Illustration by Lisa Bizuneh

For years, the Black Student Union (BSU) had a clear demand for UC Santa Cruz — it wanted a Black studies program. In early May, it secured one. The Black studies minor is set to hit the campus fall 2019.

Students zeroed in on implementing a minor program since the organization’s reclamation of Kerr Hall in 2017. The minor will be housed under the critical race and ethnic studies program (CRES), a major under the Humanities Division.

BSU President Shania Anderson considers the procurement of the minor a step forward for Black representation on campus.

“I do not believe the university supports Black students, neither academically nor emotionally,” Anderson said. “The push for Black curriculum has been ongoing since the school’s founding in 1965, and it is just now being implemented. I believe the implementation of this minor will legitimize our struggle for this university.”

Nick Mitchell, feminist studies and CRES assistant professor, began writing proposals for the minor in 2017. BSU worked alongside Mitchell to complete the proposal and organize course requirements. Mitchell has served as the BSU’s connection to administration throughout this process.

BSU members consider this a victory for Black students on campus.

BSU Vice President Colby Riley and community affairs chair Adonay Moreno explained that the BSU, Mitchell and administration are still figuring out the logistics of the minor.

“The BSU is demanding to be involved in the process of selecting the faculty,” Moreno said. “We want the faculty to consist of Black professors that are pro-Black, supporters of the LGBTQIA+ community, etc. […] This variety reflects our organization’s values and would also expand the information taught in association with Blackness as a whole.”

BSU also demands members have the chance to veto certain faculty in the hiring process. Moreno explained that without ABSA’s Kerr Hall reclamation in 2017, the push for this minor would not exist, giving them the right to be heavily involved in the process. BSU’s involvement would strive to ensure each facet of the Afrikan Black Caribbean (ABC) community is well-represented.

The first minor requirement, CRES 68-01, is an introduction to Black studies, and is expected to be offered in either fall or winter quarter. Moreno explained that other courses under the minor are expected to cover topics ranging from Black feminism to Blackness and queer culture to the Afrikan diaspora.

Riley said all ethnicities are invited to take Black studies courses and declare the minor. Riley hopes the minor will help educate the entire university, as well as empower Black students, faculty and administration campuswide.

“From a student perspective, to see Black issues, Black culture and anything related to the Afrikan diaspora be legitimized through education and this institution is powerful,” Riley said. “Implementing this minor into our curriculum legitimizes the struggle, the contributions and everything involved with being Black.”