TIMELINE: A look at the recent history of racism at Sac State


Mercy Sosa

A Facebook video posted May 1, 2020 went viral, showing Sacramento State professor Tim Ford and his wife Crystal Ford arguing with their neighbors. The State Hornet has compiled a timeline of instances of racism at Sac State. Graphic created in Canva.

Over the past year, Sacramento State has had several racist instances involving faculty, students and other members of the campus community. Here, The State Hornet has compiled a timeline of instances of racism at Sac State and mutliple resignations of Black administrators, as well as Sac State’s attempts to be an anti-racist campus.

​​MAY 1 2020: Sac State professor seen in viral video where wife uses racial slur against neighbors

Screenshot taken from Facebook video. Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

In the video Sac State economics professor Tim Ford and his wife Crystal Ford are seen in a verbal dispute with their neighbors. Crystal Ford uses racial slurs multiple times, refers to the person recording as a “bitch” and flips off the camera. At the end of the video, Tim Ford tosses his drink and its contents at his neighbors’ window. Read more here.

MAY 8 2020: Petition circulates for the professor’s removal and Nelsen condemns professor’s behavior in SacSend email

Screenshot taken from Facebook video. Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

A petition by a Sac State student titled #FireTimFord circulated on May 8 and accumulated 1,589 signatures as of the publication of this timeline. The petition states that because Sac State consists of “minority students,” the cultivation of an environment that is free of racial bias and discrimination is important. Read more on the petition here.

Nelsen, in a SacSend email, said the university “absolutely [does] not condone this sort of language or behavior” and emphasized that Sac State strives to be inclusive and caring.

“At this point, the verbal altercation is a personnel matter that the University is investigating, and we will not address it again publicly,” Nelsen’s SacSend read. Read more here.

MAY 8 2020: Division of Inclusive Excellence announces town hall responding to incident with professor

Photo in the background taken by Rahul Lal. Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

Hours after Nelsen’s email said the university would not address the incident again publicly, Vice President for Inclusive Excellence Diana Tate Vermeire announced a town hall discussing “the process by which the campus responds to personnel matters generally and what actions the institution can take in response to the larger issues of racial bias.”

Vermeire scheduled the town hall for May 19, just shy of three weeks after the video of the incident went viral.

MAY 19 2020: BSU president presses Sac State to fire professor seen arguing with neighbors

Screenshot taken via Zoom. Graphic created in Canva. (Ayaana Williams)

Former Sac State Black Student Union president Adwoa Akyianu called for Ford’s firing on Tuesday during the virtual town hall hosted by Sac State. Read more here.

Akyianu also called for an action-oriented apology, a zero-tolerance racism policy and mandated cultural responsiveness training that students have a hand in creating.

MAY 30 2020: Nelsen promises anti-racism plan in SacSend email

Photo of President Robert Nelsen taken by Rahul Lal. Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

Nelsen referenced the deaths of George Floyd, Stephon Clark, Breonna Taylor and many others that sparked a mass increase of Black Lives Matters protests nationwide.

As a result, Nelsen promised a nine-point plan to “fight racism on our campus and in our community,” including developing an anti-racism campus plan. Read more in his email here.

Summer 2020: ‘You were my bullies’: Sac State theatre and dance students confront faculty over systemic racism

Screenshot taken via Zoom. Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

Members of Sac State’s theatre and dance department set up virtual meetings, called Black Engaged Fundamental Racial Equity Everyday or “BE FREE” sessions. During these meetings, students shared their stories of systemic racism from professors in the theatre and dance department.

Nelsen and other faculty members attended some meetings, where students shared experiences of feeling oppressed, excluded and bullied by some department faculty members.

Nelsen, Provost Steve Perez and College of Arts and Letters Dean Sheree Meyer sent an email to alumna Monique Crawford, who ran the Zoom meetings, inviting participants from BE FREE to meet with university administration to “create a structure for ongoing engagement and action planning.”

