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Saturday, April 20, 2024

DQ University seeks to rebuild

When commuting between UC Davis and Winters, there seems to be a lot of open land strictly designated for farming. But one particular establishment within this expanse may sometimes go unnoticed — though new developments could re-establish its presence in the region.

DQ University, a two-year community college for Native American tribes in California, has been in a process of regrowth since the school was shut down due to financial issues and loss of accreditation in 2005. This year may prove to be a momentous stride for DQ University in re-establishing courses, standard procedures and infrastructure.

A pending partnership between DQ University and UC Davis’ Engineers Without Borders (EWB), an international nonprofit organization that offers sustainable solutions to developing regions around the world, would establish a five-year commitment to improve DQ University’s facilities. Should the partnership be approved by DQ University leaders, EWB will assess, design, build and monitor the university’s development.

Assistance from civil, environmental, structural and water quality engineers would implement sustainable solutions for the upkeep of the property.

“One of the great things about possibly linking with [EWB] is that it will give us a strong outside resource that has capabilities to take our vision, or our needs, forward,” said Margaret Hoaglen, DQ University’s chair of the board of trustees. “They could demonstrate how to use alternative energy, things that are sustainable, not costly to us.”

A particular concern for DQ University’s board is the issue of waste management and plumbing that would damage the environment.

“Any project we take on is sustainable in every meaning of the word,” said Amelia Holmes, director of EWB and junior specialist in the civil and environmental engineering department. “Whether it’s environmentally, structurally or financially sustainable, it’s our goal to put this into effect.”

One of the first things that EWB would work on after a finalized partnership is a sanitation project, setting up a system rather than bringing out higher-cost, less sustainable portable toilets.

“EWB would provide ample opportunity for students to develop projects with hands-on experience without going across the globe,” Holmes said.

In the meantime, The InterTribal Council of California, a nonprofit organization that serves to preserve and enhance the traditions as well as many other social aspects of 35 native tribes of California, has proposed two educational programs to help DQ University with reopening the school.

One program is the Tribal Emergency Response Training, which educates tribal leaders in preparing tribes for natural disasters or emergencies. The second program is a Tribal Environmental Stewardship, which teaches the fundamentals of environmental science and environmental law.

In the past two years, DQ University has been hosting small, under-the-radar workshops for inter-tribal communities and many others.

“Offering workshops has been the best option because there has just been no funding for a full teaching staff,” said Dunn Eggink, a DQ University board member. “There was one workshop last September that proved to be one of the largest outcomes with a hundred people studying permaculture on the land for two weeks.”

Other workshops have offered lessons in the art of making tule boats, a Pomo and Miwok tradition, as well as Language Immersion, a workshop in which everyone who signs up gets a list of vocabulary in an indigenous language of choice and builds tools for traditional games while using that language.

The board has also discussed holding cultural learning days, which will be held once a month starting the first weekend of June. Jim Brown, an expert in central California native history, has offered to teach these classes along with native instructors who will hold drum practices for those interested in music.

“Since 2005, we have been completely starting from scratch. What can we do on a minimal level while re-establishing a reputation as a university?” Eggink said. “We’ve come to a point where a lot of struggle concerning DQ University’s direction is behind us and we look forward to continuing this movement in reviving the university.”

DOMINICK COSTABILE can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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