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The official graduate student government at UC Merced

Action Against Racism in the 2020-2021 Academic Year

August 11, 2020

Dear Graduate Community,

The ongoing killings and injustice against Black Americans have once again underlined centuries-long patterns of anti-Black racism in the United States. The UC Merced Graduate Student Association (GSA) stands with the Black Lives Matter movement in condemning racism, and we are committed to making meaningful change both within our graduate community and UC graduate community at large. Our campus has moved from reflection to meaningful action toward addressing institutional and structural racism, including establishing a Valuing Black Lives at UC Merced Task Force. The UC Merced GSA recognizes that this is our moment to break the status quo by creating solutions; and there is much work to be done. Below, we outline our preliminary plan to take meaningful action against racism during the 2020-2021 Academic Year:

  1. Increasing Awareness of Anti-Blackness, Racism, Discrimination, and Injustice through Literature. Upon our request, the UC Merced Library has purchased digital copies of several books addressing issues of anti-Blackness, racism, discrimination, and injustice in America. The GSA will be using these and other resources to compile a reading list to help graduate students educate themselves on this important topic. A preview can be found below. Furthermore, the history of racial exclusion in academia has influenced the knowledge produced by BIPOC scholars, and BIPOC scholars remain under-cited. We call for a more comprehensive effort to acknowledge the contributions of BIPOC scholars.
  2. Diversity Training to Incoming International Students. We are working on offering diversity training to incoming international students on how identity and racial norms are perceived differently by people in the United States and other countries. 
  3. Serving on the Valuing Black Lives at UC Merced Task Force. One of the UC Merced Graduate Student Association leaders has been appointed to serve as the official co-facilitator for the Scholarship, Research and Funding subcommittee in the new Valuing Black Lives at UC Merced Task Force.

In addition to these efforts, we strongly support recommendations in the letter charging anti-Blackness sent out by the Department of History & Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at UC Merced. To this end, we call for UC Merced Administration to: 

  1. Call to Hire more BIPOC Counselors in Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Graduate students at UC Merced need a more racially diverse staff providing mental health services at CAPS. We will be pushing for the university to hire a Black counselor on campus who understands the burden of prejudice and can specifically address the needs of Black graduate students.
  2. Retain Black Graduate Students. UC Merced has a record of serving minority populations, but the representation of Black students at UC Merced is still low. The GSA will work to offer events and spaces that help to cultivate a healthy and inclusive environment for Black graduate students.
  3. Provide Stipends to Students Participating in Committees Related to Issues of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Graduate students have a demanding workload, and we believe that students should be compensated for work done to benefit the University and its community. We will advocate, both at UC Merced and the system wide level, for graduate students to receive stipends for work done on committees for equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The UC Merced Graduate Student Association will continue to explore other ways we can support anti-racist efforts and combat anti-Blackness. To that end, we are committing to working with campus organizations including the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion the Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the new Valuing Black Lives at UC Merced Task Force, and the Graduate Dean's Advisory Council on Diversity to establish racial diversity and equality within our community and beyond. We will stand for nothing less than building a community that is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

To further your education about the history and consequences of anti-Blackness, racism, and racial oppression in America, to educate yourself about your privilege, and to have conversations about these issues with family and friends, please see below some suggestions (but by no means a comprehensive list): 

Warm regards,

Graduate Student Association