After three days of reclaiming Kerr Hall, the Afrikan/Black Student Alliance’s (A/BSA) demands have been met.
“We recognize that we have more work to do in supporting [Afrikan, Black and Caribbean] (ABC) students here at UC Santa Cruz,” director of media relations Scott Hernandez-Jason read from a letter from the chancellor to a crowd of about 400 at Kerr Hall. “We are committed to build capacity to fully integrate ABC-identified students so that they have a sense of belonging and connectedness here on campus.”
The demands included a four-year housing guarantee for underrepresented communities in the Rosa Parks African American Theme House (R.PAATH), returning the first-floor lounge back from its current use as a dorm room to a communal space, funding for painting the exterior of R.PAATH Pan-Afrikan colors and an in-person diversity training for all incoming students. All of these demands will be effective by fall 2017.
“Our work is not done. Our people are still struggling — they’re still struggling on this campus and they’re still struggling in America,” said A/BSA co-chair Imari Reynolds to the crowd. “Our work will never be done until our people are liberated.”
The reclamation began with a march on Monday in the Quarry that eventually traveled to Kerr Hall. Chancellor George Blumenthal and other staff in the building left, and the reclamation of the space began. A/BSA received donations of food, toiletries and water and even constructed a makeshift shower during their three-day stay in the building.
Blumenthal, citing safety concerns, declined to meet the organizers at the front of Kerr Hall at 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. A/BSA members, after planning to remain in Kerr Hall until Blumenthal joined them in the building’s courtyard, eventually left to met the chancellor in the physical and biological sciences complex.
After about an hour, A/BSA leaders returned to Kerr Hall with Hernandez-Jason who announced to the crowd of about 400 that the university had agreed to meet their demands. While many have called this a victory for A/BSA and ABC students on campus, reclamation organizers reiterated that there was much more work to be done.
“This is basic. We had to do this shit for basic needs,” Reynolds said. “The work is not done, and we let the chancellor know that. We have upcoming meetings with both him and his staff — our work is not done.”