The Afrikan [sic] Student Union at the University of California has issued a list of demands– which include a $40 million endowment, their own “safe spaces” on campus, and mandatory “cultural awareness training” for all students — as compensation for what they call racially insensitive incidents. The demands, listed in an open letter, cite different “racial attacks” on campus.
“Black students at UCLA are consistently made the targets of racist attacks by fellow students, faculty, and administration,” the Afrikan Student Union writes in their eight-point ultimatum. “Unfortunately, on April 30, 2017, a photo was released depicting the USAC [student government] President holding gang signs.”
(The white student body president caught making the gang sign apologized profusely, saying “this is a result of my white privilege.”)
ASU goes on citing racist stickers that were posted on campus back in 2015.
(One such sticker listed the criminal rap sheet of Freddie Gray, the black man who died in Baltimore police custody in 2015. Another sticker said “If only Freddie Gray had followed the damn law, he’d still be alive,” and another said “Stop whining and start following the goddamn law”).
Another example of racism given by the ASU was a “Kanye Western” theme party held in 2015 during which attendees dressed in baggy clothes or wore padded bottoms to look like Kim Kardashian.
“Since nothing has been done in recent years, the Afrikan Student Union is DEMANDING that UCLA administrators work with black students towards the development of a more positive campus climate,” the group’s open letter says.
Among its demands is a $40 million endowment, which according to the letter would fund “a comprehensive effort to address the underrepresentation of African-American students, faculty, and staff at our university”.
“$40 million is just a drop in the bucket for the university,” Afrikan Student Union Chair Alicia Frison told The Daily Bruin. “Berkeley already has a $30 to $40 million endowment even though they have less African American students,” she said.
Also on a list of demands are physical “safe spaces for ASU and its projects” which would include “meeting/gathering/safe spaces” and be staffed by a director and an office manager.
The list goes on to demand that the university create anti-discrimination policies against prejudicial behavior. One policy the ASU wants is mandatory “Cultural Awareness training” for all incoming students, faculty and staff members, and campus police officers.
In addition ASU wants university to establish the position of Black Student Financial Aid Officer that would “advocate for financial aid for previously dismissed students” and also ensure four years of guaranteed free housing for black students. The ASU argues that securing housing is especially difficult for black students due to “low socio-economic status, difficulty of navigating the first generation college experience, and difficulties remaining financially stable amidst the rising living costs in Westwood.”
The ultimatum also demands the creation of at least five “fully funded student positions” with “bi-weekly salaries of at least $15/hour”.
Frison said ASU is giving the administration until May 18 to respond to their demands.
UCLA spokesperson Brian Haas said the administration is reviewing the ASU’s list of demands.