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UC Riverside Black Faculty and Staff Association

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Introduced by Dennis McIver, Chair, UC Riverside Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFASA); Vice President/President-Elect, UC Riverside Staff Assembly; University Honors Counselor, University Honors

How did UC Riverside BFASA get started?

There’s been a version of BFASA since the 1990s, but the efforts — such as monthly lunches for black men and separate lunches for black women — weren’t coordinated. In 2017, we really came together to form BFASA as a coordinated effort. It started as a mentoring program, and then moved into a model with standing monthly committee meetings, as well as frequent meetings and activities with all members. Today, there’s a strong sense of commitment that has allowed us to make a lot of progress.

Current goals/areas of focus

Part of my goal has been to get everyone together at the same table — all the student groups that serve African-American students and those that focus on equity and inclusion — so that they have a chance to know each other and work together.

As one example, we reached out to the director of African Student Programs to offer our support. Now BFASA members are able to attend sessions to share their perspectives with students. In a partnership with admissions, our members reach out to black freshmen and transfer students to welcome them and share information about upcoming events that might interest them. Our goal is to create opportunities for connection — and to show up whenever we can.

It’s also been really impactful that we’ve created a space where black faculty and staff can come together to connect and interface with each other. They each present unique and vital components of the university experience, but for different reasons, there aren’t necessarily opportunities for them to meet to have open and honest dialogues. Groups like BFASA present an opportunity to engage on a human level.

What’s something that’s been meaningful to you about your participation in BFASA?

In my term as chair, it’s been meaningful to set up the infrastructure to serve not only staff but also students and the UC Riverside community. I’m really proud of the connections we’ve created — including our monthly meetings, a listserv and social media networks. But it’s not only the infrastructure itself; it’s that we took an absence of information and have filled it with a wealth of dialogue, connections and programmatic opportunities.

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