The Black Student Union at UC San Diego released a statement on June 22 with a list of demands for the university to improve conditions and allocate further resources for Black students. The statement, driven by the ongoing nationwide police brutality protests, calls for cutting ties with the University of California Police Department, hiring more Black administrators, and increasing the Black student population on campus to 10 percent by 2025.
The BSU’s statement also addresses the recent hardships that have plagued the Black community, such as disproportionally higher COVID-19 death rates as well as increasing reports of acts of hate toward Black people.
Amid public outcry for institutions to take action rather than solely express support, the BSU statement calls for UCSD administrators to take more meaningful measures. Many institutions have received criticism for only participating in performative acts, such as releasing statements of support without making substantial changes to their policies. Over the past few weeks, multiple UC administrators have been involved in these same public relations stunts, including UC President Janet Napolitano, Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, and various UCSD college provosts who have all sent emails in support of the national protests without taking any action.
“In short, campus-wide emails expressing support are insufficient without actions that ‘go to the root’ of racial inequity,” the BSU statement reads. “Because we know that the actions offered to students are not broad or deep enough to address systemic racism at UCSD.”
Some of the immediate demands by the BSU involve changes to the format of remote classes and grading to relieve some of the stress placed on many underrepresented students. This includes policies such as asynchronous assignments, no-fault final exams, and reducing the grading workload for teaching and research assistants.
The BSU also demands that the university stop using vague terms such as “people of color” and instead use the term Black and African people to specifically address the specific hardships these communities face.
In line with national demands to defund the police, the BSU demands UCSD to “cut ties with and divest from University of California Police Department (UCPD) and local municipal police forces,” while transitioning to replace UCPD with a “community-controlled system of safety.” In the meantime, the BSU asks that the university be more transparent about UCPD’s budget to include spending on officer salaries, weapons, and technologies, as well as information on the terms and agreement of officers’ contracts.
There have been other calls by student groups to dismantle the police departments at UC campuses, such as the June 2 statement by the University of California Student Association.
Additionally, the statement criticizes the low number of Black students, staff, and faculty at UCSD. It demands that the university increase both its Black student and staff population to 10 percent each, a figure that falls in between the statewide and national Black population.
Since the university’s founding in 1960, its Black student population has never exceeded three percent, which is the lowest of all of the UC campuses. Black students only make up four percent of the student population across all UC campuses.
To increase the Black population on campus, the BSU demands more ambitious recruitment efforts, which include hiring two full-time recruitment officers. Additionally, they ask that the university prioritize recruiting Black students by developing relationships with certain schools, expanding the Historically Black Colleges and Universities exchange program, and introducing stronger incentives to recruit Black graduate students, among many other measures.
Moreover, to create a more racially conscious campus environment, the statement demands that all UCSD faculty and staff undergo “mandatory, in-person anti-racist, culture, and diversity training every two years.” It also encourages increasing the number of Black deans, provosts, and UCSD administrators across all departments and “not just in equity and diversity positions.”
Other demands by the BSU involve further expanding and celebrating the Black community on campus, such as creating a Black studies undergraduate major as well as a new college dedicated to Black culture and history.
The statement gave the university a June 26, 2020 deadline to respond to these demands, but there has been no official response by administrators.
The UCSD Guardian contacted the BSU and the UCSD News Center, but neither responded to requests for comment.
Photo courtesy of Joe Riley for the UCSD Guardian.