After two years of protest and debate, the bridges Multicultural Resource Center and the Queer Alliance Resource Center, or QARC, solidified the next step in the Fight4Spaces campaign Friday morning by signing three memorandums of understanding, or MOUs, with campus officials.
The three MOUs were signed by campus officials and representatives from the ASUC Student Union and the ASUC, and they detail bridges and QARC’s requests of these three parties while the two resource centers continue their recruitment and retention work as they wait for their new space, Hearst Field Annex building spaces A and D, to be renovated.
“We spent … maybe over 200 hours in meetings to ensure that the future generations of bridges and QARC have the best space possible in the Hearst Field Annex,” said bridges External Director Daniel Russell Cheung.
In 2016, bridges and QARC blocked Sather Gate and held a sit-in at the Cal Student Store, demanding more visible and accessible locations for their respective offices, which are currently in the basement of Eshleman Hall.
Before being moved to Eshleman Hall’s basement in 2016, the offices for bridges and QARC were both in Hearst Field Annex during the new Eshleman Hall’s construction, and they had previously had rooms in the old Eshleman Hall, according to Cheung. Both organizations have been reporting safety and accessibility concerns with their current basement spaces since 2016.
After protests and organizing throughout the 2016-17 academic year, bridges and QARC began meeting with officials from the Division of Student Affairs and Division of Equity & Inclusion, including Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton. Sutton, who signed bridges and QARC’s MOU with the campus, said he is “committed” to finding the two groups a suitable space.
“They’ve spent time with a designer to look at … what they need spacewise, between the offices, furniture, all that kind of stuff,” Sutton said. “I hope we can get them into their space as soon as possible.”
QARC Director Amir Amerian said that while MOUs are not legally binding documents, the signing is still a “big win,” and future students will now have to focus on “holding the campus accountable” to the MOUs.
Historically, QARC has not coordinated its organizations in the same way bridges has, according to Amerian, and the lack of a central space has led to QARC-supported LGBTQ+ organizations being more distant from each other. Amerian added that students will continue to organize, however, because “no resource and no space is guaranteed.”
“Its hard because, you know, the folks that are in this room right now and the bridges staff, we won’t be students when the Hearst Field Annex opens with the renovations, but it’s always just looking ahead to how can we support future generations of bridges and QARC,” Cheung said. “That’s what, I think, motivates all of us.”