Q&A with UCSC’s African/Black Student Alliance

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Last December, over 100 students blocked pedestrian traffic through Quarry Plaza to protest incidents of police brutality and systematic oppression against black communities, and to empower UCSC’s own black community. Photo by Camille Carrillo.
Last December, over 100 students blocked pedestrian traffic through Quarry Plaza to protest incidents of police brutality and systematic oppression against black communities, and to empower UCSC’s own black community. Photo by Camille Carrillo.

Answers provided by co-chairs Keiera Bradley and Melissa Lyken:

In 2014, 700 African American students were admitted to UCSC, and that number dropped to 520 this year. What do you think this says about the university’s mission to increase diversity?

“The University of California as a system boasts and prides itself on its commitment to diversity. However, the UCSC has yet to make a commitment to increasing the amount of black students on this campus. The University of California made it a priority to increase the numbers of international students and they met that goal. The Black Experience Team, a team appointed by the chancellor, have made it a recommendation on its advisory report to increase the amount of black students on this campus to meet a “critical mass.” All of the information that provides statistics as why black students should be at this campus — as if that should even need data validation — leaves no more room for excuses. This university has the ability and the capacity to change these appalling and disproportionate numbers to those that actually reflect the demographic of California, but we have yet to see those efforts.”

Only 317 black students — 1.9 percent of the student body — attended UCSC last fall. What are ways that A/BSA strives to make these students feel comfortable at a university where few students share their experiences?

“A/BSA hosts a number of events and holds dialogue in our space to address the comfortability and inclusion of the ABC students on campus. During this last year, we held different actions that drew a lot of attention to the issues we face. Additionally, we host Black Wall every Friday in the Quarry to bring black people together and create a space where we can come catch up and let loose. Our space is also open for voicing our daily struggles and receive healing. This year we are aiming to become more inclusive this year while also keeping the conversations around the social and political aspects of being black on this campus, the United States of America, and a world where blackness is demonized.”

How does A/BSA adapt its programming to events happening in our community or nationwide?

“A/BSA is an organization that remains politically relevant and active. Black people are experiencing a plethora of the same problems that have yet to be addressed. A great deal of the issues we face are perpetuated and reinforced in many different aspects of our lives. Therefore, As black students we have an obligation to one another, generations that have come before us, and those that will follow, to be aware of what is affecting our communities. We adapt easily because we have no other choice but to address these needs as they affect not only our experiences as students but also our lived experiences as black people. Naturally, the vast majority of our members follow events and we hold discussions on these occurrences. We mobilize based on what the needs of our community are, so if we need to mobilize regarding a racist issue that happened on campus we will do so and if we need to hold a vigil for countless black lives taken, we will do so.”