Mad River Union
HUMBOLDT STATE – Native American students at Humboldt State University will occupy the campus's Native Forum until Dr. Jacquelyn Bolman, summarily dismissed last October without explanation, is reinstated as head of a key Native American science and engineering program.
Declaring that the new administration of HSU President Lisa Rossbacher "has made the biggest mistake of the university's 100-year history," students attending the Native American Activism Conference today, Jan. 19 renamed the facility the "Dr. Jacquelyn Bolman Native Forum," presented her with a portrait mural and performed a tribal music ceremony in her honor.
Bolman had just finished addressing the conference when the tribute was made and she wept as about 100 faculty, student and community attendees applauded, whooped and whistled in support of her triple recognition.
In an exclusive interview afterwards, Bolman said she felt both "overwhelmed" and "fearful" that the Rossbacher administration might retaliate, although she did not speculate on how the looming confrontation over the forum and her reinstatement might evolve.
The threat to occupy the Native Forum indefinitely was issued toward the conference's close of business on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the day before second semester classes were slated to begin. Students charged that the administration had recently dropped the name Native Forum, instead referring to it as part of the adjoining Behavioral and Social Sciences Building. They construed that as a slap in the face.
Conference speakers alleged that Humboldt State systematically attempts to "marginalize" and "coerce" Native American students and "use them for its own agenda."
The administration could not be reached immediately on how it will respond to the threatened occupation and the demand for Bolman's reinstatement.
Since 2005, Bolman had been director of HSU's Indian Natural Resources, Science and Engineering Program (INRSEP). Her sudden firing prompted what protesting students claim is the biggest outcry at the university since the Vietnam period in the 1960s and 1970s.
Students were particularly angry that the Rossbacher administration forced Bolman to leave her office and depart the campus in the midst of midterm exams, which forced students to exit the building in which INRSEP is housed.
They also allege that Bolman's dismissal violated the university's official commitment to the advancement of social justice, which is enshrined in its mission statement and student graduation pledge.
It is also part of HSU's student recruitment and marketing initiatives.