Organizations centered around ethnicity and identity at UC Santa Cruz can provide a welcoming environment to students just beginning their college experience.

To learn more about the larger ethnic and identity organizations at UCSC, City on a Hill Press conducted email interviews with four ethnic organizations. Leaders from Asian/Pacific Islander Student Alliance (APISA), Bayanihan, Black Student Union (BSU), and Hermanos Unidos (HU) discussed their motivations to take positions of leadership, their goals coming into the year, and how new students can get involved.

These are only a few of the ethnic and identity organizations available to students at UCSC.

Asian/Pacific Islander Student Alliance (APISA)

Lauryn Holmes: Art Director

CHP: What is the mission of the APISA?

LH: APISA emphasizes unity and empowerment through celebrating the diverse cultures and customs of the AA/PI communities on campus. As people who have been historically undermined and underrepresented, APISA strives to take control of how our histories and stories are taught in predominantly white institutions, while simultaneously supporting members of the AA/PI community to succeed in all walks of life.

CHP: What motivated you to be in leadership?

LH: I joined APISA as a freshman during 2020-2021. At the time, I had no idea how to integrate myself into the UCSC community and struggled to find a place where I felt comfortable. The leaders of APISA provided just what I was looking for: a space where I could be myself and interact with students of AAPI backgrounds. I wanted to be able to give students like me the opportunity to explore their culture in a safe environment as the APISA Core had done for me.

CHP: What are your goals moving into the 2021-22 academic year?

LH: During the 2021-2022 school year, APISA aims to create a safe environment to have immersive and educational community-building events centered around the students’ AA/PI identity. Additionally, APISA will strive to support organizations focused on aiding the AAPI community through fundraising and promotional events.

CHP: How can people get involved with the APISA?

LH: This year, APISA will be focusing on making our meetings accessible for students both in-person and online. Our meetings are always open to students that are exploring their club options, so new students and members can feel free to drop into a meeting whenever they’re ready. Cornucopia will be the first time that new members can interact with the core, so look for us there!


Gamliel Urlanda: Chair 

CHP: What is the mission of the Bayanihan?

GU: People often don’t hear the stories of the Filipino people and Bayanihan is a place where those stories are told. We celebrate and promote the Filipino and Filipino-American experience through activities and events that explore our identity, history, and culture. Bayanihan strives to be a space that promotes unity, inclusion, and empowerment among our members, whether or not they identify as Filipino.

CHP: What motivated you to be in leadership?

GU: Bayanihan was the first community on campus I felt that I really belonged to, and within it, I made some great friends and had memorable experiences. This past year was rough for most student orgs, and Bayanihan’s experience was no exception. If any time was the time to give back to my community, that time is now, and I chose to do it as Bayanihan Co-Chair.

CHP: What are your goals moving into the 2021-22 academic year?

GU: I’d like for us to hold more events and activities where folks can get more in-touch with the Filipino and Filipino-American experience. We’re high-spirited and robust people, and I believe our stories are worth being told. I also strongly believe in the idea of allyship, and I’d like to foster closer connections with the other communities of color on this campus.

CHP: How can people get involved with the Bayanihan?

GU: If you’re interested, our website at has info about us and the communities housed under Bayanihan. From dance, to digital media, to singing, there’s an aspect for everyone! You can also shoot us an email at for more info. It doesn’t even have to be that long, just email us a quick “I’m interested!” and we’ll get you started!

Black Student Union (BSU)

Xaul Starr: President

CHP: What is the mission of BSU?

XS:  The mission of BSU is to build a space for Black students on campus. Historically, Black students were not meant to have a space on campus in higher education. We want to create and cultivate a space for the Black community to hang out and talk and be unapologetically Black. BSU works to mobilize Black students, faculty, and staff on campus and provide the Black community with a safe, educational, and healing space.

CHP: What motivated you to be in leadership?

XS: Giving back to the BSU and the Black community on campus. They took me in when I was at a low point, so being a part of leadership and contributing to the organization was a way I could help give back to this community.

CHP: What are your goals moving into the 2021-22 academic year?

XS: Our goals are not finalized, there are goals we are still deciding on. However, we want to provide a resource to new students on campus for people to reach out to. It’s been a long hard year where we aren’t able to connect the way we have been used to, and we want new students to know we can provide support to them. We also want to fulfil the demands that we sent to the chancellor in May 2020, and the revised demands we sent in May 2021.

You can read BSU’s demands from this past spring here.

CHP: How can people get involved with the BSU?

XS: We have meetings every Thursday at 7 p.m. that people can join once school starts. People can also reach out to us through our Instagram at the handle @ucscbsu. They can also reach out to us through our gmail

Hermanos Unidos

Alberto Bolanos: Co-Chair

CHP: What is the mission of the Hermanos Unidos?

AB: Hermanos Unidos is a Latino male familia based on three pillars believed to help retain, empower, and educate ourselves in an often unwelcoming space at UCSC. Our pillars are academic excellence, community service, and social networking with an emphasis on education.

CHP: What motivated you to be in leadership?

AB: I joined Hermanos Unidos my second year in an effort to find a community where I felt that I could belong. Not only did Hermanos Unidos help with building community, but it was also a great place to grow academically. After my second year, I felt that I wanted to give back to the space and help it grow by running for Social Chair.

CHP: What are your goals moving into the 2021-22 academic year?

AB: Our goal for this year is to try to get used to being in a hybrid state and trying to rebuild our familia again.

CHP: How can people get involved with the Hermanos Unidos?

AB: Although our mission statement says we are a “Latino male familia,” Hermanos Unidos has an open-door policy meaning anyone is welcome to join. We usually meet every Wednesday at 8 p.m. To join you just need to show up to our weekly meetings and events. You can find those by emailing us at or by following us on Instagram @hudeucsc.

City on a Hill Press has corrected this article from a previous printed version to amend an error.