Several high-ranking university officials including Chancellor Henry T. Yang sat with students in El Centro on Saturday for six hours, going point-by-point through a list of more than 30 demands made by Latino UC Santa Barbara students.
The students are part of a campus group formed in April, VOCEROS, which means “spokespeople” in Spanish and is also used as an acronym for Voices Of the Community, En Resistencia, Organizing Solidarity.
The group released a long list of demands last week requesting, among other things, that UCSB declare itself a “sanctuary campus” for undocumented students, increase the number of mental health staff who identify as people of color and create a Central American Studies department and major.
Student Advocate General Joseline Garcia, fourth-year global studies and art double major, said VOCEROS had met with administrators for a total of nine hours on Friday and Saturday, working toward solving what VOCEROS members say is UCSB’s “extreme lack of care” for Latino students.
VOCEROS met with administrators in the chancellor’s office on Friday for three hours and then organized meetings in the morning and afternoon on Saturday in El Centro. Following the afternoon discussion in El Centro, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn said UCSB was making the group’s demands a high priority.
“I think you can tell that we’re taking this seriously because you have a lot of university leadership here today and yesterday,” Klawunn said.
UCSB is a Hispanic-Serving Institution, meaning that more than a quarter of its students are Hispanic. Currently, 27 percent of UCSB students report that they are Hispanic.
“These reforms are for the 27 percent here to keep that 27 percent here,” said Jasmine Ortiz, first-year environmental studies major. “We already struggle coming from our communities to get here and then we have to struggle twice as hard to maintain our positions here.”
The sit-down in El Centro, a building near the library that serves as a meeting place for several Latino student-advocacy groups, was direct and productive, with Marisela Márquez, the executive director of Associated Students, serving as a mediator between administrators and students.
Administrators largely seemed open to the students’ demands, at one point remarking that none of VOCEROS’ requests seemed impossible. As the group went through the list, Márquez asked that administrators list barriers to completing the demands as well as solutions.
Most often, administrators said time and money are the main barriers hindering the completion of VOCEROS’ demands. For example, Maria Herrera-Sobek, the associate vice chancellor for diversity, equity and academic policy, said she was instrumental in creating a Chicano Department at UC Irvine, but that it took more than 15 years.
“It does take some time, but it is not impossible,” Herrera-Sobek said of creating a Central American major and department at UCSB. “You can start right away by having a committee of students and faculty and administrators exploring and identifying the courses that are out there already” that could fulfill the proposed major’s requirements.
Garcia said there is a need for a Central America-specific department and major because Hispanic spaces on campus often focus on Mexican-Americans.
“Within the Latinx community, we want to break the barriers between communities,” Garcia said, using a term designed to include Latino and Latina students and Hispanic students who do not identify within traditional gender roles.
“Students feel like the Chicano Department and a lot of the other resources we have are very Mexican-centric,” Garcia said. “We’re not trying to pit departments against each other or trying to get resources from another department, but more-so trying to expand what we already have and be that 100 percent that we want to be.”
One of the groups’ most feasible demands, according to administrators, is the institution of a Latinx Parents Weekend. Klawunn said she would work to add some of the proposed changes into the fall parents weekend, such as bilingual events and workshops oriented toward Latino parents.
VOCEROS also had multiple demands relating to campus buildings. The group asked for a guarantee that El Centro would remain a permanent space for Latinx students and also requested that an existing building in Manzanita Village be designated for Latinx students.
Marc Fisher, a vice chancellor, said the university only plans to make routine modifications to the El Centro building over the next few decades.
“I can look out 5 or 10 or even 20 years and I can see what the next buildings are, and there are no plans for this site,” Fisher said.
Administrators also responded in favor of dedicating an existing building in Manzanita Village to Latinx students. While housing is already determined for next year, Klawunn said, there could be a Latinx-specific building by fall 2017.
Fisher said that while it can be “hard to build community” in Manzanita Village as opposed to the standard freshman dorms like Anacapa or San Nicolas, he didn’t think there would be much resistance to the Manzanita Village idea if that is what students desire.
UCSB Police Chief Dustin Olson also attended the meeting, promising to meet with students and possibly other local police agencies by fall to discuss reducing the “footprint” of law enforcement at events like Deltopia or during Halloween.
Olson also said the department will “definitely be committed and continue to be committed to sensitivity to gender and diversity” in hiring practices.
Both students and administrators were willing to work with each other and appeared relieved by the productive nature of the talks.
“It’s Saturday, we should be relaxing … but I’m here meeting with you all and that’s because these things are very important and these are things that affect people’s lives,” Garcia said.
“At other UCs you have to literally protest for days just to get [the administrators’] attention,” she continued. “So the fact that we didn’t have to do that is a blessing in my opinion.”
The full list of VOCEROS demands is available as part of the group’s online petition to Chancellor Yang.
[Correction, May 23: An initial version of this article said students met with administrators in El Centro for three hours on Saturday. There were actually two three-hour meetings between administrators and students on Saturday in El Centro.]
I wish these pieces of shit would go back to Mexico.
Why bother censoring the word “shit” at that point?
that’s it, I’m moving to Canada.
The students are not from Mexico
Either way they came through the Mexican border. So thats where they deserve to be deported to.
Your lack of logic is astounding.
The students were born in the United States.
I wish your ancestors would also go back to where they came from
My ancestors came from here, they just happen to be white. Don’t like it? Go back to Mexico.
