Diversity Officer fired, mural unveiled

    According to the San Diego Union Tribune, university spokesperson Jeff Gattas announced the news before a May 12 Campus Council on Climate, Diversity and Inclusion meeting.

    “Ana Baiz-Torres is no longer with the university’s development department, effective immediately,” Gattas said.

    Baiz-Torres was appointed in October 2010 in response to last year’s racial incidents, as part of the agreement signed March 4 that called for the creation of a position to fund for diversity initiatives. The Campus Council on Climate, Diversity and Inclusion — composed of faculty, administration and representatives from Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, Student Affirmative Action Committee, Black Student Union and Muslim Student Association — meets approximately once a month to discuss progress on the agreements to increase diversity that stemmed from last year’s “Compton Cookout” incident. According to an October 2010 campus press release, Baiz-Torres was responsible for fundraising for diversity initiatives such as the Chicano and African-American Studies minors.

    Student members of the committee said they believe Torres’ termination, as well as university representatives who decline to comment on the situation, calls into question the university’s commitment to diversity. According to Student Affirmative Action Committee Vice Chair Josue Castellon, Baiz-Torres was reportedly fired for not doing her job.

    “It’s invalidating the work she’s done,” Castellon said.“The school is not telling us the reason [she was fired].  We are asking the school for transparency and accountability.”

    The university’s diversity requirement, implemented this year, is a start to improving campus climate but work still needs to be done, Castellon said. The new Chicano Legacy mural was completed in response to these demands, but Castellon said the demands also called for multiple pieces of campus artwork to represent underrepresented students.

    Other demands include hiring faculty of color, which so far has been denied, Castellon said. Castellon added the significance of Baiz-Torres’ role as a Chicana representative on university faculty and said the demands cannot be implemented without her.

    “She was actually changing campus climate at the administrative level,” Castellon said. “Everything she did was for the students.”

    Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue declined to comment because it is a personnel issue, but said that this action does not change the university’s commitment to improving campus climate.

    “This campus’s commitment to this position is unwavering,” Rue said in an email. “Melanie Cruz has been appointed as Interim Director of Development for Diversity Initiatives and a search is being launched for a permanent staffer.”

    The university announced plans on May 4 for the establishment of Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to lead diversity initiatives. The VC EDI position — originally conceived by the Student Affirmative Action Committee to model a similar position established at UC Berkeley — will take effect in the Chancellor’s Diversity Office July 1, 2011.  Associate Chancellor and Chief Diversity Office Sandra Daley will end her term June 30, 2011.

    University spokesperson Jeff Gattas could not be reached for comment as of press time.

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