand SPFI support funding. SPFI funding was administered Faculty Affairs for use by academic departments to aid in the hiring of additional full-time, tenure -track faculty or continuing eligible academic professionals who will enhance the University’s strengths in diversity and inclusion. 
  • Update - March 2021: Andrea Romero and Ivy Banks discussed with Senior Leadership, presented current plans, and requested input on future initiatives. The Sankofa Black Faculty & Staff affinity group has been revived and will begin meeting in late March 2021. 

17. We demand more funds disbursed to create hiring for the Trans Study Research Cluster (TSRC) and intentionally hiring more Black Trans faculty.

Responsible SVP: Betsy Cantwell

Responsible Administrator: 

  • Ongoing - Currently in discussion phase

18. We demand the removal of current administrators who have failed to uphold the safety of marginalized students and replace them with competent leaders who are more racially and consciously aware. We ask that you recognize that adding seats at the table does not work to solve the problems illustrated in the entirety of this document when your ranks are still filled with White Supremacists.

Responsible SVP: President Robbins & Provost Folks

Responsible Administrator: 

  • UPDATE: The University is committed to our longstanding policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment. The University must work within the parameters of federal, state and local laws regarding the separation of individuals from their positions of employment. We will continue to review our policies and practices including hiring, annual reviews, transparency, and trainings to promote an inclusive environment. 

19. We demand an institutional reeducation program specifically for students who have been racist. Liesel Folks have stated, “But I do defend the right for students to seek an education that might help them become better humans and to fulfill their human capacity for doing good in the world,” without detailing what this education would look like. Furthermore, the diversion program should not be used as a universal “punishment” or consequence for student misconduct; racism should not be taken lightly. Considering that the excuse of being a public University has been used to offer admission to racist students, when current or prospective students are known for being racist, the responsibility should fall on the University to address it accordingly.

Responsible SVP: Liesl Folks

Responsible Administrator: Kasey Urquidez, Kendal Washington White, Ivy Banks

  • UPDATE: The University incorporates diversity, equity, and inclusion into different facets of the curriculum including the Diversity Emphasis General Education programs and Diverse Degree programs. We will continue to evolve our trainings focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. 
    • All incoming students will be required to complete an online Diversity & Inclusion training program beginning in Fall 2020. 
    • The newly created Bias Education & Support Team (BEST) has been created for the purposes of receiving and responding to reports of bias. The University will use the information from our BEST team to improve conversations with individuals, with trainings and with campus policies on inclusion and discrimination. 
    • Updates on the continued work to address this concern will be posted to this website.

20. We demand an increase in the number of Black Deans, Provost, University of Arizona Administrators across spectrum of administration, not just in diversity, inclusion and equity positions and initiatives.

Responsible SVP: President Robbins, Liesl Folks

  • UPDATE - March 2021: Andrea Romero and Ivy Banks discussed with Senior Leadership, presented current plans, and requested input on future initiatives. The Sankofa Black Faculty & Staff affinity group has been revived and will begin meeting in late March 2021. The goal is to develop a leadership program that focuses on increasing diversity, including Black diversity, in leadership positions. 

21. We demand for the majority these lists of demands to be completed and achieved by the 2021 fiscal year. These lists of demands are easily attainable and measurable, all they need is the right amount of commitment and prioritization from an administration level.

Responsible SVP: President Robbins & All 

  • UPDATE: We agree with the need to move swiftly to improve the supports for Black student and faculty success at UArizona.