Black entitlement reached a new low this week when a UCLA student group issued the administration an eight-point ultimatum for reducing racism and discrimination on campus. The “Afrikan” Student Union at the University of California, Los Angeles demanded free housing for black students, a $40 million endowment for the student group, and cultural awareness training among other things.
They write that while the group is coming up on its 51st year at the university, “We are still struggling with many of the same issues that our ancestors dealt with in 1966. This is unacceptable.”
As a result, the students want the university to acquiesce to their sensitivities. “Since nothing has been done in recent years, the Afrikan Student Union is DEMANDING that UCLA administrators work with black students towards the development of a more positive campus climate,” the letter stated.
As far as specific objectives, the ASU wants a $40 million endowment, plus five full-time positions for student leaders. The demand did not say a word about the positions, other than to detail their salary. It should be at least $15 per hour, adjusted for inflation, and paid bi-weekly for the 30 week school year. The letter states that $40 million is a “drop in the bucket’ for UCLA, and that’s about what the Berkeley campus has for their chapter. The major of these students is not known, but if any of them are business majors, their university training has obviously not prepared them.
Next on the list is a “safe space,” for ASU and its projects. This means staffed “meeting/gathering/safe spaces.” It is unclear if they want a segregated campus area, an MLK rollback, or if they are just talking about office space. Either way, their terminology needs to be clearer. They also want anti-discrimination policies on campus, including “cultural awareness training,” for everyone on campus, including campus police. Then, all incoming students must have to take the workshop as part of orientation. That’s not so bad.
They also want a Black Student Financial Aid Officer, to “advocate for financial aid for previously dismissed students.” They argue that because many black students are from poor or working class families and many are first-generation college students, there are unique concerns to be addressed. One is that these students have a harder time transitioning into college than most and struggle financially. Therefore, there should be a guaranteed four years of free housing for black students. What constitutes black? Is it 1/4, or a certain shade, or 1/16? Is it if a student “identifies” as black? Or should we adopt the definition used in the Constitution for slavery?
The group writes that the timing of the demands have to do with a number of racist incidents that show just how far UCLA has to come for diversity, according to the group. Among these “offenses,” and reported “racism,” is a photo of the white student body president, Danny Siegel, holding a gang sign, as something of a joke.
The gesture was supposed to the sign of the black gang, the Bloods. The photo was leaked online, and students complained that it was insensitive toward black students who have experienced gang violence. Siegel has apologized profusely and stated the photo was taken over a year ago. It was a result of his “white privilege.”
“This is a result of my white privilege and lack of perspective, something that so many victims of gang violence don’t have the luxury of, in fact this behavior can put their lives at risk,” Siegel said. “I should have known better and take full responsibility for my insensitivity.”
In 2015 there was an incident involving racist stickers being posted on the ASU bulletin boards and around campus regarding the death of Freddie Gray. They were meant to be a response to the group’s protesting and mourning the death of the Baltimore black man who died of a spinal injury while in police custody.
One sign said, “If only Freddie Gray had followed the d**** law, he’d still be alive.” Another featured a policeman and the words, “Stop whining and follow the G*d*** law.” Still, another posted the arrest sheet of Freddie Gray, whose criminal record ran more than half a page, with the bolded words printed atop, “Freddie Gray didnu nuffins!”
In another incident, one of the sororities held a “Kanye Western,” themed party. The attendants dressed in baggy jeans and padded bottoms or as Kardashians. Some came with charcoal on their faces, although the students denied they were coming in blackface. They claimed they were being miners in homage to the Kayne West song, “Gold Digger.” Although the ASU notes that the rest of the student’s costumes did not match the supposed miner reference.
The ASU was outraged saying the intent was to dress as black stereotypes. The Chancellor later issued an e-mailed statement chastising the “poor judgment” of the theme. “Even if that was not the intent of the partygoers, it should not have been hard to foresee that this would be the reaction,” he said.
These incidents, and a number of national events in recent years, have caused the chapter to respond. The administration stated it is “reviewing,” the list of demands.