President Papazian’s Message on Library Closure

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Feb. 1, 2017.

Dear Campus Community,

Shortly before 11 a.m. today (Feb. 1), an individual died after falling from an upper floor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. library. Our hearts go out to the decedent, his family and friends.

The library has closed for the day. We expect that it will reopen at 8 a.m. Thursday. In the interim, Ballrooms B and C on the second floor of the Diaz Compean Student Union have been opened as temporary study space.

The victim was not an SJSU student or employee. According to university police, all available evidence suggests that this was a suicide. The medical examiner will release additional details once its investigation is completed and next of kin are notified.

Our thoughts are also with the library staff, patrons and others who witnessed this tragedy. We are closely collaborating with our partners from the city of San Jose to ensure that library staff, students and others have access to counseling and other forms of emotional support.

Free counseling support is available to SJSU students, faculty and staff members. Students can contact Counseling and Psychological Services at 408-924-5910; faculty and staff can access the Employee Assistance Program, offered through SJSU Human Resources, at 800-367-7474.

Mary A. Papazian
President

President Papazian’s January Message

We’re a month into the new calendar year and just days into the spring term—traditionally a time of renewed energy and hope. In spite of the tensions that are in play around the world and close to home, I hope this month’s blog post reflects SJSU’s energy and hope and our collective ability to influence our community, region and beyond.

Acknowledging uncertainties

We can’t, however, ignore the uncertainties that I know are on many of our minds and will influence our efforts moving forward.

Yesterday afternoon I commented on a recent federal order that indefinitely bars entry to the U.S. by Syrian refugees, bars all refugees for 120 days and individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.

Late Monday, the office of the CSU Chancellor released a joint statement from Chancellor White, campus presidents and leaders of the CSU Academic Senate and California State Students Association expressing deep concerns about this action and its potential impact on our mission and our community.

We are—and we will remain—focused on serving the needs of our students, faculty and staff members, and broader community. Ensuring that every deserving student has access to a quality education is neither a political nor partisan issue; it is essential to our mission. And it cuts to the heart of who we are, what we stand for and what we value.

In that vein, I was proud to join thousands of community members two Saturdays ago in my capacity as a citizen, a parent, and a descendant of Armenian immigrants, marching to express my love for our country and its values. And I am proud of all Spartans—from all political perspectives—who exercise their constitutional right to protected free speech.

Supporting international, Dream Act students

With immigration policies in flux, we are working to engage, communicate with and support international students as well as students who are here thanks to the federal Dream Act, California’s AB 540 and related state laws.

Late last year I joined hundreds of leaders from public and private higher education in supporting federal policies aimed at protecting these students, and I renewed my support during visits in early January with lawmakers and other government officials in Washington D.C.

These visits were heartening, and we hope to welcome some members of our delegation to San Jose this spring to meet our students and see first-hand how important it is that we preserve educational opportunities for all who have earned them.

Supporting a safe environment

In last month’s blog I referenced several unsettling reports of sexual misconduct and our commitment to studying ways to enhance student and community safety.

Progress is being made on multiple fronts.

Informed by an inclusive group of campus stakeholders, Vice President for Administration and Finance Charlie Faas has developed a comprehensive set of safety initiatives including the hiring of more university police officers, additional campus surveillance cameras and enhanced lighting.

A detailed report outlining these plans will be available soon.

Efforts in support of Title IX, under the auspices of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, are also expanding:

  • Title IX staff are closely coordinating their efforts with University Police, reviewing all reported incidents that may be subject to Title IX regulations to determine if crime alerts should be issued. (This may increase the overall number of alerts.)
  • Communication with complainants and respondents in Title IX cases is intensifying with the goal of more regular and consistent case updates and check-ins to ensure that the needs of these individuals are being met.
  • More frequent campus dialogue; two campus conversations took place last fall; a third is planned for February and others will follow. A commitment has been made to greater transparency, including publishing a comprehensive report of reported Title IX incidents from fiscal year 2015-2016.
  • Enhanced training opportunities for designated confidential-level university community members, to increase the number of individuals eligible and available to support Title IX related processes.

