President Struppa gives update on financial budgets, academic achievements, and the expansion crisis

“Everything you’ll hear today is positive news,” Struppa said as he spoke to an open forum on Dec 5. Photo by Leslie Song.

President Daniele Struppa said this week that Chapman plans to spend over $20 million to fulfill the objectives of the second year in the comprehensive five-year board-approved plan.

Struppa spoke to an open forum on Dec. 5, updating Chapman’s efforts towards initiatives included in the Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion as well as a summary of the pending financial budget for 2019-2020.

Several goals such as decreasing the total number of accepted students, growing the population of first-generation and underrepresented students, offering resources for these students to succeed, providing more on-campus housing, and increasing the endowment are some of the major goals for the upcoming year, said Struppa.

Although the university is in a stable position with its finances and goal achievements, the administration is still looking for ways to grow, Struppa said.

“We need to keep being watchful. Even though we are doing well, we need to be careful of where we are,” Struppa said. “We want to create an environment where we can ensure that students succeed.”

In the past year, the university has created a Latinx and Latin American Studies minor, made progress with current construction for on-campus housing and accepted a smaller incoming class than the previous year for fall 2018, Struppa said.

The 2019-2020 budget propositions totaling over $20 million includes the largest expenditure of $8.65 million towards efforts to make Rinker campus more inclusive to the main campus, adding to the landscape plan, purchasing equipment and adjusting faculty salaries and operations.

Following that is $7.05 million towards the Fowler School of Engineering, $3.2 million towards the Chapman experience which includes adding positions to HR, IT and other departments to create a more satisfying experience for students and staff, $1.2 million towards comprehensive campaigns that deal with outreach marketing and operations funding, $350,000 towards changing student profiles by increasing financial aid for first-generation students and $293,000 towards research funding, according to Struppa.  

Chapman’s diversity project model contains five goals which include curriculum, recruitment, climate, community, and institutional prioritization.

The university wants to focus more on internal improvement beginning with staff and faculty satisfaction, said Struppa.

Wanting to create a place for faculty members that will offer excitement every day and improve their overall Chapman experience – which is the satisfaction they feel about the community and their encounters – even Struppa admits that he could see improvement in his life at Chapman.

“I don’t feel [excitement] every day. I feel it more often than I don’t, but I don’t feel it every day,” Struppa said.

The university’s budget has been approved by the Finances and Budget Committee but will be voted by the Board on Dec 10. Administrators are confident that the proposed initiatives will pass without challenge, according to Struppa.

Undergraduate tuition will see a 4.2 percent increase which is the same as last year and there will be an increase in institutional financial aid of $9.4 million, Struppa said. Increasing the endowment to support students, particularly those that are first-generation and come from disadvantaged backgrounds, remains a priority, said Struppa. The university plans on doing this by diversifying its investments to increase funds.

As of 2017, the endowment was $352,616,000. The goal is to reach half a billion dollars and the university aims for 80 percent of the endowment to go towards tuition funding, Struppa said.

“We are really committed to that long-term problem,” Struppa said.

Expansion was another topic of concern.

With a goal to house at least 50 percent of students on university property, construction is being done across from the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at the Villa Park Orchards residence hall. The anticipated completion date is fall 2019 and the structure will house 400 beds, Struppa said.

“Space is a tremendous premium,” Struppa said.

The Hilbert Museum, an art exhibition at Chapman, will also expand into downtown Orange to create an art zone for the entire city. This will also create more space for a dance studio, according to Struppa.

Plans to renovate the Davis apartments to house 600 beds, compared to the current 150, in addition to creating a parking structure away from the main campus are being discussed.

However, due to the lack of financing, these construction projects will be revisited at another time, Struppa said.

The new ban on e-cigarette flavors is creating restrictions that reach beyond kids

“I tried (vaping) and I was like this is like smoking a cigarette. But I’m not waking up with phlegm in my throat, my clothes aren’t reeking, and it’s cheaper,” said Alex Hallerman, a junior communications major. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Use of e-cigarettes by high school students has jumped 78 percent since last year while middle schoolers saw a 48 percent increase, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Vaping and e-cigarettes have become such a dangerous trend among youth, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes it to have reached epidemic proportions according to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

There is evidence that nicotine, a highly addictive substance found in cigarettes and vapes, can harm the brain development of teenagers. Studies have also shown that vaping in earlier years has a stronger link to later use of regular cigarettes and other tobacco products, according to the American Cancer Society.

