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Saturdays only for ‘people of color’ at UC Berkeley farm: report
UC Berkeley Gill Tract Farm

Federal complaint accuses university of racial discrimination

A community farm run by the University of California at Berkeley only allows “people of color” to participate on Saturdays, according to a new federal complaint.

The report to the Department of Education accuses the Gill Tract Community Farm of racial discrimination in violation of Title VI.

Run by the public university, the farm is a research, education, and extension project “focused on ecological farming and food justice,” according to its website. It welcomes the public to harvest food if they “help with weeding, planting, and watering.”

However, the Mountain States Legal Foundation, which filed the complaint last week, said the program discriminates against white people.

“Saturdays are exclusively BIPOC,” a farm manager wrote in a series of text messages cited in the complaint. “Exceptions have only been made for events that are BIPOC-centered and with plenty of advance notice and planning.”

The manager also advocated for “upholding boundaries around that safe and sacred space,” according to the complaint.

University spokesperson Dan Mogulof told the New York Post he was unaware of the allegations. After reviewing the complaint, Mogulof said the university takes such matters “extremely seriously” and will investigate the situation.

“The anonymous texts attached to the complaint have no specific information about time or place. And, as you can see, the Gill Tract’s website and calendar make no mention whatsoever of any program or activity of the sort described in the complaint,” Mogulof said.

“Having said that … I will contact the appropriate people on campus in an effort to determine what the facts are,” he told the Post.

The complaint asks the university to publish a statement reminding the public that everyone is welcome at the farm. It also asks the university to require training for individuals who run the farm.

“While the farm purports to be a welcoming place, the staff running the farm seem to think that racial segregation should make a comeback,” Mountain States Legal Foundation stated on its website. “… But neither the Constitution nor federal law permit public institutions like UC Berkeley to engage in racial segregation.”

Other universities also have incorporated racial issues into their agricultural programs in recent years.

In 2021, the University of Michigan hired a full-time diversity, equity, and inclusion manager for its Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum, The College Fix reported. The gardens also held workshops about “confronting racism.”

Meanwhile, San Diego State University spent a quarter of a million dollars to build a racial healing garden in 2019. Campus sources later told The Fix no one uses it.

And Cornell University’s agricultural program sponsored a “safer science” webinar in 2021 about “identity prejudice” and “safe fieldwork strategies for at-risk individuals.”

Some universities also employ DEI administrators in their agricultural programs.

MORE: Scholars develop ‘Plantifa’ curriculum to promote eco-justice ‘guerrilla gardening’

IMAGE: Gill Tract Community Farm/Facebook

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.