MATTHEW STEIN – SWARTHMORE COLLEGE
‘There will be more Reclamations’
University of California Santa Cruz administrators recently agreed to meet to all four demands lodged by a black student group who commandeered a campus building and would not leave until their conditions were met.
But in addition to the four initial stipulations, the group made three other demands to the university, and it has warned UC Santa Cruz that it has four months to comply with these demands or “more Reclamations” will result.
After three days of occupation by students of Kerr Hall, Chancellor George Blumenthal agreed to give all black and Caribbean-identified students a 4-year housing guarantee to live in the Rosa Parks African American Themed House; bring back the building’s lounge; paint its exterior the “Pan-Afrikan colors” of red, green and black; and force all new incoming students to go through a mandatory diversity competency training.
“The student demonstrators raised a number of issues with campus leaders, issues we fundamentally agree upon,” Blumenthal stated in a May 4 memo to the campus community announcing the concessions. “Students from historically underrepresented communities deal with real challenges on campus and in the community. These difficulties include things that many people take for granted, such as finding housing or even just a sense of community.”
Yet the African/Black Student Alliance also demanded three additional provisions from UC Santa Cruz within its initial “Reclamation Statement,” posted on the website of the Afrikan Black Coalition. The group stipulated that if by Fall Quarter 2017 the university does not provide “detailed plans” on how to fulfill its new demands, “there will be more Reclamations.”
“Reclamation” is how the student group referred to its aggressive three-day takeover of Kerr Hall.
The alliance’s three additional demands are that the university purchase a property “to serve as a low income housing cooperative for historically disadvantaged students,” that the university “allocate $100,000” for Santa Cruz’s “SOMeCA” student organization support department, and that the university create either a Black Studies department or a Black Studies Minor or Major.
The group promised that, if their demands are not met, UC Santa Cruz will “force [them] to have to take what [they] know to be in [their] best interest to Reclaim.”
The alliance’s list of demands concludes with a quote from Assata Shakur, a former member of the Black Panther Party and a convicted murderer: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom; It is our duty to win; We must love each other and support each other; We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Blumenthal, in his memo to the campus community, had denounced taking over buildings as a means of protest, saying it displaced the campus community. It is unknown how campus leaders will respond to this latest threat.
A spokesman for UC Santa Cruz did not respond to a question from The College Fix on whether there will be any disciplinary action against the students who forcibly took over Kerr Hall. He only told The Fix that “safety” is the school’s top priority.
As for the student demonstrators, they reject the term “occupation” to describe their “reclamation” actions, claiming: “We are pushing back against the language of ‘occupation’ in recognition of the largely white-centric and fairly recent ‘Occupy Movement.’ We are pushing back against the language of ‘occupation’ in recognition of the very real settler occupations that are hxstorical [sic] and ongoing, such as the European colonization and occupation of ‘The Americas,’ as well as the current context of occupation in Palestine.”