Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the title of the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Faculty and community members came together at a college board meeting this week, claiming students of color are being targeted at Bakersfield College by an on-campus group.
“I did not feel safe in that room, I was silenced, I was ignored, I was unwanted, something needs to be done,” said Bakersfield College student Jordan Davis.
Davis told the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees what attending an Equal Opportunity and Diversity Advisory Committee meeting was like.
The committee meeting included a Racial Taskforce that looked into results that show Bakersfield College students of color are more likely to experience racial microaggressions and physical and verbal attacks.
Many came to the board on behalf of those students, asking trustees to address the racism on campus and even terminate professors who have made it unsafe for students of color—particularly the removal of professors who founded the group Renegade Institute for Liberty.
The group has had campus controversy over its advocacy of free speech, considered by others as hate speech, and dealings with other groups on campus.
One of those speakers was Bakersfield College English Professor Dr. Paula Parks. The founder of the group Umoja, a program designed to increase the success and retention of African American students, told the board that her students had been targeted by the group claiming the targeting was merely free speech.
However, Parks shares that free speech is not hate speech.
“Free speech has to be to be something you have a reasonable belief is true, but they are saying things that they know are lies, and they are trying to incite anger and create an unsafe environment and my students deserve to have a safe, supportive environment in which to learn,” said Parks.
Creating tension on campus, making it more difficult for her students.
“To process that, to try to understand it and to articulate it and then at some point move to advocating for themselves, so that’s been a difficult process for the students, and that’s a lot to do if you’re 30, 40, 50 but imagine being 20,” said Parks.
Yet, Parks hopes this will bring all groups on campus together for a common goal.
“I think it’s really important that students in the LGBTQ population and all the students of color come together and not wait until their group is attacked because what threatens one of us threatens all of us,” said Parks.
We contacted the founder, faculty lead and multiple faculty members of The Renegade Institute for Liberty for comment and they did not respond.