GA passes resolutions to rectify UC Berkeley’s past with Indigenous communities

Photo of Kroeber Hall
Karen Chow/File
During a meeting Thursday, the Graduate Assembly discussed and passed two resolutions aiming to rectify some of UC Berkeley’s actions toward Indigenous communities. One of the two resolutions supports the denaming and renaming of Kroeber Hall, which was named after anthropologist Alfred Koeber.

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During the Graduate Assembly’s meeting Thursday, delegates and guests discussed the future and how to promote equity on campus for groups such as Indigenous students.

Alicia Johnson, director of the campus Office of Emergency Management, was the first of five speakers and discussed potential power outages, wildfires and smoke, earthquakes and public demonstrations and armed intruders, all of which UC Berkeley is preparing for.

According to Johnson, the COVID-19 pandemic has made preparations more difficult, as a potential need to evacuate, for example, could be complicated for quarantining students. She added that while UC Berkeley will provide resources for students living off campus, the school will not help them evacuate.

“That is your personal responsibility,” Johnson said at the meeting. “I want to be blunt, but I also want to say that we work directly with (partners) to make sure it is as easy as possible.”

Later in the meeting, the assembly discussed and voted on resolutions, including two concerning the campus’s history with Indigenous populations, in support of rectifying some of UC Berkeley’s actions.

The first resolution supports the denaming and renaming of Kroeber Hall given the “devastating” impacts of anthropologist Alfred Kroeber’s work on local Indigenous communities, including the nonconsensual excavation of Native American remains and the tribes’ loss of federal recognition, said assembly delegate José Marrero Rosado.

In response to delegate concerns that denaming Kroeber Hall will dismiss Kroeber’s legacy, Lucy Gill, a campus graduate student, said Kroeber’s contributions to anthropology will not be ignored, but his damage to Indigenous communities must be recognized.

“Having someone’s name on a building … is a very clear signal that this is the type of scholarship we are holding up,” Gill said at the meeting. “We can find a better example.”

The second of the resolutions supports the repatriation of Native American remains and belongings held by the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, as mandated by state and federal laws. 

With the assembly adopting the official position that UC Berkeley should repatriate Native American remains, the resolution intends to keep pressure on the campus to “follow the law and stop giving excuses,” Marrero Rosado said at the meeting.

Both resolutions passed.

The assembly then discussed a resolution supporting the termination of PepsiCo’s exclusive pouring rights on campus.

UC Berkeley’s current contract with PepsiCo grants 80% of shelf space at campus facilities to its products, limiting students’ beverage choices to unhealthy and unsustainable options, said Leonela Leon and Selena Melgoza, both of whom work in ASUC Senator Sarah Bancroft’s office.

The resolution supports UC Berkeley eventually ending its contract with the beverage company and establishing additional water refill stations around campus.

This resolution also passed.

Contact Kate Finman and Olivia Moore at [email protected].