While the outcome of criminal complaints is not within the university’s control or purview, these measures should enhance our ability to respond to Title IX incidents and support the needs of all affected parties. Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) will share more details on these efforts in coming weeks.

Celebrating our values

I’m very proud to share several initiatives and activities that reflect our values and demonstrate a commitment to social justice and student success:

Student Research

In early January, Associate Professor of Photojournalism Michael Cheers led a small group of students to an international conference on education to present research in which the students had participated in summer 2016. (Dr. Ruth Wilson co-led this project, which brought the students to Cuba to study Afro-Cuban culture.)

The project was structured to evaluate opportunities to close the achievement gap among underrepresented students by combining culturally relevant content and teaching methods. Academic Affairs and Student Affairs contributed support to this endeavor, enabling undergraduates to present research to more than 1300 participants representing at least 36 countries.

Upward Mobility

Earlier this month, SJSU was named one of America’s top ten universities for fostering students’ upward social mobility. The Social Mobility Index considered cost of attendance, graduation rates, median early career salaries and the percentage of students coming to campuses from low-income households.

According to the report, “…The SMI measures the extent to which a college or university educates more economically disadvantaged students (with family incomes below the national median) at lower tuition, so they can graduate and obtain good paying jobs. The new SMI rankings show that through wise policy-making, colleges and universities can be part of improving both economic opportunity and social stability in our country.”

We can all be proud to see SJSU ranked among leading American universities described in the New York Times as “…deeply impressive institutions that continue to push many Americans into the middle class and beyond — many    more, in fact, than elite colleges that receive far more attention.” This recognition is the result of everything our faculty and staff members, alumni, donors, and elected and community leaders have done and are doing on behalf of our students, our campus, and the CSU.

From Words to Action

Last Tuesday we celebrated the launch of the nascent Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change at SJSU with a morning symposium, From Words to Action, filling the Hammer Theatre Center and bringing together a luminous group of Spartans and other change agents from sports and the media. Panelists included NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, Olympic champion Tommie Smith, several active or recently retired professional athletes, and many influential national and local sports journalists.

We are grateful to these individuals for lending their voices to an important conversation, and to institutional partners including the San Francisco 49ers and the York family; San Jose Earthquakes; Golden State Warriors; and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) for their contributions and active involvement.

The institute, guided by an advisory board now being formed, will facilitate educational offerings developed by SJSU faculty from multiple academic disciplines; stimulate research at the intersection of sports and society; and host ongoing community programming. (A panel conversation featuring women in sports media is now under consideration.)

Last week’s symposium—which attracted a large outpouring of national and local news media—and the institute itself bear the heart and soul of Dr. Harry Edwards, a proud Spartan whose commitments to human rights and social equity are well known and well documented.

Thanks to the efforts of many members of our campus community and others, and augmented by Dr. Edwards vision, SJSU is poised to influence and be at the epicenter of the national conversation about race relations, gender equity and human rights. A recent Mercury News editorial affirmed this, declaring that “…the time is right for San Jose State University’s new Institute…and so is the place.”

Personal commitment

We believe that as Spartans, what powers us changes our world. I want to acknowledge SJSU nursing student Annie Ho, whose quick reaction and selflessness helped save a life last November.

Annie helped administer CPR to a runner who fell ill while competing in last year’s annual Thanksgiving Silicon Valley Turkey trot. The Mercury News reported in mid-January on an informal “reunion” of the victim and his emergency caregivers at the race site.

Annie, Spartan nation is proud of you!

