Recently the African Student Union at UCLA released a set of demands to UCLA administration in the hopes of creating a more welcoming environment for African American students on campus. Here is what they said:
Black students at UCLA are consistently made the targets of racist attacks by fellow students, faculty, and administration. Unfortunately, on October 6, 2015, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and Alpha Phi Sorority, threw a “Kanye Western” themed party. Black students at the party witnessed many acts of cultural insensitivity and cultural appropriation of Black culture through costumes. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that such acts of violence have happened towards Black students and students of color in general. Throughout the past 5 years alone, there have been many racist and insensitive incidents at UCLA. In 2010, there were “Still Filthy” t-shirts being sold in the UCLA store with the Mexican symbols on them, in 2011, the infamous “Asians in the Library” video was created. In 2012, there were racist slurs written on a Latina students’ apartment door, a law professor published an article that UCLA was favoring admissions of Black and Latino Students, and there were hateful flyers and graffiti targetting Asian women. In 2013, there was a report that found discrimination of faculty had little to no support from administrators. In 2014, there was hate mail and hostility directed toward Black law students, and in 2015 there were racist stickers posted outside of the Afrikan Student Union office, and a racially insensitive party thrown. Time and time again, we see UCLA administration pushing our issues under the rug. UCLA continues to fail students of color, by not responding, or taking any steps towards the improvement of campus climate. This university has a history of a poor racial climate, and we, as the Afrikan Student Union, will not take it anymore. This year will be the 50th year the Afrikan Student Union on campus, however, 50 years later we are struggling with many of the same issues as our ancestors and elders did in 1966. This is unacceptable. The university must do all it can to make sure that Black students, only 4% of the student body, feel welcomed and safe at the university that was built on our backs. UCLA must follow in the steps of sister campuses UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley, to support Black students during such a critical time in our history. However, since nothing has been done in recent years, the Afrikan Student Union is DEMANDING that UCLA administrators work with Black students towards the development of a more positive campus climate by the institution of the following programs:
- Annual funding for Black student Programming on and off campus. The Afrikan Student Union is one of the largest student organizations, yet, there is no operating budget, and we have to beg the university for every dollar we receive. An annual budget of what it costs to run an effective Black community will be presented to UCLA administration.
- A UCLA Anti-discrimination policy. It is a shame that discriminatory and racist incidents continue to happen on campus, and those responsible do not face any repercussions. An anti-discrimination policy would outline exactly what discriminatory behavior looks like, and what the consequences are when such a policy is violated. Professor Sander broke no policy, the Kanye Western party broke no policy. This is unacceptable.
- A $30 million dollar endowment to help support Black students financially, akin to the initiative that is being implemented at UC Berkeley. Many Black students must work 2-3 jobs in order to pay for the continuing rising costs of education. Funding is one of the reasons why many Black students do not apply to UCLA, and also a hindrance to many that are accepted. For a University that is as “diverse” as UCLA, something must be done to make sure that Black students are financially secure.
- A commitment to the hiring of more Black faculty across the different academic disciplines. With a rise in Black faculty members, the university will see a rise in Black graduate students. Many Black graduate and undergraduate students have experienced racist sentiments from their respective departments. It will also undoubtedly lead to an increased retention rate for Black students, and other students of color.
- Rebranding the Afrikan Diaspora Floor with Residential Life. Black students lack spaces where they feel safe and comfortable. The Afrikan Diaspora floor is a way for us to connect more to other Black students, the Afrikan Student Union, and the Afro-Am department. The floor should be branded as a safe space for all Black students.
- The creation and support of a UCLA Afro-house. Many Black students cannot afford to live in westwood with the high prices of rent. An Afro-house would provide a cheaper alternative housing solution for Black students, that would also serve as a safe space for Black Bruins to congregate and learn from each other.
- Create a student advisory board for the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Equity Diversity and Inclusion. This will make sure students are able to hold UCLA administration accountable, and also work with administration in their charge to improve campus climate.
- Provide additional funding for the hiring of an additional Black admission officer to increase the amount of Black students applying and being accepted to UCLA. The University should also provide additional funding to the access programs on campus targeting Black students and students of color. These programs include SHAPE (Students Heightening Academic Performance through Education), VIPs, and EAOP.
- Create a UCLA community schools in a predominately Black Area of Los Angeles. Black Students are one of the smallest populations at UCLA, and the university should be doing all it can to reach out to them. Currently community schools are 80% Latino and 14% Asian. UCLA should be focusing on its smallest populations of Black and American Indian students.
- Creation of a Black Student Leadership Task Force, comprised of Black alumni, students, Faculty, and Staff. Black student leaders are some of the hardest working people on campus, and lack institutionalized support from other members of the campus community would make Black student leaders have higher retention rate, and more training.
The Afrikan Student Union is committed to make sure that our demands are met. Given the nature of our demands, we understand that it might take time to see them accomplished. Therefore, the Afrikan Student Union would like to hear an initial response by October 22, 2015, and have a follow up meeting with the Chancellor within 3 weeks. The Afrikan Student Union is calling on regular, consistent meetings with UCLA administrators to ensure the accomplishment of our demands.
It is our Duty to fight for our freedom
It is our Duty to win
We have nothing to lose but our chains
Afrikan Student Union at UCLA