Sen. Dale Lendrum tendered his resignation and walked out of the Associated Students Inc. Senate meeting Wednesday, after voicing his concerns that he did not feel safe due to protests against ASI’s vote on a resolution supporting legislation mandating ethnic studies requirement.
“It is painfully obvious that after seven years of fighting for folks of color on this, in the end, I will be judged by the color of my skin and not the content of my character,” Lendrum said.
He said that he felt ASI was not a healthy environment to work in.
Sen. Taryn Williams also voiced her concern about her safety. She said she had been contacted by the University Police Department chief and asked if she and fellow senators “felt safe.”
Students like Miguel Angel Lopez, third-year Chicano Latino studies major, who was advocating for the bill made it clear that they did not mean to endanger any senators.
“We never intended to personally attack anyone, we just wanted to have our voices heard and we wanted to make sure that they were heard by any means necessary that would not cause harm to anyone at all,” Lopez said.
Vice President Leen Almahdi said she was grateful for the discourse that had taken place.
“A lot of folks think that this is a divisive issue, but why were the senate chambers created? They were created for us to author legislation, to debate them how to improve them, how to better them talking about what our constituents want,” Almahdi said.
ASI passed #SB 2020-12 in a 16-3-1 vote. Among other measures, the bill included support for California State Assembly Bill 1460 that would mandate all California State University’s to create an ethnic studies GE requirement.
The resolution had its first reading by the Senate two weeks ago when majority senators voted against it. Since, student activists and on-campus organizations like La Raza have been protesting, calling for the Senate’s support on the resolution.
Student activists were again present at the meeting this week, calling again for the Senate’s support.
Opponents of the bill raised concerns that the requirement as presented in the bill could hinder business and STEM student’s academic options and that it could push out other requirements in favor of the ethnic studies requirement.
However, some STEM and business majors spoke during public comment and said neither themselves or their classmates share the concerns the senators had.
College of Business Sen. Stephanie Torres said that at the end of the day the College of Business senators cannot speak to every COB student.
“It would be impossible you know, there’s only two of us and there’s like 5,000 something of them,” Torres said.
Miztlayolxochitl Aguilera, senior Chicano Latino studies major and member of the Tongva people, whose land the campus was built on, spoke about the value of the ethnic studies requirement regardless of major.
“It doesn’t matter what major you’re in, if you’re doctors, if you’re lawyers, if you’re teachers,” Aguilera said. “[You all] are coming to our communities and talking to our kids and building the buildings that our children are going to live in and go to school in, so you owe it to us as the people who are going to live in the communities that you’re building.”
The next ASI Senate meeting will be Wednesday, March 4 at 3:30 p.m. in USU 234.