UC Santa Barbara’s Black Student Union Demands Team is leading the search for a new director for the Office of Black Student Development after the first director of the office, Dahlia Hylton, resigned earlier this month.
Hylton was hired as the inaugural director of the Office of Black Student Development (OBSD) in January 2020, almost a year after Chancellor Henry T. Yang promised to create the office following decades of demands from UCSB’s Black Student Union (BSU).
In a late August email sent to the BSU Demands Team, Hylton said she would be resigning in mid-September, but did not disclose why she decided to leave the university, according to BSU Demands Team President Essence Wynter.
The group was shocked by Hylton’s resignation, Wynter said, but supports her decision.
“We know how big of an adjustment it is as a Black person to move to Santa Barbara and to deal in a predominantly white institution,” Wynter said. “We always support people doing what’s in their best mental interest.”
Kareen Louis, the assistant director of the OBSD, remains the sole career staff member currently with the office.
The university has approved the BSU Demands Team to bypass the university’s hiring freeze — instated due to the coronavirus pandemic — in order to get another director on board, Wynter said. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn and Assistant Vice Chancellor Lupe Navarro-Garcia are working with the Demands Team “to respond in meaningful and impactful ways to support the growth of the Office of Black Student Development,” Navarro-Garcia said in an email.
Until the team can move forward with more hires for the office, they are working on developing job descriptions and planning support systems for students during the remote learning quarter, BSU Demands Team member Jeremy Edwards said.
In the meantime, the BSU Demands Team, Louis and the vice chancellors are pushing forward in the office’s progress. Wynter said that while Hylton’s resignation was a small setback for the group, it won’t get in the way of the office’s development.
“Even though it’s unfortunate that we don’t have a director, this office was created for students by students, so they will always be our primary focus and the office will always continue to serve students,” Wynter said.