Historical context & guiding principles

Historical Context

Formed in Fall 2014, the Chancellor’s Council on Students of Color and Multicultural Engagement initially came about as a result of underrepresented students of color organizing to address the neglect, the marginalization, and the reformation of the Multicultural Student Development (MSD) offices.

Students of color at UC Berkeley have a long history of mobilizing on issues that continue to impact the campus today. The Third World Liberation Front movement that took place at Berkeley and San Francisco State College led to the establishment of the Ethnic Studies department in 1969, which has since incorporated African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano/Latino Studies, and Native American Studies. Given such a rich history of on-campus activism, students of color have continually pushed for access to resources and programs that reflect their lived experiences as underrepresented people within the educational institution. Severe budget cuts to education in California have directly impacted academic and social services for students of color, such as those provided in Berkeley’s multicultural student spaces; this in turn has had a detrimental effect on retention. As a result of demands made by students of color during the late 1980s and 1990s, spaces like the MSD offices, bridges, and the Multicultural Community Center emerged in order to address the need for services and staff who can meet the needs of students. The Chancellor’s Council on Students of Color and Multicultural Engagement is a result of the continual organizing of students of color on the UC Berkeley campus to initiate change in campus climate and policies that often fail to see their negative impacts on these underrepresented communities.

In more recent years, a number of developments have heavily shaped the way students of color organize today. The implementation of Operational Excellence in 2010 that led to administrative oversight of the MSD offices within the Division of Equity and Inclusion has contributed to the ongoing exclusion, isolation, and lack of representation for students of color on the Berkeley campus. In response, students took direct action in the 2012 Fall term, including an occupation of Eshelman Hall, that led to the formation of the Chancellor’s MSD Taskforce that released a May 2013 report recommending (amongst other changes) the creation of a committee dedicated to informing the Chancellor and his cabinet on issues pertaining to students of color. Given the findings of the UC Office of the President’s Campus Climate Report released on March 19, 2014, the urgent need for the administration to support the work of students is more pressing than ever. Given the decades of effort put forth by students of color to have their narratives represented in the educational system, this council carries on that legacy for current and future student leaders.

Guiding Principles

  1. Students of color should have a voice and presence within the governance and administration of the university. Matters that directly affect students of color need to include them in decision-making processes.
  2. The UC Berkeley campus should be working on behalf of students of color and addressing issues and needs identified by students of color. Faculty, staff, and other UC employees should work with students of color in supporting their agency to create solutions.
  3. Campus climate should be understood within a context that goes beyond the university and acknowledges the narratives of communities of color. This includes analysis of the UC Regents, UC President, and state agencies.