Implement Institutional Resources for Black Students
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1. We, the Black Student Union, believe that the University of California, Irvine must create and implement effective plans to recruit and retain Black students, staff, and faculty.
2. Black students still endure institutional and pervasive racism on a regular basis as evidenced by, but not in any way, shape, or form limited to, the following incidents:
a. In 2011, to begin the Cross Cultural Center’s 28th annual Martin Luther King Jr. symposium, UCI’s Hospitality and Dining services served fried chicken and waffles in “honor” of the event.
b. In 2012, Pi Beta Phi gave a “Once you go Black, you never go back” award, while Alpha Phi and Phi Psi decorated paddles labeled “slave driver” and “little slave.”
c. In 2013, a UCI Greek fraternity, Lambda Theta Delta, performed in Blackface for their multiple promotional videos. In the same year, a Black student found a piece of paper saying, “Go back 2 Africa slave.”
d. In 2014, UCI appointed Howard Gilman as its Chancellor without regard to student opposition. The university still has yet to resolve any of the issues previously stated, in addition to countless ones not mentioned. Given the hostile racial climate throughout the UC system and a multitude of issues directly affecting Black students here at UC Irvine, we as concerned leaders of the campus community have created this list of demands out of true concern for the health of current and future Black students here at UC Irvine. It is our belief that Chancellor Howard Gilman and UC Irvine Staff, Faculty, and Administration must be held accountable in addressing the structural deficiencies in institutional support for Black students on this campus.
The UCI Black Student Union strongly puts forth the following demands to UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gilman:
1. WE DEMAND that the UCI administration create and fund the Marsha P. Johnson Black Student Resource, Outreach, and Retention Center, similar to those on the campuses of UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Los Angeles, and UC Riverside. The 2015 Black Student Union Demands Team should choose this space. The violence Black students face on and off campus has documented negative effects on our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. These are sources of stress and ultimately impede on Black students’ success, academic pursuits, intellectual developments, and required resources. If the university administration is committed to combating the climate of anti-Blackness at UCI, then it must also mitigate such negative effects in order for Black students to thrive. The UCI Student Outreach and Retention Center (SOAR) is unable to address the specific negative effects of anti-Blackness and the particular barriers to recruiting and retaining Black students to UCI. Two BLOC-elected student representatives and three African-American Studies core faculty members, will be pivotal in determining what candidates to hire as the Marsha P. Johnson Black Resource, Outreach, and Retention Center’s director, and staff. Constituent Elements of the Marsha P. Johnson Black Resource, Outreach, and Retention Center are to include:
a. Each new academic school year, the hire of 2 Black program coordinators from the previous graduating class.
b. Two full-time Black professional psychologists and 4 full-time Black peer counselors, from the previous graduating class, to accommodate the specific mental health needs of the Black graduate and undergraduate community here at UCI.
c. Black Academic Counselors to ensure that Black students understand how to navigate university curriculum
d. A consolidation of job opportunities and academic scholarships
e. The center should be able to assist and advocate for the educational advancements of Black students. This should include but is not limited to supplying free course and testing materials i.e. studying space, tutoring, printing, scantrons, blue books, course textbooks, writing materials, computers, projectors, whiteboards, etc.
f. We demand the University provide programs geared toward financial education and counseling; teaching students from low-income and underprivileged communities how to manage their money.
g. Permanent quarterly funding and implementation of Sandra D. Johnson’s Black Afrikan Retention program.
h. The center should have monetary funds to extend to Black Student Organizations, as a supplement to funds obtained through the Vice Chancellors Office, in order to conduct programs.THE EXCLUSION OF ANY OPPRESSED FACTIONS OF THE BLACK STUDENT COMMUNITY FROM THE CENTER’S PROGRAMS OR SERVICES WILL NOT BE TOLERATED OR PERMITTED.
2. WE DEMAND that the African-American Studies Program be promoted to full departmental status with all the attendant rights, privileges, funding and FTEs. As the only consistent source of scholarship at UCI about the history, culture and politics of African-derived peoples, African-American Studies’ stability and growth must be ensured. The budget cuts that have plagued the Program in African-American Studies in recent years are another means through which the UCI administration has allowed institutional anti-Blackness to fester. The award-winning, internationally recognized research and teaching carried out by the faculty of African-American Studies are essential to the struggle for Black Liberation.
