By Camila Ceja
A daily task in the life of a Berkeley student is either searching for a fitting place to study or a safe haven away from the academically stressed environment. This becomes especially difficult for the underrepresented folks of color that need a safe space where they feel welcomed and comfortable.
What is a safe space? A safe space is a place where marginalized people are openly welcomed by themselves and can discuss shared experiences. Not only does a safe space protect underrepresented people from violence, but these spaces further serve as a refuge, a place for students to relax.
Though few, the safe spaces on Berkeley’s campus offer helpful educational resources, a de-stressing ambiance, and enjoyable events for community solidarity. Here are a few noted safe spaces located on and off the UC Berkeley campus:
Multicultural Community Center: Located in the MLK Student Union, the MCC is a student-led center that invites for students’ greater involvement in multicultural-related education, collaborations, and cross cultural community building. An educational and inclusive space, the MCC welcomes all to study, express culture, and explore identity. Offering free mental health services, homemade tea, free green and blue books, and the most comfortable couches on campus, the MCC creates a loving environment that facilitates to aid the mental, spiritual and educational well- being of students of all identities.
Stiles Hall: A private, non-profit agency located on the corner of Dana st and Bancroft, Stiles Hall works to help low-income, youth of color succeed and excel in the education pipeline. Though not affiliated with UC Berkeley, Stiles is a safe space for students to receive academic advising, mental-health counseling, and resources for the aid of first- generation students. Stiles works to offer a path toward higher education for all, through an “Underground Scholars” program that assists incarcerated and system-impacted students and “Berkeley Scholars,” a mentor project that connects high school students with UC Berkeley students. Breaking from the campus as a whole, Stiles invites Berkeley students to feel at home, with an open study space, kitchen, and separate quiet room reserved for naps.
Ethnic Studies Library: Founded on commitments to the value of diversity and social justice, the ethnic studies library features several different collections including ones from Asian American Studies, Chicanx Studies, Comparative Ethnic Studies and Native American Studies. Welcoming and supporting all students regardless of race, gender, sexuality and status, the ethnic studies library values the multiple forms of knowledge presented by these diverse communities. ADA accessible and welcome to all without the need to show a Cal ID, the ethnic studies library fosters a safe study space and offers library assistance.