Stand in solidarity with us!

  • Call the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor and tell them you support the demands of the Student of Color Coalition
Chancellor George Blumenthal: (831) 459-2058 Ext. 9-2058
Vice Chancellor Felicia McGinty: 831) 459-2474 Ext. 9-2474
or e-mail Blumenthal at chancellor@ucsc.edu (Please CC ucsc.soc.collective@gmail.com)

Letters of Solidarity

MEChA de UCI

Dear Chancellor Blumenthal,

M.E.Ch.A de UCI has taken a stance in solidarity with the Students of Color Collective (SOCC), which on Tuesday May 26th 2009 began a hunger strike. We believe that this hunger strike and the work that is being done by SOCC is admirable and commendable as it addresses important issues that impact not only UC Santa Cruz but higher education institutions and our communities as a whole. The struggle being fought by the Students of Color Collective is very similar to our own. As students of color in a higher education institution we too feel the pressure and anxiety created by higher tuition, unaffordable housing, the under representation of staff of color, the lack of financial aid opportunities for undocumented students, and budget cuts on programs that are essential for our development as students.

We look onto UC Santa Cruz as an institution to set an example for other universities. At UC Irvine we have struggled to create field study programs that focus around our communities and are working on creating a Barrio Studies Program. UC Irvine does not have a resource center and for years we have struggled to make this dream a reality. UC Santa Cruz has been fortunate in having these programs established for years now and it would be detrimental to the university as well as to the students if these programs are cut as they have proven to be vital to the development of students.

Higher education institutions should foster individual growth and not deprive others of the promise of education. Unfortunately, those who are undocumented struggle to gain an education due to economic limitations. We ask that UC Santa Cruz take a stance and publicly support the Dream Act like Vice Chancellor Gomez has at UC Irvine. Moreover, the university should not be a place of patrol and this is why we support SOCC in their demand that there be no ICE raids at the university. Workers are an essential component to the function and must be respected.

Today we look on to the students of UC Santa Cruz with great respect and proudly wear our purple armbands to show our solidarity with their struggle. Their cause a just one and one that many universities throughout the nation share. We call on you, Chancellor Blumenthal, to consider the benevolent requests of the Students of Color Collective and set an example to others by making the needs of students and university laborers a priority.

Respectfully,

M.E.Ch.A de UCI

Professor Yamashita

Dear Chancellor Blumenthal, Vice Chancellor McGinty, Dean Kamieniecki:

Several weeks ago, on behalf of the Coalition for Asian American/Pacific Islander Studies, I sent the attached letter to your attention.  I am very concerned that now a coalition of students of color are now at the base of campus conducting a nonviolent hunger strike.  I think we need to see how the funding crisis and the loss of support for programs that support students of color is seen by the students themselves.  We need to take into account the difficulties of access to a university education and the compounded difficulties of remaining in school and being successful for underserved students of color.  The cuts to programs like Community Studies, Latin American/Latino Studies, and the Student Resource Centers constitutes a cutting off of the very life-line that gets our students through to graduation.  How can we celebrate commencement in the next few weeks, knowing the consequences of our failure to support these students?  We are all very aware that the budget cuts to the university will be very severe, but may we not find a way to share this pain without hurting the most vulnerable, the most likely to lose their chance at higher education?

Next week, you will present me and others with Diversity Awards, and I am sincerely honored by this recognition, knowing that you consider diversity to be at the center of a university education.  The recognition of diversity means that we aim to produce citizens who, whatever their work in the world, will understand tolerance, the meaning of equal access, and the complex thinking and practice to promote a world without war.  Diversity brings us together.  If we cut away the educational places that serve diversity, we cut away our reason to be.

Please give deep and caring understanding to these issues.  The students willing to take such initiatives to protect their education have filled themselves with a dream.

Sincerely,
Karen Tei Yamashita
Professor, Literature & Creative Writings

Letter from Roberta Valdez

May 30, 2009

Dear Vice Chancellor McGinty and Dean Sifuentes:

I have debated writing thinking that many UCSC fiscal decisions related to the desperate California budget situation have already been made and are irreversible. And, then I read a Santa Cruz Sentinel article related to students of color who, as a coalition, were presenting demands with some engaged in a hunger strike. One of the student demands was the hiring of a Women’s Center Director, and filling the vacant position for the American Indian Resource Center. As you can imagine these demands fell close to my heart. I feel compelled to write and express my thoughts and join students in encouraging the hiring of directorial staff for the above professional positions.

I was hired in August 2000 as the Women’s Center Director. During my interview process and every day of my career at the Center, I knew I was following a tradition of struggle begun by many women and men of conscience. As with all Resource Centers, the Women’s Center was birthed through the efforts of people who knew the importance of providing space for marginalized voices and lives. A coalition of faculty, staff, students and community members worked tirelessly to bring about the reality of a most amazing place and staff. It is not simply a building, but what happened because of its staff and existence over the past 25 years.

The Women’s Center space transformed and engaged people, changing their experiences as women and men for the better. The Center staff, and those affiliated with the Center, provided students who passed through the doors with work, refuge, and opportunities to study, attend events and programs that changed peoples’ lives. When I assumed the role of WC dirctor, I brought forward a palpable history of struggle, creativity, co-curricular activities and safety each day I walked through the doors.

It is unthinkable what is happening in California, the U.S. and the world with the economy – the unimaginable harm people are experiencing because of a system of economy that favors a few and leaves others to fight over unequally distributed resources. I realize the decisions you must make are not easy. Having been through other periods of budget cuts at UCSC, I know the decision-making is wrenching. And, I find myself in a place of BUT NOT THE WOMEN’S CENTER.

