Calls for SBCC staff member to resign over racial slur
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After using the unabbreviated n-word at a gender equity meeting, Lyndsay Maas, Vice President of Business Services at Santa Barbara City College, has been placed on unpaid administrative leave. Students and staff alike have voiced strong negative opinions about the incident, and many point to it as evidence of the perpetuated racism that takes place on the campus even today, particularly towards African-American students.
The campus committee meeting, comprised of faculty, staff, and students, took place on November 14th, 2018. According to Maas, the committee was discussing the difficulties of creating survey questions to assess why students do not feel safe on campus when a staff member commented on the fact that quite a few African-American students hear the n-word directed at them while on campus, and thus feel unsafe. Maas then responded by repeating the statement with the full, unabbreviated form of the n-word, and according to a letter written by the newly formed SBCC Coalition For Justice, kept speaking without acknowledging in any way her abhorrent use of the aforementioned racial slur. Though Maas says she apologized immediately after using the slur, she was still stopped shortly after continuing to speak by a faculty member of color to “address the harm caused” by her statement, according to staff who were present at the meeting.
Maas believes she listened intently to the concerns of the committee over the incident, but according to SBCC’s news site The Channel, she made no effort to do so. As a result of the controversy and the way Maas handled herself at the meeting, many at the college (specifically the SBCC Coalition For Justice) called for Maas’ immediate resignation.
Instead, Superintendent-President Anthony Beebe sent a letter to a select number of managers, supervisors, and president’s council members, speaking on Maas’ behalf to explain what had happened and directing the recipients of the letter to attend cultural-sensitivity training in the next six months. This response did nothing to appease the outrage of the staff and students who were offended by the incident. Admissions staffer Akil Hill was particularly disappointed in both Beebe and the college in its entirety for not reaching out to the community in a more accountable manner. “You can’t offend a group of people and not apologize to them,” said Hill.
Following her placement on administrative leave, Maas wrote a personal letter of apology and requested that President Beebe share it campus-wide. In it, she details the incident from her point of view, apologizes for her insensitivity, and describes what steps she will be taking in light of what has transpired. “I should not have used that word and sincerely apologize for this mistake that has caused so many such pain,” says Maas. “I apologize to the entire campus community and to all black/African American students, faculty and staff.”
Maas remained on unpaid administrative leave until November 30th. She says she is still committed to fighting racism at SBCC and in the surrounding community and wants to be a part of the positive change that is essential on the campus.