SDSU Native American advisor search criticized

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

According to some who took part in the search committee, the search for the new Native American student program advisor suffered from having only one Native American on the search committee.

“I think that only a Native American can grasp how a Native American student will respond to an advisor,” said Dr. Allen Branum, SDSU’s acting director for diversity enhancement, who sat on the committee.

The committee consisted of Branum, Ruth Harper from the College of Education and Counseling who has worked with students on the Rosebud reservation, Adam Karnopp from Student Activities, Andi Fouberg, who works on special projects for SDSU and chaired the committee, and student Tasiyagnunpa Livermont (who also acts as the Collegian‘s web editor), who was the only Native American on the committee.

Branum said that one of the reasons for the paucity of Native Americans on the committee is simply because of how the university wants committees to be composed.

“We do not have very many Native Americans here and usually a search committee is filled with staff members,” Branum said. “It’s not uncommon for a student to be on a search committee, but usually just one, perhaps two students will be on a search committee.”

Only two SDSU staff members are Native American.

Dean of student affairs Marysz Rames said that the committee was built to SDSU regulations, but she may consider adding more minority members to committees dealing with minority issues in the future.

“Could we have expanded that committee or done more? Sure. You can always do more,” Rames said.

According to C.D. Douglas, assistant director of the Department of Student Union and Activities, members of the Native American club and advisory board were allowed to meet with candidates and offer recommendations to the committee, but these groups had to fulfill their reponsibilities.

“We’re looking at the process to make sure we’re fair to both parties,” Douglas said. “If people don’t show up to meetings, it’s not our fault.”