We, the Asian Pacific Student Association (APSA) Board at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) wholly support the nine demands put forth by the Black Student Union (BSU).
As an organization that values social justice and equity for students on campus and in the general community, APSA Board supports the prioritization of fulfilling Black students’ needs for resources on campus. Although Black students do receive institutional support in some sectors of campus, such as the BSU space in the Cross-Cultural Center, Black students are still underserved in housing, counseling, and adequate programming staff who can address the specific issues faced by the Black community.
We acknowledge the reality of institutional and systemic racism that Black students face, including but not limited to the examples listed in the petition, while navigating systems of higher education. These forms of inequity manifest in low retention rates, a lack of representation among staff and faculty members, as well as a lack of institutionalized resources.
Although UCI is home to faculty who are at the forefront of theorizing internationally recognized Black scholarship, the Program in African-American Studies has faced budget cuts, in addition to not being granted with the privileges and funding that come with full departmental status. As an organization who has the privilege to be supported by a Department of Asian American Studies, we believe that it is an injustice and discriminatory to delay the creation of an African-American Studies Department.
Additionally, it is imperative that Asian American students support the demands of their Black peers. There is an extensive amount of anti-Black racism within our community that we must still address every day, especially since there is constantly a lacking response received by UCI administration and the Asian American community, as evident in the blackface incident demonstrated by the Lambda Theta Delta fraternity in 2013. Conversely, the African-American Studies faculty has been vital in raising consciousness among progressive Asian American students on campus as well as teaching the general campus and greater community about social justice issues. Support of this petition from Asian Americans is only a first step towards addressing the larger issue of anti-Blackness within our community and creating a more responsive system of support for Black students at UCI.
We have only listed a few examples that BSU has identified as priorities in their demands for institutional change. Please read and sign the unabridged list here: https://www.change.org/p/howard-gillman-implement-institutional-resources-for-black-students
We urge Chancellor Howard Gilman to respond to the demands on BSU’s petition by no later than 5 p.m. on January 30, 2015.
The Board of the Asian Pacific Student Association