Black College Student Group Stages Successful Three-Day Protest

UC Santa Cruz's chancellor said the group's effort will "meaningfully improve" the campus.

Black students at the University of California, Santa Cruz, held a three-day protest to speak out against what they described as a “hostile climate” on the school’s campus.

The protest, which was held in one of the administrative buildings and stirred up national news, was put together by the school’s Afrikan Black Student Alliance. Their demands included four-year housing for black students to live in the school’s Rosa Parks African American Themed House and for the facility be painted the Pan-Afrikan colors of red, green and black, among others. By the end of the third day of protest, the school’s chancellor George Blumenthal agreed to all of the demands.

The school’s Rosa Parks African American Themed House is currently open “to all students whose interests span historical, present-day, and future experiences of predominately Black/African American peoples” but the school agreed it will extend up to a four-year housing guarantee to “all students from underrepresented communities” who applied to and currently live in the Rosa Parks African American Theme House, according to The Santa Cruz Sentinel.

“We’re not asking for only black students,” Imari Reynolds of the A/BSA told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson last week, clarifying why the group’s demands don’t amount to segregation. “We’re asking for black students to have a guarantee to live in a house that the university advertises as a house that’s meant for black students.”

“We don’t speak for the white students, the Samoan students or the Korean students,” she added. “Right now we speak for the African or black-Caribbean students who are struggling on this campus and need housing while they’re in the house that is meant to protect them and live as a safe space that is currently only being occupied by five black bodies.”

The group’s full demands are listed on their website and shown in full below:

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 ABC identified students regardless of housing status and college affiliation. We demand a written agreement by the opening of housing applications in April 2017.

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.

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.

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 be reviewed and approved by A/BSA board every two years. We demand that every incoming student complete this training by their first day of class.

“Having that red, black and green house in the middle of Stevenson College, which is a predominantly white-serving college, is a matter of symbolism and visibility,” Reynolds told Carlson. Stevenson College is part of the university’s several internal institutions. “Black students are on this campus. We do exist and we do pay to go here, just like our counterparts and we do deserve to be seen here on this campus.”

On Thursday, the school’s director of News and Media Relations Scott Hernandez-Jason announced that the university agreed to their demands. Later that same day, Blumenthal also issued a written statement to confirm his commitment to the campus and its students.

“Though we have been working with underrepresented communities, including A/BSA, we acknowledge that we have not done enough to engage with them successfully,” he wrote in a statement obtained by HuffPost. “The student demonstrators raised a number of issues with campus leaders, issues we fundamentally agree upon. 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.”

“We see these new measures as ways to meaningfully improve the ABC student experience here on campus,” he added, “and in doing so improve our campus climate.”

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