Occupation protests university admissions policies for minority students

Anna Vignet/Staff
Yvette Felarca (in red shirt), BAMN organizer, protested at the UC office of undergraduate admissions on Friday with minority students who were not admitted to UC Berkeley and filed appeals. The protesters wanted UCB to double the number of minority students accepted.

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Members of activist group BAMN and UC Berkeley applicants occupied the campus Office of Undergraduate Admissions on Friday in an effort to appeal their rejections and demand greater acceptance rates for minority students.

The demonstration followed up on a previous occupation of the registrar’s office by BAMN and the Defend Affirmative Action Party on April 6.

BAMN national organizer Yvette Felarca said they were told at the previous occupation that the reason the number of minority students is low is because there are not enough qualified students from those communities, which she said is “a big, fat lie.”

On Friday, about 25 protesters led by Felarca flooded the admissions office and began chanting and making statements about their right to attend UC Berkeley. Felarca said they would not leave until they were given “real answers.”

According to UCPD spokesperson Capt. Margo Bennett, officers cited the 10 remaining protesters for trespassing and released them. Bennett said the eight protesters who are not UC Berkeley students were issued seven-day stay-away orders.

One of the purposes of the protest was to demand the number of minority students accepted to UC Berkeley and UCLA be doubled.

According to a BAMN press release, black, Latino and Native American students make up about half of California’s high school graduates, yet only comprise 21.9 percent of the campus’s California-resident freshmen this year.

“We are occupying to demand an end to UCB’s Jim Crow admission policies and for the admission of these students now,” Felarca said in the press release.

High school and community college students who were rejected by the campus spoke about their experiences as minority students and the difficulties they have had to face.

Berkeley High School senior Hannah Albaseer spoke about her experience as a Yemeni-American female and her desire to be the first in her family to attend college.

“I’m occupying because I’m representing the thousands of voiceless women and minority students who fight every day for their education, to give them hope to want to achieve better,” Albaseer said in the press release.

Albaseer also passed out a copy of her appeal letter at the occupation, which further described some of the challenges she has faced growing up, including having two parents who do not speak English.

Jackie Partida, a student at Pasadena City College, also spoke at the event. Partida — who said her father was deported to Mexico when she was young — said she hopes to attend UC Berkeley and one day become a lawyer so she can help people with struggles similar to her own.

“Let us in because we deserve to be here,” Partida said.  “Let me help my community.”

Felarca also spoke about the issue of using only numbers like grade point averages and SAT scores to determine admissions policies.

“Regardless of what an SAT score or an ACT score says, we’re all determined to be here,” said Berkeley High School senior Donovan Hernandez.