A look ahead

  • Efforts to engage and inform state lawmakers about the possibility of a tuition increase and advocate for additional investment in the CSU began last week, with a visit by Chancellor White and campus presidents to the state Capitol and meeting with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. (While there, I met with several lawmakers and administration officials.) This activity will continue throughout the spring.
  • We are continuing to engage local elected, transportation and community leaders in conversations about the future of BART’s downtown San Jose stations and associated regional planning issues. As a hub of downtown activity (more than 40,000 students, faculty and staff members on campus, many of whom also travel to and from nearby destinations, plus daily visitors to MLK Library and other campus destinations), SJSU’s voice and input are important to decisions that will eventually be made by the VTA board.
  • Academic Affairs and Student Affairs will co-host the second Student Success Summit this Friday, Feb. 3 in partnership with California Assemblymembers Evan Low and Ash Kalra. The focus of this working session will be identifying ways to enhance college readiness.
  • Many campus groups are engaged in strategic planning. Work continues on preparing for closure of the Vision 2017 strategic plan, and the Academic Senate last Friday held its winter planning retreat. I look forward to receiving and sharing updates on these and other planning efforts.

As a reminder, please share suggestions for these monthly posts by writing to zaynna.tello@sjsu.edu. I hope you find them informative and useful.

Here’s to a productive month!

 

President Papazian’s Message on International Travel Bans

Editor’s note: SJSU President Mary Papazian emailed the following to all SJSU students, faculty and staff on Jan. 30, 2016.

In addition, California State University Chancellor Tim White, California State Student Association President David Lopez, CSU Academic Senate Chair Christine Miller and the presidents of all 23 CSU campuses have issued a statement.

Dear Campus Community,

The latest federal executive order imposing specific immigration and international travel restrictions has intensified anxieties and concerns for many on our campus and throughout Silicon Valley.

This may be because so many of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants who came to the United States in pursuit of freedom and opportunity. Seen through this lens, these are neither political nor partisan issues; they reflect our American values.

San Jose State University has a rich legacy in the fight for equity, social justice and human rights. Given this, and the fact that we serve a diverse student population fueling our valley’s workforce needs, caring so much about these issues is both understandable and appropriate.

Over the weekend, federal judges in four states issued orders temporarily delaying the implementation of certain policy provisions. And it appeared yesterday that a ban on reentry to the United States by those possessing green cards might be lifted.

I want to assure you that no matter how these policies unfold, SJSU will continue to seek ways to support any student, faculty or staff member potentially impacted by travel or immigration restrictions. We also are developing plans to ensure ample opportunities for constructive dialogue.

As new information becomes available, we will be sure to get it to you as quickly as possible.

Mary A. Papazian
President

President Papazian’s December Message

Welcome to the first installment of what will become a monthly communication to the San José State University community.

As I settle into my first year as president of San José State, I want to take the opportunity to reach out to you regularly with updates on the latest developments on campus and beyond. I also will use this space to highlight the accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff—so if there are items that you would like to bring to my attention, please email my assistant, Zaynna Tello, at zaynna.tello@sjsu.edu.

The end of fall term is an apt opportunity for us to celebrate accomplishments and progress on key initiatives and for me to share initial impressions from my early months as your president.

Toward sustained stability, leadership

The traditional academic year unfolds along a somewhat predictable pace that I know is familiar to many of you. While this fall has in some respects been anything but “ordinary,” I am confident that SJSU is on a path toward stability and extraordinary opportunity.

This summer, you welcomed me as your new president—warmly and enthusiastically, I should add—and we have begun to fill other key academic and administrative leadership posts. I observed in August that I was fortunate to have inherited a highly capable leadership team. Several months later, I’m even more convinced of this.

Next year, we will welcome new deans to lead the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business and the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering while conducting recruitments for a new permanent dean of the Connie L. Lurie College of Education and a new vice president for Information Technology/Chief Information Officer. As I mentioned in announcing our intent to elevate the latter role to a cabinet-level position, a truly integrated and strategic technology infrastructure is essential to all of our efforts.

Faculty and staff achievement and collaboration

In the meantime, I have been deeply impressed by our faculty’s dedication, expertise across countless disciplines, and commitment to student success and scholarship. Although it is impossible to cite all of them here, I want to recognize several examples of excellence in teaching and scholarship.  I know you will be as proud of our colleagues as am I!

