A small crowd of students stand in a semi-circle holding homemade Black Lives Matter signs and posters.
About 100 Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside of the UC Irvine Student Center Friday to protest a speech by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. (Photo by Joseph Pimentel/SCNG)

UC Irvine Launches Initiative to End Anti-Blackness on Campus

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UC Irvine administrators promised to confront anti-Blackness on campus, as well as actively recruit Black students and staff and ensure that they thrive at their school.

To do this, the university launched a new program called the UCI Black Thriving Initiative. According to UCI:

“UCI Black Thriving Initiative recognizes and responds to anti-Blackness as an existential threat to our mission as public research university. In depriving Black people of their full participation in society and in university life, anti-Blackness compromises UCI’s capacity to educate, discover, create and heal. It therefore demands a whole university response. This response relies on each member of our campus community linking their future to the success of Black students, faculty and staff as well as alumni and communities served by UCI.”

On May 31, UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman and other university leaders vowed to confront anti-Blackness and improve campus culture for Black students and staff. This was in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and other Black people who have died at the hands of law enforcement, and the nationwide protests that followed. 

As part of this mission, UCI will hire 10 new faculty members, specifically early and mid-career scholars, with either research or creative programs focused on understanding anti-Blackness or public policy solutions to structural racism. This is in addition to the 13 new Black faculty members the school hired this fall.

UCI will also launch the Inclusive Excellence Term Chair program, which will focus on the theme of Black Lives Matter for three years. The Office of Inclusive Excellence will appoint five chairs, each of whom will receive an annual $30,000 research grant. 

The school will also work to recruit Black undergrad and graduate students. According to the Los Angeles Times, Black students made up only 3.3% of the undergrad population last year, though enrollment among Black freshmen is up.

The university will also examine its practices for anti-Blackness, evaluating campus administration, lecture halls, housing, athletics, its police department and other campus spaces and programs. It will use a biannual “scorecard” for accountability purposes that considers both data and surveys. Additionally, several relevant courses will be made available to students, staff and faculty for free.

You can learn more about the university’s plans here, or read the entire document outlining the Black Thriving Initiative here.

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