“This troubling reality is prompting us to take even more forceful action” – such as ending the sales of flavored e-cigarettes, banning flavors in cigars, banning the market of e-cigarette products to children and finally, banning menthol flavor for cigarettes and cigars – “to stem this dangerous trend,” Gottlieb said.  

This new ban will restrict flavors that appeal to kids, such as cherry and vanilla, from being sold in retail stores and some online manufacturers. Following the proposals, the FDA took action in September 2018 to begin the process by issuing out warning letters and fines to retailers who illegally sold e-cigarette products to minors, according to the American Cancer Society. Still, some Chapman students believe that this proposal won’t have much of an impact on the vaping habits for young people.

Juul user Alyssa Houston, 20, is below California’s 21+ legal age to buy any tobacco-related products. But Houston either has her older friends buy Juul pods for her or she goes to select gas stations where she knows that she won’t get carded, she said.

“Personally, I only like mint so I’m not affected by [the ban] but I feel like people [who are affected] will still find a way to get the flavors they like,” said the junior communications major.

Though the proposal was made to deter recreational use by kids, limiting flavors and methods in which students get their e-cigarette supplies appears to be insufficient to curb existing addictions for some.

After being introduced to a Juul through a friend during her senior year of high school, Houston said she has been hooked ever since.

Smoking her Juul has become more about the habit and less about the sensation, she said. While the Juul gives her the occasional head rush, “after hitting it all day long, it eventually doesn’t faze you,” Houston said.

Then, there’s the habit: “There’s just a feeling of having (a Juul pen) – it’s like having your cell phone on you,” Houston said.

Raising the age restriction from 18 to 21 for California back in 2016 was the first attempt to impede the rising popularity of e-cigarettes among youth. However, age laws are becoming futile as students have found ways to bypass the rules.

Houston agrees that e-cigarette usage and kids are not a good combination. “I know people who will do it in the movie theaters and stuff but it’s like, have respect for other people. Also, when there are kids around I feel bad so I don’t do it around them,”  Houston said.

While Houston restricts her Juul use around kids, she thinks Juuling is just a new trend in society, she said.

“It’s sad that little kids are doing it but I also think that there’s always something new that comes out that’s not good for kids and it’s better that it’s this than something worse,” Houston said.

The most important thing when it comes to vaping is finding the right merchant, said Tori Erikson, a freshman biology major.

Erikson began vaping with a mod (a bigger type of e-cigarette) when she was 17-years-old.  

“Once the law passed [that changed the age restriction], a lot of shop owners would still sell to their past customers,” Erikson said.

Erikson was able to get e-cigarette juice through friends who had forged relationships with a merchant or supplier while they were still underage.

But some argue that vaping is a less harmful way to ingest a substance – nicotine – to which they have long been addicted.

Since smoking a pack of cigarettes a day since he was 17-years-old, Alex Hallerman was able to quit his two-year-long relationship with tobacco by switching to vapes, said the junior communications major.

The FDA’s proposition could prevent other students who are in similar situations, Hallerman said.

Before making the switch, he tried nicotine gum, the patch, and even Chantix, a smoking cessation aid that can help people quit smoking, he said.

“That’s what my parents pushed me towards but I was like, ‘no you don’t understand. I need the hand-to-mouth thing,’” Hallerman said.

David Daleo, the owner of Dr. Vapor, the Old Towne Vape shop in the circle, is concerned that the ban will keep more people smoking cigarettes.

“When you vape something that tastes completely different than tobacco, you enjoy it. I know that their concern is that we’re going after kids, but adults like flavor too,” Daleo said.

After targeting larger companies such as Juul Labs, the mounting pressure from the FDA has made the company suspend sales of their flavored pods at their stores. But gas stations, convenience stores, and other outlets are still able to sell Juul products.

As of right now, Daleo isn’t worried about his two vape stores. He believes much more robust legislation will need to occur before his storefronts will lose sales.

“I see the concern but until they start focusing on California I’m not worried. Once they do, it’ll be the death of our industry,” he said. “We pride ourselves in having a variety and I have hundreds of flavors here.”

Just how diverse is Chapman?

Samory Bailey, a senior strategic and corporate communications major and BSU member. Photo by: Samory Bailey.

