In partial concessions to protesting Latinos, Cal State Northridge President Blenda J. Wilson has filled the vacant director's job for the campus program that aids low-income and minority students, and promised an earlier resolution to its uncertain future.
Two weeks ago, more than 100 Latino students, faculty and staff members marched on campus and picketed Wilson's office to protest her reorganization of CSUN's Educational Opportunity Program last spring. One of their key demands was that Wilson fill the EOP director's vacancy.
Originally, campus administrators had said the job would remain vacant until a task force studying the future structure of the program issues a report this spring. In a second concession, Wilson also directed that task force to finish its study by December.
"I think we could hear the intensity of feeling from the campus community," said CSUN Provost Louanne Kennedy in explaining the changes. Jose Luis Vargas, an administrator in the EOP program, has been given the interim director's job and a corresponding pay raise, officials said.
Wilson's actions did not, however, respond to the two other main demands voiced by campus Latinos: first, that EOP staff, who were scattered to different offices under the reorganization, be restored to a single entity, and second, that alleged misuse of campus EOP funds be halted.
Juana Mora, chair of CSUN's Chicano studies department and a participant in the protest, applauded Vargas' appointment, saying she hadn't expected Wilson to respond so quickly. But Mora said the shorter deadline for the EOP review may be unrealistic, and minority students want a role in the process.