UC San Diego News Center


Commemoration of Activism that Transformed UC San Diego

A Call for Action

Two years ago, racist incidents on and off campus sparked student demonstrations at UC San Diego, resulting in a historic collaborative agreement that has strengthened our commitment to enhancing diversity. The protests, led by students and supported by faculty and staff, marked a tumultuous week and spurred visible changes at UC San Diego that allow students and others to better see themselves, their culture and their communities reflected on campus. The accompanying ten slides showcase a two-year transformation.

Unified Voice for Change

Protests in the center of campus prompted the drafting of a far-reaching accord on March 4, 2010, that aims to build community, increase yield of underrepresented students, change the organizational structure of diversity leadership, and prepare students for a multicultural workplace.

Visible Change on Campus

The “Chicano Legacy 40 Años” mural – a project led by Chicano/a students and faculty – resulted in the permanent installation of the Mario Torero artwork on Peterson Hall in the center of campus. The mural enriches our campus climate by reflecting the diversity and culture of our San Diego community. In discussions following campus protests, students called for visible signs of the cultures of underrepresented communities. Other outdoor art displays include the Thurgood Marshall College artworks in honor of its 40th anniversary: the “Martin Luther King & 37th Street” mural and “The Boat/El Barco.” Discussions continue for future projects.

Increase in Efforts to Raise Funds to Support Diversity

To ensure lasting change, diversity initiatives require financial resources to fund programs that celebrate the rich cultural communities of California. Students, faculty and staff encouraged the campus to identify and hire a Director of Development for Diversity Initiatives to be dedicated to fundraising for academic and outreach programs, campus artwork, and student-led yield initiatives. An initial event brought Stedman Graham to campus to speak to students in the OASIS and Summer Bridge programs.

A Welcoming and Diverse Campus

In discussions following the winter 2010 protests, students and faculty called for renewed efforts to increase the numbers of underrepresented communities reflected in admitted students. The campus increased funding to support outreach initiatives and recruitment activities. Student activities, including the Black Family Get Together, helped to encourage admitted students of color to choose UC San Diego. In fall 2011, a record number of underrepresented new students enrolled at UC San Diego, up nearly 20 percent from the year before.

Faculty Positions to Increase Contributions to Diversity

A diverse faculty goes hand in hand with efforts to increase the diversity of the student body. Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Suresh Subramani identified faculty positions for scholars who advance diversity. Twelve of the 33 faculty searches in 2010-11 were designated for positions that contribute to diversity; nine appointments were made, two searches were carried over to 2011-12, and one failed. A Faculty Taskforce to Promote the Recruitment, Support and Retention of Underrepresented Faculty now provides guidance and best practices to promote the full participation of faculty who have been historically underrepresented in higher education.

Organizational Change to Ensure Ongoing Progress

The campus leadership, students, faculty and staff agreed that improvements in diversity and climate at UC San Diego require systemic change. Following discussion with campus constituencies, Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and Executive Vice Chancellor Suresh Subramani established a Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (VC EDI) who will lead our campus efforts. A search for the VC EDI is in process.

A Focus on Diversity in the Core Curriculum

Spurred by a call from students and faculty, UC San Diego’s core curriculum requirements now include a mandatory diversity-related course for incoming freshmen. The diversity requirement will take effect in 2013 for incoming transfer students. A committee of faculty, students and administrators identifies a broad array of courses that fulfills the requirement. The campus continues to feature dynamic speakers, such as Henry Louis Gates, to complement the diversity course work.

Finding a Place at UC San Diego

Students and campus administration partnered to identify locations that will allow students to meet and study with peers, particularly with students from underrepresented groups. A Black Student Union/MEChA Resource Center was established in the ground floor of the Student Services Center; an Intertribal Resource Center was located in the Price Center. A multicultural living learning community also was established on the Sixth College campus. The new resource centers complement existing campus community resource centers.

Our Community Rebuilds

The two-year anniversary of the March 4, 2010, agreement provides UC San Diego with an opportunity to assess progress in ensuring that the campus is welcoming to all. The protests of winter 2010 galvanized the UC San Diego campus community to learn from our past in order to shape a better future for all. To learn more about the initiatives outlined in the agreement, visit

Photos: UC San Diego Publications - Erik Jepsen