A Call to Transform the Racial Climate at Pacifica

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Dear President Cambray,

When the Thomas Fire and the Montecito Mudslides happened, Pacifica took precipitous action to safeguard the health and well-being of the students, the faculty and the greater Pacifica community. Now, in response to Covid-19, Pacifica has again taken quick and decisive actions to protect our community. In Medicine Stories, Morales (1998) has written that:

It is part of our task as revolutionary people, people who want deep-rooted, radical change, to be as whole as it is possible for us to be. This can only be done if we face the reality of what oppression really means in our lives, not as abstract systems subject to analysis, but as an avalanche of traumas leaving a wake of devastation in the lives of real people, who nevertheless remain human, unquenchable, complex and full of possibility (p. 20, emphasis mine).

When viewed in this light, systemic racism and oppression are a perpetual threat to BIPOC students and faculty. Consequently, Pacifica needs to move with the same sense of urgency and alacrity to address systemic racism and oppression that have characterized Pacifica’s response to the wildfires, the mudslides and the global pandemic.

Furthermore, in your June 3rd, 2020 address, you stated that Pacifica is willing “to confront the prevalent complacency and denial,” that has historically shrouded issues related to systemic racism and oppression and that this “moment in history offers us a valuable opportunity to emphasize [Pacifica’s] shared commitment to ‘a heartfelt regard for a diverse community’ and the cultivation of ‘an honest and caring presence among ourselves, our students, and the world around us.’” You also noted that “while peaceful protest is an exceedingly essential means in seeking eradication of racist behaviors, it alone is not sufficient.” Indeed, you acknowledged that these protests needed to “be accompanied by meaningful non-violent actions” and called on the Pacifica community to take a series of prescribed actions to advocate for social change.

In this spirit, the following demands are a call to the Pacifica Graduate Institute – to the Board of Trustees, to the President and to the Provost – to take concrete, meaningful actions to transform the racial climate of the PhD Program in Clinical Psychology, as well as all of the programs at Pacifica Graduate Institute, to finally address the deleterious effects of systemic racism and oppression on our campuses and in the world.
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The paradox of tolerance states that if a society is tolerant without limit its ability to be tolerant will eventually be seized or destroyed by the intolerant.
Karl Popper

Freedom is not a state; it is an act.
It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau
where we can finally sit down and rest.
Freedom is the continuous action we all must take,
and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.
John Lewis
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We, a unified coalition of Pacifica students, recognize that there “is a critical role for allies” to play in “bearing witness to and taking a strong moral stance against” historic abuses, but we also recognize “that this activism must be done by the traumatized on their own behalf.”

We recognize that BIPOC students and alumni are “attempting to recover from abuses that [have been] ongoing” and that the “only context in which recovery is possible is one of active opposition.” We recognize that “the refusal to cooperate with our dehumanization even when we may not yet be able to stop it increase[s] our reserves of dignity and hope.”

We recognize that any “dreams of absolution in which the impact of abusive acts is erased by an act of love” or where the “abuser is finally repentant” are merely wishful phantasies and that nothing, nothing “can ever [truly] compensate us” for what we have suffered. We recognize that “only through mourning everything we have lost can we discover that we have in fact survived” what was done to us and “that our spirits are indestructible.”

In recognition, however, of the ways in which Pacifica Graduate Institute has contributed to the proliferation and maintenance of systemic racism and oppression that has adversely impacted BIPOC students and alumni, in both subtle and overt ways, we demand that the following actions be taken, with all due haste. We have prioritized our demands into the following six categories: “Diversity Accountability” [1-2], “Diversity Oversight” [3-11], Pedagogical Diversity/Diversity in the Curriculum [12-19], Supporting Diversity at Pacifica [20-29], Diversifying the Grounds [30-34], Tending to the Diverse Soul of Pacifica [35-37] and Tending to the Diverse Soul of the World [38-42].

