Students Occupy UC Berkeley Admissions Office

On Friday, May 11, thirty people, including black, Latina/o and other underrepresented minority students who were rejected admission to UC-Berkeley and UCLA, began occupying UC Berkeley’s undergraduate admissions office.

They were committed to remaining until there is a concrete change in UC Berkeley’s admissions policy, which admits dramatically low numbers of Latina/o, black, and other underrepresented minority students, who comprise half of California’s high-school graduates but only 21.9% of this fall’s admitted California-resident freshmen. The occupiers were arrested after several hours by UC Police and released shortly thereafter.

The occupiers declared their intent to continue demonstrating until UC Berkeley double underrepresented minority student enrollment, including with the admission of the students who are now fighting for their appeals.

The occupiers denounced the resegregation of higher education and the particular resistance of the UCB administration to increase black, Latina/o, Native American, and other underrepresented minority student enrollment. At the occupation, the high-school and transfer students will testify on their commitment to unite and fight for their and their peers’ right to attend UCB, and their own experiences combating racism and discrimination.

“I’m occupying because I’m representing the thousands of voiceless women and minority students who fight every day for their education, to give them hope to want to achieve better,”said Hannah Albaseer, a Yemeni American student at Berkeley High School who is appealing her rejection from UCB. “We deserve the chance to become leaders and go UC Berkeley or UCLA.”

On April 6, BAMN held an occupation at UC-Berkeley’s admissions office. This time, they will be joined by underrepresented minority students rejected by UCB and UCLA who have since come forward and worked with BAMN to fight for their admission through appeal.

Among the students are the following, all of whom have stellar academic records:

● Aillen Zazueta-Bella, Berkeley High School’s prominent high-achieving Latina/o senior whose appeal application to UCB was denied last month.

● Hannah Albaseer, Berkeley High School senior and Yemeni American student who has overcome tremendous odds to achieve her education.

● Donovan Hernandez, Berkeley High School senior whose parents fled the civil war in El Salvador and who has committed to carry out his family’s struggle for equality

● Jackie Partida, transfer student at Pasadena City College who saw her father get deported back to Mexico and is fighting for herself and all undocumented and minority students

“These students are leaders to their communities and should be admitted to UC-Berkeley,” said Yvette Felarca, BAMN national organizer. “These students, and the thousands more they represent, are gifted, meritorious, and more than qualified, but UCB and UCLA are shutting the door on their futures. We are occupying to demand an end to UCB’s Jim Crow admission policies and for the admission of these students now.”

Latina/o, black, and Native American students comprise about half of California’s high-school graduates, but are only 21.9 percent of UCB’s California-resident freshmen this year.