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IN THE NEWS:

Tracking COVID-19 at UCLA

Black Resource Center continues remote operation, plans to open in person for fall

UCLA appointed an interim-director and selected Kerkhoff Hall as the location for the Black Resource Center. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Kristal Ombogo

Feb. 12, 2021 2:48 p.m.

The Black Resource Center will be located in Kerckhoff Hall and will continue offering remote services in winter quarter after launching remotely in the fall.

The center will open its physical office once it is safe to do so, administrators Amanda Finzi-Smith, Monroe Gorden and Denise Pacheco said in an emailed statement. UCLA is planning to return to in-person instruction in fall quarter 2021 with some safety restrictions in place, thanks to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

[Related link: UC campuses plan for return to in-person instruction by fall 2021]

UCLA also appointed Finzi-Smith, who currently serves as resident director of Canyon Point, as the interim program director for the Black Resource Center, the statement added.

The BRC, along with the Resilience In Your Student Experience Center, held the annual Black Convocation and offered a discussion series about the 2020 presidential election in the fall quarter, the statement said.

The center is also planning to host a series of virtual events in the winter quarter in collaboration with campus organizations, including the RISE Center, Counseling and Psychological Services and the Career Center, the statement added.

The university first announced it would create a Black Resource Center in June, following nationwide protests against police brutality and racial discrimination, with the support from the Afrikan Student Union and the Black Graduate Students Association.

In September, UCLA announced plans to launch the center remotely in fall quarter, while beginning to develop the center’s office space, according to an announcement from Chancellor Gene Block and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Emily Carter.

Black students have demanded that UCLA fund the creation of the Black Resource Center since 2015. The Cultivating Unity for Bruins referendum, which would have charged each student an extra $15 per quarter to fund the center and cover rent for the Transfer Student Center, failed to pass in the 2020 Undergraduate Students Association Council spring election.

[Related link: UCLA to create new Black Resource Center in major step for Black student community]

The Afrikan Student Union led the effort to push for the establishment of a Black Resource Center, said Naomi Riley, the USAC president and a fourth-year political science student. She added that ASU is making decisions and is in discussion with UCLA about the center.

The Afrikan Student Union declined to comment for this story. The Black Graduate Student Association did not respond to requests for comment.

The university held focus groups led by Black graduate students to discuss the types of resources that the center should provide.

Kevin Kobrine, a co-founder of the Black Student-Athlete Association and third-year sociology student, said he is hopeful for what the center will accomplish.

“It’s hard to fault the university for not creating (the physical resource center) considering the circumstances,” Kobrine said. “I couldn’t be mad at them because I know there’s a lot of things going on, and it wouldn’t even be in use right now.”

Daniel Matheney, a third-year communications student and member of BSAA, said he hopes the Black Resource Center can support his academic and mental health needs.

“Walking around campus … you don’t often see Black people,” Matheney said. “It would be nice to have an area where (Black students are) centered … and find a bunch of people that share the same similarities in culture as me.”

Matheney and Kobrine said they hope the center will succeed in providing a safe space for Black students and preserving Black culture on campus.

Black students, with a 64.7% four-year graduation rate in 2015, are the least likely to complete all four years at UCLA compared to other demographics, according to a 2019 University of California report. Riley said she hopes the creation of the Black Resource Center will increase retention and graduation rates of Black students.

Riley added that she is excited for future Black students that will have access to the Black Resource Center.

“I think that space is so special on college campuses,” Riley said. “But particularly on UCLA campus, given that we are … the most densely populated UC, but the smallest in terms of physical space.”

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