  1. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica formally acknowledge and take ownership for all of the ways that Pacifica has contributed to the proliferation and maintenance of systemic racism and oppression. We demand that Pacifica commit to anti-racist ideologies, by actively interrogating and working to dismantle racism and oppression in all of its forms. We demand that toxic racist ideologies be condemned, rather than being met with collusive acts of silence and bystandership. We also demand that when members of the BIPOC community, who bravely come forward to speak out about racism and the deleterious impacts that racism has had on their lives, not only be heard, but that they also be believed and that prompt, constructive action be taken to address any problems. We also demand that Pacifica recognize that members of the BIPOC community are not responsible for shouldering this burden and that Pacifica will commit to doing the intensive work that will be necessary to resolve these problems.
  2. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that all BIPOC students be given free tuition and support resources to cover their room/board, books, travel expenses, and the expenses related to their therapy requirement until they graduate, given the toxic, hostile and harmful learning environment that Pacifica has created and perpetuated over the years. We understand that the institution is now working diligently to rectify these problems, but recognize that changing the culture of an institution is a slow process that may take between 3-10 years to accomplish. Thus, this program will be created to support all current BIPOC students at Pacifica and will have a ten-year window, running from September 2020 – July 2030, which will give Pacifica adequate time to transform the campus climate and make the necessary changes to ensure that the campus is safe for the next generation of BIPOC students.
  3. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand the creation of a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO)/Office that is independent, where complaints can be filed and reviewed. This office would also monitor the progress of the diversity initiatives across all Pacifica programs. This office would review complaints and conduct specific trainings with students, faculty and staff when there are problems. We, the unified coalition of students, would also like to participate in the nomination and confirmation process.
  4. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica hire an outside consultant to research the historic aspects of this issue at Pacifica, who will write a report that summarizes the historic nature of these problems, as well as compiles a list of solutions and first steps to attend to these systemic issues.
  5. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica conduct an on-going series of diversity and sensitivity trainings that contain modules on multicultural history to train the core faculty, the adjuncts and the staff to address systemic racism and oppression on our campuses.
  6. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand the creation of a Student Diversity Review Board (SDRB) to ensure that Pacifica remains accountable and is committed to ending systemic racism and oppression. The SDRB would work with the CDO and would be comprised of BIPOC students and alumni, PsySSR-PGI members, as well as other competent parties.
  7. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica submit to an audit and is transparent about the budget structure, sources, and allocation of monies within the Clinical Psychology program and wider Pacifica Institute so we may better understand and recommend how funds should be allocated to best support student needs.
  8. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that cultural sensitivity, cultural competency and cultural humility issues be taken seriously on our campuses and if students fail this portion of their yearly review and do not remediate any problems with the office of the CDO that they be removed from the program.
  9. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that cultural sensitivity, cultural competency and cultural humility issues be taken seriously throughout the institution. We demand that the faculty members and the staff be subject to a diversity review process and faculty and that staff who are not culturally sensitive, culturally competent and culturally humble and fail to remediate any issues with the office of the CDO, be removed from their positions.
  10. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica review all policies to determine how they impact BIPOC students, including the Financial Aid Office. In particular, we demand that Pacifica evaluate the tutorial system for adverse impact to BIPOC students. Students who receive a tutorial have to pay an additional fee and then the highest grade that the student can receive is a B, which seems punitive.
  11.  We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that the Pacifica Board of Trustees be broadened to include representation from student representatives of the SDRB, as well as marginalized communities; i.e. women, African-Americans, Latinx, Chumash and Indigenous communities, etc.
  12. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that the teaching faculty at Pacifica be diversified and that teaching faculty from marginalized groups not only teach classes related to multiculturalism, but that they also teach classes on other subject areas of interest and that SDRB members participate in the selection and interview process.
  13. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that the entire curriculum be re-imagined to end the practice of intellectual segregation and apartheid. This curriculum would be organized around the principle of being in right relationship and would create an academic space that would support both indigenous and non-indigenous ontologies and praxis, as well as indigenous and non-indigenous cosmologies and ways of knowing. We also recognize that this process will take several years to fully accomplish in compliance with the school’s accreditation.
