Thursday, January 23

Afrikan Student Union releases demands for UCLA administration

Students protested on Oct. 8 in response to the “Kanye Western”-themed raid. (Daniel Alcazar/Daily Bruin senior staff)

The Afrikan Student Union demanded additional funding and support for black students Thursday in response to the “Kanye Western”-themed raid hosted by the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority on Oct. 6.

“Time and time again, we see UCLA administration pushing our issues under the rug,” ASU said in the written statement published in NOMMO Newsmagazine. “UCLA continues to fail students of color, by not responding, or taking any steps towards the improvement of campus climate.”

ASU demanded 10 changes from UCLA administrators, including annual funding for black student programming and a $30 million endowment to financially support black students, similar to the $20 million scholarship fund UC Berkeley is fundraising for.

In the statement, ASU also called for more black faculty members and black admissions officers, as well as a UCLA Afro-house where black students can live off-campus more cheaply than in a Westwood apartment, like UC Berkeley’s Student Cooperative’s African-American Theme House.

The organization also demanded funding for programs that support students of color, such as the Early Academic Outreach Program, which helps prepare students from underserved schools for college, as well as a UCLA community school in a predominately black area of Los Angeles.

Guests who attended the “Kanye Western”-themed raid dressed in baggy clothes, plumped lips and padded bottoms, or as “Kardashians.” Photos from the raid also showed attendees with their foreheads covered in charcoal, which many students called racist. In response, other students said the charcoal was intended to represent Kanye West’s song “Gold Digger.”

Janina Montero, vice chancellor of student affairs, said in a written response to ASU that UCLA is working to prevent culturally insensitive behavior on campus without impeding First Amendment rights.

“While we recognize the need to do more and better on these issues, we should resist the claim that nothing has been done and no steps have been taken to address climate concerns,” Montero said.

In response to ASU’s list of demands, Montero said the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies is working with Horace Mann High School, the Los Angeles Union School District and the Los Angeles Superintendent of Schools to create a K-12 Horace Mann Community School in South Los Angeles. UCLA will also establish a preschool to serve local neighborhood families to help prepare students for the school, she added.

Montero said she is speaking with UC Berkeley administrators to learn more about Afro-house and the possibility of building one at UCLA.

She added UCLA already has multiple anti-discrimination policies in place, and Jerry Kang, vice chancellor of equity, diversity and inclusion, is willing to work with students to revise them.

Compiled by Jillian Frankel, Bruin senior staff.

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  • Guest

    I applaud ASU for taking steps to make sure their voices are heard on campus. I really do.

    However, I think that some of these “demands” are actually demanding a lot, and set up the university for failure because some of these just can’t be met. A $30 million endowment? $30 million is a LOT of money and is not something UCLA is going to give over. Yeah, UCLA can probably set up an account through the UCLA Fund, but they’re not going to drop $30M into that. That fundraising would have to be done in the same way every other endowment is fundraised. Both the scholarship fund and the Afro co-op at UC Berkeley, though AT Berkeley, were not necessarily organized by the university. The co-op was done by 14 students on their own. I don’t see why students here can’t do that now. Besides, if UCLA were to open a co-op, would that not be considered University Housing, and would it even be legal for UCLA to say that only students of a certain demographic can reside there?

    I would also caution the fact that while Black students at UCLA are severely under-represented and have been victims of racially-motivated incidents, we shouldn’t forget that there are many other minorities on campus who also cannot fully afford tuition or Westwood rent, and would also like their own $30 million endowment and residential complex. I think if we talk about taking steps to beat systematic oppression, we can’t forget about non-popular minority groups like Southeast Asians and Native Americans, especially.

    • Richard Thompson Ford

      Unfortunately, ASU is dimming the power of their voice with every move they make and it will unfortunately dim future ASU members voices who may have to deal with real discriminatory issues.

    • Masalah Mohammed

      ASU is entitled to voice their opinion, as well as negotiate for better funding and support. Obviously this is the basic principle around Student Unions right? But under the current circumstances, its actually shameful that ASU has the entitlement and gall to make these “demands” given their role in this entire fiasco. ASU brought the “Kanye-Western” party to light claiming that students dressed in blackface, and used code words to “disband” the party, all of which are slanderous claims. UCLA officially conducted an investigation into this party and found none of ASU’s claims to be true. If an investigation occurred, how can this coincide with “sweeping the issues under the rug”? If anything ASU infringed on the rights of students by falsely accusing them of racism, when they have the constitutional right to draw upon pop-culture and express themselves in many ways. Honestly, anyone with any sense would realize that a respectable student organization would focus on helping the community rather than focusing all their efforts on an insignificant frat party. ASU’s reasoning in this entire fiasco is that since the “Kanye-Western” themed party was thrown, they should receive millions in funding from UCLA. Personally, I cannot see the sense in this. They’ve been aggravating this issue since it started, and now their motivation is clear. At this point ASU is using this issue for the gain of their personal interests such as funding, and more privileges for their organization, and they used this issue and the fraternity as a scapegoat to do it.

      Also, how does demanding black professors and black admissions officers promote racial equality in any way? Those jobs should be given to those who are most qualified for them regardless of what racial background they come from. This clearly shows that ASU doesn’t even have the slightest clue about the concept of racial equality, which they claim to be fighting for.

      There are right and wrong ways to going about making changes in your community and university, and ASU has done all the wrong. If your going to try to change the system, don’t put your fellow classmates down to do it.

  • Madeleine Loh

    The African-American Theme House in Berkeley is owned and operated by the Berkeley Student Cooperative, a nonprofit 501(c)(3). It is not owned or operated by UC Berkeley.

    The Berkeley Student Cooperative was founded in 1933 by 14 students to provide housing to marginalized and financially challenged students. Our mission is to provide affordable, cooperative housing to students who could not otherwise afford a college education. We now provide housing to 1,300 students in 20 properties.

  • Ben Dover
  • Richard Thompson Ford

    If charcoal on Gold Digger’s faces at a Kanye Western Party is construed as blackface, couldn’t the eyeblack the football players wore during the blackout game last Thursday be construed that way? The point is opinions of discrimination is very subjective. This accusation of racial discrimination against the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity seems like nothing more than a convenient time to pull the race card and then use the media attention that “discrimination” attracts to pursue demands.

  • Cause and effect

    So ASU’s actions can be summarized as “Waahhh waahhh you upset us! Now give us money!”

    Talk about a microcosm of everything wrong with America today.

    • equerry

      That’s a gross simplification.