Occupy the UCLA Admissions Office June 1st!

BAMN May 28, 2012 Affirmative Action, Dream Act, Featured, Public Education, Social Justice Comments Off on Occupy the UCLA Admissions Office June 1st!

Double Underrepresented Minority Enrollment at the University of California!



3:00pm at Murphy hall outside main entrance

We demand:

  • Save Dr. King’s Dream for America in California
  • Save the Promise of Equality Embodied in the California Master Plan.
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of California, Berkeley (UC-Berkeley) and all the other UC’s to Double Underrepresented Minority Student Enrollment NOW.
  • Restore Affirmative action in the State of California. Overturn Prop 209!


BAMN is meeting daily and organizing appeals, press-conferences, marches, occupations, and high-school walkouts to get black, Latina/o, Asian and Arab students into UCLA, UC-Berkeley and the rest of the UC’s. This method of struggle, including two successful occupations at the admissions office at UC-Berkeley and one at UCLA has already gotten a number of students into UCLA and UC-Berkeley. These successes are tremendous, and are not diminished in light of the historic task we’ve set ourselves. These actions have put us in a position to build the movement bigger and broader, which is the only way we will win our demands.


UC-Berkeley, UCLA and the other UC campuses are now the most important battleground for saving Dr. King’s dream and the preservation of public education in California. Students are the most powerful force in the struggle to defend public education and restore affirmative action. Campus struggles always embolden high school and middle school students to fight. The promise of equality embodied in the California Master plan can only, barring an urban rebellion, be restored through the building of the new movement.

In conducting this campaign we are asserting the right of our communities over and against the University administrations’ unbridled right to delimit and distort who emerges as leaders for our communities and the oppressed as a whole.

We refuse to accept the view that the admissions officers at these schools should play so important and disproportionate a role in shaping who will be given the educational/ social experience necessary to give minority students the confidence to challenge for power and leadership of the society.

Just the process of fighting to get in UC-Berkeley and UCLA and the other UC’s after being rejected is an important step in creating young leaders who have confidence in the power of their communities and the movement to define which leaders will speak for and to the oppressed.

The students who are appealing are asserting through their action that they are people who refuse to allow their self-definition and self-worth to be determined by the representatives of the current ruling class.

For so many minority students their own confidence in their abilities is dictated by the praise they receive from authority figures. Every minority student who gets accepted through the ordinary admissions process is told that they have been recognized by the rich and powerful as truly worthy and gifted. This can be paralyzing for so many students because they are looking for ways to prove to those who selected them that they are right in their decision. There is a deep-seated need to please the administrators and faculty on these campuses.

Far fewer students would be going into crisis on these campuses if they could assert their own self-worth without worrying about how some authority figure regards them. Simply demanding admission to UC-Berkeley, UCLA or any of the other UC’s represents an important step in the students’ refusal to accept diminution by those who have the power to decide to whom they open the door and to whom they close it. There is no possibility of being the leaders our communities so desperately need if we give up having a say in the decision. Demanding admission for those who refuse to quietly accept rejection helps embolden both those who are already accepted and those who get in through appeal because it demystifies and depersonalizes the admissions system.


Thousands of Latina/o and black students, undocumented and documented, from community college transfer students to Valedictorians of our high-schools, are denied admission to UCLA, UC-Berkeley and the other UC’s every year. And every year since the ban on affirmative action it has been getting worse. A state that increasingly graduates more Latina/o and black students from high-school than white students, and yet, has a proportionately decreasing number of Latina/o and black students at UCLA, UC-Berkeley and the other UC’s is stirring up a riot.

UC-Berkeley, UCLA and the other UC’s recognize that admission to their campuses is a gateway to the leadership of the state of California and, given the centrality of California to the nation, to the leadership of the nation.

California is by far the richest and most populous state. Business Week points out that if California were its own nation, it would be the 8th richest and 35th largest in the world. BAMN would only add that whatever happens in the nation, if it didn’t start in California, it will end in California.

These universities base who they accept and who they reject on a formula, honed over years of experience, to minimize the possibility of a new Martin Luther King or WEB DuBois emerging from their campuses.

It is a formula designed to limit the potential of those truly gifted students they accept, and to separate out particular students who they fear. In some part, the small numbers and sheer isolation of Latina/o and black students invariably make it harder for a new collective leadership of genuinely progressive minority leaders, people who bristle under and reject the terms of the new Jim Crow, to ever emerge.

The decision of UC-Berkeley, UCLA and the other UC’s to accept fewer Latina/o and black students reflects the fear of minority student leadership on the campuses, especially in this crucial fight to defend public education and the complete incapacity of the administrations to take any meaningful action themselves.

The struggles for affirmative action in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s were led by a handful of black and Latina/o students who rejected both the pompous self-satisfaction and mediocre, lazy, uninspired thinking of academia and who were determined to give brilliant young working class and poor students of all races an opportunity to use education to address the real needs of the society by rejecting the status quo.

We desperately need a new generation of critically minded young intellectuals to have any hope of resolving the deepening economic and social crisis of our society.

UCLA and UC-Berkeley and the other UC’s may seek to justify this criminality by crying out that we are not “qualified.” In making this argument, administrators show, once again, that deception rather than wisdom is the highest qualification for a university administrator. We thoroughly meet and frequently exceed the qualifications. The SAT is racially biased against Latina/o and black students, and GPA’s measure not merit but the level of inequality in our society. Given the level of racism inherent in the admissions criteria, and given the ways that racism in this society have forced to us learn how to think critically and creatively, we are not only qualified, we are more than qualified to succeed at these competitive universities.

