The newly formed Black Student Engagement Program has committed itself to aiding black students at the University of California, Santa Barbara during the 2016-17 school year, in an effort to compensate for the institutional deficits it identifies on campus. The BSEP, in collaboration with the Department of Student Affairs, will offer black students resources to help them with their lives on and off campus. The program held an opening reception to formally launch the initiative on Sep. 28 at the Student Resource Building.
The pre-existing Black Resource Committee began the BSEP, working with the UCSB Department of Academic Initiatives. Students, staff and faculty participate in the BRC, which assists the Black Student Union in finding ways to support the black student community.
One of the resources the BSEP will provide is a community forum between students and faculty members. With the forum, the program aims to create a safe space for students to talk about racial climate issues on campus and report anything they find necessary for discussion.
Ladijah Corder, a student intern for the Black Resource Committee, explained the space would provide a way for administration to contribute to the cause.
“We also want to utilize the space and really get administrators to work in roles in helping us,” said Corder, a fourth year political science and black studies double major. She emphasized that the space would aid in “bridging the gap” between students and faculty.
BSEP will also work with the UCSB Financial Aid and Scholarships Office to ensure black students receive a sufficient number of scholarships. Outside of the college campus, BSEP wishes to attract more black high school students through its outreach, hoping to encourage more black students to apply to UCSB. The program also hopes to see a rise in black student admissions.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn attended the BSEP Opening Reception, and spoke positively about the program’s efforts.
“With the kind of access we’re providing to students and the opportunity we can provide,” she said, “we can really do something about black student enrollment, retention, graduation.”
Newly hired sociology professor and chair of the Black Studies department Vilna Bashi Treitler also attended the opening reception for the program. Treitler spoke about the Black Lives Matter movement, delving into the fundamental reasons behind the idea.
“We all know black lives matter, but I want talk about how they matter,” Treitler said. “I want to say that we matter because we are global citizens. I think that’s often forgotten. It takes all kinds to make a world, and the world is not what it is without us.”
Treitler said she encourages all black students to achieve greatness in their respective communities and passions. In turn, she said, they will begin to shape the world’s future.
“Act small,” Treitler added. “We’re not all going to be Barack and Michelle, okay?”
Treiter instead urged black students on campus to pursue art, science, or writing, or to simply be a good friend and a listener.
The community behind the program wants to make sure black students can do their best to achieve these objectives. “This is a commitment that we make to the students,” said Claudine Michel, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. “We are going to support them in terms of excellence in research opportunities, resources and education, putting them in close contact with mentorship, partnership with faculty.”
BSEP’s next program will take place on Oct. 19 in the SRB Multipurpose Room, where it will provide more information about research and employment opportunities for black students who wish to participate in the program.