Campus Black Student Union releases list of updated demands

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The campus Black Student Union announced Monday updates regarding its list of demands to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, originally released Feb. 13.

According to the press release, the BSU has since been working with campus administration to implement these demands in a motion called the UC Berkeley African American Initiative.

Several of the original demands have already been met or are in the process of being completed — such as the hiring of one black psychologist. According to the press release, the campus has promised to designate two positions in the Tang Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services division for psychologists who are experienced in working with members of the black community.

In order to ensure that the remainder of the demands are met, administration and the BSU regularly meet in person to discuss advancements, said James Butler, campus senior and external vice president of BSU. During these scheduled meetings, task forces are assigned to carry out specific demands. There is also a general implementation task force, consisting of both BSU members and administration, in charge of ensuring that matters are moving along in a timely manner.

“The BSU and administration — we share the same sentiments,” Butler said. “We have a shared vested interest. This is something we all want to do and we’re just here to work together.”

According to campus sophomore and BSU Membership Coordinator Marisa Johnson, the BSU has been working with four administrators in particular: Executive Vice Chancellor Claude Steele, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Harry Le Grande, Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri and African American studies Department Chair Na’ilah Suad Nasir, who will take over as the vice chancellor for equity and inclusion in November.

Nasir, a UC Berkeley alumna, said she is amazed by the BSU’s dedication to the completion of the African American Initiative. Nasir graduated from UC Berkeley in the early ’90s, when the black student population was around 10 or 11 percent — now, it is less than 3 percent, Nasir said.

“I think it’s such an important moment for Berkeley to give a voice to some of these issues that affect certain students every day in such profound ways,” Nasir said. “I’m really proud of the Black Student Union and the way that they’ve led this.”

Currently, the implementation committee is working on several ongoing demands, including the creation of a resource center for black students on campus and the initiation of a $20 million endowment to be used for scholarships for black students. According to Nasir, funding for these projects will be a “multifaceted effort.” Administration will be reaching out to the campus’s alumni base, key donors and partners, who have already responded positively. The fundraising for scholarships is estimated to take two to three years.

“I’m hopeful that this is the beginning of a wonderful transformation for Berkeley,” Nasir said.

Contact Harini Shyamsundar at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hshyamsundar.