DAVIS, Calif. - A group of DQ University students held a press conference
on Jan. 26 calling for school president Victor Gabriel and his Executive
Assistant Shiella McCampbell to resign. The calls come less than a week
after the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) rescinded
California's only tribal college's accreditation.
"We [the students] have not had results, we have been pushed to the side,"
said DQ University Student Body President Lynn Brown about the call for the
resignations. Brown said she was one of 24 students who have vowed to stick
it out for the rest of the semester.
Brown, who spoke for the majority of the press conference, assailed the
school's leadership and gave a long list of laments about the deteriorating
condition of the school. She cited the lack of leadership shown to provide
food and proper utilities to the students as well as unsafe conditions in
the school's dormitories.
Brown faulted the administration for lack of recruitment among American
Indians and blamed them for allowing the school's American Indian student
body to fall below 51 percent, thus jeopardizing BIA funding which requires
the American Indian student body to be over half. The school also has a
large Latino student body as the original premise of the school was to
unite Indians from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.
Brown also cited the WASC report, which faulted the school's leadership.
"[WASC] has grave concerns about the qualifications of the administrative
staff to adequately lead the university," read a line from a Jan. 19 letter
to President Gabriel quoted in a press release.
Gabriel, who was also present at the press conference, occasionally
defended himself from student attacks, though he largely kept quiet.
Gabriel has vowed to stay on and has steadfastly refused to resign which
has irked some of the staff. He said it would "do more harm than good if I
One staff member, who asked not to be identified, said that Gabriel is "in
love with the idea of being president.
"It just seems like [Gabriel] just wants to go down with the whole place no
matter what," said the staff member.
The same staff member, however, disputed Brown and the other student's
charges against Executive Assistant McCampbell and described McCampbell as
a diligent worker who wears many hats and whose contributions often go
unnoticed by students.
Brown also questioned Gabriel's qualifications for the top post at the
school. Gabriel holds a bachelor's degree from the University of
California, Davis, but has never attended graduate school and has spent
most of his professional life as a jewelry maker.
Brown claimed that there were at least two California Indians from
federally recognized tribes that have expressed interest in the position.
Gabriel defended his actions at the conference and alluded to funding
problems which has made it difficult to hire staff. He claimed that he
handled problems as best as he was able citing repairs were being made as
problems occurred and pointed out that the school had only one employee to
handle various handyman chores.
One of the largest student concerns was the fate of financial aid that was
supposed to be distributed to the students. Though students at the press
conference said that they did not know where the money had gone, members of
the accounting staff claimed that all funds have been disbursed and that
they would continue to do so as they received the money.
"We haven't absconded with it, if that's what you're suggesting," said
Another problem area, according to Brown was the school's board of
directors, which is the only body that could actually fire Gabriel. The
night before the press conference, and facing the loss of accreditation,
only two of the six board members managed to show up for an emergency
That number falls short of a quorum and nothing was accomplished.
In fact, the board is supposed to have 16 members but currently has only
six members. However the board has never had 16 members.
The issue of accreditation was raised during the press conference, in which
some members of the senior staff said that WASC had overstepped their
boundaries in ordering a shut down of the school because their own rules
allow for a school to keep accreditation while the school appeals the
Gabriel said the decision would be appealed.