Since 2014, graduate students have advocated for a cultural center on campus. They recognized the need for UC Merced to provide a safe space that affirms the experiences of students of color from various historically and ongoing marginalized identities. They advocated for a place that provides students of color and underrepresented communities a safe space to study, build community, mentor undergraduate students, organize and advocate for social justice issues, and offer each other solidarity, while providing outreach, recruitment and retention, professionalization opportunities, research experiences, and education to the entire campus community in order to strengthen the university.
On March 2, 2017, the Graduate Cultural Resource Center (GCRC) opened its doors in Classroom and Office Building 2, Room 190.
Since the grand opening, members of the GCRC Planning Committee have hosted a number of important events, including conversations about institutional racism, neoliberal capitalism, cisgender heteropatriarchy and oppressive microaggressions faced in academia. These activities, coordinated by our students in a space dedicated for such dialogues, add value to UC Merced and support the campus’s goals for equity, social justice and inclusion. These values further embody our campus’s Principles of Community and help us attain the goals set forth in the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion.
Data and research show there is a significant need for cultural resource centers on campuses for marginalized communities. At UC Merced, the Graduate Students of Color Coalition has primarily functioned as the GCRC’s Planning Committee which continues to invest hundreds of volunteers hours to diligently bring social justice programming to the campus, develop community agreements for the use of the space, advocate for holistic recruitment and retention practices, hire permanent staff, create research and fellowship opportunities, and ensure long-term financial sustainability of the GCRC.
During conversations around outfitting the space, it was shared with members of the Planning Committee that renovations to the heating and ventilation system were needed to ensure proper ventilation for the room’s new designated use. In the spring, members of the Planning Committee reported health impacts while inside the space. It was determined the space would need to be closed for several months because it was discovered that the extent of renovations is more substantial than expected.
The GCRC was temporarily closed in May. After a required bidding process, repairs on the space are scheduled to begin the week of July 10 and completion is expected before the fall semester begins.
In the meantime, Room 470 of the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library has been set aside as a temporary space in order to allow the GCRC’s critical work to continue. Future events are in the planning stages and include a panel with local community activists, a mixer, the visioning of a mural, and more. The temporary space’s purpose and use is the same as the GCRC and signs have been posted in the space to communicate the Community Agreements and expectations. As the campus community continues to grow, the campus looks forward to expanding the Graduate Cultural Resource Center.
Questions and concerns can be sent to Director of Campus Climate, De Acker, or Assistant Director of Social Justice Initiatives, Onar Primitivo. Information about the GCRC can be found by visiting the GCRC’s Facebook page and in a recent article in D.I.C.E. News, the UC Merced Graduate Dean’s Advisory Council on Diversity newsletter.
Sincerely, Charles Nies
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs