BLAC, BSU and Black students and faculty to stage “BlackOut” walkout May 5

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Maritza Camacho

BLAC, BSU and Black students and faculty are staging a walkout May 5 to demand their voices be heard after months of meetings with no systemic change.

Michael Combs, Editor

Santa Rosa Junior College Black Leadership Association Collective (BLAC) is staging a “BlackOut” walkout during the Academic Senate meeting at 3:15 p.m. May 5 on the front lawn of Santa Rosa Junior College Campus near Mendocino Avenue and Elliot Street.

BLAC co-founder Dr. George Sellu said, “The walkout is to call attention to the refusal of administration and faculty leaders to address the demands of Black faculty, staff and students.”

Dr. Sellu said BLAC and the Black Students Union have had many meetings with SRJC administration and faculty in the last 10 months to address their needs, and they don’t have the bandwidth for any more listening sessions.

“We can not keep telling you what to do and you are not doing it, and then say we need more meetings,” he said. “We know they know what we need, we’ve discussed what was said in writing.”

Dr. Sellu said there have only been performative actions from SRJC so far that are not going to cause any systemic change. BLAC wants SRJC to listen and not assume they know what is best for Black students.

“It’s like saying ‘I want water to drink,’ then they say ‘Well, I can give you Gatorade.’ Then you can see why we’re upset,” he said. “I’ve already asked you for water. Why are you suggesting I drink Gatorade?”

Dr. Sellu said the walkout is not directed only at SRJC President Dr. Frank Chong and his cabinet, but also to the leaders of  faculty and staff organizations on campus.

“We don’t want to work at a place where listening is not happening. The walkout is about the total disregard of our voices, and more importantly that disregard is an insult to our intelligence and colleagues,” he said.

SRJC Student Body President Delashay Carmona-Benson said, “As co-president of BSU, I’m in 100% support of BLAC, and as SGA president, I want Dr. Chong, the administration, The Board of Trustees and the Academic Senate to bring some action on these demands.”

Vice President of Student Services Pedro Avila said he supports the walkout and plans to attend.

“As a college, we have made some improvements around social justice and the demands from BLAC and BSU, but they are not enough, and the sense of urgency needs to improve. BLAC and BSU are holding the college accountable, and we must listen carefully and take action,” Avila said. 

Dr. Sellu said BLAC, BSU and Black students and faculty plan to continue these walkouts until their demands are listened to and anyone is welcome to join. Social distancing applies, and signs are encouraged. The demonstration will also be digitally streamed on Zoom at https://santarosa-edu.zoom.us/j/739337730.