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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Students hold open-mic forum over hateful graffiti; President Gutierrez pledges reform


City College president Michael Gutierrez and Student Senate president Kimberly Ramos speak with students at a rally Wednesday after student protests over the school handling of hateful and racist graffiti found on campus. Jason Pierce | Co-editor-in-chief | [email protected]

Story: Ben Irwin

Reporting: Danielle McKinney and Jason Reed

Students hold open-mic forum over hateful graffiti; President Gutierrez pledges reform

City College students, faculty, staff and members of the Los Rios Police Department gathered on campus Wednesday for a student-led open mic forum over the hate graffiti found in a campus men’s restroom and the school’s subsequent response.  

In his brief speech at the event on the steps in front of the South Gym, City College President Michael Gutierrez voiced his concern about how the administration handled the situation and his thoughts on moving forward.

“One thing that became very obvious yesterday is that we’ve not been listening enough,” Gutierrez said, emphasizing the last word. “And so, our role here, from yesterday, today and from now on out, is to listen better.”

Gutierrez, who became president of City College in 2017, said he realizes that some policies regarding announcements about safety to the campus community in place from years past have become outdated.

“For us to react in a way that was a solution that was good enough five years ago, or at least perceived to be good enough five years ago, it’s not good enough. It’s just not. And so we need to change,” he said.  

Students protested Oct. 2 that the school administration’s response to seeing photos of the racist graffiti on social media came much too late after their discovery. The concern over the administration’s lack of urgency and concern for safety led to the students planning the Oct. 3 public forum.

Kimberly Ramos, president of the Student Senate at City College, voiced the importance of holding the student-organized response.  

“I want to make sure every student knows about (the racist graffiti),” said Ramos. “It’s important that our students and families of these students know that this is going on at this campus so we can finally do something about it.”  

Spreading timely awareness has been a concern voiced by all parties in the ongoing conversation. Kandra Coleman, City College student and president of the Umoja Success Scholars, shared a similar concern.  

“We didn’t find out until the next day when the pictures surfaced, or later on that night, what was actually said, and who was targeted,” said Coleman. “That’s a problem for me.”

Regarding solutions and what comes next, Gutierrez outlined the college’s plan for action.

“We need to change,” said Gutierrez. “Meeting with students, faculty, and staff, we are going to create a task force to really look at what our priority is for our college, which is to increase student success of our African-American students. But rather than just having that as words, make it a priority and have action behind it.”

Gutierrez said the college would employ a strategy used at a few other colleges and universities, calling for “a single point of contact, so whenever there is hate speech, or something that is insensitive at our college, that a student knows where to report it.”  

Details of that concept have yet to be developed by the task force Gutierrez plans to assemble.
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Ramos spoke of change through action, too.

“I have already reached out to some BSU (Black Student Union) and Umoja representatives to come sit on the board, come join us in the meetings, be a part of student representation, student senate,” said Ramos. “We need to start implementing safety workshops so that students know that when there is crime happening, that we know who to go to, the first step to take, and how to feel safe on campus.”

Ramos expressed her emotion and urgency for action.  

“I’m feelin’ it. I’m feelin’ the love, and I’m feelin’ the hate, and we need to do something about it. We need to make sure that all students feel safe on campus,” said Ramos.  

Chief of the Los Rios Police Department Larry Savidge, who is new to the district, spoke briefly, assuring the audience of his commitment to everyone’s safety on all campuses in the district.

““I have a deep appreciation for everybody of different religions, nationalities, ethnicities, sexual preferences, what have you,” he said, pausing and seeming to search for a word.

The crowd gave it to him: “orientation!”

“Orientation—thank you for helping me on that,” Savidge continued. “And so, you’re not going to find a bigger advocate of trying to protect you than me. And that’s my passion. When we see something that’s not right, we need to fix it.”

Gutierrez left the crowd with a message that he is ready to meet with students, faculty and staff who have concerns.

“I’m here to listen, my door is open, I want to hear from you, and we will do better,” he said.

After the forum, Gutierrez reiterated in an email statement, “It is clear that the handling of this incident was unacceptable. We must do better.”

At the student-organized response, Coleman spoke decisively to the audience about holding the college to higher standards.

“Instead of being reactive when something happens to the black students, I need y’all to start being proactive,” said Coleman.




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