“Even though UC Merced likes to promote itself as being diverse, the university does not provide adequate resources for Black students.”
– Carli Bardier, UC Merced Black Student Union
MERCED, California – Over 40 Black students marched and rallied at UC Merced on February 26 to call attention to the lack of resources for Black students. Students marched from the dining commons through campus holding signs calling and chanting for better treatment and services for Black students.
“Even though UC Merced likes to promote itself as being diverse, the university does not provide adequate resources for Black students,” said Carli Bardier, president of the Black Student Union (BSU). Approximately 5.7 percent of UC Merced students identify as African American/Black, but that percentage is declining, according to the BSU.
The UC Merced BSU issued six demands for UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland to address systemic barriers for Black students. Students have demanded the creation and permanent funding of a Black Resource Center and a Black Studies Department. With the lack of targeted resources for Black students on our campus, the center can serve as a targeted resource for Black students. This Black Resource Center will serve as the “umbrella” for all support, resources, and programs for students from the African diaspora at UCM. The center will provide leadership training, collaborative meeting/study rooms, networking/scholarships, community service efforts, advisement, and advocacy for the diaspora community on campus.
“Providing resources for Black student success and eliminating the hostile, and anti-Black campus climate needs to be one of Chancellor Leland’s top priorities.”
– Xavier Harris
The Black Studies Department would join the growing movement of research about Black people. Students believe that in order for change in the African-American community we must first be educated on our past. Black Studies units exist at most of the other UC campuses, many California State Universities, and many California Community Colleges. Students also demanded two-full time Black psychologists that could support students mental health needs, especially the stress dealing with racial discrimination. Black students frequently experience disrespect and exclusion from faculty and students on campus based on race, according to a recent campus climate study conducted by the University of California system.
Marches and rallies may be rare today on campus, but Black students experience racism every day, according to BSU members.
“Providing resources for Black student success and eliminating the hostile, and anti-Black campus climate needs to be one of Chancellor Leland’s top priorities,” Xavier Harris, secretary of the BSU said. “It’s a shame that we have to come up with demands on how the university can better serve us.”
The BSU’s other demands include access to contact information of new first year and Black transfer students, as well as Black alumni. The BSU demands implementation of the demands within the next 3-6 months.