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Las Positas Responds to Ethnic and Racial Issues

Across the country, many families, businesses and universities have been affected by what has come to be the Black Lives Matter movement, an organization that formed in 2013 shortly after the unjust murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed seventeen year old black teenager who was wrongfully targeted by a neighborhood policeman in Sansford, Florida.

Since then, the group rapidly developed and in turn, became a widespread name around the nation. As the political climate changes over the years, BLM continues to hold long-term institutions such as various state governments and numerous police departments accountable for mishandling matters related to crimes against black people.

Given BLM has been largely influenced by young adults, it’s no surprise that schools have been encouraged to make necessary changes when it comes to helping black youth.

In Livermore, California, the pressure is no different. Las Positas College is just one of many educational systems navigating these difficult times. Despite the city’s separation on the subject matter, LPC has made it clear that it’s staff and administration stand with black students.

Rather than relying on words alone, the school has made imperative steps towards preserving diversity. For starters, LPC initiated a resource center for black students.

Another major course of action was the creation of a class titled Introduction to Ethnic Studies, which “teaches students about race and ethnicity”, says co-creator Akihiko Hirose. Specifically, it pertains to “sociological theories and concepts that are useful in analyzing the experiences of major ethnic groups,” according to Hirose.

Students can expect to see that the ethnic study curriculum will relate to movements such as BLM, bearing in mind that its history is deep seated in similar protests. When inquired about the movement, Hirose brought to light how important it is that the experiences of oppressed people are heard and understood. It is this central idea that supports her perspective on why “movements such as BLM provide very relevant materials that are raw and timely” says Hirose.

Due to changes in the CSU transfer breadth, taking a three-credit ethnic study class is now required. Although these classes are mandatory, Hirose says, “To be a competent citizen in such a society, you can only benefit from learning about its complex history of ethnic groups.”

The class is in its first semester and while it is a fairly recent addition, overall response from students has been generally positive. In fact, Hirose spoke on behalf of many students who felt as though the course has opened their eyes.

Another professor at LPC named Michelle Gonzales, shares the same disposition. She claims that Black Lives Matter is a “really important movement because it helped a much larger portion of the population see the bigger picture.”

Las Positas College, like Gonzales points out, gained a new perspective and has since implemented measures in lieu of staying complacent on the issue.

LPC is also growing in terms of physical security. When it comes to campus policing, it’s important to Mike McQuiston, the Department of Justice coordinator, that his officers are educated, especially in terms of racial justice.

McQuiston reveals that the department is creating a new program for its staff to earn more college degrees. As a result, McQuiston says he “hopes to build a new generation of police leaders who are able to transform police practices to erase systemic inequities in the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities.”

Overall, with the changes that Las Positas College has made, those involved strive for a more progressive, comforting and safe environment for everyone on campus. As Michelle Gonzales puts it, “there will always be things to improve”. For now, the college and its faculty continue to push for equity amidst a time of injustice.

Sophia Sipe is a writer for The Express. Follow her @SophiaSipe

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