UCR’s Black Student Task Force Leading the Way

The student-led organization is creating programs and initiatives to support black students' college experience

Left to right: De’Von T. Walker, Sara Tascha Hall, and Jeremiah Gordon. Hall and Gordon are part of the UCR’s Black Student Task Force. Walker supervises the diversity intern position that Gordon currently holds within Undergraduate Admissions. ucr

UC Riverside’s Black Student Task Force is working hard to offer peers – and students from the community at large – a greater college experience.

One of the task force’s primary goals is to support black students on their journey toward graduation, and to make them feel like UCR is a home away from home. The nine-member group has been working to develop strong ties with UCR since its founding in December 2015.

At a meeting with Jim Sandoval, vice chancellor of Student Affairs, the task force’s leaders asked for support in developing campus initiatives that support black students throughout their college careers.

In March, The Education Trust, a Washington, D.C. non-profit organization, recognized UCR as one of the best colleges in the nation for successfully graduating black students at a higher rate than their white counterparts.

“Student input is invaluable in shaping programs that maximize opportunities for students to get the most out of their time at UCR,” Sandoval said. “The Black Student Task Force has excelled on this front and is to be commended for their efforts.”

Working with the task force, Student Affairs added a diversity intern position, created within the Undergraduate Admission’s department. That role is currently filled by Jeremiah Gordon, the task force’s outreach officer, who works under the supervision of De’Von T. Walker, community outreach and engagement counselor.

The task force also worked to localize a national conversation about race. Sara Tascha Hall, who currently serves as president, organized a private meeting with UCR’s police department in October 2016 when the Black Lives Matter movement captured the country’s attention. Five task force members attended, along with five officers, including Police Chief Mike Lane and Assistant Chief John Freese. Sandoval and Chancellor Kim. A Wilcox were also present at the meeting, the purpose of which was to initiate communication and common understanding between police and students, Hall said.

“We encourage these conversations at UCR to foster trust and transparency amongst all our campus constituencies, so that everyone is truly sensitive to one another’s social, cultural and political positions and attentive to the shared responsibilities that come with that mutual understanding,” said Mariam Lam, associate vice chancellor for the office of Diversity and Inclusion. “This dialogue is crucial at this historical moment in the U.S.”

About 130 community college students attended a one-day event organized by UCR’s Black Student Task Force.

At the beginning of the fall quarter, the task force, spearheaded by Gordon, organized a one-day community college transfer event aimed at black community college students. Gordon and the team received support from Undergraduate Admissions, African Student Programs, and other campus partners.

About 130 students came to campus from the Inland Empire, Los Angeles and San Diego counties, as well as Central California, said Gordon. Next year, the goal is to increase the attendance and augment the students’ experience on campus.

“It would be great if they could have overnight stay at the Pan African Theme Hall,” Gordon said, referring to the campus residence. “Many of these community college students had never considered UCR to transfer into. But after the conference, the school rose to their number one choice. I know because I received emails from their school counselors telling us how grateful and impressed students had been.”

For Hall, the work does not stop there. The team is working to launch its own website and to secure funding to send members to a conference in San Francisco next year. High on the priority list this academic year is solidifying a domestic exchange program with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the southern and eastern United States, Hall said.

“These initiatives are by the students and for the students,” Hall said.

Meet UC Riverside’s current Black Student Task Force members

  • Ah’Shirae Arana, treasurer
  • Toluwani “Semi” Cole, retention officer
  • Maalik Delaney, admissions specialist
  • Jo Gbujama, admission’s specialist
  • Jeremiah Gordon, outreach officer
  • Sara Tascha Hall, president and founder
  • Semere Mengistu, retention advisor
  • Jennifer Nkosi, retention advisor
  • Triumph Odunze, admission’s specialist


Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-2653
E-mail: SandraB.Martinez@ucr.edu

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