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Tracking COVID-19 at UCLA

Black Bruin Resource Center officially opens in Kerckhoff Hall for in-person access

The Black Bruin Resource Center’s permanent location in Kerckhoff 168 opened to students Monday. The center began offering online services to Black students in summer 2020. (Sakshi Joglekar/Assistant Photo editor)

By Sydney Kovach

Sept. 28, 2021 1:02 p.m.

This post was updated Sept. 29 at 10:48 p.m.

The Black Bruin Resource Center’s permanent physical space in Kerckhoff Hall officially opened to students Monday.

The BBRC began offering activities and events in summer 2020, but services were virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. BBRC, which sits in Kerckhoff Hall 168, will offer resources to improve equity, inclusion and access to education, according to Amanda Finzi-Smith, the interim program director at the BBRC.

The center will provide Black communities leadership opportunities and scholarships, as well as cultural awareness programs, according to Finzi-Smith. The BBRC will also support the Afrikan Student Union and Black Graduate Student Association with community outreach and networking opportunities.

Leaders of UCLA’s Black community have been calling on the university to establish a Black Resource Center since at least 2017.

Many students who attended the grand opening said the permanent space will allow them to connect with other Black students on campus and feel included at the university.

Olivia Hamilton, a third-year psychology student, said the center’s permanent space in Kerckhoff Hall will allow people to come together and make new connections.

Hamilton said it is easy for her to feel out of place at a prestigious university like UCLA, and this feeling is only amplified when there is little Black representation on campus.

She added that she plans to come to the center for academic, social and emotional support.

“I can already tell it’s going to be a comfortable place I can come to. … I feel like it’s just going to be a really great place to feel like you just belong here,” Hamilton added.

Amari Muhammad, a first-year environmental science student, said she is nervous to attend UCLA because she has not had opportunities to connect with other Black students. She also said she has not seen much Black representation in her science classes.

African American students made up around 3% of incoming students in fall 2020, according to the UCLA undergraduate admissions office.

Muhammad said she is optimistic the center will provide her the opportunity to connect and build friendships with other Black Bruins on campus.

“(The BBRC) will definitely help me find my community here,” Muhammad said. “You really don’t see (Black students) walking around campus or in your classes.”

Some students said they are interested in how the BBRC will implement programs and activities.

Hamilton said the center is a step in the right direction for Black students on campus, but she added that UCLA can always do more to support Black communities.

Jayla Stokesberry, a third-year cognitive science student, said the center is an important and hard-earned victory for the Black community at UCLA. She said she hopes students have the authority to implement the center’s goals since Black Bruins have had to fight the university to create the space for them.

“I feel like students should be the main ones in charge of implementing the things that they want to see from the center,” Stokesberry said.

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Sydney Kovach | Campus Politics editor
Kovach is the 2021-2022 assistant News editor for the campus politics beat. She was previously a contributor for The Stack. Kovach is a fourth-year global studies student at UCLA.
Kovach is the 2021-2022 assistant News editor for the campus politics beat. She was previously a contributor for The Stack. Kovach is a fourth-year global studies student at UCLA.
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