California State University, Dominguez Hill’s (CSUDH) new Black Resource Center (BRC), which is nicknamed “The Rose” after Tupac Shakur’s poem “The Rose That Grew From Concrete,” will officially open with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, March 21, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., in Loker Student Union Room 132.
“The center serves as a safe space for African-American students on campus,” said Jonathan Henderson, coordinator of the BRC, at a recent meet-and-greet. “A lot of them experience problems with the university’s process–navigating it academically and finding assistance–and how to get together socially. The Rose serves those needs. It’s a space for them to come and feel like themselves, and get the resources and help they need to succeed.”
Students first proposed the center to CSUDH President Willie J. Hagan’s cabinet in February 2016, following more than a year of protests nation-wide sparked by the shooting of African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014.
Meet BRC Coordinator Jonathan Henderson. California State University recently featured him in a web series highlighting the students, alumni, and employees of the CSU. Jonathan is all three. “I knew this was a place where I could be myself, be involved, and grow.
“In November 2015, there was a national movement of Black student unions submitting lists of demands to their perspective colleges. We got word from our administration that they wanted to know the issues that we had as Black students,” said Sean Cook, vice president of the Black Student Leadership Council. “There were a lot of racial things going on at the time–a lot of tension on campuses–but our campus wanted to be proactive instead of reactive. So they [the president’s cabinet] invited us to their meeting, but we already had a list of demands ready.”
Vice President of Student Affairs William Franklin said this first “iteration” of the BRC is the result of CSUDH representatives visiting existing resource centers at a number of campuses, such as CSU Northridge, CSU Fullerton, CSU Long Beach, and CSU Los Angeles. “They were like fingerprints–all very different. We looked at all of them and decided what we wanted.”
Franklin noted the urgent need across the 23-campus CSU system for centers like the BRC, and referenced the “extremely low and decreasing” percentage of African Americans enrolled in the CSU, which currently stands at just 1.6 percent. CSUDH has the highest percentage of African American students in the system, at 14 percent.
“I think all of you in this room know that nothing about our struggle in this country has come without conflicts, without great debate, and without great pressure,” said Franklin at the meet-and-greet. “And for you, because of your demands and pressure, this Black Resource Center was established.”
The Rose Black Resource Center is located on the lower level of Loker Student Union, Room 132. The space includes a lounge area for students. Staff of the center is available to help students with applications and information about scholarships, African-American organizations on campus, CSUDH and community events, and timely updates to issues that impact Black students lives. The center will also organize retreats, professional and personal development, and other programs designed to enhance and improve African American graduation rates, retention, and overall success.