Closing the access gap: campus equity is the focus of CSUB president’s open forum


Sam Underwood

Thom Davis, Vernon B. Harper, and President Lynette Zelezny talking after the President Open Forum in the Student Union Multipurpose Room on Feb. 5, 2020

Paige Atkison, Assistant News Editor

Big changes are coming to CSU Bakersfield for the spring 2020 semester.  

In light of these upcoming changes, CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny held an open forum to address the student body, staff, and faculty on Feb. 5. 

Though the forum addressed myriad topics, ranging from academic affairs to university advancement, Zelezny’s main focus was equity on campus.  

Minority and underrepresented students “need more attention,” Zelezny said. “Remember, we’re their family.” 

The equity gap dropped from 8 to 4 percent, and Zelezny’s mission is for CSUB to be the university that closes the equity gap completely.  

In working towards closing the equity gap, CSUB hired Hilda Nieblas, the coordinator for the Dreamer’s Resource Center and Multicultural Alliance and Gender Equity Center (MAGEC).  

The CSUB administration is also working to ensure equity in its hiring practices. To ensure faculty diversity, some faculty will be trained in equitable hiring practices for faculty searches.  

The administration launched 34 faculty searches, most of which are to replace outgoing staff.  

The university received a $562,000 grant from the Chancellor’s Office to support the basic needs of students. This grant will be used for health promotion and education, the demonstration community kitchen, student health services activities, emergency housing, and ending the stigma of food pantry use.  

The Counseling Center received  $75,000 from the grant. The funds will be used to support stress management, outreach and crisis services, media and web renovations, renovations to the Counseling Center itself, and the development of new software and a mobile app. 

CSUB student and junior psychology major, Caitlin Livingston, asked how the counseling app would work. 

“The app, right now they’re kind of flat I guess,” Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jim Drnek said. “It will have tactile tools, biofeedback tools, we might develop an app that would be a companion to the counseling sessions and psychiatry.” 

To add to the health services available on campus, $100,000 was allocated from the grant for health promotion and education. This will include wellness workshops, healthy cooking demonstrations, and social media campaigns.  

An additional $75,000 was allocated for student health services activities. These funds will cover enhancements to screening and referrals, Cal-Fresh application assistance, a needs assessment and satisfaction survey, SHS medical insurance applications and nutritional education, counseling, and support.  

In order to continue the conversation with students regarding these changes, Zelezny will be holding a Runner Walk and Talk on Feb. 25 and an open budget forum on March 9.