President Martin’s Message on Campus Safety

Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on June 29, 2016.

All,

As you may know, a shooting occurred near the intersection of South 11th and East San Antonio streets yesterday, leaving one victim dead and another gravely wounded. This occurred one block east of campus and within the jurisdiction of the San Jose Police Department.

Although few details have been released by police investigators, it has been determined that the victims are not SJSU students, faculty or staff members. That said, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims.

I was deeply shaken by this news. The shooting occurred in a neighborhood where many students and other members of the SJSU community live or regularly walk. Our location—in the heart of Silicon Valley and in an increasingly vibrant downtown—is a significant asset. It provides our students with numerous professional and community service opportunities, as well as a rich residential and cultural life. We are working closely with the city of San Jose and other community partners to further enhance and enrich life in our city. If there is one certainty in all of this, it is that we all want a community with less crime and that is safe for everyone.

I would like to express particular concern for those most affected by yesterday’s events, including students living in nearby homes, apartments, sororities and fraternities, and I would like to thank these students for their patience while South 11th Street was closed to traffic as police secured the area during the early stages of their investigation.

As returning students and many others of you know, the Alert SJSU system sends messages about time-sensitive safety issues. New students are automatically registered for the service; if you are a staff or faculty member, I encourage you to register as well. All registered users can and should periodically update their information to ensure we have the appropriate contact data to connect with you for important safety alerts.

This system issued several alerts yesterday afternoon. While important, these updates can also be frightening. It is worth noting that, compared to other large cities, San Jose is among the nation’s safest urban communities.  We will continue to seek ways to further enhance your safety.

Our Student Affairs staff began outreach to affected students yesterday afternoon; those efforts continue today. Please keep in mind that counseling is available at no cost to students, faculty and staff members.

Sincerely,

Sue Martin, Interim President

President Martin’s Message on Diversity

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

Dear campus community,

As many of you know, court proceedings involving three former SJSU students charged with race-based hate crimes and battery against a fellow student ended earlier this week. Although jurors found all three guilty of misdemeanor battery, none were convicted on hate crime charges and all received reduced sentences.

These verdicts and sentencing outcomes left many in our community disappointed; some have expressed outrage. While we respect the independence and discretion of jurors and the courts in reaching these determinations, the offenders’ conduct was unacceptable and incompatible with our values. They are no longer enrolled at SJSU.

It is clear to me—as I believe it is to many of you—that building an inclusive, welcoming climate at SJSU demands sustained effort and contributions, large and small, from all of us. And these efforts need to support the unique academic, cultural and socio-economic needs of a highly diverse student population and campus community.

Some progress has been made. I am writing today to update you on this work. Among many things, our campus:

  • Is completing a search for a chief diversity officer. Finalists for this role will visit campus beginning this Friday, March 18. You can meet each of them during scheduled open forums. The successful candidate will report directly to the president, lead an Office of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, and spearhead diversity initiatives.
  • Added diversity awareness programming to new-student orientation, student leadership development and residence hall staff training, to increase every student’s sensitivity to others’ perspectives and differences.
  • Hired more resident assistants, bringing the ratio of RAs to resident students to 1-to-35, better than the national average of 1-to-40. This provides a greater degree of monitoring and mentorship in our residential community.
  • Launched task forces to support Chicano/Latino and African American student success by creating support networks and targeted, culturally specific programming and services.
  • Welcomed civil rights icon Ruby Bridges to campus on February 24 to receive the prestigious John Steinbeck Award and participate in an onstage interview on race issues.
  • Hosted KQED Forum for a very candid conversation about campus climate and race issues.

I am proud that students, faculty and staff have taken the lead on many of these and other diversity activities.

But, many challenges remain—among them, clear indicators in recent campus climate surveys that some in our community feel unwelcome, disconnected or unsafe. In some areas, perceptions have worsened over time. Clearly we have much work to do.

I believe an important next step in addressing these concerns is to have a meaningful dialogue that includes an overview of campus climate survey results and facilitated conversations about our future. This is scheduled for April 11 at 10 am in the Student Union Theater; we will follow up next week with additional details.

Together, we can work to make our campus safe and welcoming.

Sue Martin
Interim President

President Martin’s Statement on Hate Crime Sentencing

Media contact: Pat Lopes Harris, SJSU Media Relations, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu

SAN JOSE, CA–The following should be attributed to SJSU Interim President Susan Martin.

We respect the district attorney’s and the court’s discretion in considering appropriate sanctions based on the defendants’ conduct. That notwithstanding, the behavior described in this case is unacceptable, and SJSU is committed to a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students. The three individuals convicted of committing battery on D.J. Williams are no longer enrolled here.

 

President Martin’s Message on Hate Crimes

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

Dear SJSU community,

A jury in Santa Clara County criminal court earlier today returned verdicts on misdemeanor charges against three former SJSU students accused of race-based hate crimes against a fellow student and residence hall suite mate in fall 2013.

All three defendants were found guilty of misdemeanor battery. One of the three was found not guilty of a misdemeanor hate crime; the jury could not reach a verdict on hate crime charges against the other two.

A fourth defendant was a minor when these acts occurred and was adjudicated through the juvenile court. That outcome is confidential.

All four students who engaged in these acts are no longer enrolled at SJSU. The victim and his family are pursuing civil remedies independent of the criminal actions.

Much work lies ahead as we seek to create a truly inclusive, welcoming and safe environment for every member of our community. We continue moving forward on multiple fronts:

Plans are underway to bring campus community members together this semester to openly discuss results of the most recent campus climate survey.

The search for a chief diversity officer is moving toward a conclusion; semifinalist interviews will take place this weekend.

More information will follow on these and other efforts.

Sue Martin
Interim President

President Martin’s Message on Divestment

Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Nov. 19. 2015. 

Dear SJSU community,

The SJSU Associated Students (A.S.) board on Wednesday adopted a resolution calling for divestment of invested assets in several companies doing business in Israel, one of which is part of a fund maintained by the SJSU Tower Foundation.

After public comment and board discussion, the resolution was passed on a 10-5 vote, with no abstentions.

I was returning late Wednesday from a CSU trustees meeting in Long Beach and couldn’t be present. But I am told that the debate was vigorous and civil, and that A.S. worked hard to provide equal time for supporters and opponents to speak.

Ensuring room for debate and dissent is essential to the fabric of a public university. I respect our Associated Students leaders for embracing this challenge, and thank all who invested time in expressing their views on such a complex and contentious subject.

The Tower Foundation Board will review, study and discuss the resolution.

Sincerely,

Sue Martin
Interim President