Black UCLA Student Addresses The Lack Of Diversity At His Institution In Spoken Word Piece That Goes Viral

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UCLA student Sy Stokes

By: Britt L

In the wake of the affirmative action debates in California and other states, a group of minority males who attend the University of California, Los Angeles created a spoken word piece, addressing the lack of diversity at their elite institution. In the video, UCLA student Sy Stokes speaks candidly and features sobering statistics about the dent in diversity at the four-year university.

Stokes,  a Junior who identifies as black, Chinese and Cherokee native American, reveals that the school has won more than 100 NCAA Championships and doesn’t even have half of that number of black students enrolled in their college. Stokes titled the piece “The Black Bruins” in a metaphoric comparison to the schools mascot and its black students.

According to the enrollment statistics issued by the school, African-Americans make up only 3.8 percent of the student population, and only 3.3 percent of the male population is African American.

Unsurprisingly, 65 percent of those black males are student athletes, only making it to the big green campus by a long shot of hooping skills.

Of the Fall 2013 incoming men in the freshman class at UCLA, only 1.9 percent of them were African American.

Stokes exclaimed that he was very close to dropping out of UCLA his freshman year because he felt uncomfortable and isolated by the lack of population that looked similar to him. An afro-american studies student, the 21-year-old third year student found his place in the small minority community.

However, he wanted to raise awareness about the unjust numbers no one is aware of. Stokes’ mission was to inform near future students before November 30, the university’s application deadline.

“We had to do something to put our issues on the map,” said Stokes in an interview with the Daily Bruin.

Despite the desperate plea for black students to enroll into the school by Stokes, vice chancellor of student affairs, Janina Montero says administrators at UCLA are knowledgeable to the fact that the school has a problem with it’s diversity and are looking into working around the state’s admission parameters that may hold them back from enrolling more black students.

In 1996, the state of California voted down affirmative action and passed the law, Proposition 209, which ultimately banned any state institution from taking into consideration gender, race, ethnicity or national origins during their admissions process. Since the provision, black student enrollment rates have drastically decreased.

“We certainly recognize that the low numbers of African Americans and other underrepresented students on campus does lead to a sense of isolation and invisibility,” said Montero in an emailed statement to the Daily Bruin. “It is difficult to eliminate this painful imbalance without considering race in the admissions process.”

Being one of those 35 black males who are expected to walk across the UCLA stage on graduation day, Stokes believes it is his responsibility to bring attention to the issue that many are too sensitive or misguided to discuss.

“Being the cousin of Arthur Ashe, I feel as thought it is my responsibility to uphold the strong voices of the Black Bruin community. This school has experienced unacceptable instances of injustice recently, and many people are not ware of what is happening at this university,” concluded Stokes.

To view the griping piece, click here.

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