Sit-in at the Native American Forum: Frequently Asked Questions

Humboldt State University has received numerous questions about the current sit-in at the Native American Forum. Below are answers to some of the most common questions.

A number of students and other protestors have been holding a sit-in at the Native American Forum on campus since January 20. This followed related protests that occurred during the fall semester. The students have raised a number of issues, including dissatisfaction about the departure of the director of INRSEP (Indian Natural Resource Science & Engineering Program), the organization of programs designed to support Native American students and other Students of Color, and overall campus efforts related to diversity. Members of the University administration, including President Rossbacher, have met with the students a number of times and have offered options for having broader conversations.

What are the issues that the students and other protestors are concerned about?
Many issues have been raised. Not all of the students and others who are involved agree about the issues or about the most important issues to address. However, it is clear that the concerns include: the departure of the former INRSEP director, campus programs that support Native students, use of the Native American Forum, funding and organization of specific programs, campus efforts related to supporting Students of Color, student representation in campus decision-making, and the diversity of faculty and staff.

Has the HSU administration met with the protestors to discuss their concerns?
Yes. Many members of the administration, including President Rossbacher, have met with the students and others to discuss their concerns. The administration has also offered options for having broader conversations.

How does HSU respond to the concerns of the students?
Campus leaders have met often with the students and repeatedly expressed a willingness to meet more often to discuss various concerns. They have emphasized that the HSU community shares their commitment to supporting students, and is committed to building programs designed to do so.

Why is Jacquelyn Bolman no longer employed as the director of INRSEP?
The University is prohibited by state and federal laws from providing details about personnel decisions, and it takes very seriously its responsibility to protect the privacy and rights of its employees.

Has HSU reviewed the way it handled the departure of the former INRSEP director? If so, what are some conclusions?
There have been a number of discussions about this. There is general agreement that it was unfortunate that a confrontational meeting with the former director occurred at the INRSEP house. That was not the intent. The University administration believes it should have made a stronger effort to handle things differently, even if it meant a delay in the meeting; comparable situations will be handled differently in the future.

Is HSU making progress on the search for a new INRSEP director?
Yes. The University has been reaching out to other universities and associations to seek recommendations and nominations for candidates. The position was posted in December, and the University has received applications from a number of qualified and interested individuals.

What is the official name of the Native American Forum, and how long has it been called that?
The space is the Native American Forum and has been ever since the opening of the Behavioral and Social Science Building in 2007. However, the room was incorrectly identified on some websites and in certain databases, and the building name on the campus map added to the confusion. This is being corrected.

Why are professors being asked to consider whether to teach their classes in the Native American Forum during the sit-in?
There are a couple important reasons. First, not all students and faculty support the sit-in, and some are uncomfortable with the teaching and learning environment in an area of protest. Second, there is concern about academic freedom. Those participating in the sit-in have asked faculty who teach in the space to change their curriculum to include specific information or perspectives, and that is not consistent with the values of academic freedom. Professors who want to teach their classes, as originally scheduled, in the Native American Forum are encouraged to first determine that they can do so without undue external pressure to alter the content of their curriculum.

Given that HSU values socially conscious and active students, what outcomes does it want to achieve in this situation?
The University is seeking to listen actively to the students’ concerns and to let the students know that their ideas and perspectives have been heard and are being taken seriously. Collegial dialogue and social responsibility are core to HSU’s values. The University sees these events as an educational opportunity for our campus to engage in constructive dialogue around difficult issues and to learn from each other about how we can collectively make progress toward shared goals.

Does HSU have a timeline for students and other protestors to leave the Native American Forum? Is there a reason they have not been arrested or sanctioned?
The students have been informed from the beginning that there could be consequences related to trespassing or student conduct violations. However, the University does not have a timeline for the protestors to leave the space. HSU is seeking to have productive discussions with the students and others who are protesting. The University is trying to balance supporting the educational experience for all students with the deeply held beliefs of this group of protesting students.

What programs does the campus have that provide support to Native American students?
ITEPP (Indian Tribal Educational and Personnel Program) – which is HSU’s Native American Center for Academic Excellence – has been supporting Native American students on campus since 1969. For Native American students in the Sciences, the University also provides the Indian Natural Resources, Science and Engineering Program (INRSEP), which evolved out of a program originally founded in 1972 and has recently become a part of the STEM Center for Academic Excellence. INRSEP targets support services to students from historically underrepresented backgrounds, and provides services for students of all backgrounds.

