Wednesday, April 28, 2010

RAZA Center Condemns Student Conduct Charges

Posted on Facebook:
Hello community,

The following is an e-mail/letter that the Raza Center and the Raza coordinators (together and individually) will be sending to the Dean of Students in support of the student protesters. In our last general body meeting we were able to hear the students and we learned that they are being offered an unjust 6 month suspension. We also decided that we would support them by sending this e-mail/ letter. So we worked on it and we encourage you to read through it and shape it to your Organization or to you personally. Also if you can encourage your members to also send this e-mail that would bombard Dean Poullard with letters & e-mails so he feels pressured to listen to our concerns. If anyone needs help with their letter please ask me, I am making myself available for this matter. Our goals is to deliver and send all the e-mails before Finals start. Our community members need our help to be able to stay at Cal. If time is a problem I can also send every org liaison an e-mail/letter already set just for them to send. Your support and cooperation will be greatly appreciated. Come by the Center to drop off your letters please!

The e-mail should be sent to Dean Poullard-
and Cc'd to:
Chancellor Birgeneau-
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs:
Mayor of Berkeley Tom Bates:
Oakland Tribune Local news editor:

RAZA Coordinators 09-10

To the Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard,

On behalf of the Raza Recruitment and Retention center we would like to express our concern with the student conduct actions that are being taken against the students who were involved in the Wheeler Occupation on November 20, 2010. We are highly disappointed and ashamed that the administration has not acted to rectify the unfair actions that your office has taken to date.

A number of the students who are unjustly being offered a suspension without due process are active members in the Latino/Latina community on campus. As you hopefully are aware, the percentage of Latino/Latina students on this campus by no means begins to come close to the percentage of Latinos/Latinas that populate the state of California. Since 1976 the Raza Recruitment and Retention Center has worked to demystify higher education for Latino/Latina students and for students of color in general. Through outreach and recruitment, the Center has been able to create a path to higher education for tens of thousands of students since 1976. Our retention efforts serve to ensure that Latino/Latina students succeed academically and continue on to pursue a Graduate or Professional Program. Unfortunately only 1% of Latino/Latina students at Cal actually move on to Graduate School. Furthermore, our retention and community building efforts serve to build bridges and to provide ourselves with the support and trust that unfortunately Cal falls short in addressing.

We understand that the events that took place on November 20, 2009 might not have been the most appealing to the administration, but that day those students inspired our community and the broader Cal community to get involved and make their voices heard to the administration and to Sacramento. Seven of our community members are now facing an unprecedented suspension that will ultimately harm them, their families, and the community. As a community of color we can tell you that only a small number of us are given the opportunity to attend a four year university, and so these suspensions will have a major (and disproportionate) impact on these students and our communities of color.

At this point we do not know how else to address this problem, but to go to the administrator whose role is to serve us as students. As the Dean of Students, your role is to serve all students regardless of political or activist involvement. We can think of various occasions where students have been involved in altercations that required a suspension or even an expulsion, yet no student conduct actions were taken. On the other hand, the university is punishing a group of students who did what we learn many times in our classrooms about the history and tradition of activism of this University. Day to day professors, lecturers, and Graduate Student Instructors challenge us to think about how we can change the world and how we must take action. We learn of social movements like the Civil Rights Movement and the Chicano/Chicana Movement and how these movements were greatly impacted by student involvement. We learn of the bill that was written by the Associated Students of the University of California that divested funds from South African Apartheid. We learn these issues, yet you and the administrations expects us to stay quiet when we are directly being harmed by a 32% fee increase that was proposed by people who do not have education backgrounds and who are only seeking monetary benefits. UC Berkeley has never been known for its passive students, instead our predecessors have been known for their passion and desire to stand up against injustice regardless of who they are fighting. We want you to understand how invested we are in our community and how much we will fight to keep our community members here. We will not be silenced by an unfair bureaucratic process that harms the communities who have struggled the most to reach a higher education.

With that said, the Raza Recruitment and Retention Center demands that the suspensions be rescinded and that the administration protect and serve the students who make up the University of California Berkeley. We will fully support the students through these harsh times and we will continue to advocate for their stay. We will continue to lobby Mayor Tom Bates, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and any elected official we have to contact in order to have our concerns heard. We will also inform the broader Bay Area community by contacting the media. We have cc'd Chancellor Robert Birgenau, Vice Chancellor of Equity & Inclusion Gibor Basri, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande, Mayor Tom Bates and Congresswoman Barbara Lee in order to stress how important our concerns are. We have not yet received any support or an audience from administration regarding this issue, so we hope our words can change that.

We refuse to condone or accept this process and on behalf of the university and our community, we will continue to hold you accountable for the duties of your position. We look forward to hearing from you promptly to work on a solution that will be acceptable to our community.

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