“Speak up, speak out, get in the way. Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”
This is one of John R. Lewis’s most famous statements, a statement that UC Santa Cruz had no hesitation printing on the back of commemorative t-shirts. Yet, the administration seems to have a difficult time proving their celebration of good trouble to the students who cause it.
UC Santa Cruz dedicated College Ten to its new namesake John R. Lewis, the civil rights activist and congressman who passed away in 2020. Congressman Lewis was known, in part, for his role in organizing the Selma March, his work with the Freedom Riders, and being a member of Congress for 33 years.
For UCSC to dedicate College Ten to John R. Lewis but fail to meet the basic needs of their Black and BIPOC students is disrespectful to both Lewis’ legacy and the students who have been embodying his words since they stepped foot on this campus. This embodiment is shown through their unwavering support of COLA strikers, drafting demands knowing the potential fallout, and the hours spent choosing to organize their peers rather than other personal goals.
If the university administration intends to pride UCSC on the good work of John R. Lewis, it must start embodying his legacy. If the university fails to meet the demands placed upon their desks at Kerr Hall, the naming of College Ten was done in vain and serves simply as performative activism.
The Black Student Union (BSU) has tried again and again to have their demands acknowledged by this university, and for two years, their demands have fallen on deaf ears. When graduate and undergraduate students flocked to the base of campus to support the need for a cost of living adjustment, they were met with police violence and threats of losing their jobs.
Does that seem like supporting good trouble to you?
If UCSC wants to be “the original authority on questioning authority,” the administration must start by allowing students to question them and listen to what is being said.
Meet the demands of students. Pay graduate students and lecturers adequately to continue doing the work they are here to do. Support students of color and the work they do for the campus. Allow for good trouble to spark in the UCSC community. Do not allow the naming of College Ten to be performative.
Do not stamp the words of John Lewis onto a university that is not willing to live up to his legacy.