UC Berkeley Latinx Resource Center voted down in favor of event space

Photo of MLK Center
Giselle Reyes/File
The ASUC Student Union Board of Directors denied a proposal to temporarily designate space for the Latinx Resource Center in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union in a meeting Jan. 15.

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A proposal to temporarily designate space in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union for the Latinx Resource Center, or LRC, was voted down by the ASUC Student Union Board of Directors at its Jan. 15 meeting.

The board’s vote comes as two organizations currently residing in the student union’s fourth floor — the Queer Alliance and Resource Center and the bridges Multicultural Resource Center — are expected to transition into new spaces, according to Martin Siron, vice president of finance for the UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly.

The LRC proposal, sponsored by campus’ Division of Equity & Inclusion, would have housed the program on the fourth floor for a five-year period. The proposal, however, was rejected and the board decided to approve plans to convert the area into an event place.

Board member and ASUC President Victoria Vera voted against the LRC proposal.

“The mission of the student union should be a space, in the broad sense, for all students,” Vera said. “For me, it didn’t sit right to designate the fourth floor to a single affinity space, especially for myself as a Latinx person.”

Revenue from commercial spaces in the student union has plummeted more than 80% amid the pandemic, creating a downward impact on student program funding for the next few years, according to a statement from the board.

The statement noted that adding another event space will bring in revenue to avoid staff layoffs and continue funding student services, provide the board flexibility in its future plans for the fourth floor and serve as additional activity space that can be utilized by student organizations and campus departments.

While rejecting plans to house the program, the board stated their support for creating an LRC on campus given the “serious and heartbreaking” unmet needs of Latinx students.

In support of the proposed center, the Latinx Caucus emphasized the necessity of creating a centralized space for Latinx students to access campus resources. In a statement, the caucus called upon the university to support the establishment of the LRC to fulfill its commitment in equitably serving underrepresented student needs.

“The benefits of a Latinx Resource Center are irrefutable, providing students with the necessary resources to overcome the various systemic hurdles we face,” the Latinx Caucus said in the statement.

Finding space for the LRC is an “urgent goal” and an important step in campus efforts to become a Hispanic Serving Institution, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

Gilmore also noted the limited availability of space on campus and how it is unable to dedicate spaces for the various identity and affinity groups.

“We know that, longer term, a campus plan will need to be developed that establishes perhaps a criteria for qualification for space and a creative way to try to meet student group needs,” Gilmore said in an email.

In hopes of finding a home for the LRC, the Latinx Caucus are currently reassessing their strategy going into the future.

Contact Kaleo Mark at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @kaleomark_dc.