The Black Students Union issued a statement this past Thursday calling for Chancellor Henry T. Yang to rename North Hall to Malcolm X Hall, mirroring a similar request made by a group of black students in 1968.
BSU originally discussed the re-naming of North Hall during a meeting with Yang last June, to which Yang renegotiated, offering the establishment of four endowed chairs within five years “to study the Black world,” a professorship permanently paid for by an endowment fund. Although BSU’s recent press release states the funds necessary for the first endowed chair have yet to be raised within its promised date, — within the 2013-2014 academic year — Yang stated the university green-lighted an endowment of $500,000 beginning July 1, 2014.
BSU program director Kashira Ayers said re-naming North Hall to Malcolm X Hall would have symbolic value for black students and would help alleviate what she said are university failures to provide adequate services to students of color.
“Malcolm X Hall is symbolic of the North Hall take over in 1968 that has provided UCSB with our Black Studies Department and Center for Black Studies Research,” Ayers said in an email. “[Malcolm X’s] philosophy could be easily applied to the shameful Black student condition on the campus of UCSB with regards to the university’s lack of attention to the physical and mental health of students of color and the lack of resources to address our issues.”
Ayers also said the BSU is seeking a greater sense of urgency on the part of administration to fulfill their demands with the given timeline.
“We would like for the administration to prioritize our endowed chairs and follow through on their commitment of funding the first endowed chair this fiscal year or renegotiate a timeline,” Ayers said in an email. “We have given [Chancellor Yang’s administration] a deadline to respond to us and are hoping to hear from them soon.”
According to Yang however, his administration has in fact been raising funds for the four endowed chairs and have allocated five years to do so with the recruitment process for the first endowed chair to start this summer.
“Since last year at about this time, we have planned to raise endowments to establish and recruit four endowed chairs in five years, at $500,000 each,” Yang said in an email. “We are pleased that our fundraising effort this past year has been successful and that the start of the recruitment process for the first endowed chair will begin July 1, 2014.”
Ayers said the endowed chairs will provide students with opportunities to engage with professors to learn more about black communities and culture.
“The endowed chairs will benefit students because it is a prestigious professorship and it allows for students to interact and potentially do research with top professors that are interdisciplinary and study the Black world,” Ayers said.
Yang said in a letter to the BSU sent yesterday that money for the start of the project has been raised but the process is complex, requiring many approvals from different university divisions needed both on campus and system-wide.
“We are currently in discussions with University California Office of the President regarding this program and the necessary application process, while also working through the various campus documents and procedures that will be used to present the request to the Office of the President.”
Yang also said in the letter that $250,000 dollars in gift funds has been raised for the planned endowment while a UC Office of the President initiative has “provided an opportunity” to apply for matching funds of $250,000 to support the project.
According to Yang, aside from trying to get approvals from the different departments, they are also working with the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor to determine “where the initial chair recruitment will take place.”
“In the interest of time, we are simultaneously working with the EVC who is seeking the recommendations of the Deans as to where the initial chair recruitment will take place,” Yang said in the letter. “This will all be done while we continue to work through the campus and system wide processes required to establish an endowed chair.”
Yang also said in the letter that the endowed chairs are valuable to the university and further fundraising for the other three endowed chairs will continue in earnest.
“We know how important these endowed chair positions are to our campus, and we will work with all our campus colleagues to bring it to fruition,” Yang said in the letter.
This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.