Two weeks ago, UCLA student Sy Stokes published a video titled “The Black Bruins [Spoken Word]“on his YouTube page. The post went viral almost immediately and has garnered more than 1 million views as of today.
In the video, Stokes dramatically lays out the numbers for African-American male enrollment and graduation at the Los Angeles campus:
“In fall 2012, the total enrollment, graduate and undergraduate, for African-American males at UCLA was 660 students. That’s 3.3 percent of the 19,838 other males enrolled here. Out of that 660 African-American male students, 65 percent are undergraduate athletes. The number of entering male freshman students was 2,418. Only 48 of them are African-American. The graduation rates for African-American males at UCLA is 74 percent. Which means out of that 48 freshmen last year, only 35 are predicted to graduate.”
Stokes’ goes on to say that most African-American males at UCLA “are dropping out for lack of financial aid.” The video’s message is that the UCLA administration is not supporting the African-American community on campus — and that it goes beyond money. “We’re not asking for a handout,” Stokes says. “We are asking for a level playing field.”
UC President Janet Napolitano was asked about the video during an interview with KQED Newsroom’s Scott Shafer:
“I read about the video. I haven’t actually seen the video,” Napolitano said. “But I think it is a way to illustrate, you know, a real issue which is the percentage of African-American male students at UCLA and I would say at our university generally.”
She also said UC needs to do a better of letting students and their families know about what financial aid and other student resources the university makes available.
“So that students recognize and their families, their parents recognize, that if they make $80,000 a year or less, they pay no tuition at the University of California,” Napolitano said. “What that means is that when eighth-graders and ninth-graders are beginning to select their courses they’re selecting the right ones that will enable them to gain admission.”
As for the “Black Bruins” video, UCLA Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Janina Montero previously issued a statement saying the school shared the students’ “dissatisfaction and frustration.”
You can watch Janet Napolitano’s full interview with Scott Shafer below.
KQED NEWSROOM is a weekly news magazine program on television, radio and online. Watch Fridays at 8 p.m. on KQED Public Television 9, listen on Sundays at 6 p.m. on KQED Public Radio 88.5 FM and watch on demand here.