UC Berkeley students oppose decision to move Center for Race and Gender

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Seven UC Berkeley students sent a letter to campus administration Sunday opposing the campus’s decision to move the Center for Race and Gender to a different office.

The CRG will move from the executive vice chancellor and provost’s office to the vice chancellor for equity and inclusion’s office — a decision that some feel is a demotion but that the campus views as a way to better support the center.

The letter was written after an informational meeting about the move that CRG director Evelyn Glenn hosted Sept. 8 for affiliated students and faculty. In the letter, the students — six graduate students and one undergraduate — outlined steps for further negotiation with the administration.  

The letter has gained more than 250 signatures since it was originally sent out Sunday.

The CRG provides research grants to students, spotlights faculty research through conferences and hosts biweekly forums to highlight emerging work, among other services.

According to UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore, the the executive vice chancellor and provost’s office does not have the capacity to support the center “in the way it needs to be supported.

The Division of Equity and Inclusion will be able to provide “full-time” support with fundraising, communications and administrative operations, according to Gilmore. She cited the division’s “successful” fundraising efforts, which average $1.5 million in gifts and grants annually, as evidence for the support the CRG will receive, she said in an email.

Additionally, the vice chancellor for equity and inclusion, who will oversee the CRG, will continue to report to the executive vice chancellor and provost, according to Gilmore.  

John Mundell, a UC Berkeley postdoctoral researcher in African American studies and a co-author of the letter, said relocating the center will remove its direct link to the chancellor and affect many of the resources the center provides, rendering it more vulnerable to budget cuts.

It’s really kind of like a system of checks and balances, where the CRG keeps the university, in a way, honest regarding issues of race, gender and their intersections,” Mundell said.

The petitioning students also said that relocating the CRG violates the agreement made during its founding in 2001, which established it as one of three centers reporting directly to the executive vice chancellor and provost.

Campus junior and ASUC Senator Boomer Vicente, who co-authored the letter, said the relocation was important because he felt it was demoting an entity founded by students.

The petitioners have not received any response from the administration. They are discussing further steps to reverse the decision.

Activism or protests might be an option in the future,” Mundell said. “It’s not out of the picture.”

Contact Cassandra Vogel and Kimberly Nielsen at [email protected].