A UC systemwide steering committee created by two student leaders will allow students to address issues around race, campus communities and the place of underrepresented minorities in the UC system.
The UNITE committee on campus climate issues, created by UC Student Regent-designate Jonathan Stein and UC Student Association Undergraduate Chair Patrick Manh Le, seeks to improve campus environments for students of color and underrepresented minorities. Though the committee has been in the works since January, its creation has become more relevant in the wake of racially charged events in the past few weeks at UC Riverside and UCLA in which an Israeli flag was defaced and a student’s apartment door was covered with racial slurs, according to Stein.
“I think we have two major goals,” Le said. “We’d like to open a dialogue with students about campus climate issues. The second one is to really create a space for action. On the local campus level, a lot of great things are done but systemwide we face a lot of barriers.”
According to Stein, the committee will be composed of three to five students from each UC campus and will meet by conference call to exchange ideas and experiences from their individual campuses.
He added that the committee — which is accepting applications until March 30 on its website — could serve as a space for students to address issues such as those at the Riverside and Los Angeles campuses and discuss solutions.
“I really do hope that by being a workspace for students who are tackling really difficult challenges we can do our campus climate work better,” Stein said. “I just want students doing campus climate work to be more effective in the work they do and eventually create a more welcoming and diverse UC.”
Le and Stein are both members of a separate systemwide steering committee composed of faculty and UC administrators, which is currently working on distributing a systemwide survey to gauge campus climate. The UNITE committee could serve as a more immediate way to address incidents of racial and cultural tension on campuses, Le said.
A bill was introduced Wednesday at the UC Berkeley ASUC Senate meeting to support the committee.
“In the last 18 months, students of color and students from underrepresented communities have lived through multiple events that alienate them from their campus community, make them feel unwelcome, and make it harder for them to succeed as a UC student,” the bill states.