How does the campus fund programs that support Native American students, and how does this compare with the past?
The base budget for HSU’s Native American Center for Academic Excellence (ITEPP) for 2014-15 is $280,192, which is $91,000 more than it was in 2009-2010, representing an increase of nearly 50 percent over five years. The base budget for the STEM Center/INRSEP for 2014-15 is $257,788, $114,000 more than it was in 2009-2010, representing an increase of nearly 80 percent over five years.

What programs does the campus have to provide support to Students of Color?
The University provides multiple programs focused on supporting all HSU students, such as our RAMP (Retention Through Academic Mentoring Program) first-year mentoring program; Academic & Career Advising Center; learning and tutorial services; and many others. The University also offers a number of programs aimed at supporting Students of Color and at supporting educational equity more generally. These include the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP); the STEM Center for Academic Excellence; and the Cross-Cultural Centers (which includes the Native American Center for Academic Excellence (ITEPP), the MultiCultural Center, and the soon-to-launch African-American Center for Academic Excellence and Latino/a Center for Academic Excellence). The University also supports Upward Bound/TriO and Talent Search programs, in addition to numerous cultural clubs and other student organizations.

What are some programs and initiatives that are in place to foster diversity on campus and make the campus a more welcoming community?
A number of efforts are currently underway across campus that aim to foster and support a diverse and inclusive campus community. For details, see the HSU Campus Diversity Plan 2013+ at or HSU’s annual reports on campus diversity at

How is the campus attempting to address the fact that Students of Color stay in school and graduate at a lower rate than majority students?
HSU faculty, staff and administrators are actively engaged as part of a systemwide effort across the California State University system aimed at increasing graduation rates overall and decreasing historical gaps in key educational outcomes such as graduation rates. For more details, see the HSU Campus Diversity Plan 2013+ at or HSU’s annual reports on campus diversity at

How is HSU working to improve diversity at the staff and faculty level?
Numerous efforts are underway, as part of HSU’s multi-year Action Plan for Workplace Diversity. HSU has expanded its outreach for open positions to attract a larger and more diverse pool of candidates. Training on unconscious bias is required for everyone serving on hiring committees. Progress at the campus and division level is tracked and reported regularly. For more details on the initiatives underway, see the Action Plan for Workplace Diversity and the Action Plan for Faculty Diversity available at

What was the goal of creating the Office of Retention and Inclusive Student Success (RISS)?
The Office of Retention and Inclusive Student Success brings together multiple student support programs that were previously housed either in Student Affairs, in the Vice Provost’s Office, or in the colleges. The goal in this re-structuring was to bring better focus and energy to the University’s effort to support student success and to build new programs for Students of Color and other students from historically underserved communities. The aim was to both strengthen and better coordinate support services for students on campus.

Was there a consultation process on campus when RISS was created? Was there consultation about moving INRSEP out of the College of Natural Resources and Sciences?
Yes. The process was led by the Provost and the Vice President for Enrollment Management & Student Affairs. They convened the Retention and Student Success Re-organization Working Group, which included faculty, staff, and administrators from across campus. This working group facilitated a series of discussions and information-gathering sessions in Spring 2013. This included meetings with program staff for each of the student support programs involved (including INRSEP), large student forums, and telephone interviews with similar programs across California. The working group drew heavily on recommendations and work completed by previous campus committees, including the Diversity and Inclusive Student Success Collaborative (which included staff from multiple student support programs, including INRSEP).

How can students get involved in decision-making about the educational programs and services on campus?
Students can participate in governance at HSU in many ways. The student body is represented by those who are elected to serve on Associated Students, which regularly appoints student representatives to standing committees at HSU. Students are frequently invited to participate in campus forums and small-group discussions on important topics. Student perspectives are also gathered through various surveys and focus groups conducted by the University.

What are some indicators that HSU is reaching its diversity goals?
Over the last decade, the percentage of Students of Color at HSU has grown from 13% to 37%. The growth in faculty diversity has been slower, but marked. The University has also seen a number of successes in recent years relative to improving success rates in individual courses, due to efforts undertaken by faculty across campus. The campus has not yet seen the changes we would like in terms of equitable outcomes in retention and graduation. For more details, see HSU’s annual reports on campus diversity at

Where is there more information, such as statistics about diversity?
In recent years, HSU has published an annual report on diversity. It is an unflinching report that highlights important statistics along with data-based conclusions about how the campus has succeeded and where it needs improvement.

The diversity reports are available from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Extensive data about the University, including demographics of the student body and employees, are available from the Office of Institutional Research at