BAAFSSO’s Call to Action

Keion-Mekhi Jackson, Contributing Writer

Approximately 30-40 people attended the December meeting. Photo by Kenise Brown.

In mid-December, the Black Alumni, Administrators, Faculty, Students, and Staff Organization (BAAFSSO) gathered with President Dr. Sue Henderson, Provost Dr. Tamara Jhashi, Assistant Provost Dr. Karen Morgan and Associate Vice President of Human Resources Julia Basile. This gathering, located in GSUB was created to address concerns and recommendations BAAFSSO gave to the president earlier in the fall semester. 

These Recommendations were the following: 

  1. BAAFSSO representation on all search committees. 
  2. The recruiting and hiring of more tenured Black faculty. 
  3. The recruiting and hiring of more Black staff and administrators. 
  4. A concentrated and strategic plan for Black students. 
  5. Secure a full-time line for a program coordinator position for the Lee Hagan Africana Studies Center. 
  6. A concentrated and strategic plan for a Black Male Initiative. 
  7. Transparency regarding new positions and expanded roles on campus. 
  8. Support for the African American studies to become a major. 
  9. To have the New Jersey GEAR UP Program back at NJCU. 
  10. Emergency hire for the Director of the Lee Hagan Africana Studies Center.

At the beginning of the meeting, President  Henderson called on Basile to share statistics on the university’s African-American and Latinx faculty. In the past seven years, the university went from 11 percent to 12 percent African-American faculty hired. While Basile has called these numbers “sad” she has yet to increase the hiring rate of African-American faculty.

 In the meeting, students called out President  Henderson and the administration for the lack of representation and support of the African American Studies Program, one student calling the university’s behavior “a shame.”  

The meeting was underway  when the Jersey City shoot out at the Kosher grocery store took place. As a result, the university announced a campus lockdown procedure.This meant that the president and the cabinet members present stayed longer than expected in BAAFSSO meeting. This allowed BAAFSSO to thoroughly get their point across as well as critically question the president on her leadership practices since the beginning of her tenure at the university. The meeting included once a lockdown procedure was released by campus safety. 

Moreover, the meeting ended with only four recommendations from the list of 10 was approved by the president. The following that was approved: To have the New Jersey GEAR UP Program back at NJCU which provides academic and college preparation skills for middle and high school students. A full-time secured line for a Program Coordinator position for the Lee Hagan Africana Studies Center was also approved. While there will not be an emergency hire for the center, Dr. Morgan will be serving interim director to ensure the continuation of the offices programming. The recruiting and hiring of more tenured Black Faculty, and a concentrated and strategic plan for a Black male initiative. The meeting concluded as President Henderson agreed to have another meeting with the student body to hear their concerns to make the university more understanding of their needs.