In 1995, the University of California ended race-based enrollment practices meant to balance out its student population. As a result, the current percentage of Black students enrolled in lower than 3 percent. More than 20 years later, UC Berkeley took a step towards affirming its black student population by opening the Fannie Lou Hamer Black Resource Center.
The Black Student Union played an integral role in the university creating a permanent safe space for Black students who are otherwise marginalized and in the vast minority on campus.
“There’s just a complete lack of black students in classes and lectures,” AJ Moultrie, a 21-year-old journalism and communications major and the Black Student Union’s communications director, tole The Los Angeles Times. “Anti-blackness is prominent in many spaces on campus. There’s a lack of sensitivity and a lack of the recognition of the struggles and emotions that we face on campus.”
As is the case with many PWIs, there are countless examples of why black students don’t always feel safe on campus, such as their rooms being targeted by Trump supporters, being the only Black student in classes and even having racist roommates.
The Hamer Center, named after the civil rights leader, will offer tutoring and counseling to students and also be a central location for social events. While it isn’t meant to be exclusively for Black students and welcomes visits and donations from all, it is meant as a place for them specifically.
It’s not a space only Black people can go to,” said Na’ilah Nasir, vice chancellor for equity and inclusion. “We are a public university. It’s a space everyone can be part of, but it will affirm our black students. Anyone is welcome. And anyone is welcome to donate.”