  14. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that the curriculum be reorganized to best support the needs of BIPOC students. This means that the courses on group psychotherapy and multicultural competency need to be moved to the first quarter for all incoming first year students. In addition, other scheduling changes, like moving the course on Violence and Trauma, will need to be made to best support the professional development of all students.
  15.  We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that a course that examines racism and sexism within the discipline of depth psychology be added to the curriculum and be taught in all Pacifica programs, so that racist and sexist ideologies are being interrogated and are no longer being perpetuated by the institution.
  16. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that a class on Liberation Psychology be permanently added to the curriculum and be taught by Dr. Mary Watkins, as a first step to transform the PhD Program in Clinical Psychology. We also demand that this course be taught during the same quarter as the course on Phenomenology for balance.
  17. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that an Indigenous, collaborative, decolonizing, liberation research class be added to the curriculum, to meet the diverse research needs of students.
  18. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that a course on religion and spirituality be added to the curriculum to meet the diverse needs of our patients.
  19.  We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that ethnic history and multicultural history be taught within our classes, as well as diverse clinical case presentations, so that we are best able to serve the diverse needs of our patients.
  20. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica create a permanent Diversity Equity/Reparations scholarship program for students of color to transform the cultural climate of the Pacifica campus, given the historic and systemic barriers to wealth creation that the BIPOC community has experienced; i.e. the George Floyd Memorial Fellowship for Social Justice, the Sandra Bland Memorial Fellowship for Social Justice, the Frantz Fanon Fellowship, the Sandra Ingerman Fellowship, the Gloria E. Anzaldúa Fellowship, the Paulo Freire Fellowship, etc. We also recognize that the creation of a fellowship program that would eliminate barriers for BIPOC members may take several years to establish. As an act of good faith, however, we nominate Tarell Kyles to be the first recipient of the George Floyd Memorial Fellowship for Social Justice, which would be fully funded by Pacifica Graduate Institute. As the inaugural recipient of the George Floyd Memorial Fellowship for Social Justice, Mr. Kyles would be able to resume his studies in the CLIE program in the fall of 2020 and earn his PhD.
  21.  We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand the creation of the Eduardo Duran Chumash Fellowship to provide a scholarship specifically for an individual of Chumash descent to attend Pacifica Graduate Institute for free – with the appropriate scaffolding to support these students while the campus climate is transformed, if such a scholarship would be of interest to the Chumash Sovereign Nation.
  22. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand the creation of a Chumash liaison to build an on-going working relationship with the Chumash Sovereign Nation and to facilitate and provide the necessary support for the in-coming and on-going Chumash scholars, if such a relationship would be of interest to the Chumash Sovereign Nation.
  23. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand the creation of Diversity Teaching Assistant (TA) positions for students beginning in their fourth year, once they are no longer in classes that would conflict with their ability to be a TA. This program would begin in the fall semester of 2020, beginning with BIPOC students to improve the campus climate and to redress historical imbalances and barriers to teaching and professional advancement. Once established, this program could be extended to student allies in the program to provide student oversight and accountability to end systemic racism and oppression, while providing students with professional development opportunities. These positions would provide experience teaching, co-facilitating process groups, etc. and TAs would also receive a stipend for their services. All non-BIPOC student TAs would be drawn from the pool of students working on the SDRB. Next year – newly minted 4th year students could serve, and the next year newly minted 4th year students could serve, etc. Eventually, TAs should be provided with a stipend, but this program could be implemented immediately, if Pacifica provided supervision for Diversity TAs, which would enable them to log hours towards their practicum and/or internship requirements.
  24. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand the creation of a diversity support group for BIPOC students on/off campus to combat feelings of isolation and alienation co-facilitated by a student TA with faculty supervision.
  25. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand the creation of Pan-Pacifica diversity support groups for ESL students on/off campus to combat feelings of isolation and alienation that are facilitated in their native languages and are co-facilitated by a student TA with faculty supervision; i.e. Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, etc.
  26. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand the creation of a diversity support group for BIPOC students who are currently dissertating via Skype to combat feelings of isolation co-facilitated by a student TA with faculty supervision.
