University of Arizona students, faculty and community members are calling for the removal of a university administrator after a Sept. 30 incident in which she called the police on a queer, disabled Black student.
Maribel Alvarez, the interim associate vice provost of diversity and inclusion, was involved in a verbal altercation with Kai Harriott, president of the university’s Black Student Union. Harriott tried to schedule a meeting with Alvarez, and a recording of their conversation posted online indicates that Harriott expressed confusion about why Alvarez would not meet with her during her scheduled meeting, according to AZCentral.
“Because I don’t have anything to talk to you about,” Alvarez said to Harriott in the recording.
A previous incident took place between Harriott, who uses a wheelchair, and Alvarez on Aug. 31, when Harriott revealed that she had been assaulted and she became uncomfortable with Alvarez’s response. When Harriott tried to end the conversation and leave, she said Alvarez blocked her wheelchair and put her fingers in Harriott’s face, according to AZCentral.com. The conversation escalated, and Alvarez called campus police and also requested that they ban Harriott from the Martin Luther King Building, where the African Student Affairs office and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the department tasked with supporting marginalized students and which Alvarez oversees, are located.
An open letter addressed to university officials and signed by alumni, faculty and members of the public calls for Alvarez be removed from her position while an investigation is being conducted, AZCentral.com reported.
UA president Robert Robbins sent a response to students, faculty, staff and others on the university’s group email list on Nov. 1 stating that the university would support any student, faculty or staff member who contacted law enforcement. He said Alvarez would remain in her position as university officials make plans to restructure the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.