ASCWU letter outlines claims of systemic racial issues on campus

Mitchell Roland, Senior Reporter

Echoing the sentiments of Ellensburg protesters over the last week, two ASCWU members released a letter saying CWU has “continued to fail faculty and students of color over and over again.”

Introduced by current Vice President of Academic Affairs Nicholas Mejia and endorsed by Senate Speaker Elect Madeline Koval, the letter outlines claims of systemic racial issues at CWU.

“The university does not support faculty of color, it does not support students of color, because the university can’t even get the first tenant of support right,” the letter reads. “In order to support students of color you must support faculty of color.”

The letter says that while CWU prides itself on it’s diversity, they should reflect on their decisions and support students and faculty of color going forward instead of giving them “lip service.”

While the letter specifies that it could showcase many negative experiences that faculty of color have faced, it highlights Political Science Professor and the former Director of the CWU Latin Center Gilberto Garcia, whom the letter says was targeted by the university after he criticized a lack of funding and resources for the center.

According to the letter, while Garcia received positive reviews from both the department committee and the college committee during the tenure process, the CWU Provost’s office threatened to not renew his contract “due to minor offenses such as him being late to class on a few occasions.”

The letter states that Garcia was also removed as the director of the Latin Center and replaced by a white biology professor.

“You cannot replace the lived experience of people of color with someone who knows a great deal of education about our experiences but has never lived those experiences themselves,” the letter says.

The letter contrasts Garcia’s experiences with those of several white professors at CWU, including former professor and state rep. Matthew Manweller, who was fired in August of 2018 due to sexual assault allegations spanning 13 years. Manweller has since settled a wrongful termination lawsuit with CWU for $155,000.

“There is a double standard within the university that is downright repulsive,” the letter says. “And as proud as I am to call myself a wildcat, I am ashamed to see this side of CWU.”

The letter claims that white people in America and at CWU refuse to accept the issues that people of color face.

“The white denial within this country, within this institution blinds the key decision makers,” the letter says. “People of color have to fight for everything we have, claw, tooth, and nail for what is just a given to those who are privileged right off the bat.”