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African Black Coalition Conference at UCR


African-American Students of the University of California Ask for Changes

University of California, Riverside hosts annual conference of African Black Coalition; UC President Mark Yudof Takes Questions

(May 1, 2010)

UC President Mark Yudof takes questions via video from students attending the African Black Coalition conference at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Peter Phun.Enlarge

UC President Mark Yudof takes questions via video from students attending the African Black Coalition conference at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Peter Phun.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) -- About 600 students from the nine undergraduate campuses of the University of California gathered at UC Riverside for the annual conference of the African Black Coalition, a student group advocating for the success and empowerment of black students on UC campuses.

On the second day of the conference, the students had a chance to question the top official of the University of California, Mark Yudof, about issues of diversity. Yudof appeared via a video link, and fielded pointed questions from the students about whether he would commit specific financial resources to support more classes, programs and financial aid for students of color.

“Campus climate is about a sense of belonging,” said Yudof, who spent 40 years as a civil rights attorney. “It is about a sense that you are welcome, that you are supported and that you are safe. That is your right as students, to a safe, respectful and welcoming campus climate.”

He offered his personal commitment to increase diversity among the students, staff and faculty, to offer more diversity training for police officers and others on the campuses, to use surveys to measure campus climate, to urge chancellors to make diversity offices effective. He also committed to continue a dialogue with these specific students later this month at his office in Oakland.

To a request that he create African American Studies programs on each campus, Yudof pointed out that the authority for specific classes belongs to the faculty on each campus. He also said that working to address problems of societal racism would not be quick or easy. “I admire your commitment, and I admire your passion.”

“Many things are done at a campus level but I can be here to push, to prod, to urge, and to verbally beat people over the head if it doesn’t get done in a reasonable period of time,” he said.

To a request that he lower fees students, he said that a group was looking at ways to ease the financial burden for low-income families. He pointed to the current Blue and Gold Opportunity, which covers UC fees entirely for families earning less than $70,000 per year.

Other speakers Saturday included Christopher Edley, Jr., dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, and college administrator and scholar, Edward Bush.

Bush asked students to remember their ancestors, many of whom came to the U.S. on slave ships. "Their dreams must have included the future, and that's you. They paid the price. You are the hopes and dreams of all that came before you. It is an awesome privilege and an awesome responsibility."

This seventh annual conference was organized by a committee of students at the University of California, Riverside, the fifth most diverse public research university in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. The students had help from the African Student Programs office, as well as support from the Chancellor’s office.

Workshop topics during the three day conference ranged from career development to international politics, goal-setting, student activism, health issues and how to increase the diversity of graduate schools. Students also held poetry jams, talent shows and other social events.

This year’s conference theme is "Be the Change You Wish to See in the World."
UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy P. White, Vice Chancellor Jim Sandoval and Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge helped welcome attendees.

This year’s conference drew about 600 participants under the theme "Be the Change You Wish to See in the World.” UCR student organizers included Stacey Hartnett, Denesa Moore, Jazmine Ward, and Ashley Williams. Chancellor Timothy P. White, Vice Chancellor Jim Sandoval and Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge helped welcome attendees

“I’m extremely proud of our students, and also proud of the way the campus collaborated together to really pull this off,” said Ken Simons, director of the UCR African Student Programs office. “Not only did the students grow from this experience, but I think the entire campus grew. Words can’t express my gratitude to Chancellor White for all that he has done. He has my deep appreciation.”

Chancellor White wrote in his weekly letter to the campus community about his pride in the students, and in how the campus pulled together to produce an important dialogue.

“We have such incredible talent and intellect among these students, whose accomplishments and aspirations make us all proud, and whose path often is strewn with debris, yet they have overcome this to soon become graduates of the UC and take advantage of all the doors that will open worldwide.”
Students listen to speakers at the African Black Coalition conference at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Peter Phun.Enlarge

Students listen to speakers at the African Black Coalition conference at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Peter Phun.

Edward Bush, a college administrator and scholar, makes a point during his talk at the African Black Coalition conference at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Peter Phun.Enlarge

Edward Bush, a college administrator and scholar, makes a point during his talk at the African Black Coalition conference at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Peter Phun.

Chancellor Timothy P. White welcomes the 600 registered students from all over the UC system to a three-day conference at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Peter Phun.Enlarge

Chancellor Timothy P. White welcomes the 600 registered students from all over the UC system to a three-day conference at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Peter Phun.

Students attending relax during a break. Photo credit: Peter PhunEnlarge

Students attending relax during a break. Photo credit: Peter Phun

A team from UC Davis dances during a lunchtime talent show. Photo credit: Peter PhunEnlarge

A team from UC Davis dances during a lunchtime talent show. Photo credit: Peter Phun

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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