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UC Santa Barbara: ucsbBLACK

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Photo: ucsbBLACK Welcome Luncheon for the inaugural Office for Black Student Development Director Dr. Dahlia Hylton, on Jan. 13, 2020


Introduced by ucsbBLACK Steering Committee Members Latrece Seneca, Associate Director, Orientation Programs and Parent Services, and Meridith Merchant, Assistant Director, Mental Health Initiatives and Inclusion, Counseling and Psychological Services

What inspired you to create ucsbBLACK?

When I started working at UCSB, there were a few key black people who welcomed me and helped me acclimate to the campus. However, there were infrequent opportunities to see staff who looked like me from day to day. I began to be intentional about greeting and welcoming new black staff to campus by giving them my card, acknowledging them when I saw them at meetings, inquiring about their experience, offering support with finding housing, etc. As more black staff began to attend black student events, we found ourselves wishing we had a more structured way to build community and support each other. From there, ucsbBLACK was born. Our founding members have continued to be active and there has been at least one new face at every event we have hosted. Our momentum led us to create first a Google group and then a campus-recognized affinity group. We’re now exploring the possibility of a newsletter. We hope to further develop and sustain an environment that allows black faculty and staff to feel supported, professionally and personally, by their peers. – Meridith

What are some of your current goals?

ucsbBLACK is a supportive and enjoyable space for black-identified faculty and staff at UCSB to build community and create connections with one another. Research has shown that students of color —particularly black college students — experience greater success when they have adequate social support, as well as when they have people on campus who look like them. We’re facilitating opportunities to model and promote unity and solidarity among black-identified faculty and staff to better support the academic and overall success of black-identified students. It’s imperative that we, black staff and faculty at UC Santa Barbara, are thriving and connecting as well. Through ucsbBLACK, as we mentor and support our students, we strengthen our community. – Latrece

What do you hope to see ucsbBLACK achieve in the future?

We look forward to learning from and coming together with other UC groups that are centered on supporting black staff and faculty. These roles are often historical and definitely much needed within the UC system. We hope to expand the steering committee to ensure diversity of ideas and shared efforts toward supporting one another. Supporting black staff and faculty is a labor of love, but it’s an effort that goes above and beyond our other responsibilities on campus. It can sometimes be challenging to find balance. – Latrece

How has participating in ucsbBLACK impacted you?

In a space that lacks many factors that support and validate my identity as a proud black woman, I am beyond grateful to be on the steering committee that is intentional and committed to making sure we feel and know that we belong and that we matter. – Meridith

Get in touch

The ucsbBLACK Steering Committee typically meets quarterly and hosts events once a month. To join the ucsbBLACK Google group for organization or event updates, please contact a member of the steering committee:

  • Katya Armistead, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students
  • Aaron Jones, Director, Equal Opportunity Program (EOP)
  • Kareen Louis, EOP Counselor and Coordinator, Africa Diaspora Resource Center
  • Marcus Mathis, Assistant Director for Diversity Initiatives, Office of Admissions
  • Meridith Merchant, Assistant Director, Mental Health Initiatives and Inclusion Counseling and Psychological Services
  • Latrece Seneca, Associate Director Orientation Programs and Parent Services

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