As in most times of budget cuts, the vulnerable are always the most vulnerable. In this case, women and Native American students – nee all students because everyone benefits from having these populations supported to full personhood. I am always angered by the fact that administrations grow, if not thrive, in times when vulnerable programs and people bear the burden of diminishing resources. From my first staff meetings as a member of the Student Development Community Services unit, a model of student resources that had one director, and managers each resource center was the feared direction. It may not be an unworkable model for a new set of student resources, but as established Resource Centers born out of student and faculty struggles to be established, the dismantling of the present structure is not acceptable. Each Center requires a professional level director and program coordinator.

It is well known the level of work and commitment that Resource Center directors contribute to the vitality and success of students. The Women’s Center needs a director. The full voice of a Women’s Center director at the table with other Resource Center directors is important to maintain a commitment to students, work with faculty and Student Affairs administration and the integral connection the Women’s Center has with the community. For your interest, there is a video of the Women’s Center’s 20th anniversary celebration that took place in 2004. Chancellor Denise Denton, Professor Aida Hurtado and Supervisor Mardi Wormhout spoke to the importance of a Women’s Center and staff.

The existence of a Women’s Center was important in 1984. It seems as critical and important today. Not hiring a director to advocate and lead students and others in these trying times, when women are suffering as single mothers, already low-paying workers, victims of abuse and sexual assault, is unthinkable. A Women’s Center manager, supervised by another Resource Center director, does not seem to address any budgetary issue. The difference in pay between an SAO III Manager and what the AA/PI Resource Center Director is receiving for supervising does not seem to be the issue. This difference is not saving any significant amount of funds to meet the amount of cuts to be made. The issue seems to be the dismantling of a model of support for students. This model of support that includes directors and program coordinators for distinct resource centers offers more possibility for the quality of support that we know is possible and necessary for students, particularly marginalized students.

I emphatically ask you to re-consider hiring a Women’s Center director. If the plan is to not hire Resource Center directors as we vacate those positions, the demise of these important spaces and services for student growth and development is not acceptable. I might advocate harder for administration to be able to voluntarily offer a percentage of their salary toward meeting a budget cut goal. If I were considering these cuts, I might also consider offering to take a furlough for a month. I am sure you have considered many possibilities, but doing irreparable harm to places like the Women’s Center that have been safety nets and locations of great growth and development for students, is not acceptable.

Students have always felt strongly, and rightly so, that decisions regarding the hiring of resource center staff needs to include them. The decision to not hire a Women’s Center director should have included student input. The Resource Center spaces are places where daily and largely students have decision-making opportunities. The Women’s Center advisory board, an important source of support from before the founding of the Center, could have been involved in discussions regarding alternatives to not hiring a director. These missed opportunities for sharing ideas and direction of the Women’s Center would have lessened the shock and anger of the decision to not hire a director.

As I write, I reflect on the many days, months and years of pouring my own energy and love into the Women’s Center. I know the quality of work I did. I know the quality of work that many of my colleagues provided. The demise of the Women’s Center director position is really unthinkable. And, if we thought we did a lot with little in the past, it is unthinkable the burden of providing such important support to students with so very much less at a time when more is needed to make sense of the world and remain safe.

I am sending this letter to you by way of students who I want to support as they work to maintain integral ways of getting support for themselves and future students of color. I am saddened that they must fight to maintain ways for the climate and environment of UCSC to be supportive for themselves and future students, again. I thought we already did that in previous years of struggle establishing centers and hiring directors and program coordinators.

Sincerely,

Roberta M. Valdez

Women’s Center Director

2000 – 2008

One Response to “Solidarity”

  1. poetartiviste said

    Dear Chancellor Blumenthal,

    As a former UCSC undergraduate student apart of the preceding organizations to this collective, the Third World And Native American Students Press Collective (TWANAS) and Ethnic Student Organization Council (ESOC), and as a graduating senior in Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley this statement below hits close to home. With the recent passing of Emeritus Professor Ronald Takaki and Richard Aoki, the support of faculty in previous hunger strikes becomes all the more relevant.

    On behalf of the University of California, Berkeley Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Alumni Association, I would like to send you a statement of support of the University of California, Santa Cruz Students of Color Collective (UCSC SOCC) and their hunger strike to meet the demands of students of color towards resources in Ethnic Studies and many other services on campus that have been cut or are in danger of being cut further.

    Sincerely,

    Erin Jerri Malonzo Pangilinan
    UC Berkeley, BA, Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies

    Statement of Support by University of California, Berkeley
    Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Alumni Association

    With the recent of passing of Emeritus Professor Ronald Takaki and Richard Aoki who both stood in solidarity with students during the third world Liberation Front (twLF) hunger strike of 1999, it becomes all the more relevant to support similar struggles of student of color communities.

    We support the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) Student of Color Collective (SOCC) who have held a hunger strike to protest cuts to services and resources for their underserved communities.

    We support their demands to hire full-time staff for the American Indian Resource Center and Women’s Center, to maintain the structure of the Community Studies department, to retain lecturers Guillermo Delgado and Susan Jones in Latin American and Latino Studies, to fill Asian American-ist position for American Studies, and build an active movement towards an Ethnic Studies pathway.

    We support the passage of the Development Relief Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act and the stopping of increased fee hikes to ensure the accessibility and affordability of higher education that have impacted all UC campuses’ underrepresented communities. We urge that there will not be any worker deportations by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE).

    Through supporting these demands, we support the development of Ethnic Studies, ensuring workers and immigrant rights at UCSC and at University of California, Berkeley. As Asian American Pacific Islander Alumni of UC Berkeley, we understand the value of such important resources and services to our student of color communities and hope that the demands of the UCSC SOCC are not only met but exceed our expectations.

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