A Black student organization at the University of California, Los Angeles is pushing a list of demands calling on university officials to address what they describe as instances of “anti-blackness” across campus.
In their demands, the Afrikan Student Union argued that UCLA hasn’t done enough to create a positive campus environment for Black students and say the university has failed to address their concerns. Now the group, which aims to promote the interests of African-American students, is calling on the institution to make a change.
At the top of their list is the demand for $40 million to build a Black Bruin Resource Center the group says would centralize the campus’ Black student organizations under one roof and provide those groups with adequate funding.
According to a February press release, the ASU also calls on the university to create a committee or position responsible for investigating incidents of “discrimination and anti-blackness.”
“Instead of thoroughly addressing the incidents that have occurred, UCLA has chosen to focus its resources and concerned itself with celebrating a centennial that only marks this institution as one that has sustained an anti-black community for more than its entirety,” the students wrote. “It is time that UCLA is held accountable, [for] the sake of its Black students.”
A version of these demands were first created in 2017, The College Fix reported. Yet, the Afrikan Student Union is still fighting to see the changes enacted today.
Earlier this year, the student group staged a protest during a UCLA men’s basketball game to show their displeasure with the university’s handling of issues affecting African-American students, the Daily Bruin reported. The students, dressed in all black, occupied the front-row seats and raised their fists high in the air during the national anthem. They walked out of the game during halftime.
Isaiah Njoku, a fourth-year sociology and public health student and ASU chair, said the group was upset over what they saw as UCLA’s disregard for their concerns, as well as much-needed funding for Black student groups.
“We’re demonstrating for the lack of support of the ASU in its regular daily program and lack of support in general for black students on this campus,” Njoku told the newspaper.
In their demands, the group also pointed to string of racial incidents they said made Black students feel unsafe, including one where a white fraternity and sorority hosted a “Kanye Western”-themed party replete with “racist stereotypes and caricature of Black people, to which UCLA did not give a sufficient or adequate punishment.”
“[In 2018/19,] Black students in graduate housing have been followed, terrorized, and told that “they don’t belong” in University Apartment South housing,” the students added. “[In] 2018, A Black Student was racially profiled, wrongfully approached, and questioned with hand on gun by UCPD.”
In addition to the aforementioned demands, the ASU has also called for a relocation of the Afrikan Diaspora Floor, or Black Student Housing, anti-discriminatory policy and mandatory training with appropriate repercussions for policy infraction, and a changing of the name of Campbell Hall to Carter-Huggins Hall.
“The actions of the Afrikan Student Union will not cease until our concerns are adequately addressed,” the group said in a statement. “This entails fully invested cooperation between the administration of UCLA and the Afrikan Student Union to enact legislation, draft a plan, and begin working on finally addressing Anti-Blackness within UCLA.”
The group had given university officials until March 5 to respond to their demands.
It’s unclear if university officials have met with the students to discuss their demands, but a spokesperson for UCLA provided Atlanta Black Star with the following statement:
“UCLA appreciates the perspectives of all our students in the Afrikan Student Union (ASU) regarding what they view as persistent problems and challenges facing African American students at UCLA.
In terms of providing space opportunities for ASU, the Black Forum, a conference room at the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, has been a reservable space for the past two years. The space is now open for reservation for students in ASU and other African-American student groups from 5 p.m. until the building closes. The Afrikan Diaspora Community located in Rieber Hall (a student residence hall) also provides students with opportunities to be immersed in African culture at UCLA and beyond. More generally, The Community Programs Office provides funding and administrative oversight for student-initiated projects coming from ASU and other student organizations.
Because UCLA is more constrained in terms of physical space and buildings than other UC campuses, we have had to be more creative in how we provide space opportunities to students. We continue to work with ASU to address their needs for programs and services. There are exciting areas of collaboration as we continue to think through medium- and longer-term solutions, which in the future may entail construction of student services spaces.”