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.”
Shouts and boos disrupted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during her first official commencement speech, with one student escorted out of the ceremony by security. Many at the historically black Bethune-Cookman University simply turned their backs on her.
DeVos and hundreds of graduates arriving at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Wednesday were met by dozens of protesters outside and demonstrations permeated inside as well.
Despite some applause from student leaders and faculty in the front rows, the hecklers overwhelmed parts of DeVos’ address, forcing her to raise her voice in order to be heard.
The Trump administration has been reaching out to historically black colleges as it attempts to build support for a major school choice reform push, but many at B-CU saw DeVos as taking no interest in their school, and rather taking advantage of a photo opportunity.
Anger towards DeVos is about more than her being an extension of President Donald Trump, however. In February, she called historically black colleges and universities “pioneers” of “school choice,” and while she also talked about historical systemic racism denying blacks education, her widely quoted remarks were taken by some as ignorant or racist.
“She made racist comments about HBCUs, she doesn’t know anything about us, and she has the nerve to come down here and speak to us,” graduate Donjele Simpson told the Washington Post.
Bethune-Cookman University had been on edge for days, with multiple petitions opposing DeVos’ visit garnering thousands of signatures.
Not only did some faculty and alumni demand her address be canceled, but so did a national teachers’ union. The Florida NAACP even called for university President Edison Jackson to resign.
Students began booing even before DeVos took the stage, as B-CU President Jackson welcomed longtime Trump advisor Omarosa Manigault. Jackson stopped his introduction and told those booing, “You don’t know her. You don’t know her story,” the Washington Post reported.
When it came time for DeVos to speak, about half of the 380 graduates stood and turned their backs on her, according to the Post.
DeVos cited the university founder Mary McLeod Bethune and the school motto, “Enter to learn, depart to serve,” but interruptions from the crowd did not cease.
“If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you,” Jackson threatened the students.
Not all resented DeVos for showing up, however. Jacari Harris, a junior and former student body president, told the Washington Post that the education secretary was “awesome.”
“I’m so glad she’s here,” Harris said. “She’s very transparent, she has a listening ear. We told her about some of the issues we are facing, about students who are single parents, or come from single-parent families, even students who are homeless, and she agreed that we need to find a way to address all of this. She knows the need. It was a great dialogue.”
9 May 2017
A UC Berkeley professor has come under fire after a Wikipedia edit project for one of his courses resulted in students branding President Donald Trump “racist” and “sexist.”
Berkeley Professor Michel Gelobter has faced a backlash in the Wikipedia community after his students labeled Trump “racist” and “sexist” in edits that were eventually removed. Gelobeter has since been blocked indefinitely from Wikipedia.
In an article describing a course on environmental justice activism at UC Berkeley, a member of Gelobter’s course argued that the first few months of the Trump administration have been uniquely “anti-environmental, sexist, and racist.”
This semester represents a unique moment in history…the first few months of a historically unique U.S. President whose agenda has been explicitly anti-environmental, sexist, and racist. This course will use this moment in two ways: • First, as a learning opportunity for students to engage with critical issues as they emerge on the social, economic, policy, and political landscape; • Second, to be of service by documenting key developments and creating a neutral source of information about them.
The post was ultimately removed. An editor claimed that the line about the Trump administration was a “blatant BLP violation,” which means that commentary on a living person does not come from a “neutral point of view.”
Wikipedia edit projects are now common in the social justice sectors of academia. Feminists at Oberlin, Bucknell, and Temple University hosted Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon events during the 2016-2017 academic year.
Commenting on this trend, Wikipedia user “Jytdog” argued that academia does not have the right to take over articles for the purpose of education.
“Wikipedia is the commons and governed by community policies and guidelines. Just like companies don’t have the right to dump things into public waters, classes don’t have the right to take over space in the commons for classwork. Can you see that?” he wrote.
By Pam Key
Tuesday on the Washington Post’s “Cape Up” podcast, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a “racist.”
Waters said, “We have as our attorney general someone who is a throwback to the days of Jim Crow in the South.”
She continued, “I think that Jeff Sessions is very dangerous. I think he is a racist and I think that he absolutely believes that it’s his job to keep minorities in their place. That he come from a time and a place in his history where this was the order of the day. And I think he would go back to that given his power he has now and his influence. And so I think we have to watch him. We have to keep an eye on him and be prepared to push back when we see that he is moving in that direction. Whether we are talking about Los Angeles or we are talking about Saint Louis, or we are talking about New York. You know, we have gone through some terrible periods of time where people of color were targeted, where they had policies that would stop people. They would frisk them. They would easily handcuff them, put them in jail, shoot them, kill them, and we can’t go back. We still are not out of that period of time. We are still wrestling with trying to get justice from police departments and from juries and from courtrooms.”
When questioned, Waters added, “I think he’s a racist, I think he’s a throwback, and I don’t mind saying it, any day of the week.”