This weekend, 75 UCSB students will head north to UC Berkeley for the University of California’s annual Students of Color Conference – where they will discuss strategies for increasing racial and ethnic diversity at UC campuses.
The theme for this year’s conference, slated for Nov. 17 through 19, is “Rise Up! Reclaiming our Education and Making Our Voices Heard!” The event, hosted by the UC Student Association, is a series of workshops and lectures intended to encourage a student movement to overturn Proposition 209, a 1996 ballot measure outlawing affirmative action.
The ballot measure – which prohibited California institutions from discriminating against or giving special preferences to any person based on race, sex or ethnicity – has been a controversial issue within the UC since it was approved by voters. Opponents of the proposition have said the bill limits minorities’ opportunities for college entrance.
Tiffany Pascual, a fourth-year Asian American studies major and co-chair of the Student Commission on Racial Equality said admission diversity is currently a large concern on campus.
“I feel like diversity in admissions is a problem the campus should address,” Pascual said. “It affects the Latino community, and the black community.”
Pascual said conference attendees will learn methods for organizing outreach projects that will educate students about diversity on college campuses. They will also be taught strategies for organizing campaigns, and learn how to integrate this knowledge into campus outreach projects, Pascual said.
“The conference helps to build leadership to help communities grow and sustain outreach funding and programming,” she said. “This is a good way to network with other UC students and create a coalition,”
Pascual said the UCSB attendees are mostly freshmen and sophomore students representing different cultural clubs on campus. She said a few students from Santa Barbara City College will also attend the event.
Pascual said the total cost for the 79 Santa Barbara-area students to attend is $9,975, which includes registration fees, and the costs of transportation and hotel accommodations.
According to Pascual, funding for the conference was provided by a variety of campus organizations. SCORE, an Associated Students committee that aims to promote education about ethnicity, provided $4,000 toward the cost. Monies for the trip were also allocated by A.S. Finance Board, which gave $1,500, and the office of Vice Chancellor Michael Young donated $1,300.
Pascual said the student committee also received money by fundraising, asking various campus departments to help supplement the costs incurred from attending the conference.
“We asked the [different] ethnic studies departments, the Women’s Center, Office of Student Life, the MultiCultural Center and the Vice Chancellor,” Pascual said. “Fundraising helped us obtain $4,500 and the rest comes from our budget.”
A.S. Finance Board vice chair Raymond Meza, who will be attending the conference, said there were many different important reasons for UCSB students to attend the event.
“The goal is to educate ourselves about issues of diversity at the University of California campuses,” Meza, a fourth-year political science major, said. “I feel it’s really important because there is such a lack of diversity in the UC system, and it’s a good conference to discuss that problem.”