The Black Student Union at UC Berkeley is demanding that a university building be renamed after convicted cop killer Assata Shakur. The students of the organization are calling the first woman on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list an “icon of resistance within oppressed communities.”
According to FOX News, Shakur, a former Black Panther, was convicted of murdering New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1977. She escaped from prison shortly after in 1979 and fled to Cuba. She was designated a terrorist by the FBI in 2013 and the agency is offering a $2 million reward for information leading to her arrest.
“We want the renaming of it to someone, Assata Shakur, who we feel like represents us as black students,” said university student Cori McGowens.
SF GATE reported that the campus group stated that black students often feel isolated and even oppressed. Besides the renaming of a building, it has supplied the university with a list of additional demands.
The Black Student Union is demanding the hiring of two black admissions officers, two black advisors to recruit and mentor black students, two black psychologists experienced in racial discrimination and the creation of an African American student resource center.
UC Berkeley’s chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, informed students that more advisors have been hired in the Athletic Study Center, a recruitment coordinator is being hired and grant funding had been approved for the continuation of “Getting into Graduate School,” a fast-track program for black students to earn advanced degrees.
While Dirks would not commit to the union’s list of demands, he did admit that a campus survey conducted last year revealed that black students “feel the least respected of any group on campus.”
“Too many students have told us about being excluded from study groups, ignored during class discussions, verbally harassed at parties and social events, and feeling in a general sense, vulnerable, isolated, and invisible,” Dirks said in a statement. “This is something we deplore.”
According to SF Gate, Dirks told the group he is developing “a major campus initiative” to support the black community. The idea, he said, is to increase the “critical mass” of black students, faculty and senior staff, to ensure they feel supported and respected, and to work towards improving communication.