United Students of Humboldt
ARCATA,CA -- In October of last year, HSU’s controversial firing of INRSEP (Indian Natural Resources Science and Engineering Program) director Dr. Jacquelyn Bolman inspired students, faculty, staff and Tribal members to participate in the largest demonstrations on HSU campus since the Vietnam War Era. At the end of the Native American Activism Conference on Martin Luther King Day, Humboldt State students announced plans to reside in the Bolman Forum (formerly Native American Forum) until a variety of demands were met.
The 35 day residency has opened a platform at Humboldt State University for meaningful participation by students and local Tribal governments regarding the education of Native youth at the State University level. In a February 12th correspondence following the announcement of the residency, Gerald Jones from the Pacific Regional Office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs acknowledged that “Student protests at HSU may provide an opportunity for us to partner to promote Indian Self-Determination (25 USC 450 et. seq./25 USC 3109),” an integral aspect of Federal Indian Policy since the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975. The demands of the protesters are in line with Article 15 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information.”
The demonstrators have been in dialogue with Humboldt State University President Dr. Lisa Rossbacher’s administration to secure dates during which the protester’s nine demands will be negotiated. The list of demands outlines measures that upon implementation will promote equitable opportunity for students of color, which has diminished at the university during recent decades.
In preparation for mediations scheduled between the students, President, and key members of Humboldt State University administrators on March 3rd, the Unified students have decided to suspend the round-the-clock demonstration as an act of good faith, acknowledging President Rossbacher’s “commitment… to working with Native American students and tribal nations regarding definitions of student success, the characteristics of appropriate student support programs, the historical and future plans for program funding, the utilization of space in the Native American Forum, and clear plans for how this space will be used in the future.” Students expect the Forum to be respected as an Autonomous Center for Indigenous Learning.
While much of the focus surrounding this developing act of protest has centered around issues of Native American Education, Unified Students of Humboldt is a coalition of concerned students of Color and their allies, committed to promoting direct dialogue between students and administration to represent all pertinent perspectives. Support from the wider Humboldt and Tribal communities whom the University serves reveals a latent desire for involvement in local education from the larger community.