The Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) at California State University, Northridge will be celebrating its 46-year history with the unveiling of a memorial plaque on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 11 a.m.
The plaque unveiling, which will be held at the Ralph Prator Sundial Fountain near Bayramian Hall, is being dedicated to the students, faculty and staff who fought for social justice and equality on campus.
The plaque is a generous gift from longtime EOP supporter and Department of Asian American Studies professor Glenn Omatsu. His donation makes it possible to acknowledge the history and importance of the program on campus.
Omatsu has been a lecturer in Asian American Studies for more than two decades and serves as the EOP Faculty Mentor Program Coordinator.
“[EOP] was founded by the student population, but a lot of these students have not been recognized,” Omatsu said. “I wanted to be able to preserve history.”
The EOP was founded at CSUN in 1969 and aims to serve historically underrepresented, first-generation college students by providing them with access to the university and holistic academic services and support.
“EOP is a program that provides hope, guidance and opportunity to members of the community,” EOP Director Jose Luis Vargas said. “Without EOP, a lot of students wouldn’t be able to attend school.”
Vargas said Omatsu and he discussed the need for the EOP program to recognize the students from 46 years ago who “took the initiative to sacrifice themselves in order to have a program like EOP on campus.” The students’ efforts not only gave birth to the creation of EOP, but also resulted in the establishment of the Department of Africana Studies and the Department of Chicana/o Studies, two of the oldest and largest degree-granting programs of their kind in the nation.
The result is a memorial plaque that is meant to honor all students who fought hard to be given the same access and equity to higher education.
“This plaque is significant to [EOP] because it enables us to recognize all those who came before us,” Vargas said.
Before the existence of EOP in 1969, there were an estimated 23 African-American and seven Mexican-American students at CSUN. Today, CSUN’s EOP on average supports more than 2,500 students a year.