On Wednesday, students from the Queer Alliance and Resource Center, or QARC, and bridges Multicultural Resource Center gathered at the office of the dean of students and demanded the organizations be relocated from their current locations in the Eshleman Hall basement.
Last year, the programs were temporarily relocated from their previous locations in the upper floors of Eshleman Hall because of construction. When they returned to Eshleman Hall, they were allocated their current space in the basement. Since the beginning of the semester, students have been asking that the bridges program be moved to the Cal Student Store in the Martin Luther King Student Union and that the fifth floor of Eshleman Hall be reserved for use by the QARC.
“(Our current space), it’s out of sight, it’s underground,” said Jerry Javier, board director for QARC. “There have been rats down there … that have gotten into the office spaces.”
David Lemus, the organizing and community development director for bridges, also said a white board fell on someone’s head in the space, raising concern among students about the safety of their equipment.
Joseph Greenwell, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students, is in the process of scheduling a tour of the area and wants to meet with the concerned students, according to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff. Ratliff said in an email that the specific space requests in the organization’s letters, however, fall under the domain of the ASUC Student Union Board and ASUC Senate.
Bridges is a program that recruits and provides resources to underrepresented students of color on campus. The QARC is a space where LGBTQ+ students can find financial resources and a safe environment, according to Javier.
Lemus and Javier both noted that the locations they are demanding would help their programs become more recognizable to students.
“Right now, no one knows where our centers are. This is part of the structural racism of UC Berkeley — no one can find the group,” Lemus said. “It has turned the program practically … invisible for students.”
Lemus added that bridges’ current space has a capacity of about 30 students, but the program works with 200 students on a daily basis.
QARC had informed ASUC administration of its demands last week, and students from bridges also attended a student union board meeting to discuss the matter further.
ASUC President Will Morrow said he does not know what the ASUC Senate plans on doing about this at the moment but is aware that the concerns of the organizations are important.
“Students doing important work like these two organizations do … are vital to our campus community and therefore the space they … are in should feel like a central part of the community,” Morrow said.