3. WE DEMAND that the UCI administration restore the dedicated Housing Assistant position to the Rosa Parks African-American Studies Theme House. At present, the Rosa Parks House, as a result of “budget cuts”, shares one Housing Assistant position with the Humanities House. This creates an untenable scenario in which an applicant for the Humanities House could, however well intentioned, preside over the residents of Rosa Parks without the necessary training, background or prior interest in the historic mission of the House. The Rosa Parks House is the only residence hall on campus with an explicit commitment to the welfare of Black students and requires a staff with awareness and focused attention and preparation.
4. We DEMAND the creation of a Black Scholars’ Hall with a dedicated Housing Assistant to house first year Black students by reserving two floors in the new MESA COURT for such purposes. The Black Scholars’ Hall is to serve incoming Black students by providing a safe space where Black history, culture, and intellectual thought is celebrated while still allowing them to take part in the first-year experience.
5. WE DEMAND a Permanent Task Force to be created and funded immediately for more outreach efforts and to create more opportunities for the hiring and retention of Black Faculty and staff. This Task Force shall have representatives from the African-American Studies Program Core Faculty, who are not only primarily housed in the African-American studies Program but also approved in consultation with by the chairs of the Black Student Union.
6. WE DEMAND that the Multiculturalism course requirement for every undergraduate student be satisfied ONLY by a new Political Education course, with an entirely new curriculum developed and overseen by Dr. Frank B. Wilderson III. This is because the current classes that meet the multicultural requirement fail to provide a critical analysis that teach us how to combat structural systems of oppression (racism, classism, heteropatriarchy, homophobia etc...).
7. WE DEMAND that the UCI administration cease referring to incidents of anti-Blackness as “isolated” or “rare,” including the Lambda Theta Delta (LTD) videos recently circulated on the Internet. The use of terms such as “isolated” and “rare” suggests that these incidents stand alone rather than collectively indicating a larger, structural problem on campus and in society.
a. WE DEMAND that the UCI administration create and implement a zerotolerance policy for anti-Blackness on campus. This policy must be formalized in writing with the participation of three paid BLOC-elected undergraduate student representatives. The three BLOC representatives will determine punitive measures. This policy must place the offending students on probation for a minimum of one quarter, and the dismantling of any organization involved. If further punitive action is necessary or required, it is to be determined by the paid BLOC-elected undergraduate student representatives. Conditions of probation should include, but not be limited to: loss of the use of campus recreational space, loss of on-campus and housing advertising, and loss of any university funding. If the offender is not affiliated with any campus organization, other punitive measures will be devised.
b. WE DEMAND that the UCI administration create three BLOC-elected, UCI-funded paid undergraduate student position to supervise the implementation of the university’s zero-tolerance policy on antiBlackness. These students, holding either a major or minor in African American Studies, will work alongside the UCI administration in the investigation of alleged incidents of anti-Blackness, and attend all relevant meetings. These students will have the additional power to design educational programs to combat the climate of anti-Blackness on campus. These students will retain autonomy in order to ensure transparency.
8. WE DEMAND the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, and Chief Diversity Officer meet with the chair and vice chair of the Black Student Union at least once every academic quarter.
9. WE DEMAND that all of our demands be fully implemented within the next 3-6 months and we expect the Chancellor to give us his official response no later than 5PM on January 30th 2015. The leaders of the Black Student Union are sending out this press release because we want to inform the UC Irvine student body of the steps we are taking to address issues of systemic racism that we as Black students face at the University and what we are doing to promote a more inclusive and better resourced campus for the underserved Black students, staff and faculty. This is also a call for support from the rest of the University in assisting us with this project. We ask that all of the demands listed above be implemented within the next 3-6 months. As a follow-up to this press release, we invite all supportive members of the UC Irvine community to sign our online petition at: https://www.change.org/p/howardgillman-implement-institutional-resources-for-black-students
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