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WSU Administration to visit Samoa

Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins will make the trip as well

NCAA Football: Stanford at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz and other community leaders will take a trip to Samoa next month to strengthen the relationship between the university and the island community.

As reported by Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, Schulz will be joined by VP of Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzalez, former WSU quarterback Jack Thompson, and Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins. According to Loh, the unprecedented visit is being billed as “goodwill trip.” The group will depart on Aug. 23, during the first week of school.

Gonzalez, who was hired in the spring of 2017, said that one of her main focuses in her new job is to make Pullman a more inclusive community. On this trip, her aim is to “understand who our students are and how we can support them.”

According to the article, WSU currently has 99 students of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander decent. The football roster lists five players as being from Samoa, while four more were born in Hawaii.

The administration wants to do a better job of connecting with minority students, but this visit has other context that can’t go without mention. Last fall saw multiple Samoan WSU football players arrested, and sent to the Student Conduct Board where they were subsequently punished.

After calls of racial prejudice in the conduct board process, WSU brought in an independent law firm to review the rules and ways in which the board operates. Additionally, press conferences featuring State Representative Michael Baumgartner, the players themselves, and Thompson were held discussing the system’s unfairness.

Schulz has pledged to improve the Student Conduct Board and taken steps to make it more fair. This trip will hopefully improve the administrations cultural literacy, and also serves to help its public image after the debacle last fall.



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