Letter to the Editor: 77 alumni request the termination of the CDO

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As alumni of Occidental College, we formally and collectively request Rhonda Brown’s immediate termination as the Vice President of Diversity and Equity and Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) due to her violation of two major cornerstones of Occidental College’s mission: equity and community.

The grounds on which we request Brown’s immediate termination include her inability to perform the essential duties of a VP and CDO in promoting justice, fairness, and integrity. She has failed to support and sustain programs that depended on her administrative position. Within the three years of her employment, she eliminated all Program Assistant (PA) positions from the Intercultural Community Center (ICC); decreased funding and support for 1G, Men of Color Initiative, the Black Male Collective, Harambee and other programs centered around LGTBQIA+ students, femmes of color, first generation students and veterans; cut critical co-curricular programming from the Multicultural Summer Institute (MSI). She refused to allow a student organization dedicated to supporting queer students of color on Occidental College’s campus (QTPOC) to access the Center for Gender Equity and to fund the Asterisk* Trans Conference to the disadvantage of student government and organizations. She declined to address student concerns surrounding the implications of particular cultural graduation stole designs; and threatened student volunteers of cultural graduations to pay for housing on campus during Senior Week unless they work at Commencement. Her refusal to organize or fund programs centered around marginalized identities on campus reveals a gross lack of integrity, professionalism and understanding of equity in higher education.

Further, we find Brown in violation of the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation that binds and sustains our community of faculty, students, alumni, staff and administrators. Throughout the entirety of her tenure, her disposition towards collaborating with students and faculty has been disconcerting. Brown’s refusal to meet with members of the Oxy community and student government, to attend a community town hall addressing concerns surrounding MSI and to collaborate with cultural graduation student committees reveals a disregard for the needs of marginalized students and unwillingness to cooperate with the students of Occidental College. Despite several opportunities to rectify her relationship with community members, she has failed to reciprocate a commitment to discourse for the purpose of achieving understanding.

Many of us write from personal experience with Brown. Some of us write as former students of Oxy who struggled to create and preserve those same programs and resources for marginalized students on campus that she has neglected or gutted. Ultimately, we stand in solidarity with the students of Occidental College and their endless diligence in upholding the college’s mission when faculty and/or administrators of the college fail to do so. We request that the Board of Trustees and the President of the College immediately conduct an evaluation of Brown’s performance and competence as VP of Diversity and Equity/CDO on the grounds aforementioned.

 

Signed,

Belén Moreno ‘17

Brad Kawano ‘17

Malena Data Ernani ‘17

Mika Cribbs ‘16

Danielle Raskin ‘17

Haarika Reddy ‘17

Raihana Haynes-Venerable ‘17

Robert Rodriguez-Donoso ‘15

Abel Quintero ‘17

Angelica Preciado ‘16

Jocelyn Ayala ‘16

Winnie Bee ‘16

Jesus “Chuy” Flores ‘16

Abhilasha Bhola ‘16

Daniel Perez ‘16

Hailey Jures ‘14

Nancy Nguyen ‘14

Mylan Gerbeyesus ‘17

Isabella Ojeda ‘17

Marjorie Morales ‘17

Noorsher Ahmed ‘17

Eden Belachew ‘15

Pinkie Young ‘17

Kai Knight ‘17

Madeleine Resch ‘15

Karen Romero Estrada ‘16

Sofia Polo ‘16

Joseph Wei ‘13

Myell Mergaert ‘15

Gabriela Castillo ‘16

Kerry Sakimoto ‘15

Maeve Chamberlain ‘17

Dorothy Gray ‘15

Nubia Menchaca ‘15

Alicia Facada ‘11

Dorian Rico ‘17

Aaron Noffke ‘17

Dana Rust ‘16

Karen Oliva ‘17

Nancy Valdez ‘15

Lucia Martinez ‘15

Uriah Johnson ‘13

Aviva Xiomara Alvarez-Zakson ‘15

Ricardo Maldonado ‘17

Keven Duran ‘15

Denzel Tongue ‘17

Lindsay Opoku-Acheampong ‘16

Mary Atyemizian ‘15

Natasha Anderson ‘16

Aidan Nguyen ‘17

Eva Schifini ‘17

Tal Medovoy ‘17

Pomaikaikealoha Nakoa ‘17

Obiageli Okpalanma ‘16

Kevin Liu ‘16

Qiu Fogarty ‘14

Jorge Torres Perez  ‘16

Jennifer Vasquez ‘16

Jasmine Tovar ‘14

Jeffrey Bee ‘10

Tracy García ‘14

Daniela Borquez ‘16

Jordan Greenslade ‘15

Benyapa Bakewell ‘15

Teresa Mojarro ‘15

Kathryn Arnett ‘15

Kate Rowe ‘15

Connie Oh ‘17

Alegna Aletse Gómez ‘15

Soraya Sebghati ‘16

Eliana Yoneda ‘12

Aaliyah Davis ‘17

Anise Marshall ‘16

Rhys Berkwitt ‘16

Jesse Wong ‘16

Vanessa Zendejas ‘16

Jennefer Canales-Pelaez, Esq. ‘12

*The title of this article was updated 3/28 to reflect the number of alumni signatories.