Chapman is highly ranked for ethnic diversity and its percentage of Asians and Hispanics continues to grow.

But Chapman has been unable to nudge its percentage of African Americans to even two percent.

The percentage of students who identify as African American has gone from 1.56 percent in 2017 to 1.64 percent in 2018, according to unreleased data by the Office of Admissions.  

“That minuscule bump is meaningless. It is probably one additional student,” said Robert Bruce Slater, Managing Editor for the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

How do they feel about politics after investing themselves whole hog and losing? Pie chart made by Leslie Song.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 13.4% of Americans identify as African American.

Students identifying as Native American or Native Alaskan also haven’t seen much more representation, either. Their percentage of our student body went from .12 to .19, demonstrating a .07% increase.

“The University’s five-year plan includes supporting first-gen, low-income and underserved local students,” said Admissions Counselor Tracy Rastello. “Over the past two incoming classes, we’ve increased the percentage of students of color by 4.5%.”

Indeed, the white student population from 2014 to 2017 decreased by more than 10%, according to DataMart’s Freshmen Profile by Ethnicity. But it is Asians and Latinos filling that space – not African Americans or Native Americans.

The Chapman data was collected through the Common Application in the summer for fall 2018 and was recorded as the deposited class (students who have confirmed their acceptance to Chapman.) The number includes both freshman and transfer students and may not reflect the current population as students have dropped and been added since compiling this data, Rastello said.

The racial and ethnic demographics of current graduating high school seniors is one reason behind the tepid representation of Black students, said Erin Pullin, Chapman’s director of diversity & inclusion.

“The recruitment territories and regions Chapman visits, the experiences that prospective students have visiting and touring the campus, and what information prospective students know about in regard to Chapman likely have an impact on the recruitment, application, admission and enrollment processes,” Pullin said.

Chapman is focusing on five main initiatives to increase the number of African American students. These strategies focus on curriculum, recruitment, climate, community and institutional prioritization, according to Chapman’s 2017  Strategic Plan for Diversity & Inclusion.

However, while recruiting more Black students is the first step, offering a curriculum and culture that appeals to and supports African American students is also important, Slater said.

Some students may not find an environment in which they are a rarity appealing, leading to a chicken-and-egg problem when it comes to recruitment.

Some Black students with choices may prefer to be in schools where they are more robustly represented, observed Lucille Henderson, a sophomore communications major and secretary of the Black Students Union (BSU).

Lucile Henderson, a sophomore communications major and BSU secretary. Photo courtesy of Lucile Henderson.

When deciding on a school, one’s decision “is a mix of noticing that there aren’t many Black students and not wanting to go because of that and obviously state schools and community colleges –  they’re so much more diverse. So when you pick between thousands of dollars and feeling uncomfortable all the time or going to a school that is extremely diverse and won’t have to pay as much, the choice is clear,” Henderson said.

Though Henderson looked at the number of Black students when considering colleges, she chose Chapman because the school had everything she wanted in terms of academics, she said.

An initiative to assess an African Studies Minor is in the works for Chapman, according to the Strategic Plan for Diversity & Inclusion 2017-2018

Across the US, Blacks and Hispanics are often underrepresented on higher education campuses. Though plans such as Affirmative Action can help to increase ethnic diversity, a handful of states have voted against these policies. Among the eight states, California voted to ban race-based affirmative action at all public universities in 1996.

Underrepresentation at Chapman begins long before the college application process, according to Pullin.

Many elementary and secondary schools with a large population of Black and Hispanic students are less likely to have experienced teachers and higher quality course materials. These high-quality schools help with closing achievement gaps for Black and Hispanic students and provide them with the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond, according to United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

But actively recruiting students from predominantly Black schools and offering more scholarship money can also increase representation on college campuses, Slater said.

Chapman officials say they plan to do that.

“Some of the populations Chapman seeks to grow through implementation of the plan include first-generation college students, and underrepresented students in the local community starting with Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Orange,” Pullin said.

By seeking recruitment within the school districts of Orange County, Chapman plans to increase the number of students from underprivileged and underrepresented communities.

This may be difficult as the population of Black students in the school district is also low. In 2016-2017: Only 1.6% of Orange County high school graduates identified as African American, according to Pullin.

Scholarship opportunities will be expanded, particularly seeking to recruit students who may be struggling financially to access a college education,” Pullin said.

