Recently administrators at the University of California Santa Cruz agreed to meet four of the demands of a group of black students who had taken over a campus building, refusing to leave until demands were met.
The group, referred to as Afrikan/Black Student Alliance (ABSA) commandeered Kerr Hall early this month, chaining doors and barring them with furniture to bring about change they felt was necessary.
Among the demands met by administrators were an agreement to give all black and Caribbean-identified students a 4-year housing guarantee to live in the Rosa Parks African American Themed House, bringing back the building’s lounge, painting the exterior the “Pan-Afrikan colors” of red, green and black, and having all new incoming students go through a mandatory diversity competency training.
After 3 days of occupation, Chancellor George Blumenthal gave in to the students’ demands.
“The student demonstrators raised a number of issues with campus leaders, issues we fundamentally agree upon,” Blumenthal wrote in a memo issued on May 4. “Students from historically underrepresented communities deal with real challenges on campus and in the community. These difficulties include things that many people take for granted, such as finding housing or even just a sense of community.”
Following Blumenthal’s compliance, the student group has now posted three additional demands on their website.
We demand the University purchase a property located at or near the base of campus (High Street) to serve as a low income housing cooperative for historically disadvantaged students. We demand this property have 4 bedrooms with appropriate furnishings. This property will then be student ran and student operated by the Afrikan Black Student Alliance. We demand a written agreement to fund this project by beginning of spring quarter.
We demand the University allocate an additional $100,000 to the SOAR/Student Media/Cultural Arts and Diversity (SOMeCA for the hiring of advisor who has personal and professional experience handling African/Black/Caribbean student issues) permanently. We demand ABSA has a final decision on who is hired for this position.
Additionally, there was an earlier demand for the creation of a Black Studies department on this campus. The Administration has not agreed to the creation of a Black Studies department, and has instead agreed to the creation of a Black Studies Minor or Major. While some may want to commend this Administration for their seeming agreeance, the truth of the matter is that what they have agreed to has not come into existence, as it still only exists in “white man’s promise”, and as of today, the program, whether a Minor or a Major, has not been established at UCSC.
Describing their occupying of Kerr Hall as a process of “reclamation,” A/BSA has stated that they will not leave Kerr and will occupy more building until these additional demands are met, giving the administration until Fall 2017, citing their “generosity’ as the driving force behind the extended time frame.
The student alliance conslude their latest statement with a quote from Black Panther and political refugee Assata Shakur.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”