Editor’s Note: This is the full version of Black Student Union Statement February 2010 UCSD Black Student Union Address! State of Emergency!
By David Ritcherson and Fnann Keflezighi
(Forwarded to the New U by Aida Solomon)
It is with crucial concern and urgency that I write this letter to bring to your attention the state of the campus climate for African-American students at UC San Diego. The University is allowing the African-American students to be racially demoralized by a group of students on this campus. The most recent incident was February 18, 2010 between 11:00pm and midnight a group of students on the UC San Diego Student Run Television Program (SR-TV) making statements in support of the racial “Compton cookout” party That took place this past Monday February 15, 2010. These students insulted the African-American community by stating “you ungrateful niggers…”. It is a toxic environment for African-American students on this campus. The SR-TV is funded by the University so in fact, it is using taxpayers dollars to degrade and demoralize the African-American students and other underrepresented backgrounds as well. Again, this is a STATE OF EMERGENCY the University is in direct violation of its “Principles of Community”. Students do not feel safe on this campus and it is affecting their everyday lives. We need direct action from the University immediately.
Those students involved in the shameful racist acts should be suspended from the University for spreading such hateful messages about the African-American community to the University campus-wide and with the University’s funding and approval. These types of acts will not be tolerated. The Black Student Union calls you to support us in this struggle to heal the underrepresented student community and to create a healthier campus climate at UC San Diego. Students are exhausted and tired of bailing this institution out by developing our own student initiated outreach, retention, and yield efforts and maintaining and sustaining them with our own student fees. When will the University do its part? Time for change is long overdue it’s the University’s turn to create that change.
Please understand that this tragedy has marked UC San Diego as a racist University and consequently damaged our student initiated yield efforts we worked on this entire academic year. We demand as a result of this dilemma the University take full responsibility for these actions occurring and take direct action to heal a community that has been scarred. Several students and their families are considering transferring out of UC San Diego because of this injustice. We can no longer stand this HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT. Please Come Support our Protest and march to the Chancellors office today February 19th at 9am on Library Walk at UCSD.
The demands of the Black Student Union to address the issue of poor campus climate are stated below and are to be effective immediately.
• We demand a Permanent Task Force to fund more outreach efforts and create more opportunities for hiring African-American Faculty.
• We demand the University fully fund the traditional and non-traditional events of the Black Student Union in our efforts to create a better climate for ourselves.
• Match Funds with Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service (SPACES) budget including the Student Initiated Access Program and Services (SIAPS) and Academic Success Program (ASP) budgets.
Black Student Union Statement February 2010
• We demand that every time the freshmen class enrollment is cut the University matches the student fees that they would have been paying to SPACES permanently to SPACES.
• We demand that Chancellor Fox uses more energy and resources to providing research based scholarships for African-American students as apart of a retention component from the Chancellor’s Diversity Office.
• Demand the University to increase the African-American populations in all areas of the campus including, Students (undergraduates and graduates), PhD Candidates, Faculty, Staff and Administration.
• We demand the University directly fully fund Faculty-Student Mentor Programs.
• We demand the University staff the vacant Program Coordinator position of the African-American Studies Minor
• We demand the Chancellor’s office make the African-American Studies Minor and the Chicano Latina/o Arts and Humanities Minor a priority for the University.
• We demand the University to charge a Task Force to create the plan for an African-American Resource Center on Campus in two years to provide a safe space for the African-American community.
• We demand that Chancellor Fox create an Office for Diversity Affairs from her administration instead of a part-time position with a title.
• We demand the Chancellor fully funds the Chief Diversity Office.
• We demand a change of Admissions Policy from a Comprehensive to a Holistic Review beginning for the Fall 2011 applicant pool.
• We demand campus climate becomes the Chancellor’s number one priority, especially in this time of crisis.
• We demand Chancellor Fox and the University have mutual respect of the “Principles of Community” and create a precedent of prioritizing students of color and leading by example. When demand that there be repercussions when the “Principles of Community” are blatantly being violated.
• We demand the Chancellor’s Office charges the Campus Climate Commission that will work primarily on improving the campus climate and providing a safer and more welcoming space and experience for the students of underrepresented communities and the entire student body.
• We demand a permanent quarterly and annual campus climate report from this Campus Climate Commission. This Campus Climate Commission must report directly to SAAC.
Black Student Union Statement February 2010
• We demand the University create a space in the central part of campus safe for African-American students on campus.
• We demand the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Chief Diversity Office meet with the chair and vice chair of the Black Student Union at least once every academic quarter.
• We demand the University provide financial education and counseling, teaching students from low-income, underprivileged communities how to manage their money being independent college students.
• We demand that the University sends out a campus-wide email presenting the Black Student Union’s Do UC us? Campaign Report on Yield of African-American students immediately.
• We demand the University live up to it’s “Principles of Community” and show leadership and integrity by giving up the remains of the Kumeeay tribe and respect the native land on which we are housed.
• We demand three permanent designated spaces for African-American inspired art to reflect the struggle and progress for students of color on this campus.
• We demand that Chancellor Fox fully funds this Art space. We demand that the moral “Chicano Legacy” become a permanent art piece on this campus. We demand that Native American, Latino and Asian-Pacific Islander cultural art is reflected publicly on this campus.
• We demand Chancellor Fox and the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, and the Academic Senate mandate a diversity sensitivity requirement for every undergraduate student to take an African-American studies, Ethnic Studies, and Gender Studies before they graduate from UC San Diego.