“(Being Black at Chapman) is difficult but it’s taught me how to be more comfortable in my own skin and to be different and to be proud of who I am,” said Samory Bailey, a senior strategic and corporate communications major and a member of BSU.  

“Even without being racially diverse, you still have a lot of different types of people [at Chapman] with what they’re interested in and involved in. I’ve met a lot of people who are from out of the country and out of the state and a lot of faculty too,” Bailey said.

Henderson admits that it can be hard being part of a community in which those who don’t identify hold certain expectations of Black students.

“There is this unspoken assumption that you will be expected to speak every time issues surrounding the Black community arise as it is perceived that because you are part of that community you know everything there is about it- which is not necessarily true. It’s simply unreasonable to expect [someone] to speak on behalf of an entire race,” Henderson said.

Growing up in Oakland, Henderson knew many people of color in her community. To her, the word “diversity,” was rarely used: Diversity was a fact of life.

At Chapman, “it doesn’t bother me that I’m a minority. Sometimes it makes me proud of myself for overcoming the fact that I’m not as represented here and very blessed to even have a community here at all,” Henderson said.

Though she meets few Black people at Chapman, Henderson has still managed to learn a lot about Black identity, because African American folks tend to form an instant kinship, especially in environments where they are underrepresented, she said.

“I’ve never met Black people from the South, or Black people from the East Coast (before) and it’s a totally different culture. It’s interesting to see those different dynamics, how they live as Black people, and how their experience shaped areas of their life,” Henderson said.

“When you’re not constantly surrounded by that culture, you realize how much you love it and how much it’s important to your life and identity. In that way, (being at Chapman) helped,” Henderson said.

“While all of Chapman is getting better, I don’t think we can confidently say that Chapman is diverse. I feel very biased because I am coming from a very diverse city and I didn’t know that for the longest time but I also think of what I expect from a community. At a certain point, in terms of Black representation here, (Chapman) is just not diverse at all,” Henderson said.

Polyamory advocate Phoenix Mandel discusses consent and honest communication in polyamorous relationships.

Phoenix Mandel’s biggest poly relationship or ‘poly family’ consisted of five people living under the same roof, sharing a makeshift bed that stretched from wall to wall to accommodate everyone. Photo by Leslie Song.

The core components of polyamory require “consent, honest communication, and agreement between all people involved,” sexuality educator Phoenix Mandel told a crowd in a Nov. 7 speech in Argyros Forum.

As a polyamorist, Mandel speaks to educate others on alternate relationship styles to make polyamory more widely accepted and understood. Mandel, who goes by the pronouns they/them, said that even people who practice monogamy can improve their relationships by incorporating advice applicable to polyamorous relationships.

Mandel has been practicing polyamory since freshman year of college and was at one time in a sexual relationship with four other people. Mandel is currently in a triad – a polyamorous relationship with two other individuals. Mandel has a nesting partner, who they currently live with, in addition to a girlfriend who lives elsewhere.

Polyamory is the practice of having multiple, open relationships at once. These relations can range from sex to meaningful committed relationships, they explained.  

“With romantic love, [monogamous relationships] can be very limiting,” Mandel said.  

In polyamory relationships, physical and emotional needs can be met by being with more people, Mandel said.

Debunking polyamory perceptions was a main focus in Mandel’s presentation.

Polyamorous relationships need to be structured in an ethical way with honesty, fulfillment of the needs of all parties and encouragement of personal growth, Mandel said.

Questions about cheating and jealousy are often raised, said Mandel, but the key to successful polyamory is candor, negotiation, and honesty.

Cheating and polyamory are not synonymous, Mandel said.

“People who cheat usually aren’t the best at polyamory,” because trust and transparency are still needed in polyamorous relationships they said.

Polyamory involves compromise, just as monogamy does, Mandel said. It’s important to remember that these are relationships with complicated human beings and consideration for each party’s feelings and desires must remain a priority, said Mandel. Coming to agreements and outlining expectations is crucial.

“Polyamory is the ability to talk about uncomfortable topics,” Mandel said. “There is no room for assumptions in both polygamous and monogamous relationships.”

Mandel stressed the importance of open, honest communication and consent among all parties. Breaking trust by seeing others or doing acts that were not agreed upon can lead to break-ups and unhealthy relationships, they said.

Jealousy can also afflict polyamorous people and must be addressed, Mandel said. The feeling of jealousy arises from unmet needs, insecurity and cultural programming, they said.