  • Department of Communication Studies Associate Professor Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling novel The Kite Runner opens at Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End on December 21 and runs through March 11, 2017.
  • Associate Professor of Astrophysics Aaron Romanowsky and several international colleagues discovered a massive galaxy that exists entirely of dark matter. (You can read the abstract online.) Romanowsky has another article pending in Nature.
  • Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Rachael French and Assistant Professor of Health Science & Recreation Miranda Worthen received SJSU’s Early Career Investigator Awards for their research efforts.
  • The Online Learning Consortium awarded SJSU the Award for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching for its exemplary support of faculty development for both hybrid and online courses. Jennifer Redd, the director of eCampus, received the award on behalf of the campus on Nov. 19.
  • Debra Griffith, AVP for Student Transition and Retention Services, in November was named a 2017 CSU Wang Family Excellence Award winner, recognizing her service to SJSU students over the past 16 years.

Supporting diversity and action

Many of you know that faculty diversity lags behind that of our student population. I want to acknowledge the good work of Associate Professor of Mexican American Studies Magdalena Barrera and Associate Professor of Educational Leadership Rebeca Burciaga, who are serving as Faculty-In-Residence seeking to diversify our faculty during a period of intensified recruiting. (We are in the midst of adding more than 130 new faculty positions over a two-year period.)

Magdalena and Rebeca actively have consulted faculty search committees, provided informative data assessments and insights, and meet regularly with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and others to support campus-wide efforts to diversify candidate pools.

Others of you have worked to ensure that we celebrate and support our community’s rich diversity. Our African-American and Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Task Forces have intensified efforts on behalf of student success through academic tutoring, finals week study sessions, other engagement activities and cultural celebrations. In addition, nine faculty members participated in a pilot program this fall, living in our residence halls as part of a pilot program seeking ways to better engage students.

Our Faculty Fellows initiative has amplified the work of our PRIDE and MOSAIC centers, helping identify ways to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment. 2016 Faculty Fellows include Erica Boas, an adjunct faculty member in the College of Social Science Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Department; Funie Hsu, an assistant professor of American Studies; Manolo Callahan, a Mexican American Studies professor at MOSAIC, and Stephanie Preston, a counselor with SJSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services department supporting the PRIDE Center.

As many of you know, the fall semester also brought us many challenges related to diversity. I am grateful for the dedicated work of our nascent Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, led by Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau). Through campus programming, targeted training, guided conversations and thoughtful engagement with individual campus community members, Kathy and her colleagues are deepening SJSU’s commitment to a welcoming, inclusive community. This work will be more important than ever as we enter 2017.

On January 24, SJSU will host what I am confident will be a compelling symposium at the Hammer Theatre Center, in partnership with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE). This event—Sport, Activism and Social Change: From Words to Action—will feature an impressive array of panelists and also will serve to introduce the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change at SJSU. You will hear much more about this in early January.

Students: at the heart of it all

The success and engagement of our students is something of which we all can be proud.  I feel uniquely blessed by abundant opportunities to see our remarkable students in action. As is the case with our faculty and staff members, I can’t possibly herald everything that our students are doing, but let me offer a few examples:

Helping students succeed 

Even before arriving in San José, I was aware of the impressive, holistic efforts underway at SJSU to ensure college readiness, enhance student retention, and shorten the time to a degree. This work is too complex and requires too much integration to be led by any single campus unit; indeed, every one of us contributes in some way to ensuring student success.

Our Spartan Scholars Program was launched last summer to prepare at-risk students for the difficult transition from high school to college. New advising tools were added to aid students’ navigation through the complex maze of selecting courses and tracking degree requirements. New class sections were added to reduce bottlenecks; and more academic advisors are being hired.

I am very encouraged by signs that this work, collaboratively guided by Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, is paying dividends: Our four-year graduation rate has already risen from 10 to 14 percent; the six-year rate has risen from 57 to 62 percent; the underrepresented student achievement gap (which measures differential achievement among students from multiple racial and ethnic categories) has shrunk from 17 percent to 11 percent.

There is much more to be done if we are to meet (and exceed!) the four and six-year graduation targets established by the CSU by 2025. To that end, we joined with Assemblymember Evan Low to convene a Student Success Summit on September 30, beginning a solution-focused conversation about student success with representatives from K-12, community colleges, the CSU and local education foundations. This work will continue in 2017.