If they’re white your ancestors sure as heck didn’t come from here. They came from across the Atlantic somewhere.
LOL keep wishing you fuck, not everyone is from Mexico. No one comes through the Mexican border we simply overstay visas dumb fucks. It makes sense they are being heard its a Hispanic Serving Institution. Pick another school to attend next time.
Stop overstaying your visa… USA granted entry with knowledge that they will leave after the visa expires. My American friend got deported from Mexico…
Also, you aint shit you turd.
will the chancellor bow down to the demands of a bunch of angry latinos? find out, next time, on liberal PC adventures!
I am a democratic and a supporter of all. I worked at the most diverse college in the UC system. I don’t understand your argument. I am also a UCSB alumn. You applied to UCSB, were accepted, and decided to attend there. Do you really need Latino community housing to succeed? College is about inclusion and participation. Yes, it’s hard at time, regardless of your skin color. Plenty of people struggle in life upon arriving to college. Make the best of your situation and don’t tear down an institution that is well coveted and does not discriminate on gender not… Read more »
Just another reason that I, as an alum, refuse to give money to UCSB during their yearly calls.
UCSB calls me nightly asking for donations. They should call Mexico instead and ask for donations instead
The students are not from Mexico
I’ve been in business over 30 years. I have, yet, had an occasion to hire a Chicano studies major.
I’m an American of half Mexican descent. I’m the first in my immediate family to go to university with almost no help from my poor parents and I don’t have this stupid mentality that I’m systematically oppressed because of my background, like the one and only course I ever took in the Chicano Studies dept. tried to convince me of. I will admit it is not easy being a first generation student, I’ll give you that. It certainly is not easy for me. But it’s not impossible, like you guys make it out to be, especially with the large amount… Read more »
I appreciate your comment and your sentiment. Doubling down on failed social justice policies will cost tens of millions of dollars and only make these snowflakes feel worse. A few weeks of military boot-camp would be a much better investment.
Perpetual victims. Maybe instead of being in college they should be in the military with a rough and tough DI kicking their butts every time they wailed about microaggressions or lack of safe spaces. Time to bring the draft back.
“sanctuary campus”. LOL GTFO.
Why are we responsible for Central America’s poverty?
SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS
FUNDING AND TRAINING DEATH SQUADS
UNITED FRUIT COMPANY
THE PANAMA CANAL
PRETTY MUCH ALL FOREIGN POLICY TOWARDS CENTRAL AMERICA FROM 1978-1992
Because your government takes advantage of all the natural resources there. #learnhistory
The US fucked up so much shit in Central America, especially during the Cold War era. Read about it, it’s actually very surprising.
FBI-CENTRAL AMERICAN LAW ENFORCEMENT EXCHANGE (CURRENT)
BREAKING UP THE CENTRAL AMERICAN FEDERATION (HOW FAR BACK WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO GO?)
THE INTENTIONAL INFECTION OF GUATEMALAN SOLDIERS, PRISONERS, MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS (INCLUDING CHILDREN) WITH SYPHILLIS.
After reading this article I’m voting for Donald Trump.
Many Latino (and Native American) millennials would argue that it’s whites that need to GTFO of the southwest including California as their ancestors occupied the region before whites invaded in the 1500/1600s. The Aztlan movement (which has its roots in the Plan of San Jose circa 1910 or so) was revitalized perhaps 10 years ago. The movement’s aim is to eject whites at gunpoint from California (the Latino prison gangs have subscribed to this philosophy since the late 1960s and consider themselves a self defense force in the barrios of the southwest U.S.).
Doesn’t surpsie me. Most of them can’t even learn English. And the few that do speak basic English get admiitted to UCSB. If it were up to me they all would be deported. This country is being destroyed and it needs to stop.
There are many exchange students from other countries that barely speak English and they get into UCSB not only smart Mexicans :*
This country is being destroyed with people like you who are the dumbest motherfuckers on this campus.
Straight up. And people wonder how Trump could be polling so well. Deporting these people sounds great.
Really? You would vote Trump just to deport them? A bigot, you are.
I have many reasons to vote for Trump, you added the word “just” to that sentence so you could make your argument work. But no, wanting to deport the people who are here ILLEGALLY doesn’t make me a bigot.
If they want to be here they can do so legally. Follow the law, avoid consequences. Sounds great to me.
Lmao because you are a dumb ass uninformed voter.
As a Latina, I’m gonna say we don’t need any of this shit. A CA minor? I’m central american myself, but I do not see the need for a minor. Divided housing? Really? Such BS.
Checked right now, still Latina.
And I honestly can’t tell if you’re one of those annoying anti-immigrant people or a Latinx who is mad that someone from your community disagrees with you.
someone got triggered
Just because they had the discussion doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Wby are people getting mad and asking for deportations? If they want housing, fuck it how does it affect everyone? You are only here for 4 years, the Hispanics are the growing minority and you are guaranteed to see them eveywhere. They simply want to feel a bit more comfortable. Let everyone live their life if it doesn’t interfere with yours why do you care
I just have to say something everyone already knows (and that most don’t take advantage off): UCSB is a research institution hence if you are interested in a specific topic (ex. Central American Studies) then you go and conduct research with a Professor that has knowledge about CA. It’s YOUR OWN RESEARCH, professors are just there to guide your and help you with the process! Now, I took some Central-American courses in the Spanish and Chicano Studies Deparment and at most there were 10 students registered. You want a Centeal American Studies Dept? Don’t claim the courses offered for Latinos… Read more »