Berkeley Black Student Union wants to rename hall after convicted cop killer

The Berkeley Black Student Union wants to rename Barrows Hall, named after a former chancellor, to Shakur Hall after Assata Shakur, a member of the FBI's most-wanted list and a convicted cop killer.

The University of California, Berkeley Black Student Union (BSU) is demanding Barrows Hall, named after former Chancellor David Barrows, be renamed to Shakur Hall after Assata Shakur, a member of the FBI’s most-wanted list and a convicted cop killer.

The demand is one of a series of requests to allegedly reduce “hostility” against black students at the university.

Most of the demands, which can be found online at SFGate, aim to improve recruitment and retention of black student at UC Berkeley by creating a resource center to help black students, hiring two black staff members for the admission committee, and hiring two black psychologists who understand “the racially hostile campus climate at this university.”

In 1979, a New Jersey jury convicted Shakur of killing a state trooper. She escaped prison and fled to Cuba, leading the FBI to place her on its most wanted list.

The BSU views Shakur as an “icon of resistance within oppressed communities (who) represents black resilience in the face of state-sanctioned violence,” according to BSU spokesperson Cori McGowens.

The Black Student Union also demands UC Berkeley “immediately create a committee to recommend, by April 8, ways to aggressively recruit and retain black staff and faculty.”

As reported by The Daily Californian a few days after the demands were made, the BSU sent out a press release demanding a response from the Chancellor Nick Dirks, giving him less than a week to respond.

“If we do not receive a written response from Chancellor (Nick) Dirks addressing in detail each of our individual demands as they were presented, by 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, we will understand that the Chancellor has not prioritized the dire needs of Black students on this campus,” the BSU stated in the press release.

Dirk’s spokesperson referred them to a letter issued March 10, where he listed actions the university intended actions to help black students.

“Too many students have told us about being excluded from study groups, ignored during class discussions, verbally harassed at parties and social events, and feeling, in a general sense, vulnerable, isolated, and invisible. This is something we deplore,” Dirks stated in the letter.

Dirks made no comment regarding the renaming of Barrows Hall.

“We will persevere until we get what we need and what we deserve,” Gabby Shuman, the BSU co-chair of political affairs said, also adding that the issue is “an emergency…requiring immediate attention.”

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