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Black students at Santa Cruz occupy building, threaten to occupy more unless demands are met

Administrators at the UC Santa Cruz have agreed to the four demands of a group of black students known as the Afrikan/Black Student Alliance. The group said more demands must be met, or they will continue "reclaiming" various buildings on campus. (Image source: KGO-TV report screenshot)

According to The College Fix, administrators at the University of California Santa Cruz have agreed to the four demands of a group of black students known as the Afrikan/Black Student Alliance (A/BSA) who forcibly commandeered Kerr Hall, a campus building, and refused to leave until the demands were met.

KGO-TV reported May 3 that students were barring the doors into Kerr Hall with chains and blocking entrances with furniture.

Kerr Hall students demanded that:

  1. All black and Caribbean-identified students be given a 4-year housing guarantee to live in the Rosa Parks African American Themed House.
  2. Reopen the building's lounge.
  3. Paint its exterior the “Pan-Afrikan colors” of red, green and black
  4. Force all incoming students to UC Santa Cruz to undergo mandatory diversity competency training

Chancellor George Blumenthal of UC Santa Cruz gave into the student's demands after three days.

“The student demonstrators raised a number of issues with campus leaders, issues we fundamentally agree upon,” Blumenthal said in a May 4 memo to the entire campus. “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.”

Now the A/BSA has posted three additional demands that must be met in an open letter on the Afrikan Black Coalition website:

We demand the University purchase a property located at or near the base of campus (High Street)  to serve as a low income housing cooperative for historically disadvantaged  students. We demand this property have 4 bedrooms with appropriate furnishings.  This property will then be student ran and student operated by the Afrikan Black Student Alliance. We demand a written agreement  to fund this project by beginning of spring quarter.

We demand the University allocate an additional $100,000 to the  SOAR/Student Media/Cultural Arts and Diversity (SOMeCA for the hiring of advisor who has personal and professional  experience handling African/Black/Caribbean student issues) permanently. We demand A/BSA has a final decision on who is hired for this position.

Additionally, there was an earlier demand for the creation of a Black Studies department on this campus. The Administration has not agreed to the creation of a Black Studies department, and has instead agreed to the creation of a Black Studies Minor or Major. While some may want to commend this Administration for their seeming agreeance, the truth of the matter is that what they have agreed to has not come into existence, as it still only exists in “white man’s promise”, and as of today, the program, whether a Minor or a Major, has not been established at UCSC.

The students said these demands must also be met or the group will continue with the "reclamation" process, which is how the A/BSA describes the takeover of Kerr Hall. The group said it does not want to call it "occupation" as it wants to distance itself from the "white-centric" Occupy Movement, as well as stand in solidarity with "folks on The Continent, Palestinian people, and other Black and Brown people all over the world."

The A/BSA added that the administration has until the 2017 fall quarter to meet these demands before they take over more buildings. The student group claimed that it is being generous with this time frame, stating, "We do recognize these demands may take a little more time, and in the spirit of generosity — which we are almost all out of — we want to make it clear that we are giving the Administration a little more time to meet these demands."

The letter ended with a quote from Assata Shakur, a convicted cop killer and former Black Panther currently living in Cuba under political asylum: "It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains."

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