UCSB chancellor 'supportive' of Black Student Union's $900,000+ worth of demands

The Black Student Union at the University of California, Santa Barbara has a list of demands that would cost more than $900,000.

These demands include an Office of Black Student Development with eight staffers.

The Black Student Union at the University of California, Santa Barbara called for massive changes to the university earlier this month with a list of demands including more than $900,000 worth of paid positions and a new student center catered toward black students, a proposal that appears to have the support of the school's chancellor.

As originally reported by the UCSB Daily Nexus, the statement claims that “the University system as it stands, specifically that at UCSB, does not institutionally support the health and well being of Black students...” and that there was “structural inefficiency and lack of regard for the success and health of Black students.” The group also referred to several incidents of “anti-blackness” and said institutional changes were necessary to provide a black advocacy platform.

The list of demands goes on to specify several objectives that UCSB would need to accomplish by 2021. These provisions include the creation of an "Office of Black Student Development," which would house eight staff members tasked with supporting black students. The cost of the new office would be $901,836. 

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The demands refer multiple times to the 1968 protests in which black students occupied the then-computer center of campus and renamed it “Malcolm X Hall” and produced a list of demands. Among these demands were the creation of the modern black studies department and threats to destroy the computing equipment if students were dislodged early. The Feb. 8 statement concluded by demanding that all be implemented within two years of the statement’s release and that students be heavily involved at all levels of the process.

The Associated Student Senate has since passed a resolution supporting BSU’s demands. A copy of the resolution calls the black community “one of the most marginalized and vulnerable groups on campus,” and notes that the Senate would work with BSU to “combat methods of anti-blackness.”

The resolution cited reported recent comment by UCSB Vice Chancellor Maria Herrera Sobek, which it described as "racially insensitive." The resolution quoted email correspondence to the UC Board of Regents that describes Sobek's comments: 

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The resolution also mentioned a recent incident at Santa Barbara City College in which an administrator was placed on leave after discussing an incident in which a racial slur was used. While describing the incident, the administrator used the uncensored version of the n-word.

In response to the statement, Mark McIntire, a professor at neighboring Santa Barbara City College, remarked, “it surprises no one that the Black Student Union at UCSB is in league with other BSUs around the country using white guilt to extort money, jobs, and preferential treatment, and grade inflation due solely to the pigmentation of their skin. The demands they present here are laughable on their face."

UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang appeared to concede to the demands, stating, “I am supportive of the vision for an Office of Black Student Development and have been working with students, faculty, and administrative colleagues to ensure that progress is made toward the first steps of planning for the establishment of such a significant resource," in a statement given to the Daily Nexus.

Yang was not clear which demands were under consideration.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @arik_schneider