California Northstate University's neutral stance on death of George Floyd rebuked during Elk Grove City Council meeting

Appearing before the Elk Grove City Council last summer, Alvin Cheung was criticized by an Elk Grove resident
asking if he "is worried about offending racist." | 

During the Wednesday, June 10, Elk Grove City Council meeting an Elk Grove resident rebuked a statement issued last week by the president of California Northstate University over the death of Mr. George Floyd that has led to widespread condemnation.

The comments from Ms. Staci Anderson came during the public criticism of the meeting, which was held via teleconference. Anderson specifically criticized comments by CNU's president, Alvin Cheung.

As reported by the Sacramento Bee, Cheung said the school, which also is attempting to finance the construction of the $900 million 400 bed hospital in Elk Grove's Stonelake neighborhood, had taken a neutral stance on the burgeoning Black Lives Matter civil rights movement. The school's statement was issued following unrest that included the looting of businesses. 

In her comments, Anderson read Cheung's statement that "Recent events have caused significant uprising and protests throughout the United States, resulting in both significant injuries, deaths and property damage throughout the nation. In order for California Northstate University to continue its mission of furthering the science and art of healthcare through education, the CNU Board of Trustees hereby enacts a policy of neutrality as an institution.”

"Is he worried about offending racists," Andrson said. "He also mentioned pharmacies being vandalized during recent protests, indicating that CNU’s stance was partially taken to avoid potential damage to the school.

Anderson also compared Cheung's statement to a statement issued by the University of California Regents that said: “As leaders of the largest public research university in the United States, we feel that silence is complicity: We must put an end to these incidents now."

Cheung's medical school students issued a counter-statement condemning CNU's neutrality stance. Anderson read their statement into the record saying, “'The College of Medicine student body is appalled, disappointed, and deeply hurt by your response and decision to adopt a Neutrality Policy. This statement tacitly condones both police brutality and systemic racism faced by Black and Brown communities across America....A position of neutrality is not only unacceptable, but also does not exist. There is no such thing as neutrality in a situation where violence directly infringes upon the livelihoods and safety of Black and underrepresented communities across the nation and at our institution.'”

In addition to operating a pharmacy and medical school, CNU is seeking approval from the city of Elk Grove to build a $900 million 400- bed hospital in the city's Stonelake neighborhood. Elk Grove's economic development department tacitly supports the project and Cheung has the direct support of Mayor Steve Ly and City Councilmember Darren Suen.

A resident of Stonelake, Anderson, and several residents in that neighborhood have formed a group called Neighbors Ensuring Stonelake Transparency, NEST, that has actively opposed CNU's proposed 12-story hospital. 

"In response to the backlash from their controversial and tone-deaf public statement, CNU released another statement condemning 'the killing of George Floyd, racism, brutality, violence and social injustice.' But it ended there," Anderson told the city council. "There was no apology to their students or the community; no commitment to taking a stand against these issues within their institution. Instead, once again, they merely claimed they had been 'misunderstood.'"

Aderson concluded her commentary by saying, "this adds to the long list of CNU’s actions which have displayed a lack of understanding, a lack of professionalism, a lack of empathy, and a lack of communication skills. CNU’s moral compass is severely damaged at the highest levels, and it’s up to our City Council and our citizens to reject such ignorance and bias from seeping into our community." 

Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2020. All right reserved.


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