By the GCRC Planning Committee: Christina Acosta, Violet Barton, Danielle Bermudez, Maria Mora, Daniel Rios, Rodolfo Rodriguez, Jamin Shih, Michelle Yeung | UC Merced
On March 2 2017, the Graduate Cultural Resource Center (GCRC) officially opened its doors with its first event: “We Wear Our Crowns: An Evening of Female Empowerment” hosted by fifth year Interdisciplinary Humanities graduate student Kim McMillon, which included poetry, music, art, and spoken word with Black Panthers Charlotte Hill O’Neal “Mama C” and Tarika Lewis.
“This was a liberating, historical moment for students of color at UC Merced, where we stood in solidarity with one another to heal and build community” said third year sociology graduate student, Maria Mora.
The GCRC comes from the organizing efforts of graduate students of color across multiple identities, who advocated and mobilized for a safe space and asserted the right to belong. UC Merced was the only UC without a cultural center of any kind, despite being widely publicized by administration as the most diverse UC campus. In the spring of 2016, the graduate student advisor to GSA on Climate, Diversity and Equity, and Interdisciplinary Humanities graduate student, Daniel Rios, presented a co-written resolution to the Graduate Student Association to establish a graduate cultural resource center at UC Merced, which passed on March 14, 2016. In this process, students of color envisioned a space where they could come together and acknowledge their daily lived experiences regarding institutional racism, neoliberal capitalism, cisgender heteropatriarchy, and oppressive micro-aggressions they face in academia. The GCRC embraces an intersectional, social justice, and emancipatory education praxis that affirms students of color intersectional identities, and validates the marginalizations they encounter daily. The GCRC creates a place and a space where marginalized communities can find healing through cultural events, political organizing, and solidarity with one another.
“We enter this space with a shared commitment and understanding to mutual dignity and respect, non-violence, social justice-centered intentionality, and transformative justice” reads the GCRC’s mission statement.
“In the future, we hope that GCRC will affirm students of color in recognition of the emotional, political and intellectual labor that we give to the university, and the importance of building equity in higher education” states Danielle Bermudez, a fourth year Interdisciplinary Humanities graduate student.
In April 2017, GCRC will offer a series of events that highlight historical and ongoing oppressions as well as collective agency and resistances of people of color and their intersectional identities, including womxn, income-insecure, LGBTQ+, non-binary, gender non-conforming, gender fluid, disabled, international, immigrant, refugee, and non-traditional graduate students. These events seek to foster a climate where students of color feel safe expressing themselves and their lived experiences without fear of being targeted, and to affirm our identities and resiliency. GCRC events will reflect our Community Guidelines, which exalt the rights to be respected, to be treated with dignity and respect, to be affirmed, and the community’s duty to challenge oppression and to recognize that [our] silence will not protect us. April events will include a panel with local community activists in Merced, the visioning of a mural, a presentation on Cultural Centers and HSI Status by UC Student Regent Marcela Ramirez, a workshop on White Supremacy and Anti-Blackness, a Know Your IX training, and healing circles, in collaboration with the undergraduate Intercultural Hub’s grand opening on the week of March 20th, 2017.
“It is our hope that the GCRC will grow and serve to dismantle the oppressions that students of color face in academia, as well as to bridge graduate and undergraduate students in our joint pursuit of transforming the institution by advocating for social justice, and to also increase the number of faculty of color in order to thrive in the university” states Christina Acosta, a first year sociology graduate student.
For more information about GCRC, visit our facebook page.