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Permanency is prudent: Guarantee Latine students space to thrive

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SEPTEMBER 14, 2023

The Latinx Student Resource Center, or LSRC, opened at UC Berkeley during the fall 2022 semester. With the center came the promise of a space where students could gather in community — in the basement of Hearst Gym. 

Despite the rather suboptimal location, many Latine students felt the LSRC represented at least a step in the right direction for supporting the Latine community on campus. Individual students could go to the LSRC to study or meet with friends, and student organizations could reserve the space for meetings and social events.  

Some of the same students who spent years urging campus to allocate the resources needed for a space such as the LSRC could finally begin to feel heard. 

However, the LSRC eventually closed several times due to flooding issues. Instead of resolution, the LSRC was relocated twice, with no guarantee of a permanent location in sight. The temporary space it currently occupies is being shared with the Center of Educational Partnerships.

Given that water damage from winter storms deteriorated the former LSRC location, campus needs to establish a permanent solution immediately. 

Campus’s instability has cost the LSRC. An $800,000 donation was revoked due to alleged mishandling of the funds, and student efforts — such as those leading the LUCHA4LSRC coalition and Latinx Caucus — have repeatedly expressed frustrations and calls to action to the chancellor and administration. 

Time and time again, allocated space has been lacking or unstable for Latine students.

With UC Berkeley having more Latine students on campus than ever before, the request for allocated space should be taken seriously and answered promptly. 

The LSRC’s establishment required years of student activism. Coupled with the most recent failure, a simple question remains: How does UC Berkeley plan to move forward and become a Hispanic-Serving Institution by 2027 with no permanent space for the community it wants to “serve”? 

First, UC Berkeley administration must ensure — not simply promise — the establishment of a permanent space for the Latine community on campus. This needs to be a space where students can thrive. 

Additionally, Latine student organizations that are convening still lack guaranteed space for meeting in person. Delay only leaves students with decreased social capital, less sense of belonging and fewer opportunities to grow their organizations. 

The sooner that campus designates a permanent space for the Latine community already on campus, the more likely Latine students who apply to and attend UC Berkeley may feel welcomed and supported.  

According to the U.S. Department of Education, campus must have 25% of its full-time undergraduate students identify as Latine or Hispanic the year before application to become a Hispanic-Serving Institution. UC Berkeley therefore has fewer than four years to reach this requirement and provide for the increase in Latine students. To say that these demands cannot wait is an understatement.

While the onus is overwhelmingly on campus administrators to follow through, we also urge the broader student body to join advocacy efforts working to secure space for the Latine community. 

According to Gladys Perez, the assistant director to the LSRC, La Bienvenida will occur Sept. 15, where students from Latine-based organizations will be able to table as they celebrate Latine and Hispanic Heritage Month. Campus students should come support these organizations and gather in community with Latine students, especially as administration continues to leave questions unanswered. This rally of support must also extend far beyond the celebration of Latine and Hispanic Heritage Month. 

At UC Berkeley, finding a semblance of belonging amid impostor syndrome, rigorous academics and personal struggles can prove a daunting task. Having a designated and consistent space to foster community values needs to be one of the administration’s highest priorities for student well-being. And when funds are pulled, students should not have to pay the price. 

After years of advocacy for a permanent space, the Latine community should not have to compromise — especially at a campus that intends to cultivate and serve its diverse community. How UC Berkeley moves forward will determine the institution’s fate, and most importantly, the potential for its students to succeed.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board as written by Adriana Temprano. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.

SEPTEMBER 14, 2023