• We demand the programs and departments such as OASIS, Campus Community Centers, Ethnic Studies, Critical Gender Studies, CLAH, and African American Studies Minor amongst others continue to have solid funding for the work they do in retaining African American students and educating the campus as a whole.
• We demand the University implements, maintains and fully funds BSU’s Student Initiated Yield Programs.
• Stipend for Student Volunteers- students deserves compensation for the hard work they do that the University should be doing.
• We demand that the Chancellor’s Office offers more campus-wide support for the African-American students on this campus, as well as the other historically underrepresented and under-served communities on this campus.
Black Student Union Statement February 2010
• We demand the University provide the African-American community with a temporary location for a safe space on campus while the African-American Resource Center is being planned and constructed.
• We demand the University provide free tutors for the African-American students who seek academic support. This can be structured similar to that of the Athletic Department’s services to Athletes.
• We demand a response!
As you may or may not be aware of the recent events that occurred involving some UC San Diego undergraduate students in an attempt to make a mockery of Black History month and host a themed party entitled “The Compton Cookout”. This is completely unacceptable. The University has made two meager attempts to alleviate the tension between the UCSD community and spread awareness to the population but that those attempts have been to no avail. Our question and major concern is how does a student/ group of students feel that it is acceptable to target a group of color. This issue is a direct reflection of the insensitivity on this campus and has acted as a catalyst in this already existing hostile environment. This address is to not focus on the event specifically but to 1) use this situation as a learning experience for everyone who may or may not have been affected 2) hold the Chancellor and the University accountable to making campus climate a priority and addressing the needs of the African-American community and historically underrepresented ethnic communities on this campus. The administration’s failure to prioritize creating a healthier campus climate earlier has caused this tragic event to reach the masses. It needs to be addressed immediately and all members involved in the organizing of the racist event should face dire consequences. The University needs to make an example out of these students.
What we have done
Earlier this year the Black Student Union, with the help of a larger statewide coalition, organized and coordinated the Do UC us? Campaign in an effort to increase the numbers of African-American students on the UC San Diego campus. The campaign also clearly addressed the issues of campus climate at this University compiled with Admissions Statistics and criteria, Diversity and Yield Reports from the University as well as student testimonies, demands and student initiated programs to increase the yield of African American students. The UCSD Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Penny Rue, has committed to fully funding the yield programs and through this public address along with support we will surely hold her accountable to that. Consequently, with the media involved, this issue has reached national attention and has sadly marked UCSD to be a “racist campus”. This is completely problematic because this incident is pushing us back in our efforts of access, yield and retention. Students have been working countless hours developing yield programs for the black students that will succeed but now more ever we are conflicted. We want to increase the numbers of African-American students on this campus but we do not want them to experience the hostile environment that we have to deal with Black Student Union Statement February 2010
daily. What type of campus climate do we have at this University that would allow this type of behavior/ activity to be acceptable?
This incident has given us a moral edge.
The Black Student Union will continuously represent the voice of the African-American student population and raise issues regarding campus climate because we are confident that an inclusive campus climate fosters higher retention rates, student development, and academic empowerment. BSU requests that you all review the needs and that we schedule a quarterly meeting to update, assess, and evaluate.
The Black Student Union has been in existence on this campus since 1968. We are apart of the history of UCSD! African-American students have made instrumental steps for pushing for social justice and equality for all students on campus for decades. The University is planning its 50 Year Celebration and in that half century our population of African American students has never exceeded 3%. The campus having never seen a black population of over 3 percent speaks to the lack of initiative and prioritization of yield and diversity outreach. Students on this campus that make continual efforts to undermine the history of oppression of African-Americans in this country and the racism and bigotry we have surmounted.
To our fellow students, lets take care of each other. We have to continue to push through the hardship that this situation has caused us and use it as a blessing in disguise. We WILL stay united and our community will hold the University accountable to prioritizing a healthier campus climate for underrepresented groups on this campus.
To our extremely supportive faculty and staff, thank you and please continue to push, encourage and guide us as student leaders and activist.
To Chancellor Fox, Vice Chancellor Rue and the rest of University Administration, we demand you commit to the UCSD “Principles of Community”.
Steps for the Future
Monday Feb 22nd 6:30- BSU general body meeting in Cross Cultural Center in the Comunidad Room
Tuesday Feb 23rd 5-7pm- “Honest and Open Dialogue on Campus Climate”- Muir Quad, Facilitated by Fnann Keflezighi
Wednesday Feb 24th 12-2pm Teach-ins and 2-4pm Open Dialogue-facilitated by Briana Boyd-Price Center Ballroom East Black Student Union Statement February 2010
Thursday Feb 25th 4:30-6:30pm-Campus Black Forum (CBF) – Cross Cultural Center library (please note that CBF is a space created for the African American community and you may or may not be welcomed into this space especially in this time of pain)
The University Administration should feel embarrassed for allowing such negligence to occur. We warned the University about the hostile environment for Black students within this horrible campus climate. Other students of underrepresented groups share the same dismay.
It is imperative that our African- American community reaches a critical mass on this campus.
We are committed to fulfilling our vision of a healthier campus climate in order to continue our work in the struggle to recruit, yield, retain and most importantly represent the African American students here at UC San Diego.
Chairpersons of the Black Student Union