Adding building blocks for our community to thrive

Numerous steps were taken this fall to address our aging infrastructure. We dedicated the beautiful expansion and renovation of our Diaz Compean Student Union, fueled by a $15 million gift from Silicon Valley philanthropist Lupe Compean. Campus Village II opened, adding more than 800 new residential beds. Work began on both a student recreation and aquatic center (on the site formerly occupied by SJSU’s legacy “bricks” residence halls) and the initial phase of a planned overhaul of our South Campus athletic facilities.

Dudley Moorhead Hall is scheduled to reopen in January after months of extensive renovation work. And CSU trustees approved plans for the addition of a Science and Innovation Center, which, when built, will be the first new academic space on our campus in more than three decades.

Engaging beyond our borders

I’ve invested considerable time this fall meeting community and business leaders, elected officials and others to listen, learn and engage. While this at times takes me away from campus, the time invested is essential to building partnerships and attracting support for our shared efforts. I have heard—over and over—tremendous community support for SJSU and a desire that we be at the table for important conversations about the future of our region.

Of course, many of you also are actively engaged with the City of San Jose, County of Santa Clara and innumerable regional organizations and foundations—far too many to mention them all here. I have, however, sensed opportunities for SJSU to step up its regional engagement to ensure long-overdue transportation improvements, find solutions to the region’s housing crisis, and even more effectively meet the region’s evolving and growing workforce needs.

I was energized by strong engagement with local, state and federal officials and their enthusiasm for supporting our students and our mission. We are working actively—in close collaboration with the CSU and others—on an array of opportunities to bring additional resources and enhance our ability to serve students. Several lawmakers have expressed interest in supporting campus capital needs, which today are constrained by limited support from the state.

To leverage these opportunities and others, we will need to be continually attentive, engaged and ready to bring our intellectual assets and other resources to the table. There is room for you to contribute, and I hope that you will.

Milestones

A retrospective look at the fall is incomplete without acknowledging several significant moments of pride for us all, as well as considerable challenges.

We celebrated 50 years of noteworthy marine research and education at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory. We welcomed home many luminaries from SJSU’s Speed City era of dominance in track and field for a day of celebration as we announced the return of men’s track and field to SJSU in 2018 as an NCAA sport. And the Hammer Theatre Center reopened its doors under SJSU management, restoring an exciting season of diverse artistic programming to downtown San Jose.

President Obama awarded the National Medal of Art and Humanities to alumnus and noted playwright Luis Valdez. SJSU advanced in national U.S. News rankings, rising from 8th to 6th among the West’s public comprehensive universities. The Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering rose from 4th to 3rd among national public comprehensive engineering programs, excluding service academies.

Earlier this month, Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier announced the hiring of Brent Brennan as SJSU’s new head football coach. Brent has deep Spartan roots—his parents met as SJSU students and he previously coached here for six seasons—and is uniquely prepared to support the academic progress and personal development of our student-athletes.

Challenges and opportunities

We end calendar year 2016 with much to be proud of, and much to do. The aftereffects of a highly contentious national election linger, as do concerns for students who may be affected by shifting immigration policies under a new administration. Our campus was shaken in recent weeks by reports of sexual misconduct that victimized numerous members of our community.

These issues, and others, demand—and are receiving—thoughtful, focused attention from university leaders, police and others.

Finally, an advisory group of SJSU faculty, staff and student representatives are collaborating on a review of SJSU’s Vision 2017 strategic plan, preparatory to beginning to imagine a future strategic plan for our campus. This work will continue into the spring.

I hope that this message illuminates my pride in SJSU and optimism about our future. On behalf of our campus leadership team, I wish you and yours a restful and joyous holiday season!

Mary Papazian

President

President Papazian’s Message on Campus Safety

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Dec. 8, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

The University Police Department (UPD) is investigating six cases of sexual battery that have been reported since October 17. These crimes occurred in Duncan Hall, Sweeney Hall, the Student Union, and Boccardo Business Complex. All of the victims were students.

