Open letter to UC Hastings Administration and Board of Directors,
The last time the Rainbow Coalition came together, we had a single purpose: to achieve the most equitable solution to the student body amidst a global pandemic. Almost overnight, we literally transitioned to an online learning system that no one was familiar with, so we came together to ask that all classes be given a mandatory pass/fail grading system to ensure equity and fairness to the UC Hastings student body. Fortunately, this institution listened to our input and implemented policies that were both fair and just. The College’s decision to switch to a pass/fail grading policy was not only equitable but further illustrates the spirit of cooperation and collaboration we possess. We changed our College culture on a dime. This shows that when we have the will to change, we can and will do it immediately.
Considering what has been happening in our country, we are once again moved to come together for a greater purpose. We are thankful that our administration stepped up to speak about racism in response to the horrendous events that we have all witnessed over the past few weeks, triggered by the police killing of yet another unarmed Black man. Tragedies like this are the “norm” and are rooted in racism and a history of white supremacist policies and practices.
As an institution of higher education, we are positioned to fight this global “pandemic of white supremacy” that has infected all of us at every level of our society for centuries. Further, needless to say, the legal system has played a pivotal role in maintaining white supremacy. So now, with this newfound commitment for social change, it is time to “right the wrongs” and do our part in alleviating legal injustices. Currently, we have the potential to do so. Together we can make a difference once more.
We, the Rainbow collation, representing students of color, first-generation professionals, and affinity groups that have minority student members across the College, first ask the UC Hastings community the following questions:
- Do we have the courage to dismantle white supremacy in all its ugly forms? The “pandemic of White supremacy” which leads to countless murders in our country not only of George Floyd but of the countless others. This “pandemic” leads to self-hatred or internalized racism, colorism, mass incarceration…, the list is endless. This “pandemic” leads to a lack of diversity in hiring at all levels. This “pandemic” impedes and hinders inclusivity and renders the voices of black students’ unwelcome, unheard and unheeded. This “pandemic” wounds the soul of all human beings.
- Are we willing to commit to diversity and serving black students as well as other marginalized students? For example, increasing the number of black students, deans, faculty members on the UC Hastings campus, and course work relevant to black history and the law.
- Do we have the will to radically change the culture of this institution to promote a mutual level of respect between students and faculty of all ethnicities? For example, putting up Black art in the hallways of UC Hastings and naming rooms after Black (current and past) leaders.
- Do we have the will to make the structural and financial commitments necessary to facilitate this change? For example, a multi-cultural center for our diverse organizations/students to meet, study, and collaborate.
If the answer to all of these questions are in the positive, we strongly urge the College to LISTEN to the issues and concerns raised by UC Hastings BLSA. Listen, not with the intent to reply, but with the intent to understand. Listen to the voices of black students who have often felt abandoned, mistreated, and excluded by the institution. Listen to the frustrations that often go ignored and to the tears shed by a life ripe with an unforgiving imposter syndrome. By truly listening to the concerns of black students, the College can begin to comprehend the unique microaggressions and struggles that black students face in higher education on a daily basis.
In conclusion, the Rainbow Coalition stands in solidarity with BLSA and recognizes that their demands are legitimate and necessary to ensure the betterment of this Institution. This is a golden opportunity for UC Hastings to prove that it does have a commitment to marginalized students and that creating a more equitable legal system is an issue of utmost importance. This is a watershed moment for the country, and UC Hastings can certainly champion the charge for change.
The Rainbow Coalition
Garvey C. Vincent, Marcus Grimes, Loren Hampton, Black Law Student Association
Rosamaria Cavalho and Carolina Ugalde, La Raza Law Student Association
Jose Antonio V. Meneses, Hastings First Generation Professionals
Jameelah Najieb, Hastings Women of Color Collective
Yasmin Kouchesfahani, Iranian Law Students Association
Tiffany Gutierrez, Pilipinx American Law Society
Tiffany Nguyen, Vietnamese American Law Society