Summer updates: what students missed while on vacation


Several events occurred over the summer regarding DVC and the 4CD district. (The Inquirer file photo).

Emma Hall, Editor in chief

While students are off on summer vacation, news continues at the Contra Costa Community College District and Diablo Valley College, and several events stood out: the individual responsible for the second incident of racist graffiti on campus, which occurred on August 22, was arrested; 4CD was accused of racism after putting Dr. Katrina VanderWoude on undisclosed administrative leave on May 29; District Chancellor Fred Wood announced his retirement, and another case of hate speech at DVC occurred just last week.

Another occurrence of hate speech

Just as the semester began, new racist graffiti was discovered in a bathroom on DVC’s Pleasant Hill campus. The vandalism made reference to the Klu Klux Klan and contained a swastika with a message of hate stating: No n****** allowed at DVC. Whites only.”

In response, DVC administration announced the school will be installing surveillance cameras to catch future individuals tied to incidents of hate speech. DVC President Susan Lamb has urged students to come forward if they hear anything about people promoting racist graffiti or hate speech on campus. Dr. Shaun Harper, the founder of the University of Southern California (USC) Race and Equity Center, visited DVC on Aug. 23 and spoke in blunt terms about the harmful impacts this kind of racist vandalism can have on students. Police Services are still investigating the situation as they search for who was responsible for the most recent incident.

Graffiti copycat apprehended 

However, on June 24, President Lamb announced that the college had arrested the individual responsible for the second racist graffiti, discovered on Mar. 26, which followed an initial racist threat made on Mar. 6. The individual responsible for the second racist incident is no longer on campus and was filed for prosecution at the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office.

According to the Mercury News, no charges were pressed because the individual had no criminal history, and because he had sent an “apology letter” to DVC. Scott Alonso, a spokesman for the Contra Costa District Attorney, told the Mercury News that in his letter, the suspect “conveyed that he was not okay,” and that he had made “no specific threats of violence with his graffiti.”

DVC moves forward with change 

President Lamb this week detailed several changes DVC will be implementing following the racist graffiti incidents last semester, which roiled the campus student body. The changes came from several task forces composed of faculty and students who worked together during the end of the spring semester. The changes include the following goals:

  • “Develop an institutional commitment to anti-racist training and messaging the importance of racial justice to the entire college community.”
  • “Create space and supportive environment for courageous conversations that further racial justice within the college community, increase action and commitment within college community to social and racial justice work.”
  • “Honor and respect the student demands by examining and addressing the structural and cultural conditions of the college.”
  • “Establish an on-going commitment to measure and asses progress towards goals.”
  • “Improve the DVC student experience and their educational outcomes.”

DVC will also be moving forward with the creation of an Ethnic Studies department.

Contra Costa College’s President Resigns

Chancellor Fred Wood sent an email in July to Contra Costa Community College detailing a change of administrative leadership, as Dr. Katrina VanderWoude and two of her top officials were put on leave, according to The Advocate. According to CCC professor Manu Ampim, who spoke with KTVU, VanderWoude’s leave was due to accusations of reverse racism and age discrimination. The African American Staff Association and the El Cerrito NAACP branch spoke out against her firing and called for more transparency in the investigation. San Pablo Mayor Rich Kinney also expressed extensive support of VanderWoude in a letter he addressed to Wood.

On Aug. 21, 4CD district and VanderWoude agreed on the terms of her resignation, and CCC is organizing a committee to select an interim president.

4CD Chancellor Retires

Amid the VanderWoude controversy, Chancellor Wood announced his retirement from the 4CD district in an email, writing: “After considerable and thoughtful deliberations, I have decided to retire after a four-decade career in higher education due to increased personal obligations and because I firmly believe the District is ready for new leadership.”

In his district-wide press release, Wood continued, “Although there is never a perfect time for a leadership transition, the District is in a great place with a very strong financial position, stabilized enrollment, and doing a tremendous job of serving our students and community.”

The 4CD governing board will begin looking for a new chancellor in its upcoming meetings.

Editor’s note: Style edits were made to this article on Aug 29 for clarification.