These disturbing incidents have caused understandable anxiety in our community. I’m writing today to update you on the status of the investigations and several steps being taken or contemplated to enhance campus safety and security.

Responding to a tip from the community, UPD has identified and arrested a suspect in the Student Union case. The suspect is an SJSU student and it is believed that he may have committed additional unreported sexual batteries. If you were a victim of a sexual battery within the last week in the area of Clark Hall or the Dining Commons, please contact UPD.

Police are uncertain if other suspects are affiliated with SJSU. They believe that a single suspect may be associated with at least two of the remaining cases. Leads provided over the past few days are being pursued and police foot patrols have been intensified around campus.

It’s important to know what “sexual battery” means: touching intimate body parts without consent. While this may sound less severe than sexual assault, this behavior is deeply traumatizing to victims. I urge anyone who has been subjected to such conduct to contact UPD as soon as possible.

According to annual crime reports published by UPD, 11 cases of sexual battery were reported here in 2015, compared to 17 cases in 2016 (with several weeks remaining this calendar year). While there is no indication that we are experiencing a significant year-to-year increase in these crimes, even one case is too many.

We all know that campus safety and personal security is a real concern. Vice President for Administration and Finance Charlie Faas has been developing a comprehensive safety plan in collaboration with other campus stakeholders. Here are key elements:

Additional security cameras: Twenty-four additional cameras will be purchased and installed in the near future to complement existing video surveillance systems. But as a cautionary note, this video will be used as an investigatory tool and is not monitored in real time.

Police staffing: Recruiting is underway for six additional UPD patrol officers, which will increase the number of sworn officers on our campus to 32. UPD has received approval to hire an additional four Public Safety Assistants, which provides our own students with the opportunity to gain professional experience and expands the Safety Escort program.

Enhanced lighting: Like many of you, I often walk this campus late into the evening. I am very concerned about areas that lack adequate lighting or create blind spots for pedestrians. Additional lighting and related work will begin during the winter break, and continue through spring term.

While these plans move forward, I also want to ask for your help. Chief Decena this fall established a Student Advisory Board composed of students from all aspects of the campus community. This group has already offered many valuable insights. If you have suggestions or would like to get involved, please contact Chief Decena directly at peter.decena@sjsu.edu.

As an urban campus located in the center of a major U.S. city, working to enhance our collective safety and keeping you regularly updated will remain an ongoing top priority.

Sincerely,

Mary Papazian
President

President Papazian’s Message on Hate Incidents

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Nov. 12, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

This week brought multiple reports of aggressive behavior targeting students of color. Wednesday, an unknown assailant grabbed a Muslim-American student by her hijab in the West (Fourth Street) Garage, yanking her backwards and causing her to fall. And Friday afternoon, a South Asian student was verbally accosted while studying in the Engineering Building.

We’ve been in touch with both students to offer our support and encouragement. University police are investigating both cases.

There have been other reports of students facing subtle taunting and overt verbal attacks. I understand that some of you have experienced or observed this behavior in classrooms and elsewhere on campus.

All of this is deeply troubling. And it leaves students–including those who are undocumented–as well as faculty and staff members concerned for their safety. Many of you are frustrated and unsure how to appropriately respond. Some of you have asked for our help.

I understand. We are just days removed from an election that provoked a dizzying array of reactions ranging from elation to depression. In several U.S. cities, thousands have taken to the streets in protest. And, sadly, attacks against individuals have been reported on other college campuses and in many communities.

As I observed earlier this week, we are a family. We celebrate opportunities for healthy dissent. But no one should face intimidation–or worse–based on a political viewpoint or on racial, ethnic, religious, gender or sexual identity. An attack on any member of our family is an attack on us all.

So where do we go from here?

The university administration will continue to provide support to any student, faculty or staff member who seeks our help. We will explore opportunities to further enhance campus safety and security.

We will continue working with campus and community members interested in fostering healthy dialogue and promoting an inclusive, safe, supportive climate.

