The Tuesday afternoon silence of Delta College was interrupted on Feb. 2 by a group of protestors in the quad, and later the Administration Building, rallying against alleged racism on campus.
“Hey hey, ho ho, the new Jim Crow has got to go!” the group chanted while standing in front of the offices of campus administrators.
Earlier in the day, a group of people handed out fliers from the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) urging student action at a “rally” in support of a student named Ashley Parker.
The content in the flier alleges racism on the part of Adjunct Professor Elisa Barosso in the communication department.
“Ashley Parker and other black students are demanding that the Delta College Administration stop covering-up racist incidents and stop trying railroad the students who are speaking out,” the flier reads. “They are also fighting to ensure that Professor Elissa Barosso (sic) stops her racist targeting of black students, or stops teaching at San Joaquin Delta College all together.” Information on the flier continues to allege that students were intimidated, harassed and retaliated against in a course last fall.
Dr. Charles Jennings, dean of student learning and assessment, Dr. Amy Courtright, acting dean of enrollment services and student development are also named, with claims that the two stalled the process involving Parker’s claims.
The protest began in the quad, with a member of BAMN using a megaphone.
“We’re here to take a stand to defend black students who’ve been retaliated against by racist professors,” said the woman leading the protest.
People on either side of her carried posters: “We support Ashley. No racist abuse by admin” and “Defend black students at Delta.”
Attempts to contact Parker through BAMN representatives on Facebook went unanswered. A woman identifying herself as Parker delivered the flier to The Collegian on the day of the protest.
Parker spoke to protestors.
“I just want everyone to always get from this situation: It’s just stand up for yourself in the correct way, don’t act out on how they expect us to act out. Don’t cuss nobody out. Don’t let no one provoke you out of your character. And fight the right way, just like they fight against us, let’s fight back the same way,” she said.
The group continued to the Administration Building where protestors were met by Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Instruction Dr. Matthew Wetstein.
Wetstein tried to have a conversation with the protestors, informing them of where the Free Speech area on campus was located, but was disrupted repeatedly by two protestors.
Campus police officers then informed the crowd that participants could be in violation and cited for an arrest if the crowd didn’t disperse to the designated protest area.
A meeting involving Parker and campus administrators continued after the crowd left the building.
The Collegian tried to contact Barosso through Facebook for comment with no reply. She’s not listed on the class schedule for Delta this semester.
Barosso’s profile on RateMyProfessor.com for Modesto Junior College shows her with a 4.8 rating overall, an “A” grade out of 37 reviews.
“Dr. B is an amazing professor who is really there to help home your public speaking skills and/or develop them,” one anonymous poster wrote on Jan. 11. “She provides a fun and comfortable environment to eliminate your nervousness. If you struggle with public speaking this is the class for you. Dr. B can help you! Attendance and participation are important.”
Jennings also declined comment.
While the protest had few students join, some later said racism is present on campus.
“They think I’m just here for the financial aid,” said Rickshawn Williams, a African American Delta student. “When I met with one of the counselors about my classes, she told me not to worry about it because I’ll only be here for a week, until I get my financial aid.”
One student said he felt online classes were a better option than coming to campus.
“We got to work harder than everybody else,” said Delta Student Abasi Hunt, also an African American. “I dropped one of my classes and joined it online because of how unfair the teacher was to me. It’s like they have favoritism.”
Editor’s note: The Collegian doesn’t typically use a person’s race as an identifier, but in the context of this story the editing staff felt it necessary.
Staff writer Mikael Honzell contributed to this report.