A South Asian Student Center has recently been made a possibility as both legislators and campus organizations began funding and creating a specialized student center for the community. Last year, the Associated Students of the University of California, Riverside (ASUCR) passed a resolution acknowledging the significant South Asian student population on campus as well as the need for a center to provide specialized care and representation for the community. The resolution detailed the various models of other Ethnic & Gender Centers at various institutions including that of the UCR and UC Davis as reference points for its creation. The resolution further proposed that the center should be fully staffed with a Director and Program Coordinator to oversee and facilitate the space and plentiful resources to accommodate students’ needs ranging from printing services to internship opportunities.


Picture courtesy of UCR’s South Asian Federation (SAF)

Vice President of Finance (VPF) Cooper Kumar explained that he and others hope to use the resolution as the beginning of a much larger scale plan to kickstart the official development of the center. VPF Kumar, alongside College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) senators Jeevan Rao and Vinisha Lalli and former first-year fellow Sofia Ebrahim, worked voluntarily with organizations such as the South Asian Federation (SAF) to create a survey earlier this month to gather data on the need and support for a South Asian student center that would later be presented to administration. 

The South Asian Resource Center Interest Form was proliferated throughout the student body through the ASUCR newsletter as well as ASUCR External and UCR staff’s Instagram accounts. The survey will be open throughout the entirety of the summer to gather a significant amount of responses, as well as input from incoming freshmen who may have different ideas in regards to what they would like to see at the center. 

VPF Kumar described how this survey would help serve three main goals of theirs: “First, our efforts are geared towards developing a comprehensive proposal with the Senate that’s built upon that initial June 2023 ASUCR resolution, then we plan to engage directly with administration.” 

Vice Chancellor Brian Haynes, in particular, is an official of interest as he is responsible for determining funding as well as the allocation of resources for the Costo Hall Centers. This proposal would follow the format of a “data driven report,” to demonstrate support for the center as well as what services students would like to see within the center. 

Following that, another point of interest is to pass budget allocations with ASUCR “to support the initial stages of the creation of the center,” the results of which, according to Kumar, “would depend on where our current efforts with administration would be”.

The final goal is to work with local and community partners and alumni to garner additional funds to help support the center. 

The main issue this team faces revolves around garnering administration approval. By the time meetings took place, finals week was approaching, so minimal progress was possible. However, Kumar explained that the bigger issue they face will be gathering administrative support, which puts more pressure on the proposal to be a thorough and strong document to present as evidence of support and need for the center. 

Regarding the question of location of this center upon approval, Kumar explained that it would need to be discussed with administration. He noted that there was no intention to encroach upon the spaces of the other student centers at Costo Hall, “I do want to emphasize that in no way are we seeking to displace or make other Costo Hall spaces smaller or restricted, etcetera. Because we already know that this space itself [is] limited in a manner.”

Resources available at this center depend on student input; however, there would be an emphasis on cultural events, relevant speakers and initiatives that allow the South Asian community at UCR to thrive. This center would also cater to the needs of the diverse population within South Asia itself, potentially serving as a backing for the socio-political issues that are most relevant to the South Asian student body. In turn, the center would provide a platform for South Asian students to advocate for issues they are passionate about.