And I ask you, as a member of the Spartan family, to join me in approaching the upcoming holidays with respect and appreciation for the unique diversity that sets us apart among our nation’s public universities.

Mary Papazian
President

President Papazian’s Message on Election 2016

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Nov. 9, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

We all are processing the results of a long, hard-fought and often-contentious national election.  It is an opportunity to reflect on the resilience of our people and the constitutional freedom we enjoy to express our opinions, our aspirations and our feelings.

As one of America’s most diverse public universities, it is reasonable that this election would provoke uniquely strong–and potentially mixed–reactions.  These will take time to fully absorb, and process.

In his remarks to the nation this morning, President Obama observed that “…everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team… We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first.”

To the president’s comments, I would add this: as members of the San Jose State community, we, too all are members of one team, and one family.  And, as a community devoted to preparing students to be engaged, informed citizens, it is critically important that we provide ample room for diverse opinions to be expressed safely and civilly.

This evening at 7 p.m., we will hold a guided campus conversation: “Together We’ll Rise: A Community Dialogue Moving Us Forward From the Election.” The Residential Life Team, the Student Affairs division, and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have collaborated to provide this opportunity to come together, help each other make sense of the election, and continue building the inclusive Spartan community to which we all aspire.

This dialogue will take place in front of the Smith/Carlos sculpture, which honors two Spartans for their brave, civil activism. I encourage you to honor their legacy by joining in this important conversation.

Mary Papazian
President

President Papazian’s Follow-up Message on Sexual Assaults

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Oct. 17, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

Recent reports of sexual violence involving several students have disheartened many of us. Many of you have expressed concern for their well-being. I’ve been encouraged by the response from our community.

I also have heard and taken to heart the concerns ​some of you have expressed about the issues illuminated by these incidents.

I write to you today to assure you that I am determined to do everything possible to ensure that SJSU is a safe, caring, inclusive community. I have every confidence that working together, we can make this happen.

But as a recent disturbing account from one student reminds us, there is much to be done–and it must involve our entire community. While we wait for criminal, student conduct and Title IX cases to be adjudicated, I want you to know how we plan to address the systemic implications of these incidents.

First, we will look comprehensively at how to improve communication in the wake of reported Title IX incidents. While many offices and individuals responded in the wake of last month’s incidents, it is clear that we need to better “connect the dots” among resource providers and more clearly identify primary points of contact for students involved in sexual misconduct cases. This review will be co-led by Student Affairs and our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Second, I am asking for a reevaluation of the protocols for determining when campus crime alerts should be issued. Although it appears that we were in compliance with federal guidelines in the recent incidents, I believe it is time to reexamine and consider changes to notification policies. University Chief of Police Peter Decena will oversee this review in consultation with appropriate subject matter experts and campus ​and community ​stakeholders, including students.

Third–and perhaps most critically–each of us must fully understand the gravity of sexual violence, harassment and discrimination and embrace our duty to help combat it. To that end, I’ve asked Title IX Officer Natalie Potts to arrange a series of campus conversations, facilitated by our own experts as well as others, beginning ​as soon as possible and continuing throughout the year. This will supplement existing CSU-mandated and other training that already is offered.

It is easy to say we want to do better. We also need to walk the talk. I ask you to join me on that journey.

Mary Papazian
President

President Papazian’s Message on Sexual Assaults

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Oct. 12, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

In the last 24 hours, news reports have surfaced regarding allegations of sexual assault involving a SJSU student and member of our men’s water polo team and two victims, also students. Although student privacy and numerous pending investigations limit what we can say, I want you to know as much as can be shared.

These deeply troubling reports first came to the attention of university staff last month. Because they occurred off campus, city of San Jose police (SJPD) have led the criminal investigation. I am told that the case is now being reviewed by the Santa Clara District Attorney’s office.

In the meantime, our Student Affairs staff and Title IX office have acted to protect and support the students involved while internal student conduct and Title IX inquiries moved forward. Although there are reports that the student is no longer in the U.S., these investigations are continuing.