“You are not a jealous person, you have jealous feelings,” Mandel said. The idea of being jealous to show that you care or that you really love someone is “toxic nonsense.”

People who question the validity of polyamory may doubt an individual’s ability to love more than one individual at the time, but love is not a finite commodity, Mandel said. In familial relationships, for example, the amount of love for children does not vary, Mandel said.

“Don’t legislate the exact level of feelings for others,” Mandel said. “Not only is it not possible and not fair, it doesn’t give a relationship room to find its level and to express relationship growth.”

While love has no limits, time certainly does.

“Google Calendar is a poly person’s best friend,” Mandel said.

Mandel also emphasized the importance of an egalitarian approach when practicing polyamory. Though relationships can promote power play with the incorporation of bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism elements, Mandel believes that negotiations and agreement are key to a functional polyamorous relationship.

“Most heterosexual men think that they’re going to get a harem,” Mandel said.

Instead, polyamorous people can expect to get their needs met in a consensual way through negotiations and a high level of communication. Realizing practicality without having a ‘one true love’ mindset and emotional intimacy are among the many benefits, said Mandel.

Depending on the structure or number of parties involved, a polyamorous relationship can fulfill sexual and emotional needs that are not completely met in a monogamous relationship, Mandel said.

Journalists debate whether Orange County will go red, blue or purple

Democrats hope the “Blue Wave” will flip the House of Representatives. Photo courtesy of Sheila Anne Feeney

The Democrats have the opportunity to flip the house in the upcoming congressional races on Nov. 6th and take back control in Washington D.C., making the districts in and around Orange County decisive players in filling House seats, said a panel of journalists at an election preview event on Oct. 30.

“This is one of the most consequential congressional elections any of us have ever gone through, “said Los Angeles Bureau Chief for the New York Times Adam Nagourney.

Nagourney, Voice of OC founder Norberto Santana Jr. and KPCC Senior Political Editor Mary Plummer discussed how the voting at elections are becoming less about political identity and more focused on particular, divisive policies. Along with this change in voter rationale, attention on higher-level bureaucracy is heightened, leaving decisions for local government behind.

“The congressional races have taken all the air out of the room,” Santana said.

Historically Republican districts such as Orange County are being examined due to a historical shift in which more Orange County voters identify as blue or “no party preference.”

All Republicans aren’t eager to be seen as connected to President Donald Trump. In a lot of Republican ads “Trump isn’t front and center,” said Plummer, a Chapman alumna. 

The private election preview event called “Blue Wave, Red Tide or Purple Haze?” was held at Chapman University. Though many attendees live within the 46th congressional district, it was Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of the 48th Congressional District that brought up much discussion.

Like the event name suggests, many of the questions asked by moderator Kristen Muller, Southern California Public Radio Chief Content Officer, came back to the current political climate of races and propositions.

 The panelists refrained from making predictions or speculating about outcomes. However, they did comment on past behavior and the known Democratic majority in the state of California.

“Trump has 25-35 percent of votes nationally – it’s not enough to win. Support varies district by district,” Nagourney said.

“The big game here is absolutely the congressional race,” Nagourney said. “You’re on ground zero of this fight for Congress,” Nagourney added.

Though Orange County has a history of strong Republican support, the Democrats in Orange County are growing in number and they’ve been outspending, Santana said.   

“[The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)] is playing in OC more than ever before,” Santana said.  

The DCCC, a political committee that supports Democratic House candidates, has spent thousands of dollars to support the Democrat candidates in Orange County. 

  Among the different social groups, young people and voters of color may contribute to a blue wave,  Santana said.

“In Orange County, there are young voters voting in large numbers,” Plummer said.

Young voters are likely to register as no party preference voters (NPP), Plummer and Santana noted. Their votes are expected to be critical in the outcome Tuesday.

Of the 200 people who attended, many asked questions about Latino and young voter groups that could produce massive policy changes.

One crowd member asked why it’s so important to focus on these groups.

“When we compare us as a whole to other other countries, there’s a lower voting rate. How come we don’t talk about that rather than specific groups?” asked Chapman lecturer Luis Ortiz-Franco.

Santana used this question to urge the importance of support from Latinos in the community.

“With immigration being bashed the way it is, if we saw a little more [support], policies would radically change,” Santana said.