Often these administrators are exposed as wholly dishonest in the face of these facts, and so they fall back to the claim that we aren’t the “type” they are looking for. When only yesterday they came to our neglected, dilapidated schools saying “we want you, we need you” and invited us to the campus and awed us with all the wealth and power of a first class research university, today they renege on their promise. In reality, we are the “type” that will maintain our pride and accountability to the communities that we come from. These universities should be more than delighted to have such experienced leaders on their campus who are also qualified candidates for the leadership of this state and the nation.

UCLA and UC-Berkeley and the other UC’s admit the truth of this, of our right to be on the campuses when BAMN gets students who were denied admission admitted on appeal!

This only proves to us that every single one of these students should have been admitted in the first place and that they know this to be true. But why this shameless admission of guilt, why not stick to their guns? The answer is obvious. The legacy of the old civil rights movement, the Watts riots of 1965, the Chicana/o high school student walkouts across East LA in 1968, the LA riots of 1992, the immigrant rights marches of 2006 and BAMN’s youth-led mass actions live today in the determination of California to realize the dream of Dr. King against the right-wing’s determination to implement the new Jim Crow. In a sense, the admission of those who fought their rejection and appealed is a measure of the balance of power of our new movement vs. the new Jim Crow.

The aim of our struggle however is not simply to have a situation where tens of thousands of black, Latina/o and Native American students are denied admission but then some are let in through the back door on appeal, therefore complicating rather the solving racism in the UC’s. Our demands must and can only be realized through building a core BAMN leadership on campuses, high schools and middle schools that struggles to kick open the door for our communities and completely eradicates the Jim Crow admissions process and starts to rebuild the public character of the UC’s.


Building this core leadership has not been easy. Growing up seeing the privileges denied to us because of the color of our skin on the one hand begets a profound understanding of our enemy and our place in the chain of historic events, and, on the other hand, makes us bitter towards and distrustful of well meaning anti-racist white, black, and Latino people. Growing up in an island of poverty amidst an ocean of prosperity has on the one hand stirred up a spirit of fiery rage that can remake the world over and over and on the other hand destroy ourselves and our communities. For many of us who come from immigrant or minority families we’ve had to carry the weight of responsibility for our families. Being the first to have an opportunity to attend college, or an elite campus, being the one who had to be a mother to his/her siblings by the age of five, being the person to whom everyone looks to read, write, or translate to move the family forward.

On the one hand, this has broadened and hardened our shoulders but on the other hand has made us special slaves and masters to our families. Staying focused and strong while stray bullets fly through and coat our homes, all this and more, seemingly unbelievable and impossible struggles we have waged to emerge from our ghettos or barrios of California means that we in particular are the most ready to lead and to win. As Hannah Albaseer, a Berkeley High student concisely formulated it at the UC Berkeley occupation; “I’ve survived enough hardships in my life for this to be the one thing I cannot overcome.”


Several years ago young students, undocumented and gay, from elementary school to college began a “coming out of the shadows” youth-led civil and immigrant rights movement. The first coming-out-of-the shadows walkouts and rallies were small, festive and above all, powerful because our actions were voicing our generation’s desire to be out and proud to be who we are, and our determination to make our society fully equal and integrated NOW. We inspired students all over the world and today our actions can amass many more.

This came like the end of the world to many of our parents, professors, preachers and politicians, who may have called us beautiful and endearing names like “princess” or “king,” but who themselves recoiled in fear at our youthful independence and assertion of our own power.

Now we must come out of the shadows again about our appeals to the UC’s, and be prepared to say the words, “Hi mom, I’m gay. Hi peers, I’m undocumented. Hi everyone, I’m appealing my rejection from UCLA!”

This is the inevitable, and in a sense, long overdue step forward in our movement for equality.

On May 11th this year Latina/o, black and Arab, undocumented and documented BAMN students led another occupation of the UC-Berkeley admissions office to demand that they and the other thousands of students like them, who apply and are denied by UC-Berkeley, UCLA and the other UC’s Jim Crow admissions process be admitted. BAMN made a lot of noise, clapping our hands, chanting “educate don’t segregate,” reading out our personal statements, which found proud expressions bubbling up in our eyes. It was very serious and very fun [see the videos from our <a href=””>May 11 occupation of UC-Berkeley’s admissions office</a>]. There was a feeling of ineffable joy, the rare kind you feel when you stand side-by-side with your peers in a common struggle for equality or as a BAMN student occupier from Berkeley High concisely formulated it, when you’re being “an example for our generation.”

It was an excited and exciting action and we had an insatiable feeling that the university is ours and all it can offer is ours. But as long as it practices a Jim Crow admissions process that denies our student leaders their rightful place at the university, then the university is not yet truly ours. BAMN can, through building bigger and broader occupations and more powerfully, through building bigger and broader high-school and middle-school walkouts and marches, force the university to do what it knows is right.


The fear, cynicism and pessimism that appear to devour the adult world and more than often gnaws at ours is an expression of the right-wing’s effort to implement the new Jim Crow. They are afraid of the growing and explosive power of our communities. Their fear is a reaction to our clear and thorough expression of hope and optimism for a new and equal society. Liana Mulholland, a BAMN organizer from Detroit got at the essence of our fear and formulated a correct policy towards it in her poem “Thank you, Fear”:

Thank you, Fear.
For you are not my own.
You belong to my Enemy.
And by your raucous clamoring
I do now know that my Enemy is afraid.

Thank you Fear.
I will return you to your owner
Fully formed and made real
By my own hands.
For if I can feel my Enemies’ Fear

I know that I can defeat Him.


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3.00pm at Murphy hall outside main entrance.

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About The Author

BAMN is a mass, democratic, integrated, national organization dedicated to building a new mass civil rights movement to defend affirmative action,integration, and the other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and to advance the struggle for equality in American society by any means necessary.

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