  27. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand additional support for BIPOC students in finding placements, as well as the creation of a diversity supervision support group, where students could speak about the issues related to systemic racism and oppression that they encounter during their practicums and internships, facilitated by a student TA with faculty supervision.
  28. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica provide support resources for students from different socio-economic, religious, educational backgrounds, generations, sizes, etc. to combat elitism, ageism, classism, ableism, sizeism, etc. We applaud Pacifica’s commitment to honor both Freud and Jung’s belief that lay people should be able to do this work, however, given the effects of systemic oppression, members of marginalized communities need to be provided with the appropriate scaffolding so that they are able to not only attend Pacifica, but to graduate.
  29. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand the creation of a BIPOC Pacifica Depth Psychological alumni database to help BIPOC students locate therapists who may be more sensitive to the needs and experiences of BIPOC students.
  30. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand the creation of a tree memorial and freedom grove on both the Lambert and the Ladera campus to commemorate the life, legacy and sacrifice of George Floyd, as well as all of the other African-Americans who have fallen in the struggle for freedom and equality.
  31. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand the creation of a Struggle/Freedom plaque to commemorate the historic struggle for freedom that minority populations in the United States have been involved in for centuries, especially speaking to the events of 2020. One plaque would be installed on the Ladera campus in a prominent position and one plaque would be installed on the Lambert campus in a prominent position, as a symbol that Pacifica is committed to ending systemic racism and oppression in all of its forms. (Black Lives Matter, Russell Means, Bertha Pappenheim, etc).
  32. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that the classrooms on both the Ladera and the Lambert campus be re-named to honor mythological characters from around the world; i.e. Hutash (Chumas), the Sky Snake (Chumash), Oshun (Yoruba), Sundiata Keite (Malinke), Akhilanda – She Who Is Never Not Broken (Indian), Shiva (Indian), Parvati (Indian), Kali (Indian), Tlaloc (Aztec), Coatlicue (Aztec), La Llorona (Mexican), Quan Yin (China), etc.
  33. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that the walls of the classrooms on both campuses come alive with the portraits of diverse scholars who have influenced the field; i.e. Frantz Fanon, Eduardo Duran, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Ignacio Martín-Baró (Nacho), Bertha Pappenheim (Anna O.), Maria Sabina and Sandra Ingerman, etc. And we also demand that both campuses come alive with murals that honor the lives and work or diverse scholars.
  34. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand the creation of banners to honor the contributions of Frantz Fanon, Eduardo Duran, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Ignacio Martín-Baró (Nacho), Bertha Pappenheim (Anna O.), Maria Sabina, Russell Means and Sandra Ingerman to the discipline of psychology that will be hung with the other banners on the Ladera campus. We also demand that Pacifica commit to continuously add diverse scholars who have made and/or who are making important contributions to the field.
  35.  We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica hire a full-time gardener like Marshall Chrostowski, to ensure that the campus is appropriately attended and stewarded. We, the unified coalition of students, nominate Raul Paredes to be the master gardener and that he be given the ability to hire the necessary staff to maintain the grounds in peak form given drought conditions, if he would be interested in this position.
  36. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that the Pacifica garden be maintained. It is inconceivable that Pacifica had planned to simply abandon the garden and let it die. In keeping with Pacifica’s commitment to service and to tending to the soul of the world, Pacifica needs to attend to its garden and build community with Carpinteria and Santa Barbara, so that the food produced by the garden does not go to waste. This is imperative given the harsh realities of the global pandemic where so many families are currently going hungry.
  37. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica honor its relationship with the employees whose hours have been reduced, who have been furloughed and/or who have been fired during the global pandemic.
  38. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica Graduate Institute use whatever power it has as an organization to lobby for reparation initiatives related to the systemic oppression of the African-American community.
  39. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica Graduate Institute use whatever power it has as an organization to work on initiatives that would enable all members of the BIPOC community in the United States to attend college tuition free.
  40. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica Graduate Institute use whatever power it has as an organization to lobby for policies in the United States that would make higher education free for all Americans and would forgive all student loan debt
  41. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica Graduate Institute use whatever power it has an organization to lobby for comprehensive immigration reform.
  42. We, the unified coalition of Pacifica students, demand that Pacifica Graduate Institute use whatever power it has as an organization to lobby for policies that work towards the freedom and equality of all people.