In the 39th congressional district, moderate Republican candidate Young Kim, running against Gil Cisneros, has adopted a careful approach with immigration, according to Plummer.

In order for Republicans to win, California Republicans need to expand their appeals and acknowledge that Democrats have legitimate concerns, according to Nagourney.

“The old Republican playbook has to be changed,” Santana said.

As for propositions, only one garnered attention from the panelists.

Prop 6, which proposes a gas tax to fund road repairs, is a get-out-the vote tactic to get Republicans to the ballot box, according to Nagourney.

As of right now, this plan has not worked across the state.

“The Republican vote is failing,” Nagourney said.

Plummer noted that even in the gubernatorial race Republican John Cox, running against Gavin Newsom “hasn’t gotten the traction either,” Plummer said.

Newsom has nothing to gain by participating in another debate with Cox – he would only be giving a platform for Cox and increase liability for himself by misspeaking, according to Nagourney.

Candidates are increasingly going to the voters directly through social media, Nagourney said. 

Legacy media, “doesn’t have the power – for better or for worse – it once had for campaigns,” Nagourney said.

Candidates are restricting media coverage, Plummer said, noting that in one instance a debate was held in which audio and video recordings were banned, preventing anyone not present from seeing or hearing the candidates in action.  

Santana noted this tactic allows only one side – the politicians – to engage.

“It’s gamed outcomes that we’re seeing. That’s the scariest part,” Santana said. This idea of gaming elections…”There’s almost an intention to have a confused electorate running after shiny objects.”

Civil rights activist Dolores Huerta speaks on the importance of voting and taking a stance

Dolores Huerta discussing her activist work with President Daniele Struppa at Memorial Hall Monday night. Photo by Leslie Song.

Labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta spoke about her ongoing efforts for social change in a public discussion with President Daniele Struppa Monday night.

Huerta, a co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the organization that became the United Farm Workers, urged the audience to vote in the upcoming midterm election on Nov. 6.

“I always tell people, ‘election day is the most important day of your life,’” Huerta said. “If we don’t step up, then nothing changes.”

In the last election, there were more people who chose not to vote than those that did, she said. Everyone, especially young people, needs to exercise their voting rights in the upcoming election if they want their nation and world to improve.  

Huerta, 88, a mother of 11 and a grandmother of 10, is known for her advocacy of voter participation, her ongoing efforts to help women, children and the poor, and her fight for policy changes to prevent police brutality. She picked up that cause after suffering a life-threatening assault at the hands of police during a protest against Vice President at the time George W. Bush.

The evening took a surprising turn during the period of audience questioning when Brittany Bringuez, a senior integrated educational studies major, questioned Huerta about Chapman’s record regarding labor issues.

“It’s kind of ironic that your life’s work has been around worker’s rights and fairness and justice and I think it’s particularly interesting that Chapman doesn’t allow its staff to unionize,” Bringuez said. “How do you keep going against the big guys when you don’t have power?”

Struppa was quick to cut Bringuez off.

“It’s just not correct,” he said.  

In response to Bringuez, Huerta urged people to be persistent, have care, and not to waste their time.

“We’re empowering people. A lot of people are afraid to get involved,” Huerta said.

During the discussion, Huerta urged educators to broaden their curriculums to include the history of struggles for equality.  

“The way to erase the ignorance is to teach,” Huerta said. “We have to teach the true history of the United States of America. Starting at a young age, children are not taught of the injustices, such as how Native Americans were the original landowners and how, through slavery, African Americans were responsible for building the infrastructure of America.”

A video shown gave information on the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF), which demonstrated the lives of community members who received financial, emotional and professional help from the foundation.

Huerta condemned what she described as the continuing bias against minorities in high school. Namely, with Kern High School District, which lost a lawsuit against the DHF for mistreating students of color. She also urged reforms in the criminal justice system, advocating fewer incarcerations for minor misdemeanors and allowing people in prison the right to vote.

Increasing the minimum wage to one that matches the cost of living now and acknowledging unfair labor treatment also needs to happen, she said.

Despite the serious subject matter, Huerta drew laughter from the crowd with her witty remarks.

“Friends don’t let their friends shop at Walmart,” joked Huerta, referencing the giant retailer that has been the subject of many labor rights complaints.

“(Americans) are economic colonizers. We have to change our foreign policy to help other countries develop,” Huerta said.