However, the email also said they are “respectfully discontinuing participation in the BE FREE Zoom meetings and asking the faculty and staff of the department of theatre and dance to no longer attend, although each individual may make his or her own choice to do so.” Read more here.

DEC. 3 2020: Sac State talent show interrupted by racist comments Black students react to racial slurs at UNIQUE talent show and following investigation

Graphic created in Canva. (Ayaana Williams)

Two users attending “Sac State’s Got Talent” via Zoom filled the chat with racial slurs. The slurs came after the talent show, hosted on a livestream by UNIQUE, had ended and the judges went into a separate breakout room to decide the winner.

Brian Blomster, director of news and communications for Sac State, said in a statement to The State Hornet that the university’s Information Resources and Technology department investigated the incident. IRT came to the conclusion that the offensive remarks were not local users and could not be associated with Sac State. Read more on what occurred at the event here.

Kameya Turner, who was vice president of Sac State’s BSU at the time and now the club’s president, said that Sac State is beginning to become desensitized toward the issues Black students face.

“What I’ve noticed when it comes to these incidents, there’s not really a valid response or action being taken, we’re allowing this to become normal,” Turner said. Read more on how Black students at Sac State reacted here.

DEC. 17 2020: Mother Jones publishes article detailing a Black professor having the cops called on him while on campus

Screenshot taken via Zoom. Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

Mother Jones reported on an incident that occurred at a meeting of Sac State’s Student Investment Fund in 2018, where professor David Moore had the police called on him by fellow professor Sanjay Varshney. Moore formerly was a faculty mentor for the club and left that year due to “leadership disagreements” and “schedule pressure.”

According to Moore, Varshney asked Moore to leave because he was no longer a faculty adviser, though Moore developed the fund’s trading strategy. When Moore refused to leave, Varshney called campus police. Read more in Mother Jones' article here.

FEB. 8 2021: Sac State College of Health and Human Services dean retires

Photo courtesy of Sacramento State. Graphic created in Canva. (Ayaana Williams)

Robin Carter, who accepted the dean position in December 2020, retired from Sac State citing personal reasons. Carter also was the university’s inaugural interim executive director of diversity and inclusion. Read more here.

APRIL 27 2021: Professor calls for President Nelsen’s resignation amid systemic racism at Sac State

Screenshots taken via Zoom. Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

Hosted by the California Faculty Association and co-sponsored by Sac State’s Center on Race, professor Moore called for President Nelsen’s resignation during a teach-in event about systematic racism.

“Here we are, three years later,” Moore said. “I realize directing someone into the process is directing them into a process designed to bury issues and sweep them under the rug. There’s not a process designed to arrive at truth or justice.” Read more here.

APRIL 30 2021: Sac State vice president for inclusive excellence leaving university

Photo courtesy of Sacramento State. Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

Diana Tate Vermeire, Sac State vice president for inclusive excellence, announced she would leave the university on May 21, 2021. According to Vermeire, she said she accepted a new position as the senior vice president of strategy at the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

Vermeire was the executive sponsor of Sac State’s anti-racism campus plan. Read more here.

MAY 14 2021: Nelsen chooses interim vice presidents to lead Division of Inclusive Excellence

Photos courtesy of Sacramento State. Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

William “Skip” Bishop and Melinda Wilson Ramey filled in for the role of vice president for inclusive excellence following the announcement that current vice president Diana Tate Vermeire would leave the university on May 21, 2021. Read more here.

MAY 18 2021: Sac State director of inclusive excellence learning departing university

Photo courtesy of Sacramento State. Graphic made in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

John Johnson, Sac State’s director of inclusive excellence learning, departed from the university on June 11 after four and a half years at Sac State. Johnson took a position as vice president of diversity and inclusion at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. Johnson’s departure marked the third time in the spring 2021 semester that a Black administrator has left Sac State.

“I realize that the significant number of departures from the Division of Inclusive Excellence might leave many feeling anxious or frustrated about the state of DE&I [diversity, equity and inclusion] at Sac State,” Johnson said in an email sent to The State Hornet Publication Board. “I would urge you to channel that frustration into institutional accountability and I implore you to provide interim and future leadership in the division with the same level of support and engagement you provided me.”

