Mad River Union
ARCATA - Unified Students of Humboldt and ranking Humboldt State University officials have reached accords on the creation of a President’s Native American Advisory Council, the establishment of a Native American Alumni Association and on priority uses of the campus Native American Forum.
The agreements are spelled out in a joint communiqué from HSU President Lisa Rossbacher and by Unified Students, the Native American-led reform group that occupied the forum for 35 days this winter to spur the Rossbacher administration to curb what the protestors called the school’s “colonization” of indigenous peoples.
"These are good conversations we are having,” according to Rossbacher. “In these meetings with students, we are developing trust, getting to understand the issues and making forward progress."
The communiqué states that Unified Students and the university administration “are glad to participate [in] the following resolutions,” which include HSU’s commitment to alter “Thanksgiving Break” to “Fall Break” on all academic calendars and on other unspecified documents.
The change is intended to convey “the importance of cultural sensitivity in the institution.”
The pact on the President’s Native American Advisory Council hinges on the development of guidelines on its objectives and how it is to be formed.
“This is to be achieved through extensive consultation with the [northern California] Tribal community and other,” unspecified stakeholders, according to the agreements.
The university had rejected past student appeals for a Native American Alumni Association. Rossbacher’s concession leaves open the makeup and character of the new body. They are “to be achieved through extensive consultation with Native faculty, staff and alumni.”
Regarding priority indigenous use of the Native American Forum, the parties state, “An additional protocol has been drafted to conduct reviews of any other requests for use of the forum.”
The announcement also states that the administration has invited students to submit proposals regarding free speech on campus. This relates to student frustration with the one-hour, noontime limit on weekday oratory on the campus quadrangle.
The announcement marked the conclusion of round two of the mediated talks between Unified Students and the administration. There has been no word to date on the protestors’ top demand at the outset and throughout the occupation of the forum: the reinstatement of science educator Jacquelyn Bolman, whose summary dismissal last October triggered an outpouring of dissent from the administration’s handling of Native American academic and cultural needs.
A Unified Students representative indicated in a telephone interview that further comments about the talks will be withheld until near the end of the spring semester, in early May.
Humboldt State’s student newspaper, The Lumberjack, reported that the student government has agreed to ask student voters to adopt a one percent Honor Tax on food purchases to fund Native American scholarships.