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Tracking COVID-19 at UCLA2020 Racial Justice Movement

ASU continues long-standing push for resources dedicated to black students at UCLA

Students in the Afrikan Student Union have been advocating for a black resource center for years. Though the center has been approved, progress has been slow, members said. (Michael Zshornack/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Megan Son

April 4, 2019 12:31 a.m.

A student said she is dismayed that UCLA has existed for 100 years but still has not established a resource center on campus for black students.

Julia Robinson, a member of the Afrikan Student Union at UCLA and a third-year political science student, said she thinks administrators need to prioritize black students’ issues on campus.

The ASU has been corresponding with UCLA administrators about creating a black resource center for five years and has advocated for a center since the late 1990s, said Isaiah Njoku, the chairperson of the ASU and a fourth-year sociology student.

The center would serve as a central entity for the various black student organizations on campus and provide funding for the organizations with its endowment, according to an ASU press release.

UCLA agreed to the creation of a black resource center in 2017 but is still determining funding and a location for the center, Njoku said.

Chancellor Gene Block supports students engaging in spaces that provide a sense of identity and place, said UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez in an email statement.

UCLA has worked with the ASU to provide spaces, such as the Black Forum at the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, which is reserved for black student groups from 5 p.m. until closing, and the Afrikan Diaspora Living Learning Community in Rieber Hall, which allows students to be immersed in Afrikan culture, Vazquez added.

The ASU met with Block on March 5 to create a plan for the implementation of the resource center and to discuss the ASU’s other demands, Njoku said.

The ASU held a press conference and peaceful demonstration Feb. 28 at the UCLA-USC basketball game to protest various anti-black incidents, including racist fraternity and sorority events and racial profiling on campus.

Robinson, who is also the chief of staff of the Undergraduate Students Association Council Internal Vice President’s office, said the reason why it has taken so long for a black resource center to be established on campus is a lack of space and funding.

Robinson added that the administration has repeatedly told the ASU to seek other sources of funding for the center.

The administration and the ASU are currently working together to find an appropriate space for the center that is accessible and large enough, Njoku said.

Njoku added he thinks the push for a center has been ongoing for decades because the administration has prioritized other entities on campus over the black student population.

Vazquez said the creation of the center has taken this long because of limited space at UCLA.

“Because UCLA is more 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,” Vazquez said.

Njoku said allies can support the ASU by staying updated about issues regarding black students and spreading the word through social media.

“Publicity is everything,” Njoku said.

As UCLA approaches its centennial anniversary, Robinson said she hopes the ASU’s campaign for a black resource center will draw attention to UCLA’s progress – and lack of progress – regarding black student issues on campus.

“UCLA has been known to celebrate 100 years of anti-blackness, and that’s not something that should be celebrated. It should be made to change,” Robinson said.

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Megan Son
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