SANTA CRUZ — UC Santa Cruz has agreed to the demands of the Afrikan Black Student Alliance after a three-day occupation of Kerr Hall, the primary administration building on campus.
To loud cheers of victory, UCSC director of News and Media Relations Scott Hernandez-Jason stood before hundreds of students at Kerr Hall about 5:30 p.m. Thursday and announced that the university was committed to better serving its African, black and Caribbean-identified students.
To illustrate this, UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal agreed to the Alliance’s demands and made the following commitments:
–UCSC committed to extending up to a four-year housing guarantee to all students from underrepresented communities who applied to and live in the Rosa Parks African American Theme House.
–UCSC committed to converting the first floor lounge area of the Rosa Parks African American Theme House from housing back to a community lounge space.
–USCS committed to painting the exterior of the Rosa Parks African American Theme House in the Pan-Afrikan colors red, gold and green.
–USCS committed to delivering a mandatory “educational diversity” orientation to all incoming freshmen and transfer students.
Two hours earlier, an agreement that would end the three-day occupation did not seem likely. About 3:30 p.m., members of the Alliance leadership announced through a bullhorn that Blumenthal had declined to meet at Kerr Hall, citing concerns for his safety.
Instead, Blumenthal sent members of his administration, including campus diversity officer Linda Scholz, to speak with the students at the entrance of Kerr Hall. Surrounded by hundreds of chanting, screaming students, Scholz invited the leadership group of the Alliance to speak with Blumenthal in the nearby Thimann Labs building.
It initially appeared as if the Alliance would decline to speak with Blumenthal and, instead, insist the chancellor meet on their terms. However, the leadership group eventually accompanied the administrators to Thimann Labs.
After more than an hour in conference, the Alliance leadership and Hernandez-Jason returned to Kerr Hall to announce the university’s decision and allow the students to celebrate their victory.
Hernandez-Jason said he assumed this agreement meant that Kerr Hall would now be vacated by the students, although he did not appear to have a written agreement from the Alliance.
The protest, which made national news, has not been without its controversies. The Alliance refused to speak to local media, verbally harassing and threatening to press unspecified charges against the Sentinel for covering the occupation. However, it did grant an interview to Tucker Carlson of Fox News.
The Alliance said local media was “trespassing” on property they had “reclaimed.”
In addition, during the rally that preceded the occupation of Kerr Hall on Tuesday at Quarry Plaza, members of the Afrikan Black Student Alliance verbally attacked Jewish students, according to Santa Cruz Hillel Director Sarah Cohen Domont.
“Our students were, on three separate instances, subjected to protesters yelling, (expletives and anti-Semitic insults) and one of our Israeli flags was torn down,” wrote Cohen Domont in a public statement. “The ABSA called for protesters to stand in solidarity with their Palestinian brothers and sisters.”
Tuesday was Israel Independence Day. Santa Cruz Hillel and its “pro-Israel partners” had gathered in Quarry Plaza to celebrate.
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