The Black Student Union staged a noon time protest last Tuesday due to what they considered Chancellor Howard Gillman’s refusal to implement the demands for institutional changes put forward by the organization.
BSU and their supporters rallied in front of the Barclay Theatre to raise awareness about administration’s refusal of certain demands.
The demands, put forth early last quarter, responded to institutional factors that hinder the growth and success of Black students.
Foremost among the demands is the promotion of the African American studies to full departmental status. Currently, the African American studies program is the only ethnic studies program that has not been given full departmental status. Asian American and Chicano/Latino studies are both full departments.
Protesters chanted that Gillman has used institutional power to silence Black students by not funding African American studies programs.
The list of demands also calls for the establishment of a Black Scholars’ Hall for first-year Black students in the Mesa Court Housing complex. Additionally, BSU demanded the reestablishment of a dedicated housing assistant for the Rosa Parks House.
The creation and funding of the Marsha P. Johnson Black Student Resource, Outreach and Retention Center also sits among the top demands on the list. The center would provide mental and academic counseling specifically for Black students.
The establishment of a permanent task force for outreach and opportunity creation purposes was also on the demands list. This task force would be in charge with ensuring a positive climate for the African-American community.
Although the task force was established in early February, there were certain outcries as to how the task force was created and who it comprised of.
“We even wanted to go fifty-fifty with Gillman,” said Sandra Johnson, the lead organizer of the Tuesday demonstration.
“We put in our 20 people, (Chancellor Gillman) put in your 20 and he denied that. Some of the students on his task force weren’t even notified until the day of the creation of the task force,” she said.
Protesters also called for the satisfaction of the multiculturalism course only through a new political education course developed and overseen by Dr. Frank B. Wilderson III.
BSU called for the end of the referring of anti-Black incidents as “isolated” or “rare” by the UC Irvine administration. This demand originated from specific anti-Black instances such as the controversial video of Lambda Theta Delta in which one fraternity member was featured in a blackface promotional video.
Demonstrators also required a meeting with the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer to meet with the chair and vice chair of BSU at least once every academic quarter.
All these demands were put forth Jan. 16 and expected to be implemented within the next three to six months.
In addition to these demands, there were also outcries against Gillman’s rhetoric in light of the controversy surrounding ASUCI’s flag legislation.
Due to multiple ZotAlerts of a gunman on campus, people were compelled to find safety and shelter rather than view the demonstration.
“The three back-to-back emails, two texts, posts on UCI’s Facebook and Instagram of a Black man with a gun on campus during the inauguration just shows how anti-Black the university is,” said Johnson. For her, students should be alerted to clearer dangers, such as falling branches in Aldrich Park during high winds.
The alleged gunman turned himself in after realizing he was not supposed to be carrying a gun on campus. He was released after questioning.
BSU’s demonstration took place in front of the Barclay Theatre where Gillman’s investiture ceremony was taking place.
Protesters stood shoulder-to-shoulder, holding posters and other large signs with the list of demands written on them.
“Support the Black Student demands!” the crowd chanted repeatedly, getting louder as attendees tried to enter the theater.