Cal State Northridge President James W. Cleary has authorized a fact-finding investigation into allegations of racism made this week by African-American students and faculty members, who also demanded extensive changes in policies and called for the resignation of the university's athletic director.
In a prepared statement issued following a two-hour meeting Friday with Karen Brannon, the head of the campus Black Student Union, and other students, Cleary said he considered the accusations to be serious, and that he was treating them seriously.
Cleary said he had directed Vice President of Student Affairs Fred Strache and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Bianche "to begin fact-finding efforts immediately." He added that he plans to have a second meeting with black students March 23.
After Friday's meeting, Brannon told a gathering of students that she felt the session had been "productive. However, we are still on alert." She said she will determine at the March 23 meeting whether she and Cleary are in agreement about the charges and how they will be handled.
But Brannon declined to support her accusations with specifics. She and Cleary also did not mention the outcome of their discussion about the group's call for the resignation of Athletic Director Robert Heigert.
At a rally attended by about 500 students and faculty members earlier this week, Brannon said that she had heard rumors that Heigert had told CSUN coaches not to recruit any more black athletes because there were already too many. Heigert has said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the charge.
Brannon presented Cleary this week with a list of demands for changes in campus procedures, saying administrators, the athletic department and the campus newspaper, The Daily Sundial, had been insensitive toward the campus African-American population--a charge the newspaper denied.
She said black athletes were being mistreated and were not receiving the financial and moral support promised by recruiters. She also demanded the establishment of a "black house" that would be a center for African-American student organizations, changes in the curriculum to put more emphasis on African culture, the hiring of more black scholars on the staff and the promotion of blacks into key administrative positions.
Brannon added that if the demands were not met, the BSU would urge black students and athletes to boycott athletic events, the cafeteria and bookstore.