The students of the Black Student Union needed support that was not there in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. With ongoing uncertainties surrounding the pandemic in June 2020, protests happening across the country, and reports of unjust Black deaths constantly in the news, it was nearly impossible for Black students to continue school as if things were normal.
In response to the national events, and years of lacking institutional support, BSU sent an email to the UCSC community with a list of demands that would help support students through this difficult time and into the future.
The email, titled ‘The Unrelenting Anti-Blackness of 2020,’ highlighted specific ways the university can help Black students.
The initial demands included abolishing and defunding the UCSC police department, the departmentalization of the critical race and ethnic studies (CRES) department, the hiring of at least three full-time queer & trans-friendly, ABC-identified psychologists in the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office, and a designated building for the African American Resource and Cultural Center.
A year later, no action has been made toward meeting those demands.
“It’s disheartening, infuriating, all of the above,” said BSU Vice President Xaul Starr. “I don’t understand how the university can say it supports Black students when they haven’t fulfilled any of this.”
Only recently was a meeting between BSU leadership and the chancellor confirmed, after substantial effort from BSU. With little tangible progress made on those demands, BSU sent out another email revisiting the initial demands on May 17, 2021.
In the new email, sent out to the UCSC community, the demands were updated to reflect the present realities and needs of Black students.
You can read the May 17 updated statement and list of demands from BSU in its entirety below.
Black Student Union
At the University of California, Santa Cruz
Cowell Crown Merrill Stevenson Kresge Porter Oakes
Rachel Carson College Nine College Ten
May 17, 2020
RE: BSU May 2021 Revised Unrelenting Anti-Blackness Demands
To be signed and returned to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Chancellor Larive,
We are reissuing our demands and ask what genuinely transformative actions have been taken since we first submitted these to you, under the title “the unrelenting antiblackness of 2020,” last spring. In response to last year’s demands, you stated that “policing, ABC-themed housing and guarantees, space for the African American Resource and Cultural Center, CAPS services, and Hate/Bias-Response Team staffing are all areas under [your] authority,” and that you would be accountable for making immediate changes in those areas. To restate: you told us and the campus community that policing, housing, staffing, space, and other resources are under your authority. We would like a candid sense from you in our upcoming meeting about what actual structural change you intend to implement, and to understand what you mean, on the level of action, when you speak about your commitment to anti-racism. Please note that the abolition of the UCSC police department is our first demand. UC officials have developed the habit of addressing the substance of select student demands while ignoring those that call to abolish the police. We will regard the continuation of this pattern as an indication you are not taking us seriously.
The 2021 updated version of our demands follows below.
- We demand the eradication of and divestment from the UCSC police department, military spending, development of war mechanizations, and imperialist practices. Accordingly, we demand that ICE agents remain prohibited from entering and detaining students on campus. We demand the immediate rescinding of the racist proposed Gold Book revisions that, if implemented, will authorize militarized riot squads to crush student protestors, police to turn off their body cameras or erase footage, retired officers to have concealed carry privileges on campus, and police to use expanded deadly force. These proposed revisions are a gross overstep by the UC regents that must be immediately challenged, and we call on you to join us in opposing them.
- We support the immediate departmentalization of CRES before the end of the 2021 school year as the basis for the continued development and establishment of Black Studies at UCSC as not just a minor, but a major and area of graduate research with a surplus of ABC-identifying faculty and staff that are themselves experienced in being intersectional when it comes to a field that focuses on Blackness, Black Lives, and Black Lifeworlds. We are calling for the permanent funding of Black Studies under CRES including faculty lines, research support, funding to support a permanent BSU-CRES intern to help develop the Black Studies program, and funding for a new CRES-BSU student-initiated course.
- We demand the hiring of at least three full-time Queer & Trans-friendly ABC-identified psychologists in Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), along with the hiring of at least two full-time counselors who are well versed in the religious frameworks, such as Islam and Christianity, that are integral to the lives of so many across the African diaspora, and who also have Black, Queer, and Trans-identity experience and knowledge. These psychologists must be socially and culturally competent in handling matters regarding intersectional issues the community faces, including but not limited to: racism, queerness, transgender identities, Islamophobia, imposter syndrome, and discrimination.
- We demand the designation of ABC-themed housing for ABC students without guaranteed housing (i.e. re-entry students, transfer students). The goal of this action item is to serve as an extension of RPAATH for low-income and historically disadvantaged ABC students that face housing injustice due to economic and racial barriers in Santa Cruz’s already competitive and limited housing market.
- We demand to have a designated building for the African American Resource and Cultural Center.
- We demand that the University implement tangible consequences for hate, discrimination, prejudice, and bias. This shall include suspension and/or expulsion for students and unpaid leave and/or termination for faculty and staff.
- We demand at least one professional staff from the African American Resource and Cultural Center (AARCC) be included in the existing Hate-Response Team. Our investigation holds that the existing Hate-Response Team is not representative of the student body population that is currently attending UCSC. We demand at least one professional staff from AARCC with the hopes of inspiring the recruitment of a truly diverse and representative composition of Response Team members.
Black Student Union
University of California, Santa Cruz
Chancellor, UC Santa Cruz