Photo: University of California, San Diego
Ana Baiz-Torres is suing the University of California, San Diego for firing her when she was trying to increase the college’s diversity, which was her job as UCSD’s first director of development for Diversity Initiatives.
She told Efe that her chief duty was to collect funds for programs benefiting minorities, but she encountered resistance from colleagues in leadership positions on campus and was laid off after just eight months on the job.
Her position was created following the notorious “Compton Cookout” of February 2010, an off-campus party where UCSD students ridiculed Black History month and a poor, largely African-American neighborhood in Los Angeles.
In her lawsuit, Baiz-Torres said that in the University of California system, UCSD has the lowest percentage of minority students, with some 12.8 percent Hispanics, 1.6 percent African-Americans and 0.4 percent Native Americans.
In comparison, the figures at other UC campuses can reach 32.2 percent for Latino students, 7.9 percent for African-Americans and 0.9 percent for Native Americans .
Latino student organizations like MEChA have cited her dismissal in May 2011 as an example of what they call the administrators’ unwillingness to remedy UCSD’s lack of diversity.
Mar Velez, president of MEChA, told Efe that Baiz-Torres was one of the people who worked hardest for minorities on campus, and that the administration refuses to give any explanation about why she was let go.
According to Baiz-Torres, UCSD personnel in leadership positions told her that “minority students should not be complaining and should be thankful that they even made it to a UC campus.”
In September 2010, UCSD hired her after she collected more than $78 million in the state to restore homes, schools, day-care centers and community installations in low-income neighborhoods.
The school wanted her to work with traditional donors to support student activities, secondary specialties in Chicano and African-American studies, and summer programs that help first-generation students adapt to life on campus.
Baiz-Torres said that though she signed only a one-year contract, the authorities promised that unless there were budgetary cuts or a “justified cause” they would renew it since that was the standard practice.
“There was no ‘justified cause,’ as proved by the fact they gave me a pay raise, good reports about my work and I passed the 6-month trial period,” Baiz-Torres said.
UCSD refused to comment on the pending lawsuit.