Read more here.

JUNE 30 2021: Anti-racism plan released to campus community

Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

The 324-page anti-racism and inclusive campus plan was released and laid out “a path for the campus toward becoming the anti-racist and inclusive campus it aspires to be.”

Nelsen’s email releasing the plan said that the university will offer “opportunities for responses, thoughts, and ideas as part of the campus community engagement phase of the process” in the fall 2021 semester. Read the plan here.

AUG. 18 2021: Anti-racism convocation announced, scheduled for Sept. 29

Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

“This convocation is our first opportunity to learn more about the plan and share preliminary steps for implementing it. There also will be an opportunity to hear directly from the President, Cabinet members, and those whose work resulted in the Antiracism and Inclusive Campus Plan,” Nelsen’s announcement read.

SEPT. 9 2021: Sac State theatre students call for change, reflect on department’s past with systemic racism

Photo of Aladria Brown taken by Madelaine Church. Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa )

“We have this call to the department and the university to stop functioning in a performative manner,” Miles Meckling, a 22-year-old theatre alumni who graduated spring 2021 said. “We’re calling on you to hire and bring in qualified, diverse employees to help represent all of the students and the dynamic makeup of California.”

Read more here.

SEPT. 21 2021: Planned anti-racism convocation postponed

Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

Nelsen announced the convocation discussing the university’s anti-racism plan would be postponed to Feb. 25, 2022 as the hiring search for a permanent vice president of inclusive excellence continues.

“Postponing Convocation will allow the new VP for I[nclusive] E[xcellence] and her staff to get to know each other and to spend time learning about the needs of our Hornet Family,” Nelsen wrote in his SacSend email. “The new VP for Inclusive Excellence needs to be given the time to be a part of that process and imprint her vision for the role of IE in this important convening.”

SEPT. 23 2021: Candidates for Sac State’s vice president of inclusive excellence share goals in open forum

Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

Sacramento State held town halls interviewing three candidates for vice president of inclusive excellence, following former Vice President Diana Tate Vermeire’s departure in May. This role will focus on diversity, equity and inclusion on campus and will work directly with the university’s anti-racism and inclusion plan. Read more here.

OCT. 6 2021: Director of Equal Opportunity departs university

Graphic created in Canva. (Mercy Sosa)

Nelsen announced that William ‘Skip’ Bishop, Sacramento State’s director of equal opportunity and interim vice president of Inclusive Excellence, would be leaving the university to work as San Jose State’s Title IX and gender equity officer.

In the Mother Jones article Bishop was quoted discussing Sac State’s anti-racism efforts in a May 2019 email to the Black Staff and Faculty Association.

“I apologize in advance, but I am no longer interested in doing anything for this University other than what I’m paid to do,” Bishop said in the email, according to Mother Jones. “The Administration has made it clear to me that diversity and inclusion means nothing unless it is for their benefit. Going forward, I hope this group really takes a hard look at how African-Americans are treated on this campus.”

Read more here.


As of publication, Tim Ford is still listed as a professor on Sac State’s department of economics website. An official replacement for Sac State’s vice president of inclusive excellence has not yet been announced. The anti-racism convocation to discuss the campus anti-racism plan was postponed to Feb. 25, 2022, nearly two years after Nelsen first promised the anti-racism plan.

In an interview with The State Hornet, Nelsen said the vice president on inclusive excellence will be chosen in the next two weeks.

Nelsen said the anti-racism committee is continuing to meet weekly to talk more about the anti-racism and inclusion plan.

As of now, Nelsen says the anti-racism and inclusive plan does not have a timeline.

“It does not have a full implementation plan at all,” Nelsen said. “When the VP for IE comes in, she’ll need to create a matrix to where they are, where the overlaps are, and see where the holes are because it's not a plan designed via plan yet. We have to make it into a plan.”

Additional reporting by Emma Hall. Page design created by Mercy Sosa.