Black students organize takeover till university caves to demands

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A black student group at the University of California, Santa Cruz claimed the campus is fostering a “hostile climate” against them and took over an administrative building until they claimed victory last week.

Protest organizers–Afrikan/Black Student Alliance (A/BSA)–took over Kerr Hall on May 2 by locking its doors and hanging posters with slogans in the windows, refusing to leave the building unless the campus cooperated with all demands.

The group vowed that if their demands were not met, UC Santa Cruz would “force [them] to have to take what [they] know to be in [their] best interest to reclaim.”

After three days of occupying the building, Chancellor George Blumenthal agreed to meet with 10 A/BSA protesters at a location outside of Kerr Hall because he feared for his own safety.

He reportedly met with 10 of the protesters around 4 p.m. on May 4 to negotiate a deal and agreed to meet all four demands.

KSBW reports A/BSA issued the following list of demands:

1) “Similar to EOP students and International students’ housing guarantees, we demand that ALL African Black Caribbean identified students have a 4-year housing guarantee to live in the Rosa Parks African American Themed House. Guaranteeing this would provide a viable living option to all (Afrikan/Black/Caribbean) identified students regardless of housing status and college affiliation. We demand a written agreement by the opening of housing applications in April 2017.”

2) “We demand the university remove the beds and release the Rosa Parks African Themed House lounge so it can serve its original purpose. We demand the lounge be returned by Fall 2017.”

3) “We demand that the university fund the ENTIRE exterior of the Rosa Parks African American Themed House being painted Pan-Afrikan colors (Red, green, and black) by the start of Spring quarter 2017. These Pan Afrikan colors represent Black liberation, and represent our diaspora, and the goals of our people.”

4) “We demand that all new incoming students from 2017-2018 school year forward (first years and transfers) go through a mandatory in-person diversity competency training in the event that the online module is not implemented by JUNE 2017. We demand that the training is reviewed and approved by A/BSA board every two years. We demand that every incoming student completes this training by their first day of class.”

“The student demonstrators raised a number of issues with campus leaders, issues we fundamentally agree upon,” Blumenthal stated in a memo to the campus community announcing the concessions. “Students from historically underrepresented communities deal with real challenges on campus and in the community. These difficulties include things that many people take for granted, such as finding housing or even just a sense of community.”

The A/BSA stated its mission is “the liberation of all black people,” and to serve as “a place and space for Afrikan/Black/Caribbean students to learn together, to teach together, to offer support for the various racialized macro-and-microaggressions, and also to challenge each other around some harmful ideologies we may hold toward practicing a fuller love for ALL Black people.”

The student group asked that its aggressive three-day takeover be referred to as a “reclamation,” not “occupation.”

“We are pushing back against the language of ‘occupation’ in recognition of the largely white-centric and fairly recent ‘Occupy Movement.’ We are pushing back against the language of ‘occupation’ in recognition of the very real settler occupations that are historical and ongoing, such as the European colonization and occupation of ‘The Americas,’ as well as the current context of occupation in Palestine.”

The group is now threatening that if the university does not provide “detailed plans” on how to fulfill its new demands by the 2017 fall quarter, “there will be more Reclamations.”

H/T: The College Fix

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