After demands earlier in the month that they be relocated from their current spaces in the Eshleman Hall basement, members of the Queer Alliance and Resource Center, or QARC, and bridges Multicultural Resource Center rejected three alternative location options offered by the ASUC Student Union Board at an emergency meeting held Thursday.
The board proposed spaces in the Anna Head Alumnae Hall, the fourth floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union and Hearst Field Annex Building A as alternative locations for the organizations. According to QARC Executive Director Jerry Javier, they turned down the proposed spaces, which range in size from 2,000 to more than 4,000 square feet, because the locations did not meet the their demand of at least 13,000 square feet of space and would not be sufficient for their work.
“We really want them to have the space that is adequate for them to do their work,” said chair of the ASUC Student Union Board Joe Wilson. “This movement is more than just about the physical space. Bridges and QARC are not just protesting the physical student store, they are also bringing to light this issue about how students of color and how queer students are treated on campus.”
QARC and bridges originally agreed to their placement in the Eshleman Hall basement during the Lower Sproul Redevelopment Project in November 2011, according to Wilson, as the programs had concerns about privacy at the time. Juan Chihuahua, a member of bridges’ Raza Recruitment and Retention Center, said that bridges’ past leadership agreed to the space after “vague” negotiations and that the basement is not adequate for their services.
The emergency meeting comes after QARC and bridges occupied the Cal Student Store on Monday and demanded that they be moved from the Eshleman Hall basement to Eshleman Hall’s fifth floor and the Cal Student Store, respectively.
According to Wilson, the ASUC Student Union Board looked into the feasibility of moving bridges into the Cal Student Store. According to its lease, however, UC Berkeley cannot terminate its contract with the Cal Student Store operator without 120 days notice, and the contract can only be terminated under particular circumstances.
Wilson also said the ASUC Student Union Board would have to account for the potential cost of moving the bridges program into the Cal Student Store and the loss in revenue that would result for the ASUC, which could otherwise support student groups and programs.
The fifth floor of Eshleman Hall, which is being demanded by QARC, is currently allocated to student government and also includes a rentable event meeting space, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.
During the public comment section of the meeting, members of QARC and bridges stated the importance and impact the organizations have had on campus and the necessity that they be relocated to space that would make them more visible to students.
“(The Cal Student Store) will allow us to mobilize and retain more students of color, especially on a campus that claims to be diverse,” Chihuahua said. “If we do obtain the student store, it will greatly reflect on the (campus’s) value of students over profit.”
According to Wilson, Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Na’ilah Nasir has set up meetings with representatives from QARC and bridges to work with them further.