Pending the outcomes of these investigations, the student accused of these acts was placed on interim suspension, barred from campus, and ordered to stay away from the victims.

I know some are wondering why a campus crime alert was not issued sooner. The totality of information available at the time—including the fact that the suspect had been identified and was being closely monitored—led to the determination that there was no imminent safety threat to the campus community.

While we are confident that this was a reasonable decision based on what we knew, I very much appreciate this concern. We will be reviewing all existing protocols and processes in collaboration with our newly established Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence and many others. Please contact Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) or Title IX Officer Natalie Potts if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Mary Papazian
President

 

President Papazian’s Follow-up Message on Residence Halls

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Sept. 22, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

In the wake of yesterday’s disclosure of two swastikas and hateful language discovered in two of our residence halls, I left CSU meetings in Long Beach a day early and returned to San Jose late Wednesday night. I was back on campus this (Thursday) morning.

While mindful of the need to preserve student confidentiality, I am determined to be as transparent as possible. Let me update you on the latest developments.

First, the University Police Department (UPD) has made enough progress in its investigation that we are able to share some details. One of the two swastikas discovered Tuesday was accompanied by undeniably hateful, anti-Semitic language (“Admit One Jew”). Police have identified the student responsible and determined that this act, while bias-based, targeted no one in particular and is not by definition a hate crime.

The second incident involved a swastika and language scribbled on a white board, in a residence hall suite. The white board was described to police by the student responsible as a “joke board.” While this incident remains under investigation, police are confident that the two incidents are unrelated.

Meanwhile, we are focused on continuing to engage and support open dialogue with, and among, students, faculty and staff members, and community leaders. We all want to understand and make sense of these deeply disturbing acts. I’ve been reminded by several of you that symbols and words can carry different meaning and significance depending on one’s age, ethnicity, race, gender, faith and other factors.

We must ensure as many opportunities for dialogue as are needed to ensure that your voices are heard. Last night, our chief diversity officer and professional housing staff members facilitated a dialogue with 150 students. I’m grateful to our residence life and counseling staff for their dedication to our students’ concerns and needs.

Earlier today, I met with more than 100 faculty members and with the executive director of the local chapter of Hillel; I also briefed the media. This evening, I’ll meet informally with students in the Dining Commons at 8 pm.

A facilitated conversation on campus climate issues has been scheduled for next Thursday, September 29, and I will hold a town hall meeting with students on Wednesday, October 5. Details will follow soon.

While I remain disheartened and outraged by these profoundly hurtful acts, I am also encouraged by the response from our campus and broader community. Together, we can use this difficult moment to grow and learn how to be a fully inclusive and welcoming community.

Mary Papazian
President

President Papazian’s Message on Gender Equity

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Sept. 6, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

Our students’ success depends in large part on our determination to build and sustain a learning environment that is safe, affirming and non-discriminatory. We are just as obliged to provide a safe, equitable working environment for every faculty and staff member.

With these principles in mind–and in the wake of new reporting by the Mercury News of the sexual harassment of a student–I am writing to be sure we all are aware of our responsibilities and available resources. This is especially important in the early weeks of fall when, research tells us, students are at particular risk.

As I said during the fall welcome address, each of us has a role to play in supporting student success. That includes encouraging students to report inappropriate behavior to our Title IX office, and reminding faculty and staff members and administrators of their duty promptly to report potential violations, whether they occur on or off campus.

Prompt reporting is essential to supporting victims of inappropriate conduct and protecting others from similar behavior.

We already are benefiting from the leadership and experience of our new chief diversity officer, Kathy Wong(Lau), who brings particular expertise in equity and diversity training. We are committed to building our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which Kathy leads.

Meanwhile, programs for students, faculty and staff members are being expanded and enriched on multiple fronts. You’ll hear more about them in coming weeks.

The actions alleged and related issues enumerated in news coverage are troubling. We are looking into them, we will learn from them, and we will take appropriate systematic actions based on what we learn. And I’m confident that working collaboratively and creatively, we will be the welcoming, inclusive and supportive community to which we all aspire.

Mary Papazian
President