Founded in 1984 around the successful movement to divest UC funds from the South African apartheid, Cal Students for Equal Rights and a Valid Education is a coalition of progressive students and student organizations that continues to make change on campus and in the world. In addition to pressuring the UC administration to divest from apartheid in South Africa, CalSERVE was successful in electing Pedro Noguera, now a distinguished professor of education at NYU, as the first black President of the ASUC from 1984-1986.
From the beginning, CalSERVE has fought for positive change both on and off campus. We fight for access, representation, and social, environmental, and racial justice and we utilize the resources of the ASUC and progressive values of the student body to make these things possible.
Through the years, CalSERVE has remained committed to its progressive principles, even in difficult times. In 1987 and 1988, when homophobic hysteria was sweeping the country, CalSERVE ran the two of the first openly gay male and female candidates for the ASUC Senate. Both candidates won their seats. (The first openly gay elected ASUC official was Steve Wilford, who ran as a gay Senate candidate and won when he was a graduate student in 1970.)
During the late 1980s to the early ’90s, the work of CalSERVE President Jeff Chang was key to ending the discriminatory anti-Asian student admissions policies.
Twenty years later, in 2008, with the support of the multicultural student community and Asian Pacific Islander community on campus, CalSERVE helped coordinate the successful “Count Me In” campaign for the disaggregation of the “Asian-American” category on admissions documents and the creation of 10 more Asian categories.
On a national level, CalSERVE spearheaded a campaign to register over 10,000 students on campus to vote in the 2008 Presidential election that elected Barack Obama.
CalSERVE continues to fight for student needs on campus, like negotiating for the Memorandum of Understanding with the University to create a permanent Multi-Cultural Community Center, a demand of the 1969 and 1999 Third World Liberation Front. Also, CalSERVE has successfully advocated for things such as: longer business hours on Telegraph; accessible and gender neutral bathrooms in campus buildings; and for $750,000 in funding from the university towards the Lower Sproul Redevelopment.
CalSERVE’s legacy continues to extend far outside of the university. In 2010, CalSERVE alum John Pérez was elected Speaker of the California State Assembly, making him the first openly gay speaker of the California Assembly and the second of any state legislature in the country.
With you and CalSERVE, a better Berkeley and world is not only possible, it is already on its way here. Join us on this journey.