Black UCLA students demand 'safe spaces,' $40 million
Black students at the University of California, Los Angeles are demanding $40 million and their own “safe spaces” on campus as compensation for racially insensitive incidents.
“Black students at UCLA are consistently made the targets of racist attacks by fellow students, faculty, and administration [sic],” the Afrikan Student Union (ASU) begins an eight-point ultimatum issued Friday. “Unfortunately, on April 30, 2017, a photo was released depicting the USAC [student government] President holding gang signs.”
The open letter goes on to cite additional examples, including “racist stickers” and a “Kanye Western” themed party, and declares that “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.”
The first item on the list calls for “a physical location on campus to house the Afrikan Student Union Projects,” which would include “meeting/gathering/safe spaces” and be staffed by a director and an office manager who would be responsible for distributing funds allocated to the ASU.
In addition, the ASU ultimatum demands a $40 million “endowment” to fund “a comprehensive effort to address the underrepresentation of African-American students, faculty, and staff at our university,” adding that the endowment should also provide financial aid to “dismissed black students.”
“$40 million is just a drop in the bucket for the university,” ASU Chair Alicia Frison told The Daily Bruin. “Berkeley already has a $30 to $40 million endowment even though they have less [sic] African American students.”
The list goes on to ask that UCLA “deliver an anti-discrimination policy [that] assuages discriminatory and offensive behavior,” specifically “culturally insensitive” behavior, in conjunction with implementing mandatory “Cultural Awareness training” for all incoming students, faculty and staff members, and campus police officers.
“All will be required to have the training at least once in their time at UCLA,” the letter clarifies, adding ominously that “this will be supplemented with repercussions explicitly in the policy.”
The next few items relate to retention and recruitment of black students, requesting a “Black Student Financial Aid Officer” and access to “disaggregated data for African American students enrolled on [sic] UCLA,” meaning the academic performance of black students would be evaluated independently of data collected from the rest of the student body.
In addition, the group wants UCLA to create a “special admissions” program to admit “a limited number of students fitting certain alternative admissions criteria,” who would then undergo a “transitional period” before being “integrated [into the] regular admitted student population., courses, and curricular programs.”
On a more individualized level, the ultimatum also demands the creation of at least five “fully funded student positions,” but while it does not offer any indication of what those jobs would entail, it goes into exquisite detail regarding compensation, specifying that the student-employees should receive “bi-weekly salaries of at least $15/hour (adjusted for inflation) equipped for 30 weeks of the school year every year.”
Finally, the ASU is insisting that UCLA provide “guaranteed housing for black students for 4 years, including on- and off-campus housing,” arguing that securing housing is especially difficult for black students due to factors such as “low socio-economic status, difficulty of navigating the first generation college experience, and difficulties remaining financially stable amidst the rising living costs in Westwood.”
Hanna Almalssi, a black student who serves as the freshman representative for the Bruin Democrats, told Campus Reform that she fully supports the demands made by the ASU.
“All their demands should be met,” Almalssi said. “UCLA should be doing more to support people of color because it seems like they don’t do enough.”
Yet while ASU’s demands allege that UCLA has done “nothing” to help minorities in recent years, a statement sent out by a university spokesman suggested otherwise.
“We are proud of the fact that enrollment of minority incoming students at UCLA has risen by nearly 13% since 2012,” the statement said, adding that the school has taken numerous steps to reduce discrimination on campus during that time.
Neither Alicia Frison nor the Afrikan Student Union responded to requests for comment from Campus Reform.
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