The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted a few months after I was born. This federal legislation ensures there should be no discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in the United States of America. I happen to be half Irish, half Mexican, raised by Oglala Lakota Sioux (since I was two years old), either in or on the cusp of Black neighborhoods of inner-city Omaha and “T-Town” in Lincoln. When my Danish/Irish mother from Talmedge, NE married a full blood Native American from Chadron, NE in 1966, as a family we faced discrimination through the years in our state. It was during my upbringing I vowed to face and eliminate discrimination wherever it was prevalent. Including the college campuses of Nebraska.
In 2003 when I was a doctoral student at UNL, I was conducting a paleontological survey on the Santee Sioux Reservation in Knox County, Nebraska. It was during this time the University of Nebraska State Museum (USNM) and the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) dispossessed a plesiosaur from the Santee Sioux tribe near Center, Nebraska, without consulting the Santee Sioux tribal government what-so-ever. I contacted the media (Omaha World Herald and Daily Nebraskan) and asked the Nebraska State Museum if the Santee Sioux school students could participate in the dig. I was told “No.” According to the USNM and the NDOR the dig was too close to the state highway. Yet, a few months later, on the University of Nebraska State Museum website, it depicted nonNative American children having their hands covered in plaster and participating in the dig. The site was too dangerous for the Santee Sioux children but not the nonNative American children. It was of my opinion that the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the Nebraska Department of Roads blatantly discriminated against the Santee Sioux school children on their own reservation. I had enough and decided to run for Regent in 2006. On a high note, I would like to say I had to break through barriers at my own university and graduated with a Ph.D. in Native American Geography in 2010. Civil Rights always has and always will be important to me as candidate for Regent, District 4.
In 2011 and 2012 (part one) the University of Nebraska at Omaha, in a very unscrupulous and vindictive manner, cut the powerhouse Football and perennial National Championship Wrestling programs. The football team already had recruits who turned down other offers. Also, the Wrestling program was told by the UNO Athletic Director over the phone, just hours after winning a National NCAA Division II title, that their program had just been cut. Now, whether you agree or disagree on the budget of those times about the UNO athletic program, we would all agree the handling of the situation was not honest and forthright. In one fell swoop a substantial proportion of the student body, minority and otherwise, was eliminated right off the UNO campus. The collateral damage and suffering of the families was devastating. The Regent Board (including student Regents), and UNO Administration was callous and cold and deleted emails, had no comment to the media, and would not return calls to boosters and personnel who had given their lives to the UNO athletic programs. As a candidate for Regent, District 4 in 2012, I stood up for my fellow alumni and the student body. I held press conferences. I talked about the issues on the campaign trail. I was a stalwart for Human and Student Rights.
In 2011 and 2012 (part two) a petition was circulated around the state of Nebraska to eliminate Affirmative Action. This included programs within the University of Nebraska system that would help hire and train minority faculty. I witnessed the Regent Board of that time give a very luke warm effort in turning back and educating the citizens about the damage the anti-affirmative action petition would do to our respective universities. Meanwhile, I did my best on talk shows, social media, and door-to-door campaigning to enlighten people and inform them to not sign that anti-affirmative action petition. Unfortunately, the petition passed. But, recent rulings by State and Federal courts give hope. And the current Regent Board does nothing to ask about the constitutionality of the anti-affirmative action petition of Nebraska. As I did then, and as I will now and in the future, I will stand up for civil, human, and student rights as your next Regent of District 4.
Now in 2018, I have been placing in the forefront of my Regent campaign the issue of the University of Nebraska at Omaha using a tremendously high number of 500 part-time Adjunct Professors. That is at least 50% of all class instruction. Over the last few years I have been on NET, Omaha World Herald, UNO Gateway, and WOWT Channel Six raising the issue about how the Regent Board is allowing UNO to participate in such exploitation of part-time labor. Each media outlet reached the same conclusion with the numbers. One of my colleagues had to sign away her medical benefits to teach nine credit hours. She was pregnant at the time. Another fellow Adjunct hasn’t had a raise in ten years of teaching. There is disparity in pay from one college to another. I even testified before the Appropriations Committee of the Nebraska State Legislature about the overuse of Adjuncts at UNO. As a candidate for Regent, District 4 I will continue to uphold the ethics of workers’ rights.
I hope I have convinced you my commitment to the rights and voices of all people who attend and work at our universities. Please forgive me, but I strive to be one of the strongest champions of Civil Rights, Human Rights, Student Rights, and Workers Rights to ever have walked the halls of the University of Nebraska campuses.