I am a junior journalism major and Spanish minor who has absolutely no ties to Frank Romero-Crockett, LA Term or the global studies program. I am with Wanted By Walsh because I am a voice for those students who feel this institution has created a toxic environment where academic freedom is suppressed. As a minority, I support my fellow students and join this protest to see justice and fairness for all students and faculty who feel oppressed by our university.
I have heard an array of opinions as to what we are fighting for and an even bigger list of names we have been called. One thing is for sure: We are not a group of angry students who lost a key player in LA Term nor are we angry Latinos pinning racism on an individual. As a member of the Latin American Student Association, a minority and a human being, I feel that Romero-Crockett was terminated in an untimely and embarrassing manner. I also feel as if this institution has created boundaries for diversity as stated in the APU Statement of Faith that limits the experiences of students and faculty of color.
The issue began when Romero-Crockett was escorted off the LA Term premises during a student meeting, and the 15 LA Term ladies who were present were left confused, scared and in the dark as to why Campus Safety Department workers had to take their instructor from the building.
According to students in the current cohort, the Los Angeles Police Department first contacted them Nov. 6 and asked if Romero-Crockett had made any statements Oct. 24 about having a gun or threatening the university. According to LAPD and other sources, a report against Romero-Crockett was filed Oct. 31, approximately five hours after he was fired.
My question here is, if Romero-Crockett did indeed pose a high level of threat to students and the university in such a manner that he was portrayed as a criminal to the current LA Term cohort, why was a police report filed a whole week later?
Friday, Nov. 21, Dean Jennifer Walsh, Associate Vice President of Student Life Willie Hamlet and global studies associate professor Grace Bahng spoke with students about many factors that current students and faculty are dealing with, but it was just an “intentional, meaningful dialogue,” and no further action was taken. Through Romero-Crockett’s termination in conjunction with meetings and events that took place afterward, I have found a lack of answers, a silencing of my ideals, an invalidation of my feelings and experiences as well as an unrightful criminalization of a man.
This issue is not limited to Romero-Crockett’s termination. According to students in previous cohorts, he was known for pushing his students to think outside the box on tough issues like homosexuality, race and religion. This movement resonates so loudly with me because I do believe there is a culture of fear at this institution felt by students and faculty of color who have strong opinions on many sensitive issues. Faculty members are hesitant to have honest conversations about race, sexuality and religion with students.
Not only is there fear, but there is clearly a systemic divide within our institution that adds to this culture of fear. Nov. 4’s social justice event on campus invited six panelists to speak. Not one panelist was of color. It is interesting to hear a dialogue in which six Caucasian men discuss issues of social injustice but left out is the primary group of people who experience social injustice, those of color. It is even more interesting to see administrators who have never set a foot on LA Term’s campus and have no clue how the program functions decide what is best for the program and its students.
So my fight here is this: APU embraces diversity with biblical principles. The statement of faith declares the institution advocates behavior regarding diversity that is anchored in love.
So where is the love of embracing diversity of thinking and groups of people if minorities are not invited to discuss social injustice? Where is the love to listen to a group of students who want to make positive changes for an institution when administrators say we are making up this culture of fear? Where is the love when our institution silences diverse thinkers like Frank Romero-Crockett?