UC Berkeley’s Chancellor Nicolas Dirks and a board of directors have made a decision to create the Berkeley Global Campus in Richmond. The campus will be three-fourths the size of UC Berkeley made up by lab and research facilities. The funding for this project comes from a group of anonymous public-private investors. Dirks and many other top officials, such as the Richmond City Council, have kept this issue free of mainstream press.
This past Wednesday, the Respect Richmond Campaign, a coalition of many campus organizations including: Student Labor Committee, CalSERVE, ASUC, Black Student Union, et al. held a “Richmond Speak Out.” This forum allowed a few Richmond residents and panelists to express their opinions about the Berkeley Global Campus. The Panelists included Melvin Wells an Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) activist, Edith Pastrano also an ACCE activist, Tamisha Walker a Safe Return Project activist, and Maricruz Manzanarez a campus worker and union activist. Melvin And Edith shared the sentiment that Richmond residents need protection from displacement, their group is working hard to prevent housing finances from soaring in Richmond. Tamisha explained her efforts to get councilmen to agree with the demands through Richmond ‘s Working Group. Maricruz has worked for the campus for 16 years, fearing that her children will never get to benefit from Berkeley’s countless resources.
The Respect Richmond Campagin has called for the campus officials to sign a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) that advocates against displacement, providing local training for campus jobs, aiding local small businesses, and creating a youth program to encourage students to strive for higher education. After a few rounds of questions were answered by the panelists, the group of campus organizers lead a thrilling protest to Dirks’ house to tape a cloth on his front door that included the CBA demands and a list of signatures. The group will have another demonstration on April 30th, Rally for Richmond, that will meet at Sather Gate at 4:30pm. With the end of the school year approaching, the group and myself really encourage students, Richmond residents, and anyone who believes in the cause to have their voices heard before the UC decides to start building the campus over the summer.