Chancellor announces new task force on multicultural student development

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UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced the creation of a task force on multicultural student development Monday as a result of protests at Eshleman Hall last November.

The new task force is charged with composing a report on the needs of multicultural groups and programs on campus. It will present its recommendations to the chancellor on May 1.

“I am very excited to be involved in the task force; I think it’s a forward-looking effort with great potential for making future changes,” said Vice Chancellor of Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri.

The group will present their answers to a number of questions posed by the chancellor relating to the needs of the multicultural student community.

These issues include identifying the current and future needs of multicultural groups on campus as well as exploring desired outcomes and structures of future programs and the amount of support they would require.

Students proposed the task force and Birgeneau agreed to its creation in the wake of last November’s protests at Eshleman Hall.

The Eshleman occupation “stemmed from students feeling as if their suggestions had not been taken seriously with regard to the proposed restructuring of the multicultural student development offices,” said ASUC President Connor Landgraf. “The creation of this task force was a specific condition of the agreement made with protesters.”

One of the group’s tasks will be to explore other possible structures for the multicultural student development offices, with the goal of presenting their ideas to the chancellor and potentially revising the existing structure, Landgraf said.

“I’m glad that the university is now really listening,” said Klein Lieu, a UC Berkeley senior and an ASUC senator on the task force. “Last semester was a cry for help. Students felt that their opinions weren’t being heard.”

Lieu added that he believes the task force is in the spirit of UC Berkeley’s long history of activism.

“I’m glad to see the students holding true to that legacy,” he said. “I really hope to accomplish something that students really want to see.”

The group is composed of undergraduate and graduate students appointed from the ASUC, Graduate Assembly and Bridges Multicultural Resource Center as well as two members of the faculty.

Their recommendations will help educate the new chancellor on multicultural issues on campus and are poised to advance the agenda on meeting the needs of multicultural students, according to Basri.

Basri suggested that the task force’s report would serve to map out future objectives and guidelines — something that will be particularly important going forward.

Contact Natasha Osborne at [email protected].

A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Klein Lieu’s name.