UC Berkeley’s QARC, bridges student groups: history, issues, media misconceptions

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As the Queer Alliance Resource Center, or QARC, and bridges Multicultural Resource Center fight for adequate student spacing, members of QARC attempt to clear up misconceptions about the two organizations’ demands in the relocation of their meeting spaces.

QARC and bridges

QARC and bridges are not the same organization — QARC is a campus organization run by LGBTQ+ students, dedicated to LGBTQ+ students. According to Jerry Javier, board director for QARC, the center “provide(s) financial resources, logistical resources and (helps) facilitate community dialogue.”

Bridges Multicultural Resource Center, meanwhile, is a coalition of several campus organizations that encourages underrepresented students of color to pursue higher education and provides resources for UC Berkeley students of color.

Javier said the two organizations are not new resources on campus, despite what many people may think.

“QARC and bridges are both very old organizations that have systematically been downsized,” Javier said. “We’re … established organizations with a history of supporting students on a large scale (and) we’re trying to gain back a space that has already been taken from us.”

Issues with spaces

Last Friday, supporters and members of the organizations led a protest in front of Sather Gate — after having held several previous protests — demanding their resource centers be relocated to another area on campus.

In 2011, QARC and bridges were offered the choice of two spaces — one in office space shared with other student groups and the other in the Eshleman Hall basement. Because of bridges’ work with K-12 students, which requires it to keep certain information confidential, the shared office space was not an option, and it therefore agreed to its current space.

“The community is still trying to get the best place possible for our resource centers,” said Juniper Cordova-Goff, a member of QARC who is involved with the bridges and QARC fight for spaces. “We’re in the middle of what the next steps are … and we’re just trying to hold the institution accountable and make sure everyone knows we are visible.”

Media misconceptions

Many news outlets reported that activists who were part of the protest refused passage to white students attempting to pass through Sather Gate but did not prevent minority students from crossing. Javier said this claim is false.

“The students of color (were) actually trying to join the line in support — people just didn’t know what they were looking at,” Javier said. “We turned away everyone who came, no matter what race or ethnicity they were … except for people with disabilities.”

According to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff, campus representatives have examined the situation and have spoken with eyewitnesses, including police officers, and determined that race did not play a role in the protesters’ interactions with people who attempted to pass through.

Media sources claiming the organizations are looking for a “safe space” are wrong, according to Javier.

“I’m not sure where the safe space rhetorics are popping up,” Javier said. “We’re not asking for safe space, we’re asking for our spaces to be expanded so that we can operate and do the work we are doing for large communities.”

Campus leaders are currently helping to create a solution to the issue in close cooperation with the ASUC Student Union, Ratliff said in an email.

Contact Semira Sherief at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @semshreif1.